Monday, 7 May 2012


The unlikely (and unstable) looking fins of rock that make up Lower Sharpnose Point jut out into a wonderfully calm Atlantic Ocean. A light breeze blows along the faces drying out the last of the sea grease and the sun pokes his head out from behind the clouds creating a tranquil atmosphere at a normally intimidating crag. When we arrive there are already a few other parties climbing and, though I enjoy the solitude of a quiet crag, the crowd of regular Devon climbers only add to the convivial atmosphere.

Crispin on Last Laugh
Pete and his band of ‘seasoned’ rock athletes heckle and sandbag each other whilst ticking off hard routes with ease whilst Crispin, Dave, Justin, Nick and I get on routes that have long been on our respective tick lists and for once we all succeed. Between the five of us we tally up 17 E points and 20 stars and not a single fall leading or seconding which means either we all had an awesome day or we really weren't trying hard enough.

While Dave and Crispin finish warming up on The Smile Nick sets off up Lunakhod, a bridging masterpiece on the North side of the central fin which offers the climber a surprising view through the metre wide fin. Although it is slightly disturbing to be able to see daylight through the cliff you are climbing; the rock (and the abseil tat) held so I really can’t complain. My lead next and we head round to the South side stopping on our way to congratulate Crispin on his first E2 onsight of the testing Last Laugh.

I decide to get on Pacemaker after falling off seconding it a year ago and, as is expected of one of the best climbs in the West Country, it is amazing. The route wanders up the sheer face giving 25m of technical climbing on a gently steepening wall with enough gear to keep me happy and a rising pump to keep me moving.
Me on Pacemaker
Back on the ground it was Justin's turn to lead and my turn to skip around the boulder-strewn beach staring excitedly at the rock like an over-eager Spaniel with a rock fetish. I mentally added to my tick list Break on Through and Fay (occupied by Justin and Dave respectively), Sunscape, Dry Stone Wall and Finesse. I giggled at Coronary Country and tried to imagine leading it, I picked out the line of Culm to Mother on the North side and shuddered at the look of the rusty pegs then turned and watched the tide as it quietly snuck towards me.

Nick smiling on The Smile
When Justin and Nick had finished on Break on Through we hurried back to the North fin with minutes to spare before the tide came in and guaranteed wet feet for anyone left behind. Justin, Crispin and Dave walked out with the bags and I belayed Nick on The Smile as the busy crag quickly emptied. The last of Pete’s merry band followed up Misery Goat and Out of the Blue and the ab rope snaked silently up the cliff pulled up by unseen hands to leave me on my own at the base crag gazing out at the soul-searchingly beautiful view. Without a sound it began to rain giving the boulders around me an increasingly bad case of measles and turning the light grey pebbles a matt black. The call to climb came and I set off across the face leaving Sharpnose in peace for another day.

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