Monday, 9 March 2015

Quickie on the culm

I managed to get out this weekend on the Culm coast. For those that don't know the 'Culm' is a wild stretch of coast in north Devon and Cornwall and host some of the most adventurous climbing in the South West. The rock is often poor and the gear even more so, yet the climbing (at least the stuff I've done) has been totally captivating, often involving thin and delicate climbing on snappy and friable slabs. Its almost a 'the slate' by the sea!

I met with Mike (who felt the draw of the Culm so much he drove from Crewe!) at Stanbury Mouth and we descended down the muddiest path in the world to the beach. After a long boulder-hop hemmed in between crumbling cliffs and a roaring ocean we made it to Oldwalls Point. This huge sheet of Culm rises right up from the boulders for a full 50m. The high angled slab is one of the biggest, most compact faces on this coast and has two suitably compelling lines; Matchless and More Than a Match. Our route being the former, Matchless (E1 5b).

Mike swam up to the ledge to where the climbing begins as the start of the route was still damp from its recent tussle with the tide. After sending the the crux of the route, a hard step up with only a flaking peg for gear, you enter a strenuous crack system and then you just keep gunning for the sun!

Looking along the Culm, one of the wildest section of coast in the West Country

Mike trying to get some blood back into his calves, the crux is behind but there is still a long way to go!
For any wana-be ascentionists; the crucial peg was looking in a pretty sorry state and the tat at the top was looking a bit worn with a lot of UV damage but it didn't appear structurally compromised. After that we stopped at Hippa Rock on the walk out and I balanced up Coitionary Tales (HVS 5b). Somebody has kindly put in a lower off at the top which makes the unpleasant top-out a little less harrowing. Mike then had a go at Tales of Don Juan (E1 5b) after which we were chased to the pub by the tide!

Me leading up Coitionary Tales at Hippa Point.

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