Club Trip to Portland (March 2011) – Justin Sharpe

With a cold but sunny day forecast Paul Highams, Mark Hazell, Ed Lamb and I made a leisurely 8am start to arrive at Blacknor North at about 11am. John Mitchener, Oliver Hill, Adrian Paisey and Zara Bloomfield arrived at the same time and Ian Bryant and Cat Hendrie were already on the rock. Despite warnings of a crag wide bird ban only a small and unpopular area was out of bounds. Ed and I headed straight to the excellent but still freezing cold flowstone of Slings Shot (5) to “warm” up. Paul and Mark headed further South and climbed, amongst others, the superb looking Pregnant Pause (6a+). Having both struggled on the rather delicate moves of Apfel Strudel (5+) Ed and I decided to  move up to steeper and hopefully more positive stuff. We both led the steep but juggy Shit Happens Actually (6a) then Ed, rapidly returning to form after breaking his ankle, set off up the fine arête of Monsoon Malabar (6a). This was great fun with much exposure and an excellent finish to escape right before a roof. Captain Klutz and the Sailors of Fortune (6a) provided steep and very strange climbing on conglomerate before following a meandering line through flowstone.

Mark and Paul were doing 6a+/6b’s if I remember rightly and according to Oliver:

“Day 1 John and I went to Blacknor North and climbed: Shit Happens, Megs got Leukaemia, Captain Klutz, Reptile Smile, Sling shot and Monsoon Malabar. John’s ascent of Reptile Smile, hard 6a+. went very smoothly.  I was not very inspired that day.”

As the sun sank and the temperature plummeted, folk gathered to discuss accommodation and the pub. Adrian described to Zara how they would be sleeping in a coffin shaped scrape on the beach and that “-3C isn’t really that cold”. After watching Ian Bryant climb either Spanner Eyes (7b) or England Dreaming (7a+) (I’m not sure which) we all headed off. Accommodation at the YHA was excellent and the manager insisted Adrian and Zara camp in the garden much to Adrian’s disappointment. All enjoyed good company and poor food at the Pulpit in the evening.

After a fried feast at the YHA in the morning Mark, Paul, Ed and I headed to Godnor Far North whilst the others went to Battleship Edge. Ed and I climbed Jasper (4+), Willem (5), Dreamscape (6a), Sidewinder (6a), Starbuck (6a). The 6a’s felt much harder than at Blacknor. Mark and Paul climbed amongst a haul of 6a/6a+’s, Wedding Daze (6b).

According to Oliver “Day 2. Warm up on Battleship Main with Never Drive a Car followed by Borstal Breakout. Interesting experiment with clip stick as we heard from Passers by that the top was 6c. Turned out it was only 6b if you went the obvious way. Then on to Blacknor Far South where we climbed Rag n Bone Trade, followed by Punters Way , Escape from Dwarfee Room, Paying it Forward and Spare the fern. I hope John can give a more inspired write up than me. If I knew I might be in the news I would have tried a bit harder and got a bit more inspired.”

I have since heard from Sally Toll that she was also down there and climbed at the Cuttings on the Saturday.

A fine weekend in all, with superb early season weather, memorable climbing and a good crowd. Great fun.


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