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West Penwith E3/4 (Read 12145 times)

AJM

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West Penwith E3/4
June 18, 2013, 03:57:15 pm
Put this on UKC but then though about it and figured that plenty of folk here were probably as least as able to offer advice...

Not been to Cornwall for ages and currently due to be going next week. So, what should I do? As background:

- I'm predominantly a limestone climber at home
- If you recommend me a climb requiring anything much in the way of actual crack techniques I will fall off.
- My partner is most psyched for granite

Thoughts I've had so far:
- I'm going to try and persuade my climbing partner that leaving the granite for a short while for something like Cull/Dawn, Cian/Amnesty/Internationale or Mastodon is a good idea.
- I really fancy Kafoozalem but it looks nails.
- Ditto Dream/Liberator but more so.
- The Ghost looks good, anyone know what Phantom next to it is like?
- Swift flight of fancy, the guidebook cover, looks fun.
- Never been to Carn Barra but my friend tells me I must give it a look. What are the E3/4s like?

Any specific tips for E4s? They are a major effort and uncertain outcome for me so be nice to have some accessible ones to get on - friendly feel, decent gear that sort of thing.

Thanks for any tips...

Andy

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#1 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 18, 2013, 06:06:38 pm
The Ghost is very good and easy for E3. It's intimidating but not really any harder than Bow Wall or Xanadu. If Xanadu is dry (a fairly unusual event) get on this immediately. It is very good indeed, defines the upper limit of the E2 grade at Bosigran, but you may well question the "5b" ness of the top offwidth. Phantom I recall as requiring significant crack skills (and wide-ish gear) on the top crack. I thought Kafoozalem was not too bad but I was climbing well at the time and lucked out on finding the right way to do the overhang straight off. Gymnastic but well protected if I recall correctly. Grande Plage at Carn Barra is very good and used to be fair for E3 6a but apparently the starting boulder has shifted and it all a bit tricky there now.

All this is avoiding the issue however. The finest E3/4 in Cornwall, and a long way beyond, is America at Carn Gowla. It probably fails the friendly and accessible criteria if I'm completely honest but a memorable and life-enhancing experience is yours if you accept its challenge. You are in luck as low tide is early to mid afternoon in the middle of next week. This is ideal since it allows you to do the sea-level traverse (the only way to approach) and sets you up to be on the psychological crux pitch 2. in the late afternoon by which time the slab will have had a chance to dry properly and may even have some sun on it. The weather forecast and surf forecast are currently good (for climbers). Pitch ratings are approximately E3 5b, E3 5b, E3 5c, an E4 experience overall. More thoughts here.

AJM

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#2 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 18, 2013, 07:30:40 pm
The Ghost is very good and easy for E3. It's intimidating but not really any harder than Bow Wall or Xanadu. If Xanadu is dry (a fairly unusual event) get on this immediately. It is very good indeed, defines the upper limit of the E2 grade at Bosigran, but you may well question the "5b" ness of the top offwidth. Phantom I recall as requiring significant crack skills (and wide-ish gear) on the top crack. I thought Kafoozalem was not too bad but I was climbing well at the time and lucked out on finding the right way to do the overhang straight off. Gymnastic but well protected if I recall correctly. Grande Plage at Carn Barra is very good and used to be fair for E3 6a but apparently the starting boulder has shifted and it all a bit tricky there now.

Yes Mr Craggs on the other channel has mentioned a brutal section of jamming through the bulge on Phantom so I might give that one a miss. Xanadu would be excellent although that top off width scares me - I can only climb off widths if oddwidthing itself is strictly optional  ;)

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All this is avoiding the issue however. The finest E3/4 in Cornwall, and a long way beyond, is America at Carn Gowla. It probably fails the friendly and accessible criteria if I'm completely honest but a memorable and life-enhancing experience is yours if you accept its challenge. You are in luck as low tide is early to mid afternoon in the middle of next week. This is ideal since it allows you to do the sea-level traverse (the only way to approach) and sets you up to be on the psychological crux pitch 2. in the late afternoon by which time the slab will have had a chance to dry properly and may even have some sun on it. The weather forecast and surf forecast are currently good (for climbers). Pitch ratings are approximately E3 5b, E3 5b, E3 5c, an E4 experience overall. More thoughts here.

