Lundy Top Ten by paul harrison with photos from Simon Cardy
Lundy climbing is all about adventure, just getting to the place is enough of an adventure for most people. Tom Rainbow in his inspirational South West Top Ten hits the nail on the head, the majority of climbers stick close to the path, the 'path' being a fairly predictable twenty or so routes. You know the ones, The Devil's Slide, Diamond Solitaire, Wolfman Jack etc. Its hard to argue, they are all great routes and many will never visit again so they have to be ticked, but if you fancy straying from the path then here are ten of my favourite Lundy routes from across the grades.
Very Difficult Frontispiece | Severe Walrus | VS The Devil's Chimney
HVS Mary Patricia Rosalea | E1 The Ocean | E2 Aristotelis
E3 Stalingrad | E4 Cithaeron | E5 Antiworlds
E6 Watching The Ocean
Frontispiece, V Diff It's a long walk up to the north end of the island and few climbers venture beyond The Devil's Slide. Those who do make the trek will find secluded coves and zawns bristling with esoteric gems. Frontispiece is in Arch Zawn, it tiptoes along the edge of the mighty Headline Wall in a grand position on some of the finest granite imaginable. Well worth the walk.
First Ascent F. Cannings, J. Kingston, P.Cannings 18 April 1973
Walrus, Severe Seal Slab (itself a fine Diff) is tucked away at the northern end of Torrey Canyon Bay. Walrus takes a sweeping, natural line up the central section of the slab and like all great routes it looks much harder than it actually is. In fact the slab is covered in big holds and is an absolute delight to climb.
First Ascent S.Dawson, D.Rogers. June 1967
The Devil's Chimney VS Although dwarfed by the neighbouring Devil's Chimney Cliff this is the biggest sea stack in England! The chimney is climbed by a number of excellent routes, Poltergeist E1, Eye of the Needle E3 and the awesome, unrepeated Uncontrolled Gurning E6. The original route goes at VS although the start is changeable when the sea tosses around the house-sized boulders at its base. In fact climbing the route proves the easy bit, the real adventure is reserved for getting down to the base of the stack and the abseil descent from its summit. For that extra thrill abseil down the overhanging east face and get a birds eye view of The Promised Land.
First Ascent R. Shaw, J.Logan June 1961 (what has become the standard way of doing this route was climbed by R.J. Tancread, R.S. Macnair in August 1969)
Mary Patricia Rozalea HVS The North Light Area is just about as far north as you can go on Lundy. This route is situated above a long sea tunnel that cuts through the west coast of the island to emerge on the north. The tunnel is popular with the resident seal population as a short cut round the island, so you are guaranteed an audience. The route itself kicks off with a sharp juggy arÍte hanging above the sea and finishes up a perfect pod-shaped-groove, a bit like Peapod but without the polish.
First Ascent Paul Harrison, Simon Cardy, N. Harrison 26 August 1993
The Ocean E1 The aptly named Big Zawn consists of a huge, vegetated slab rising from the sea to the very top of the island. A mammoth, nine day cleaning session by the first ascentionists was necessary to link a series of weaknesses up the slab, the result is the longest (vertical) route on the island. The lower pitches are quite bold and the route not always obvious but the real climbing is saved for the top pitch. A stiff pull through the overlap gives access to a superbly positioned final slab where many a leader has been known to mutter E2.
First Ascent D. Kerr, C. Gilbert, S. Wilkie (after 9 days of cleaning the route!)13 August 1986
Aristotelis E2 I thought I might sneak one of my own climbs onto the list, by no means the best E2 on the island (that would be Quatermass or Spacewalk) Aristotelis can be found on Goat Crag and is a recent addition that just shows what scope there is for new climbs on the island. A wonderful sea-level traverse above deep water leads under the crag where the nature of the climbing soon becomes apparent; its steep, very steep! Thankfully the crag is covered in large juggy holds so if you are strong enough and don't hang around too long you will find the routes a breeze.
First Ascent Paul Harrison
Stalingrad E3 Probably the toughest grade of the lot to pick a favourite, Lundy has loads of brilliant routes at his grade, Milky Way, Great Divide, Promised Land, Controlled Burning, to name a few. Stalingrad is typical seventies Littlejohn, a strong line, incredible positions and loads of commitment required. The crux "sandwiched slab" is both technical and outrageous, above the climbing eases but retreat is quickly cut off by the incoming tide.
First Ascent Pat Littlejohn, Ken Wilson. 14 April 1974
Cithaeron E4 The Parthenos is one of Lundy's finest cliffs, a 150ft face bristling with overhangs and dropping shear into the Atlantic. Cithaeron winds its way up the right side of the face heading for the all too obvious hanging groove. The climbing is simply brilliant and if its chalked up feels ok, otherwise expect a route-finding nightmare with powerful moves on positive holds and good though well-spaced protection.
First Ascent Gary Gibson, Matt Ward. 27 July 1984
Antiworlds E5 Another Littlejohn masterpiece from the seventies, this one rarely gets a mention when compared too his other routes from this golden period (Darkinbad, Il Duce etc.) Its an awesome line, a big hidden groove system, tucked away in the finest zawn on the island. The climbing is sustained, imposing and if damp (which it often is) nothing short of desperate but persevere and two perfect groove pitches lead to the final intricate wall, where perfect protection allows enjoyment to the full.
First Ascent Pat Littlejohn, Bob Moulton 11 September 1974 (with 4 points of aid) First totally free ascent by M. Carr, B. Molyneux 15 August 1989
Watching The Ocean E6 The Diamond, a face climbing mecca, of course all the routes here are excellent some are just more excellent than others. This one blasts straight up the middle, its original bolts have now gone and what is left is a sustained, calf-pumping, mind bending exercise up the centre of one of the finest granite faces in the country. Take plenty of small wires and your stiffest edging boots.
First Ascent Gary Gibson 25 July 1985/ Pat Littlejohn 4 May 1989 On Gary Gibson's first ascent 3 bolts were used. Mr. Littlejohn then led the route, accompanied by Nick White, without clipping the bolts and suggesting E7. Sinve then Gary Gibson has removed the bolts and re-lead the route.
Thanks to Paul Harrison for this article and Simon Cardy for the photos.
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