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South West Climbing News 2011

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Pat Littlejohn in New Route Non-Shocker (11.11.11)

Pat and his mate Dave Garner have proved once again that there are adventurous new routes to be had in the region for those prepared to look slightly off the beaten track. Their latest exploits have taken them to Com Head and Butter Hole, both on the Cornwall's north coast. Route descriptions and topos can be found on the new routes pages (Com Head | Butter Hole).

The amusingly named Butter Hole route Campaign for Real Shale, despite it's ominous Mild XS grade, looks quite erotic and climbs an impressive bit of cliff. Get there soon before it collapses like Maggie's Mistake at the nearby Stepper Point, about which Pat drolly comments "...seems to have suffered a major rock fall and is now more like E1 5a (still worth a star). Calling this ‘Cave Area’ may no longer be appropriate".

Jon Wilson in New Route Shocker (11.11.11)

Exeter resident Jon Wilson has climbed a top notch new route down at Long Quarry Point. Mustard Custard, as it is named, goes at Fr7c and takes the line right of Shadow Beast. As the grade suggests, the route is fully bolted.

This part of the Long Quarry Point was rejuvenated a couple of years ago when the existing, neglected lines of Shadow Beast and Up the Styx were retrobolted. Both of these lines were heavily reliant on unreliable in-situ gear and the base of the crag had become so overgrown that access was very tricky. This part of the old quarry has now become relatively popular with the link-up of Shadowstyx (i.e. the start Shadow Beast into the top of Up the Styx) receiving numerous ascents; the prickly bushes have now become beautifully pruned and all in all the crag now seems to be more worthwhile.

Jon's route has received a couple of repeats by fellow 'dads club' climbers Tom Rainbow and Murray Dale, (Tom opted to start up Shadowbeast at about the same grade but missing out a few tricky moves low down) and is reckoned to be very good!

Ashburton Wall Re-opening For The Winter (30 September 2011)

Following last years success, the Ashburton bouldering wall will be re-opening on 5th October with a new range of holds, volumes and other stuff. See their website for further information www.southwestbouldering.co.uk

Berry Head Mega Route 19 September 2011

Bob Hickish and David Pickford have climbed Cro-Magnum E8 6c, the awe-inspring project beneath the crux pitches of Caveman in the Old Redoubt's Great Cave. The line was attempted by Martin Crocker back in the late 1990s and is probably the hardest trad route in the South Devon area (the other contender being the nearby Cocoon E8 6c - this has only had 2 ascents in it's existence as a free route; the first by Steve Mayers in 1990 with the only repeat coming from Ken Palmer).

Aspirant ascentionists should expect French 8a and a mixture of dodgy old pegs supplemented with other gear - probably enough to keep you out of the sea although a rescue boat and calm sea could be advisable!

A full description can be found on the South Devon new routes page

Exeter Wall Now Open 19 September 2011

Exeter finally has a climbing wall - The Quay Climbing Centre. According to their website:

"... there is climbing for everyone at the Quay Climbing Centre, the South West's largest, dedicated indoor climbing wall. The centre breathes new life into the Old Electricity Works, one of Exeter's most identifiable buildings where, at over 15 metres at the apex, the atrium provides a majestic space in which to climb."

The building itself had been noticed in the past by various aspirant wall builders as the best potential venue in the city and promises to be extremely popular.

Cherry in Cider Soak Shocker 2 September 2011

Local climber Cherry Bedford has redpointed Nick White's The Cider Soak, the super-classic Fr8a down at Anstey's Cove. This is particularly newsworthy because:

1) Cherry grew up on a farm in the barren wastelands of North Devon.
2) The Cider Soak hasn't had many female ascents (possibly just Lucy Creamer? Any other takers?)

Good work Cherry!

Alexis in Cornwall Repeats Shocker 2 September 2011

Further to his Sennen new route earlier in the year, Exeter resident Alexis Perry seems to have become fond of visiting West Cornwall and has specialised in repeating Mark Edwards' routes. First off was Off the Mark E7 6c at Robin's Rocks - a steep greenstone crag on the north coast. Alexis headpointed the route and reckoned it was well worth the 3 stars and E7 grade, featuring run out climbing at about Fr7c with good but spaced gear. This is likely to only be the second ascent.

Moving to the granite, Alexis made what is probably the third ascent of Son of Satan E8 at Hella Point. Apparently it's a good one to headpoint (as Alexis did) but crunchy granite would make for a very challenging and dangerous onsight - certainly E8 for an onsight but headpointing tactics made for a considerably more pleasant experience. Although the H (headpoint) grades were never widely adopted, this route is a good example of where the additional grade would be informative i.e. much safer to headpoint when you've worked out what holds are solid enough to pull on.

