Friday, 25 November 2011


The planned three weeks of rest shortened into one week after the pain in my finger disappeared and the psyche returned. However, during my week of rest, in proper injured climber style, I turned up at the local crag where my friends were climbing to heckle, belay and dead-hang off the other arm. When all your mates are climbers what else is there to do?!

With no work for a few days it was time to head down to Cornwall in The Van (yes, the capitals are required) to see how the injured finger would cope with trad. The weather forecast looked good but a big swell was predicted – surely not a problem for Cornish sea cliffs!

Tuesday – Sennen
Heading down to Cornwall at midday gave us just enough time to get a route in before sunset; we walked down to Sennen with the idea of checking out hard stuff but were put off by clouds of spray thrown up by the massive waves. After seeing a wave crash over the rocks we had just walked on we decided to run away up Monday Face. I topped out with my finger still pain free and we sorted gear as the sun set from a clear blue sky whilst the waves crashed on the rocks below – a beautiful place to be and a long way from the bustle of everyday life.

Wednesday – Bosigran
Bosi, being as far from the sea as West Cornwall crags get, seemed like the perfect place to go to escape the waves. Alexis got on Saddle Tramp, a rarely climbed route in the Raven Wall Area, which I seconded falling off only when I realised I was trying a hard move from a very similar set of hold to the ones I had injured myself on only this time with numb fingers and feet on lichen-y smears.

Following on in the spirit of climbing underrated two star lines we got on Dominator which did involve climbing up a small stream but finished in ape-like fashion swinging from massive holds on steep rock. Another day of pain free climbing and another beautiful sunset... time for another dinner and pint in the pub.

Thursday – Carn Barra
The day started by tramping over heathery moorland, looking down fenced-off mine shafts, staring in turn at massive waves and inspiring route-lines and fighting the urge to quit work, move to Cornwall and climb quality routes all day every day. 

The guided tour of Penwith complete, we ended up at Carn Barra, a sheltered choice for a windy day but a very wavey one when there’s a big swell. We abbed down to the Northern Platform and looked at a couple of damp E2s until a particularly large wave sent us scurrying up a V Diff like rats fleeing a sinking ship.

The view from the belay ledge
Not content to find somewhere sensible to climb we abbed in to Central Wall where the cliff and ledge below the belay prevented us from getting soaked... most of the time. I led first, turning occasionally to see a curtain of water at eye level and an excited-looking belayer cowering from the spray. The view from the top was awesome, massive waves crashing against the rock on all sides and in the middle of it all a seal bobbing around without a care in the world (at least I assume that was a carefree expression, I've never been very good at reading seal body language).

We abbed back in for another route, Dialectic, and I belayed on the ledge watching the waves send plumes of spray higher and higher as the tide came in, feeling glad I was still attached to the ab rope but certain that there was nowhere in the world I’d rather be. I seconded the route trying not to barn-door off, unable to feel my fingers or drag my eyes away from the sea. One final VS, Axis, to tick off and it was my lead again. Chalk by this point was only of psychological use and the gear was dripping with condensation but the granite provided enough friction and big holds to prevent any problems.

Soon we were tramping back over the heather towards the van thinking of hard routes and inspiring lines to get on next time... my name is Cherry and I’m addicted to Cornish Trad.

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