Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A Systematic Destruction of the Cornish Coast Part III

With only two climbing days left before we had to return to Bristol, we decided to head back to Sennen to finish off the remaining 7 ticklist routes at the crag. We arrived to find the place once again deserted, and decided , as the tide was coming in, to begin with the only tidal route on the agenda, Slippery Slab. The route started up a greasy corner before making a very long and rather challenging step across onto the eponymous slab. All that remained above was six or seven metres of thin crack up the slab to the top, but this took Oli rather a long time to work his way up. When I followed him up I found that this was because almost every move was 5a. Hmmm. Not a good route for a warm up. Or much of a VS for that matter.

When we got back to the base of the crag, all of the world had appeared from somewhere, and there was barely a free route in sight. But after wondering what one of these upstart climbers was doing staring at me, I suddenly realised I knew a whole load of them from Sheffield. Very random.

Civvy Route

The rest of the day's routes passed by largely without incident, with The Arete being particularly worthy of note for its aceness, and The Letterbox for it's sandbagness. The hordes didn't get in our way too much, and we did get to witness a very impressive ascent of Samson Arete at the end of the day. To top things off we retired to John, Mike, Nina and the gang's rather swanky seafront cottage in Sennen village for tea and biscuits (very convivial) before dropping into the chippie in St Just. After stuffing our faces full of tasty deep fried goodness we set off in the pandazoid for Dartmoor, and managed to locate our favourite gorse bush near the Dewerstone to camp under. Just as we were drifting off to sleep we heard a mysterious galloping and whinnying noise go thumping past the tent. Clearly a ghost horse.

Thursday was sunny, but rather breezy, so we stuck with our plan to go the Dewerstone, rather than adventuring around the windswept tors. This was in spite of Oli's debilitating fear of Climber's Clib Direct (he doesn't like jamming), which was my number one objective. The place was deserted when we arrived, so we yomped up a 4 pitch VDiff in 2 pitches to warm up. It was warm in the sun, and the shade was rapidly retreating from the main wall, so it was time to man up and do battle with the crack. It looked alluringly simple from below, just one stiff pull round an overhang, to an immediate rest, then easier angled climbing above. How hard could it be?

5 minutes later I was fighting desperately to make my fists stick somewhere in the unhelpfully wide crack. I had one good jam, but it was with the wrong hand, and every time I tried to release it to swap hands I started falling backwards. Eventually I somehow cammed my knuckles into a slight construction and swam upwards in search of salvation. Joyously it arrived where the crack narrowed again to a useful width, and I caught my breath and surveyed my wounds. I was bleeding from both hands, one elbow and one ankle. Must have been a good fight. The rest of the pitch turned out to be a whole lot friendlier, even the intimidating roof was endowed with bountiful jugs, and I was soon perched atop the belay pedestal wondering where all the other climbers were. The only logical conclusion I could draw was that they had all been eaten in a zombie apocalypse overnight, and that only the protection of the ghost horse had saved us.

Sadly I couldn't quite see Oli's efforts, but I was thoroughly disappointed when he appeared above the crux, in one piece and not covered in blood. The top pitch started off easily enough, but finished with another slightly-too-wide-for-comfort thrash in a glorious position at the top of the crag. Great stuff. After 8 days of solid climbing we were both pretty exhausted by this stage, so I abandoned my vague aspirations of climbing Fruitflancase (another jamming testpiece, but at E1 this time) and found less taxing entertainment by running both pitches of Mucky Gully together to give 48 metres of Diff goodness. We finished the holiday on Route B, which had a sensationally positioned top pitch, and seemed a fitting end to proceedings. On returning to the car park we were greeted by the sight of a car mysteriously parked in the middle of the road. Yet more evidence of the Devonian zombie apocalypse.

The nefarious work of the undead

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