Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Trip Report - North Devon (May 2008)


Katrina Spinney on Midnight Cowboy, Baggy Point

The sandstone slabs at Baggy Point were our first stop-off point on our trip down to Lands End. For those that haven't been, 'Baggy' is a slab climbers paradise with excellent friction and exciting, yet somewhat detatched, topouts! The classic of the crag - Midnight Cowboy (pictured above) - follows the striking line of overlaps in the centre of The Promontary (or is it Long Rock... they swapped names a few years ago and I never remember which is which?!?). Anyhow, for added entertainment do the Kinkyboots start: a VS that requires the leader to 'fall' across a zawn to reach the starting holds - outrageous!!!

Above Left: The Promontary (or is it Long Rock?)
Below Left: Long Rock (or is it the Promontary!?!)

The North and Middle Fin at Lower Sharpnose
(a climber can just about be spotted belaying on the 'bunny-ears' at the top of Lunakhod on the left)

Next on the list was Lower Sharpnose, home to some of the most incredible and unique rock architecture in Britain. These surreal fins of rock are nomore than a few metres wide, ye reach up to 30m in height.

The Middle Fin
Home to Break on Through, Pacemaker, Fay, and Coronary Country (just to name a few of the classics...)

While there we climbed Lunakhod (HVS) which we found to have quite a detached feel to it and a little disappointing for a 3 star route. However, this was not the case with Out of the Blue (E2/3) which contained nothing but immaculate rock and positive holds - a real must! My main objective was to climb Pat Littlejohn's masterpiece Fay (E4/5), but due to a combination of a) rotton pegs b) rapidly diminishing stamina and c) a certain unwillingness to test the aforementioned beuties I ended up resting once. Disappointing, but an incredible route in an equally incredible place...

Carn Gowla is arguably one of Britain's premier sea-cliffs but somehow escapes the limelight. This could partly be attributed to the high levels of commitment, seriousness, and loose rock, but apart from these 'minor' factors it is a formiddable cliff for those of an adventurous nature. Unfortunately we only got to climb one route as it was overcast and forecast to rain.

However, the route in question - Rainbow Games (E2 5b) - was worth all the effort! It climbs the centre of an implausably looking honeycombe wall (picture above right) on what are possibly the largest holds you'll ever use. The rock is remeniscient of Red Walls/ Mousetrap Zawn at South Stack Gogarth and many of the holds, although huge, feel about 4mm thick and a little 'snappy'. Nonetheless, a stunning single pitch climb that is non-tidal and is unlikely to have people cueing to do it!!!

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