I'm not sure whether that or jcm recommending Il Duce comes on as my biggest eye opener of the day :)

America is definitely on The List. But I've got very few climbing partners who would be up for that sort of jollity, who could swing leads on it and who I'd want to do it with, and I think on the first and quite probably second criteria I don't think next weeks partner is going to score highly. Plus that's a convenient excuse for the fact it scares me too  :???:

Habrich - Dream/Liberator is sounding slightly less scary than it was initially, so much so that I'm almost persuaded to add it to the list as a potential "if its all going well" one...

AJM

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#3 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 18, 2013, 08:21:38 pm
I have done Il Duce. Not done America, but have looked from above and discussed with people who have done it. Of those three, I am absolutely confident in saying that D/L is by far the closest to being a conventional low-drama rock climb, rather than badass adventure. Suggest raising it further up your list!

There's The List, which all 3 routes are on, of routes for "one day", and then there's the list of routes I might get on this trip - I was talking about D/L moving from only being on the former to being of the latter as well...!

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To me, if a foreign climber had just a couple of days in Britain and had transport, I would suggest doing D/L then driving to wales and doing Left Wall, then bugger off back to Heathrow. It's a world classic.

Given the amount of time in traffic that might involve that's one hell of a recommendation!  ;D

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#4 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 18, 2013, 08:42:51 pm
I remember Raven Wall at Bosigran being one of my favourites and quite hard for the grade. I seem to recall Evil Eye was OK for E4 (even though it's given 6b). Kafoozalem is steady? The Ghost is good. I don't remember Dream/Liberator being that amazing to be honest, though maybe I did it when it was well within my grade (seem to recall the top pitch being v hairy). You need the right conditions as it can be really mingin in Great Zawn (salty/greasy rock). Grand Plage at Carn Barra is deservedly popular, though the rock isn't as good as Bosi. There's loads of development going on on the Lizard at the moment apparently. Only done Cull/Dawn and seem to remember they were pleasant enough jug pulling. Mastadon is good as is the big E4 up the centre of Freedom Zawn. Eroica at Pentire is quality. 20 years ago since I did these routes, but was down there with the family last summer. Climbing at Bosigran is fab.

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#5 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 18, 2013, 09:15:23 pm
Carn Barra is a good spot for getting a lot done. Golden Brown, next to Grande Plage, is very good too. At a touch harder Dog Town (I think?) was also worthwhile.

SA Chris

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#6 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 08:49:30 am
I remember Raven Wall at Bosigran being one of my favourites and quite hard for the grade.

I really enjoyed it too. A great line, and some funky 3D moves. Plus an Extreme Rock tick? (one of my few!) Patience, just next door, is very good too.

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#7 West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 09:22:37 am
I remember Raven Wall at Bosigran being one of my favourites and quite hard for the grade.

I really enjoyed it too. A great line, and some funky 3D moves. Plus an Extreme Rock tick? (one of my few!) Patience, just next door, is very good too.

I've geared up under Patience - and then it rained, so we went to the pub... (thats about as hard as I've climbed at Bosi :(  )

andyd

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#8 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 10:39:24 am
I've only skim read this so forgive me.
America is awesome. First pitch is steady but run out, second pitch needs commitment and is wild!
Il Duce often seeps at the bottom and I know it's seen off some very talented boys.
Darkinbad the brightdayler at pentire is class.
I also remember throwing a rope down sewing machine man when i was about 17. Awesome line, amazing situation, steady moves, falling is not an option (E5 though).

Have fun, wear a helmet.

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#9 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 10:40:48 am
Carn Barra is a good spot for getting a lot done. Golden Brown, next to Grande Plage, is very good too. At a touch harder Dog Town (I think?) was also worthwhile.

There has now been a rock fall at the start of Grande plage and Golden Brown they now have a 6bish move with only small cams and a rock 1 to get (what was the hard bit getting) onto the face from the diagonal crack.  Now top end E4.

You cannot go far wrong with ticking any of the extremes in the Raven Wall area, all are on great rock and good value (best climbed when the sun has just come onto them as in the evening the rock and climber can really sweat).