Exeter Climbing Wall 20 July 2011

The Quay Climbing Centre are looking for people to pre-register and are aiming for 100 before the end of July. If you'd like to do this please go to http://www.quayclimbingcentre.co.uk/registration.html. You can also follow their progress on Facebook and can find a link to do this on their website.

Pentire Route Action 12 July 2011

The Great Wall at Pentire continues to yield new lines, the latest addition being Dave Pickford's ascent of the arête right of Eroica at E7 6b/c. The route features one stainless steel peg, a big run-out and some tricky climbing in perhaps the most exposed position (so far!) on the wall. Dave, never being shy of praising his routes, has proposed it as the 'Masters Edge of the South West' and by the looks of it he may well be right. It's called Abracadabra Arête and goes at E7 6b/c. Dave must also be credited for his approach to the line which was flashed after abseil inspection.

Even higher on the ethical scale is Stu Bradbury's new route Return to Bedlam E5 6a. Although perhaps not as major a line as Mr Pickford's, Mr Bradbury climbed this one onsight which is a praiseworthy effort indeed given the nerve wracking, loose, dirty, damp and pumpy nature of the climbing.

Full descriptions of these can be found on the new routes page

New Hard North Cornwall Problem 27 May 2011

Tom Newberry reports on his new Font 8a problem:

"After much frustration I finished off an old project at 'Big Brother' crag (South Upton). I have called it ‘Young, Youth and Manhood’ and due to the number of sessions I put into it I think this is probably 8A/V11.The climb goes direct (a little contrived, but you climb an obvious line) through a steep wave like feature on some gnarly pockets (unusual for the coast). It’s six moves long and is very tensioniony with the crux defiantly linking the moves together. After the recent downgrades of things further west I believe this could now be the only 8A in Cornwall.

For those that don’t know, 'Big Brother' crag (Upper Longbreak) is a small ‘locals’ crag just north of Widemouth Bay (near Bude) and was developed by Simon Young, Grant Edwards and myself back in 2005. There is a good range of problems from 5+ to 7B, although most follow strict lines."

Youth and Young Manhood Font 8a

Above: Tom Newberry working his new problem prior to a successful ascent in April 2011. Photo. Dave Westlake

Mike Cleverdon Adds Hard New Dartmoor Problem 8 April 2011

Mr Cleverdon has added what must be one of the hardest moves on Dartmoor with his new problem at Burrator boulders. Jungle V.I.P. V11/Font 8a is a couple of moves through a roof and looks pretty wild, featuring a good dyno for the lip! The problem had been climbed before with an easier version which made use of a large boulder at back of the roof for foot holds - this was King of Swingers V9/Font 7c.

New Wall Coming to Exeter in 2011 2 April 2011

Exeter will soon have a climbing wall, due to be open Autumn 2011. The site is located near the quay and the building is huge!

"Work has now begun on the development of The Quay Climbing Centre. The South West’s largest indoor climbing facility will be built in the Old Electricity Building, located in the heart of the city at Haven Banks. With over 150 climbing routes, walls ranging from 7 to 14 metres high and two bouldering rooms, the facility will be a modern, vibrant and challenging new sporting destination for experienced climbers, novices to the sport, families and tourists across the region."

You will be able follow progress at Quay Climbing Centre.

Exmoor Coast Bouldering 2 April 2011

Over the last few years local climbers have been beavering away at the bouldering potential on the Exmoor Coast. Grant Edwards tells us a little more about it in his article Exmoor Coast Bouldering (1MB pdf). Grant has also produced a free pdf guide to bouldering in the Lynmouth area which is available from javu - Lynmouth Bouldering Guide.

Devon Sent Second Ascent (and third!) 19 March 2011

On Thursday 17th March Dave Westlake managed to bust out the second ascent of Devon Sent V9/10 in The Bearacleave area of the woods above Bovey Tracey. This problem, first climbed in 2004, had seen attempts from various climbers over the last few years but sharp holds and very technical climbing had repelled all aspirants.

Devon Sent

Above: Dave on Devon Sent. Photo Simon Downing

Dave Westlake, in a recent run of very good form, managed to repeat the line on his forth session after a quick look on a rope when cleaning the top of the problem (it's quite high) - this same tactic was used on the first ascent so the it has yet to be climbed ground up. Dave commented "It's one of the very best problems I've done and also one of the most tenuous. It has everything - perfect line, great moves and unique features".

In other local news, Le Molay Littry Way in Bovey Tracey has recently been resurfaced and is now much more pleasant to cycle on.

Update: 'Super' Ted Kingsnorth, another talented and strong climber ticking his way through the harder Devon problems, has just made the 3rd ascent. Ted opted to follow the tactics used by previous ascentionists and have a look at the top on a rope ... the ground up prize remains.

