Portland Trip – March 2012

With everyone coming and going we have two accounts of the trip.

Dave Mahon’s Story

Having woken up early because I was too excited, Mark Holden picked me up at 5.45am on Saturday. It was a swift journey so we rewarded ourselves with a breakfast at Morrisons in Weymouth. The OAPs wore fleeces too so we fitted in just fine. Paul Highams recommended Battleship Edge and we planned to go there just after Mark bagged a major tick – ‘Reptile Smile’ 6a+ at Blacknor North. It is a very popular classic but we thought the shade and cold would put the crowds off. Although our fingers were a purple colour, we warmed our bodies up on the classic and well bolted flowstone of ‘Slings Shot’ 5. After ‘Talking Smack’ 5+, ‘Reptile Smile’ was quite a bit harder with unusual moves over bulging flowstone with weird ‘organ pipe’ holds. The sun had crept around and we were suddenly basking in warmth. The weather could not have been better for early March – blue sky, warm with nil wind. Meanwhile Brian and Justin were finding the starts at Battleship a little scary so came over to Blacknor.

Another ‘little gem’ caught our eye called ‘Shit Happens, Actually’ 6a. It was supposed to be low in the grade but we both had a go and backed off. Later on Brian and Justin later had similar results but the next day we found the line in the guidebook was in the wrong place. In fact the whole crag had loads of new routes in it which were not in our 2005 Rockfax guide.

We then climbed Monsoon Malabar 6a – a wonderful climb up a fin shaped arête with very pleasant moves all the way and a hint of exposure. Around the corner was ‘Pregnant Pause’ 6a+ but the overhangs were a bit hard. It was a bit loose and loads of choss fell down. When I was battling with the crux we were told that it was a relatively new 6b+ which explained everything. Apparently Gary Gibson doesn’t clean his routes properly! We then climbed the real ‘Pregnant Pause’ which is a classic route – bold and technical in parts but never desperate. To end the day we had a crack at ‘Go With the Flow’. Mark didn’t get on with the start which seemed absolutely nails for the grade but I went for it and was rewarded with some absorbing climbing up some great flowstone.

We met up with Brian, Justin, Sue Luck, Mark and Steve Taylor at the lighthouse then went for a lovely steak at the New Inn in Easton – better than the Pulpit by all accounts!

Sunday was another fine day. With a mix of abilities, east facing Godnor Far North seemed our best bet. The tide was in but luckily the sea was calm and we were protected by the boulder beach. This friendly crag is excellent for those seeking the lower grades and we all had a fun day. The walk to the base of the cliff is easy and the routes are generally safe with most cruxes occurring in the middle or top sections. I climbed with Steve Taylor and between ticking some nice 6a+s Steve logged some good leading time (and a little flight time), starting with the confidence inspiring 3s before upping his game to lead ‘Jody Sunshine’ 4+ – well done Steve! Meanwhile Brian, Justin, Sue Luck and Mark entertained themselves ticking route after good route. After some pleasant 6bs, I thought I would end the day on a high with ‘Car Parts, Bottles and Cutlery’ 6b+. After the strenuous 6b+ moves over the overlap, the bolt spacing looked very bold with such greasy chert holds so I backed off. Although I failed, Sue managed to take some great photos of the event – thanks Sue!. It’s nice to push your grade but coming back in one piece is also important!

This was my first proper trip to Portland and I was impressed. I will certainly be back for more!

Sue Paddon’s story

What a fabulous weather for our weekend in Portland. Some people were coming Friday night and some just for the Saturday night. My car load was: me, my grandson Josh, my friends Snowy, Cess and Cess’ son Todd. Just as we arrived on Friday evening so too did Sue Luck, Mark and Steve Taylor. We all grabbed rooms, had a quick discussion about Saturday’s climbing and headed off to the Pulpit pub for some grub. It seems that anyone who didn’t order fresh fish got a mediocre meal, Snowy and I had lovely fresh fish-delicious! So after food and a few drinks we returned to the lighthouse and retired. Ian and his friend Gwin arrived late Friday night.

Saturday morning was sunny and warm and we all decided to go to the Cuttings as apart from Mark we were all novices to some degree and Ian had not been climbing much so wanted something a bit low key for him and his friend. For those people that don’t know my friend Snowy he recently had a below the knee amputation and was keen to try out his new specially made climbing foot. We split into three groups: Ian and Gwin, Steve T, Sue L and Mark, and me Snowy and Cess (plus kiddies). My group climbed Jam, Amen Corner, Chips with everything, Quality family day and Cess had a go at Too many cooks spoil the broth. Sue L and her group met up with us and did some of our routes. I took the kiddies down to the beach for a couple of hours in between climbing which was lovely.

We were all done by 5pm with everyone happy about the climbing they had done and we set off back home.

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