Monday, November 20, 2006

Portland sport climbing

It's been a busy weekend so I'm treating you to two posts in one day, you lucky things! Saturday morning found me loitering outside Hammersmith at some god-forsaken hour, waiting to picked up by Paul Mac on the way to Portland. We picked up Paul Mealor on the way, and after boring them to tears telling them just how good Casino Royal is, we met Darcy for breakfast in the Blue Fish cafe at Fortuneswell (nice place, incidentally, good food, though a little overpriced for what you get) at around 10.30.

The slightly late start suited us nicely actually, as it meant the sun had time to get round onto the Blacknor crags on the west coast (see pic), where many of the routes are a decent 28-30m long, so you really feel like you're getting your money's worth on every route. The last time I did any proper climbing was in the Wye Valley with Alastair in September, so it was good to get back on the rock again. I climbed with Darcy and we did several routes around the 6a-6c range, all very pleasant - yet the problem with this cliff is that all the routes follow the same pattern: 5m of heaving on dusty jugs, 10-15m of delicate conglomerate balancing, followed by 5m of really good clean limestone at the top. As a result the routes feel rather similar to each other, even though they are very good if considered individually.

So we spent a night in the old lighthouse (now a bird-watchers haunt) and got up bright and early (well, ish), and set off for The Cuttings, where the route of the day for me was The Cutting Edge, which I was quite chuffed to onsight, especially given that I've been off climbing for the last few months. Then I went and burst my bubble with a fall off New Saladin, though I wasn't too miffed as it was a juggy pump-fest, a bit more fitness would have dispatched it. So another good day was had by all. Special commendation should go to Macca who is a having a bit of a purple-patch at the moment, it seems that a summer off has done him good and he's come back with a vengeance. Oh yeah and props go to Paul Mealor who red-pointed his first 7a during his recent visit to Thailand!

And I'm really pleased because I had a brilliant weekend which has relit my passion and enthusiasm for rock climbing. Roll on some decent training over the winter, I'm looking forward to Easter at Pembroke already...

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