Dream liberator is a great route with amazing positions. One of the best E4's is Immaculate arete at Prodennack, there is also Cain E3/4 and Stone Boom E2 which are also top class routes . For afternoon/evening sun Gurnards head Behemoth E2, Mastadon E3 are must do's, there is also a good pumpy E4 Tropospheric scatter. If they are a not enough just round the corner is the amazing Astral Stroll E1 and a little further on Robins rocks which hold a great underated pat littlejohn E4 black sapper. Hope you get good weather and enjoy.

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#10 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 12:19:43 pm
I've always wondered about Dream Liberator - just how 'exciting' is that jump at the start? It's hard to tell from the pics that I've seen. I wonder if it has seen any 'refusals' (or indeed, if anybody would ever admit to such a cowardly act!)

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#11 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 12:46:05 pm

America is awesome. First pitch is steady but run out, second pitch needs commitment and is wild!

Il Duce often seeps at the bottom and I know it's seen off some very talented boys.


Two pitches? You didn't abseil in did you? Back around...  ;)

I got to the foot of the ramp 3 times before finding Il Duce in condition. It's definitely E5 despite what has been said elsewhere.

More realistically, The Spire at Chair ladder is a good E3. I did it in a period when I wasn't climbing much or well so it can't be too hard of the grade. A very small cam and RPs are reassuring to have at the start. The pillow lava of Pentire and Kellan Head is great to climb on and almost any route on either crag will be worthwhile. As T_B says, Eroica is an obvious target but Reflections is good too despite traversing in from the hillside half-way up the crag.  It's well-protected for the hard bit but then run-out and exposed on easier ground. Pentire certainly fits the accessible criteria, it's a cliff by the sea rather than a sea cliff.


I've always wondered about Dream Liberator - just how 'exciting' is that jump at the start? It's hard to tell from the pics that I've seen. I wonder if it has seen any 'refusals' (or indeed, if anybody would ever admit to such a cowardly act!)


The jump is pretty intimidating but fine once you commit. Henry Barber famously took about 45 minutes before going for it for the TV ascent of Dream/Liberator with Livesey. There is a way of cheating apparently but this deserves equal scorn as abseiling into America.


andyd

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#12 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 01:29:06 pm
Yes we abseiled in. Why?

Tom de Gay

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#13 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 01:47:48 pm
I've always wondered about Dream Liberator - just how 'exciting' is that jump at the start? It's hard to tell from the pics that I've seen. I wonder if it has seen any 'refusals' (or indeed, if anybody would ever admit to such a cowardly act!)
It's pretty steady once you actually go for it. The problem comes when it starts raining and you can't reverse it! After a huge fall on pitch 2, we ended up abseiling onto the slimy jammed block in the zawn, slithered across that then off up something grim and damp on the other side.


Raven Wall fits the bill. America is ace: the climbing's steady with decent rock and belays.

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#14 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 02:07:54 pm
the TV ascent of Dream/Liberator with Livesey.

I'll be watching that this evening.

Sorry to be  :off:, but why did people stop using medium sized nuts on cord? Surely 5mm spectra just as strong as wire and lighter, esp. when one considers the potential saving of a quickdraw? There was nothing as confidence inspiring as a nice solid MOAC or Rock 8 on a bit of rope.

When I stopped climbing in the mid 90s that's what everybody was still using, then when I started again a few years ago it was everythng on wire and you suddenly had to carry dozens of quickdraws for everything. I don't get it.

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#15 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 03:17:43 pm
Personally I find anything on wire easier to place and remove, esp one handed.

latest CLIMB mag has a Cornwall article, haven't had a proper read, it was all wrapped up.

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#16 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 19, 2013, 03:18:26 pm
the TV ascent of Dream/Liberator with Livesey.

I'll be watching that this evening.

Sorry to be  :off:, but why did people stop using medium sized nuts on cord? Surely 5mm spectra just as strong as wire and lighter, esp. when one considers the potential saving of a quickdraw? There was nothing as confidence inspiring as a nice solid MOAC or Rock 8 on a bit of rope.

