Easter on the Golden Granite

By Chris Poad and James Carpenter

The weather and tides could not have been better for a bank holiday trip to Cornwall in early April. The temperature was well above the required 15° C to see Clare out climbing. So it was an expectant band of nine who joined Geoff and his family, including grand children, at the nicely sheltered Kelynack campsite just outside St. Just.

Chris and Clare had arrived the day before and cut their granite teeth at a quiet Bosigran. However, with such good conditions on an Easter weekend Bosi was not expected to remain as quiet for the next four days. In fact partly for this reason some new and hopefully less visited venues were to be visited.

The Friday did see a large contingent of Cornwall first-timers visiting Bosigran, where Alison's Rib (D), Fasolt (VD) and others were enjoyed. Clare & Chris spent the day at Chair Ladder and found the top sections of climbs covered in an exceptional amount of that hairy green vegetation stuff that grows on the granite – or maybe they just weren't climbing popular enough climbs!

We all paid a visit to Carn Barra. Chris and Clare had looked at it last year and thought it had potential. A 25 minute walk then setting up an abseil and getting all eight people down took a little while. Much to his discomfort whilst getting on his abseil, James discovered his brand new prussic loops were a bit too thick and wouldn’t grip the rope. Luckily Chris had a spare which made the descent a little less worrisome.

Peel Crack (VD)
The photogenic Peel Crack (VD)

Eventually we were all down on the sea level ledges eagerly scanning the guide books for suitable climbs. Most of us did the classic and very photogenic (if you're any good at taking photos that is) Peel Crack (VD). Paul and Therese climbed Credit Squeeze (D). Not content at undertaking this at Diff, they somehow managed to turn it into a HS, an undertaking that deserves particular applaud. Of note was Chris, Clare, Trevor and John's assent of Cumbelloe (HS 4b). This contained a full body rest in a deep horizontal crack where only the upper body and head were in fresh air.

Credit Squeeze (D)
Therese and Paul on Credit Squeeze (D). Or is it HS?

On the non-climbing front, Sarah had been enjoying the good weather by doing a number of coastal walks. Geoff and family, not surprisingly, had spent quite a lot of time on the beaches constructing sand castles! Don't think Granddad got buried in the sand at any point - a tradition that I think should have been fully explained to his grand children at the start of the weekend!

Geoff with Grandkids
Geoff with Grandkids

Therese and James managed to prove an OMC member can walk 16km in the time it takes to climb Commando Ridge, provided you place a pub ¾ of the way along the walk. Having been dropped off in St Ives, by Jonathan and Paul they raced to meet them at the top of the Ridge. Despite the delay caused by the hostile actions of a hawthorn bush attacking Therese's leg with a two inch thorn, they arrived in time to spend an hour or two while Paul and Jonathan completed a splendid day doing the ridge. Clare and Chris had been at Bosi main wall that day and had charted their progress along the ridge.

Commando Ridge (VD)
Jonathan enjoying Commando Ridge (VD)

On the last day James, Paul, Jonathan and Therese headed off to Sheep's Tor in Devon. James had a score to settle with a climb called Slanting Crack (S) which had defeated him on the Devon meet last year. After valiant attempts by everyone, top-rope ascents were achieved, however it sounds like the score may not be fully settled yet as a clean lead was still not achieved!

Cumbelloe (HS 4b)
Trevor battling up Cumbelloe (HS 4b)

Chris and Clare decided not to leave the Cornish granite just yet, and paid a visit to a new venue - Pordenack Point. John and Trevor had been there the day before and had returned with good reports. Unfortunately you have to park at Land's End with all the tacky touristy razzmatazz. However a short walk away from all that and you arrive at a headland. Now, at this point you do not, I repeat DO NOT follow other climbers down a gully just because they say they've been here before, look like they know where they're going, and climb E2s! Carrying heavy sacks down slippery gullies and back up again may be character building but Chris & Clare both feel their character is built quite enough thank you!

After following the correct gully, access to the sea-level ledges is by a scramble down a trough with one 'bad-step' to negotiate. It was a lovely spot, described in the guide as a poor man’s Chair Ladder. The weather was hot and sunny and no wind. The climbing was mostly on that rough crystalline granite which can seem quite tough until you get used to it. Clare particularly enjoying leading the first pitch of Economist's Climb (D) following a red seam in the granite. This area contains a selection of low to middle grade climbs, so definitely a place to come back to, and so much quieter than Bosi or Chair Ladder.

Economit's Climb (D)
Clare on Economist's Climb (D)

In the past Easter trips to Cornwall haven't been quite so fortunate with the weather. This time however the gods looked kindly down on us and it turned out to be a very successful trip. Somehow just knowing the weather was going to be good the next day made such a difference!