Saturday, 25 July 2009

Devon Continued...

Next up was Screda Point...

This ideally located crag is situated rather scenically across the bay from the pub at Hartland Quay (purveyors of good, honest pub grub and the exceedingly fine Skinners Cornish Ale). The rock, unlike much along this stretch of coastline, is solid and reminiscent of slate, albeit a little more rounded with small and sparse protection... Sound a little worrying!?!

Our first route was Tourist Trap and a bit of a sandbag at E1 - Sam unloaded an entire rack of the new DMM HB Brass Offsets into the pitch and I'm pretty sure most would have come out in the event of a fall! E2 or maybe soft E3 would be more accurate. We then climbed Half Life E3 5c, the classic of the crag and apparently at the top end of the grade, but after Tourist Trap we were ready for anything (to be honest they felt remarkably similar)!

For me the venue that stole the show was the Cow and Calf. The beautiful pencil sketch frontispiece in the guidebook and the equally stunning first ascent shots had long inspired me to visit; that alongside a good span of grades, a liberal smattering of stars, and non-tidal options it sealed the deal to pay it a visit.

(Picture Left: Cow and Calf / Picture Right: Sam Underhill on Bulldyke)

What we found was wild... Sam and I have both spent a lot of time climbing on loose, adventurous cliffs and the Cow and Calf tested all of our experience. It was distinctly reminiscent of the infamously loose and serious Craig Doris on the Lleyn.

Whilst there we climbed Bulldyke - an E2 5b that was probably E4 5c - and Elisa Johanna - an E4 6a that was probably a E5 6a! I've since heard from local BMC Officer Mike Raine that he once tried the corner/groove of Tsunami E3 5c and backed off, not to be turned away he decided to top rope it and reckoned it to be nearer to E5 6a and was glad to have backed off!

Although its a bit tedious to talk grades it just goes to show how these unnoticed adventurous crags can give you a few big surprises. How many repeats have these routes ever had?! Approaching this sort of climbing requires a lot of care and judgement in order to combat the doubt, but thats what makes it all worthwhile!!

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