When I stopped climbing in the mid 90s that's what everybody was still using, then when I started again a few years ago it was everythng on wire and you suddenly had to carry dozens of quickdraws for everything. I don't get it.

More quickdraws, and crucially, longer quickdraws, means less rope drag. My memories of climbing in the 80s and up to the early 90s (when I finally sorted out my rack), is lots of incidents of horrendous rope drag. Must have been even worse in the late 70s/early 80s when people used to think that two krabs linked together constitued a quickdraw! Modern quickdraws are incredibly light, carrying a few more of them is no chore.

And, perhaps most importantly, you can reach further with a wire, making those 'just-out-of-reach' placements useable.

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#17 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 21, 2013, 11:42:12 pm

America is definitely on The List. But I've got very few climbing partners who would be up for that sort of jollity, who could swing leads on it and who I'd want to do it with


Just in case anyone's interested, I'm very much up for this sort of jollity and could swing leads on it (although whether you'd want to climb with me is of course another matter).

I only mention it because although I've met a few people to climb with since recently moving to the SW, I'm not sure any of them are up to sharing leads on America, and it's probably a bit selfish (and a faff) to drag someone along to follow me on all three pitches.  If anyone's up for it let me know.

In the meantime, a couple of questions:

1. If you ab in, do people make two abs and climb all 3 pitches, or bin off the first pitch?
2. If you do the original approach, how difficult is it, and how low/calm does the sea need to be?
3. If you do climb as a slightly unbalanced team, which are the harder pitches, and how do they compare in terms of physical difficulty vs scariness?

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#18 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 21, 2013, 11:46:20 pm
... oh, and back on topic, I would also recommend Pentire.  Non-tidal, easy approach and great routes (although quite shady so probably best for a warm day).

If you fancy Eroica and your partner is a less strong climber then they can lead to just below they double overhang at about HVS, and you can then lead through to the top in one long pitch.

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#19 West Penwith E3/4
June 22, 2013, 10:38:58 am
On America, we tied two ropes together and abbed all the way to the bottom in a oner, passing the knot whilst leaning against the slab. The problem with abbing down the route is the rope crosses the arÍte pitch, which makes it less committing.

I don't remember much about P1. P2 is the main event and you won't be getting pumped, which is good as you can't fall off Ė long slabby runouts above poor pro. Must have gone off route on P3 as it was fairly easy.

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#20 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 22, 2013, 11:10:53 pm
Cheers for the beta Tom.

Anyone got info on the original approach? I take it P3 is better for gear?

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#21 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 23, 2013, 10:27:48 am
I passed under America last week on lifeboat training and can confirm its generally dry at the moment.. I ought to run a 'is carngowla greasy' twitter feed  ;D

Fall off the slab and into the drink and it'll be me that comes to haul you out  :o

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#22 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 24, 2013, 01:35:01 pm

Anyone got info on the original approach? I take it P3 is better for gear?


P3 has mostly good gear. The crux is slightly go-ey but itís steep and should be safe.

I cocked-up the link to my post on doing America via the sea level traverse.  It's in this thread. NB Neil Fosterís comments.

To my mind, the sea-level approach is an integral part of the route as conceived by the first ascentionists. Once across the Tyrolean it would be tricky to reverse without going into the sea. With anything other than a calm sea it might be really quite awkward. This adds a sense of commitment that is unusual on an English crag and really enhanced my experience of the route.

I am aware of a certain degree of hypocrisy about this stance since we evaded the Tyrolean. Iím guessing many people abseil to the start as Tom describes and I'm sure they still think it's a great route.

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#23 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 24, 2013, 01:44:56 pm

I am aware of a certain degree of hypocrisy about this stance since we evaded the Tyrolean. Iím guessing many people abseil to the start as Tom describes and I'm sure they still think it's a great route.

Definately we did the double ab adding the second rope on the slab http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=145356 the ab feels very committing as the first rope is almost entirely free http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=145481

The lovely yellow and green colours on the photos show the quality of the rock(bird shit and lichen) proper good adventure route.

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#24 Re: West Penwith E3/4
June 24, 2013, 10:26:21 pm
Cheers all.  One last question - if I ab in, will the bottom of P1 be accessible at mid-tide?

 

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