Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Lundy Vol. IV

Day 7:

In spite of the previous day's chastening experience, my adventurelust was still alive, just keen for some lightly tamer adventuring. With this in mind, Simon and I made The Devil's Spine our objective for the day. Described in the guide as being 'bristly' but with good situations, it features in the Alternative Lundy List, and therefore ticked all the requisite boxes. We abseiled down the edge of the Devil's Slide and scrambled leftwards on big ledges, until the rib of the route became obvious above. Simon had bagged the first pitch, which was looking like a very good bit of business, as the all-pervading sea grass seemed to take over just above the first belay. Excellent.

The Bristly Ridge of Devil's Spine

Simon led off up some steepish ground, which was covered in a judicious smattering of useful jugs, and was soon at the belay. I followed him up, and eyed up the second pitch. Above the belay the vague rib sharpened to form a clear arete, studded with pinnacles and plenty of bristliness. I made my way up an initial scoop to reach the base of this, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the bristles had managed to avoid all of the important holds. Some very alpine-style yomping (and plenty of spike runners) later and I was perched on a small ledge. I had a feeling that I was meant to belay on the next ledge about 5 metres above me, but I had already run out plenty of rope and getting to the next ledge didn't look trivial, so I bravely volunteered Simon for that and began to hunt around for something to belay off. This turned out to be slighty problematic, but eventually I had a dubious cam, and RP3 and a sling on a spike, which would have to do.

Simon looked very pleased with me when I showed him my delightful belay, and I quickly shooed him upwards. Other than a worrying moment when he hit a spike some way above me to check it was solid and I felt the vibrations in the flake I was sitting on, the tricky looking moves to the next ledge were soon overcome, leaving just the small matter of the typically Lundy top out. A short while after Simon had disappeared over the grassy horizon the shout of “Safe” filtered down and we were soon both at the top of the crag basking in the sunshine.

The Devil's Spine

Soon Julie and Claire joined us after a successful ascent of Albion, and ate lunch and generally lounged around a lot. Well, except for the arduous trek I was forced to make to retrieve the abseil rope. Bastards. Julie's ankle was hurting, so she began hobbling back towards the campsite, leaving Simon, Claire and I contemplating what should come next. I had been keen on Headline, a nearby E1, but it was too hot for that sort of exertion, so we settled on Frontispiece, the neighbouring VDiff as a suitable compromise. The approach scramble seemed to take an age, but eventually we reached the start of the route. The first pitch was wonderful slab climbing in a fabulous situation, although sadly the second pitch was a bit of a circuitous ramble and we were soon back at our bags once more.

My psyche wasn't quite exhausted, so I suggested an that the tide might be low enough for an attempt on one of the routes on the seaward face of the Conning Tower, a minor stack down in the zawn. The guidebook asserted that the stack was only accessible a few hours either side of low tide, which it wasn't, but I was confident that I knew better, so we set off scrambling downwards. Upon reaching sea level it was clear that a lower tide would have allowed an easy step across a boulder onto the tower, but the boulder was being lapped with worrying regularity. I thought I spied another route and went exploring. Some tortuous scrambling later I found a way onto the stack at it's landward tip and managed to corkscrew my way around to the summit. Unfortunately this left me at the top of the routes, so I tentatively descended a Diff arete and traversed across onto the face. This was an incredible fluted slab, the centre of which gave a lovely little VDiff called German Bight. I soloed this and then managed to reverse my corkscrewings to get back to dry land. By this stage we were all ready for some tea and medals, so we moseyed back down the island to the campsite.

As it was our last evening on the island, I may have consumed a few more celebratory beers than was strictly a good idea, and the evening finished with me drunkenly crawling round my tent trying to find a way in after some wag had turned it around whilst I was in the pub. Very funny. I also lost at Scrabble again along the way. Apparently aaeooru isn't a word.

Day 8:

After the previous nights excitement I was quite keen to climb somewhere nearby which would allow me maximum scope for curling up in a ball and sulking about my sore head. Thus it was decided that Julie, Andy and I would go back to the Battery for Andy to have a go at Double Diamond. Unfortunately the holds were still covered in that mysterious early-morning greasiness which afflicts sea cliffs, so we had to abandon that idea and I soloed the first pitch of Horseman's Route to escape.

In search of a little more climbing before the ferry departed, Andy and I went back to Pilot's Quay and soloed Newquay and a great little VDiff arete called Quay Hole Corner, which provided a very satisfying end to another great week on Lundy. Unwittingly, this was also my 50th route on Lundy, which seems like a good place to leave things until my next visit.

We retired to the pub for cheesy chips before getting on the MS Oldenburg and heading back towards the real world. Andy, Becky and I, however, had hatched a cunning plan to climb at Baggy the following day, so whilst everybody else was driving home, we were driving around the hills near Croyde in search of a reasonably priced campsite (not fancying paying the best part of £15 each for one in Croyde itself) which I had stayed in 5 years previously and couldn't really remember the location of. You'll be pleased to hear that we did eventually find it.

Day 9:

We got up stupidly early. This was good because it meant we couldn't find anybody around on the campsite to pay, but bad because there was nowhere open to sell us any breakfast. We pooled our resources and came up with some Hobnob flapjacks, a couple of Tunnocks caramel wafers and some trail mix. The breakfast of champions. This was improved by finding an ample supply of brambles on the walk in to the crag, which provided a tasty snack, but didn't go too far towards filling the still-gaping hole in my belly. Soon the crag came into view, though, and all thoughts of food were put to one side, for there was climbing to be done.

We scrambled down the disintegrating earthy slope to reach to top of the Promontory, and abseiled down the line of Urizen. I was keen to get on a VS called Twinkletoes, so we decided to start with that (once we'd torn Andy away from gawping at the terrifying choss-cliff nearby). The route turned out to be continuously absorbing, with a stiff crux near the bottom and plenty of taxing moves in the upper section. Excellent stuff. Next on the agenda was an attempt on Lost Horizons by Andy. Other than a few pauses to work out a couple of tricky sequences he made short work of it, and Andy and I soloed the excellent Shangri-La as an afterthought before moving over with a view to getting on Kinkyboots.

Alas when we got there, there was an in situ team on the start, so we consoled ourself with the adjacent slab. Becky led a very nice HS called Marion, before we soloed a couple of other routes on the slab, Ben and In Her Eyes. As the leader on Kinkyboots had barely moved in the time it had taken us to do this, we decided it was time to beat a retreat, and we set off for home.

Another brilliant trip to Lundy, I'll certainly be back again...

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