At last genuine summer weather has arrived! Our planned return to Portland on 13th and 14th July coincided with one of the hottest weekends of the year with gin blue skys and soldiers keeling over on the Brecon Beacons due to heat exhaustion.
To avoid the rigeurs of the afternoon sun we opted for the Cheyne Weares area (east facing) and headed down the cliff path to try out an area new to us: Godnor Far North. There was a sizeable crowd already assembled on the rocky cliff base where we joined the queue for Valerie's Patio (grade 3) Although we had to wait our turn for climbs the atmosphere was friendly with the usual climber's witty banter providing entertainment.
|A mini rock festival at Godnor far north|
Stephen then lead Tombstone, a gorgeous little 3+ climb with an interesting start and nice holds appearing at just the right times and in the right places.
I then lead Noonie and the Pulp Fiction Tantrum (4+) It felt more like a 5 and when I finally reached the top I was hot and exhausted. I also wished I had bought my helmet as there seemed to be some loose rocks at the top. With an awkward stance I was faced with a pair of staples above head height. Before threading the rope through these and being lowered to the ground I began the usual proceedure of pulling up what I thought was an ample bite of rope, tying a figure of eight on it and clipping it to the belay loop on my harness. The idea is to ensure the leader is attached to the rope at all times so he does not drop it and become stranded. (very embarrassing) I untied my original figure of eight knot and started to thread the rope through the two staples. To my exasperation I discovered that I had not pulled up enough rope to pass through both staples and reconnect with my harness. This was frustrating and the heat made the situation worse. Without going into too much detail it took what seemed an age to rectify the situation. I felt I had learnt a valuable lesson: after reaching the top of a sport climb and clipping on, take time to breath deeply and work out a sensible strategy to avoid rushing and making silly mistakes.
Before too much dehydration had set in we retired to the Sugar Loaf Cafe in Easton for tea and excellent toasted tea cakes which I highly recommend. Then off to Exeter to crash on my son James' floor but not before a beer and an Indian meal!
On Sunday we returned for more practice on Portland. This time we tried an old haunt: the Veranda on Battlship Back cliff (west facing)
|Stephen and fellow climber on The Veranda|
I tried leading another 4+ called Limestone Cowboy but could not top out. I felt uneasy about a rock ledge below the top move and all the time was wondering whether I would hit this if I fell. I convinced myself that a vital hold had broken off so tried traversing slightly right to the next climb in the hope of more success. This also proved difficult and I eventually did fall off. No harm was done though just a slightly bruised ego.
|Me on Phil's route (4)|
We then warmed down on Never Lead a Dumb Existence (4) Phil's Route (4) and lastly Dr Sole and Mr Sole (3) before returning to the Sugar Loaf Cafe for more tea cake.
Cheers Stephen for doing all the driving and James for accommodating us. We'll be back.