Cornish Fixed Gear Meeting 14 March 2011

Martin Kocsis from the BMC has been in touch:

"The next South West BMC area meeting will be held at 7.00pm on Saturday 2nd April 2011 at Redruth School, Tolgus Vean, Redruth, Cornwall, TR15 1TA

The main (only?) item of business on the agenda is the West Cornwall Fixed Gear Debate.

The agenda (with proposals) is available on the BMC Website.

Please take some time to look through the proposals and to come to your own conclusion. Feel free to pass this notice on to anyone you think might be interested."


The Meeting will be voting on the following to cover West Cornwall, as defined by the
West Cornwall CC guide:
1) Agrees that all fixed protection is banned on sea cliffs and natural inland
If (1) not carried:
2) Agrees that all drilled protection is banned on sea cliffs and natural inland
3) Proposes that all fixed protection is removed from sea cliffs and natural inland
outcrops and where damage to the rock has occurred and repair is possible, for that
repair to be carried out
4) Proposes that all drilled protection is removed from sea cliffs and natural inland
outcrops and where damage to the rock has occurred and repair is possible, for that
repair to be carried out
If either 3 or 4 are carried, then the meeting will seek to establish a working party in
order to achieve this aim.
5) Proposes that no further work such as: drill protection slots, the creation of
artificial holds by clipping and/or by cement construction and/or cleaning with a drill
be carried out.
6) Agrees that climbers may develop sport climbing at certain specific Cornish
venues, excluding all natural cliffs and natural outcrops.
7) The principles governing the designation of a sport climbing venue are:
a) whether there are verified and repeated existing trad lines
b) whether there has been a history of sports climbing
c) the BMC SW Area's approval of the use of the venue in question
d) its suitability for sport climbing by comparison to other national sport
climbing venues

A bit of background information can be found here. This article, and the responses to it, were written prior to the last meeting to discuss fixed drilled protection at Carn Vellan.

Dartmoor Bouldering Developments 13 March 2011

The woods above Bovey Tracey have been seeing continued interest and a steady trickle of new problems, some of which are more significant than others. The big news recently has been Murray Dale's ascent of the big wall in The Jungle Room area. This is really quite high (20ft), very good and features hard climbing all the way to the top. It now goes by the name of The Jungle Book at a proposed grade of V8+. Murray did test the fall from the final move a couple of times prior to success and apparently it's alright.... This must be one of the last really good lines left in these woods by now? Further details on bouldering in this area can be found on the internet with a bit of research!

Murray Dale on The Jungle Book

Above: Murray Dale on The Jungle Book V8+

Also on the moor, but on the Janner side, Simon Downing and Oliver Wheeldon have added a couple of good problems in the Burrator area. The boulders, known as Rough Tor, can be found on the Combeshead Tor side of the reservoir (a map showing the parking is here; the problem location is here and for a map of the approach click here).

The hardest line is Simon's Jay-z at V8+ - a good looking, reachy line. Here's a little YouTube clip:


There's also a tight line on the arete in its entirety - 99 Problems V5/6. Around the corner from the Jay-z boulder, the stunning Moonlight Arete V2 takes the left side of the big arete (it transpires this was climbed some time ago by Jason Maddick). This also has a sit start from the right at V4 thanks to Oliver Wheeldon.

The addition of these new problems adds yet more variety to an already good area - within a small radius we have Burrator Boulders (by the dam), Combeshead Tor/Cuckoo Rock, Down Tor and Sheeps Tor. Green Army!

Addendum: Further to this report, Dartmoor pioneer Jason Maddick has been in touch to add that he did stumble across these boulders some years ago and climbed the line of Moonlight Arete. Apparently the area is officially known as Rough Tor.

New Sennen Mega Route Shocker 9 March 2011

Exeter resident Alexis 'Didier' Perry has made the first ascent of the obvious direct version of Tears of a Clown at Sennen.

Mark Edwards' original route from way back in 1986 moved out right to a ledge on the arete and then - arguably artificially - moved back left onto the face for a series of hard, bold moves at E7. Climbers have subsequently opted to climb the easier arete of Ace of Spades (an E4) for a few metres before moving back left along a break (shown on the photo below as 'Easy Version' - E6 6b overall so not really easy!) to fine moves on the upper wall and through the easier roof at the top.

Tears of a Clown

Alexis become interested in the wall last summer after repeating a line similar to that climbed originally by Mark Edwards (you can see Alexis' chalk on the photo above). After spending some time getting to know the moves he succesfully lead the route in prime spring conditions on 7th March 2011, belayed by his good lady wife Mandy (who had invested a considerable amount of time belaying Alexis over the winter whilst he dicked about on a top rope). Alexis is a little unsure on the grade but by the sounds of it nasty E8 is more than likely - thin 6c moves with potential for a large fall onto a granite shelf.

