Wednesday, 14 December 2011


It seems to be winter. I don’t know why I’m surprised as it comes around with a startling regularity but it takes some getting used to all the same. Finding somewhere to climb, and actually climbing, over the last few days has involved tea, down and an unwavering belief that there will be some dry rock somewhere.

Anstey’s Cove was Monday’s choice as it never rains at Anstey’s, true to form the rock was dry(ish) and the weather warm(ish). Having spent a couple of weeks of staring forlornly at Tuppence like an puppy denied a treat I took the decision and declared my finger well enough to get back on the route. Much pulling on, falling off and checking my finger was still attached followed.

Luckily my hand survived the experience and I was reminded of the fun in trying funky moves on pristine limestone overlooking the ocean unfortunately the route hadn’t got any easier or I any stronger and the rain was moving in...

With the forecast for the day looking bad, Alexis and I did what proper Devon climbers should do: we went to Chudleigh to boulder in the steep, wonderful and only slightly squalid Pixies’ Hole. Had we had bottles of meths instead of bouldering mats we would have looked like hobos instead we probably just looked like crazy people. Pixies’ never disappoints; with endless problems to create on slightly polished crimps, pinches and slopers it’s every climbers dream (as long as your dreams feature cold damp caves in Chudleigh... mine don’t). We bouldered until our arms were sore, our feet were frozen and darkness had returned.

20 hours later and I was back at Chudleigh staring up at the wall of Combat and Tendonitis psyched for some hard-core top-roping. The warm up consisted of Oesophagus followed by Combat, a wonderful route which I hadn’t climbed since leading it a year and a half ago; needless to say it feels like a very different proposition when top-roping. Winter tactics came into play by climbing a few routes in succession and then belaying for a few to prevent constant numb fingers. Three laps up Tendonitis later and I could definitely feel my fingers... and my pumped forearms. Next go I had a play on Obstreperous which looks like an awesome route, a pumpy start pulling up on crimps and peg scar pockets to a bit of a rest then a big move before the route merges with the top of Oesophagus; with enough gear all the way it’s one for the ever expanding list of routes to lead.

Local hero Dave Henderson at the groove of Combat.
© Chris J
Dom on Tendonitis in sunnier times.
© Chris J
Three days of dodging showers, dancing around in a down jacket and belaying with climbing shoes down my top to keep them warm. Three days of hard moves, dry limestone and increasingly tired arms... the rat is fed, it’s time for a rest day.

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