The line was discussed on UKClimbing last year.

In deference to Mark Edwards' original musical theme Alexis has suggested a name of Tracks of My Tears, an earlier 'Smokey Robinson and The Miracles' track (the music for Tears of a Clown was written by Stevie Wonder with lyrics by Smokey Robinson).

Tracks of My Tears

Above: Alexis Perry atop his new route Tracks of My Tears, the route being roughly delineated by the shadow on the wall.

Alexis 'Didier' Perry moved to Exeter from Harrogate in the summer of 2009 (he claims to be originally from the South West but is actually from some place called Warminster, practically on the outskirts of London!) and has since been ticking various hard routes and problems around the South West. In real life Alexis is a postdoctorate research chemist at The University of Exeter (which he points out closed its chemistry department in 2005!). He is a veritable specialist in the art of straightening out existing routes and honed these skills at Chudleigh with direct versions of Mortality Crisis and Dream On/Dripdry. He is not very keen on DIY, so much so that when and he and his wife were looking for a house last year one of the criteria was that it must already have a training board - he got lucky with this as the strong husband/wife team Stark* were selling their house which had a tried and tested board!

Oh, and Alexis looks a little bit like legendary Swiss crack climbing meister Didier Berthod (well, I think so...) hence my Didier nickname!

*Team Stark - John and Sheila were well known in Devon for ticking hard sport routes and being machines! They have now moved to the South of France where they seem very content with the huge selection of steep limestone on offer.

First Ascent and Repeats from Dave Westlake 1 March 2011

Mr Westlake has been making the most of unemployment recently with an ongoing stream of repeats and first ascents around the region. Up at Speke's Mill Mouth (on t' North Coast) Dave made the first ascent of Contortion (see photo below) using a funky 'feet first' sequence. Strong/skinny Tom Newberry then popped in for a second ascent using more conventional footwork and thinking confirming the problem to be about Font 7b+. Also on t' north coast but moving up to Exmoor, Dave nipped in to repeat Mike Cleverdon's Twister Font 7b+ and added a right hand variant which he called Cyclone Font 7a. Further details on Exmoor bouldering can be found on Grant Edwards' broken hard drive...

Dave Westlake on Contortion, Speke's Mill Mouth

Dave Westlake on his new Speke's Mill Mouth problem Contortion Font 7b+.

Moving down south to Bonehill Dave repeated Tsunami (now an established classic at about V10) and also discovered what may tun out to be a new problem (I hadn't noticed it or heard of it being done) on the Innocuous Traverse block, a good sit start to the right edge that goes at roughly V6/Font 7a.

And last but not least Dave repeated the powerful Alan Smith V9 at Hound Tor. Nick Cox made an interesting (!) little film of the ascent using footage from his camera phone:


New Combeshead Problem and Bouldering Update 25 January 2011

Mike 'e' Cleverdon managed to tick off an impressive and fingery line down at Combeshead last year. Peeping Tom, as he has named it, takes the previous project marked 78 on the javu guide and goes at about V9. Strong gingers are required (oops, bit of a typo there but it's slightly funny so I'll leave it!).

Peeping Tom

Mike has also been busy bouldering his way around the South West adding a couple of probable new lines down at Carn Brea, King of the Swingers, a new V9/10 at Burrator Boulders (aka 'Lakeside', due to the crag being near a reservoir) and repeating Blacking out the Friction Left and Right versions (7c+ and 7b/+ respectively) down at Godrevy.

Mike donned a rope and repeated the slightly-silly-link-up-with-a-high-quality-name, Leather Whip Mick Fr8a down at the regions premier dogging spot of Anstey's Cove. See the new route info page for a route description.

Loose Rock and Rockfalls 25 January 2011

The winter weather seems to have taken it's toll on the crags around the region. Probably the most impressive rockfall has been at Cradle Rock, Berry Head, where a rather large section has fallen off in the Sidewinder area - this will probably affect the routes Sidewinder, Zeta, The Mark of Zorro, When the Wind Blows and The Bough Breaks (I spotted this when out on a little kayak trip so I'm not entirely sure as I didn't have my guidebook with me). Luckily it has also wiped out a potential new route as well which will save me a trip!

Down in deepest darkest far flung Cornwall it has been reported (thanks Alexis!) that the controversial route Black Wednesday* at Land's End now appears to be an unstable pile of rubble. This may not be a recent development but given the lack of traffic on many of the harder routes in the area it could have gone unnoticed for some time.

It is likely other crags will have been affected by the cold weather so take care, even on the popular routes.

* Black Wednesday had a bolt placed to replace the peg used on the first ascent.

Please send in any climbing news - South West or further afield.

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