Monday, 9 June 2008


Bonehill Tor, Dartmoor

Due to a rubbish forecast for most of the Northerly parts of the UK, we decided to escape to sunny Devon last weekend.

My expectations weren't that high. I have been putting of going to Dartmoor for ages for one reason or another. Primary amongst these was the fact that I am not the biggest fan of gritstone and from what I had seen and read the flavour of granite on Dartmoor had more than a passing resemblance to this. What I didn't account for was the lovely feldspar crystal which at times made for the perfect crimping material. The downside was of course the razor sharp nature of the xenoliths which caused our finger tips to ooze plasma in a matter of minutes.

First up was Bonehill. After a strenuous walk-in, consisting of essentially tumbling out of the car (!), and a few warm problems I immediately made a beeline for The Rippled Wall (V4 UK 6b). After seeing pictures of it on UKC I was inspired. From what I read the crux is the first move, but one quick glance and I knew that the hard part for me would be at the top. Although it’s probably a bit short to be considered a highball at about 7 or 8 meters, it is a lot higher than most problems I consider climbing. I have a rule about highballs and I usually only do ones that are well within my capability or have the crux low down.

Sure enough I flashed the bottom moves and made my way to the top but chickened out at the penultimate move. It was a rather long reach for me to a not so great sloping break. I tried the move a bunch of times and kept falling off from higher and higher as I committed more and more to the top crux. In the end I gave up as I was becoming increasingly tired and loosing form (not to mention skin). I lost out on the tick but repeatedly falling off the top of that boulder was an interesting experience and definitely gave me something to think about. I will certainly be back as I have more than a few ideas for the finishing moves.

I was still feeling under the weather from my cold / flu / whatever so Sunday was just a chill out day spent mostly wandering around neighbouring Honeybag Tor ticking a few problems here and there. It was a really nice chilled out place and I felt that I gained a slightly better understanding of how to climb on granite, though not as good as I would have like. Yes, there are slopers, but you can usually sink your hands into some crystals for friction, but this is of course at the cost of several layers of skin. My only real gripe was that the problems felt a bit samey after a while. They mostly consisted of moving from one slopey break to another finished off by mantling onto a rounded top. I found myself thinking, haven’t I done this move ten times before?

So what did I get out of the weekend - mostly a lot of frustration over The Rippled Wall. Argh. I am so sick of being weak and not sending problems. My project list seems to be extending infinitely and I am despondent over continuing to have to add to it. I feel so far off of where I should be. On the positive side, I really enjoyed going to a new venue and monkeying around on a new rock type. I think that I also greatly benefited from working a slightly higher than normal problem. I need to work on sloper strength, but that’s not exactly news. All of this however pales in contrast to the best thing about the weekend – no shoulder pain whatsoever! I normally struggle with driving, sleeping in a tent and spending two days in a row bouldering. Last time I got back from a weekend away I couldn’t lift my arm above my head without wanting to scream in pain. Now that’s progress :-)


Anonymous said...

Nice one trying Rippled Wall, though to say 7 or 8m is pushing it considerably! Good effort flashing the first move as it is nails (assuming the good holds out left are ignored of course!). If you can do that the rest should be fine for you, the holds are all big and good if you catch them in the right place. Top out is solid, big footholds.

You should go to Cuckoo Rock and Combsehead Tor next time as this has the best boulders and problems I saw while I was there. Lovely setting to. Also not quite as sharp as Bonehill.

Catch you soon hopefully,

Iain said...

Oh, just thinking back to comments you made up climbing in straight line. Try trending slightly rightwards heading for the top out. That was the way the line took us.


Jenn said...

Hey Iain,

Thanks for the comments. Hmm, so how high do you think Rippled Wall is? I’ve never been good with distances :-) Oh well, my point was more that I don’t normally try stuff that high (I’m a complete wimp).

Yes, I saw a few more pictures of it – and it looks like I was too far left. I thought the bottom move was quite easy in comparison to what I was trying (and failing) to do at the top. Cool, the other places sound good as well. If you are ever heading back down there, drop me a line.

Hope to see you soon!

Sarah Clough said...

Glad you welded with the granite (literally?) I used to think I didn't climb well on granite, but after Corsica (bolt clipping) I decided maybe that's not true. Then after an epic on granite in Scotland a week ago it occurred to me it's the gear I find tricky (flared cracks), the climbing is okay!
Glad your shoulder is doing well! My elbows are too - just in time for the best weather for both of us :)
Don't forget to be a warrior, and that we have to work for stuff, not just expect a right for it to happen (referring to the 'where I should be at' comment).
Would love to hook up with you at some point, now's the time of year where I start losing strength, so maybe I could even come out bouldering!
S x

Jenn said...

Hey Sarah,

Thanks for your reply. Yes, Dartmoor granite was a unique experience. It was vastly different from the granite I climbed on in the Buttermilks in California. Peter and I thought the rock in Dartmoor was quite suspect from a routes perspective. It looks like nuts would be resting on very non-solid crystals – eek! Maybe it’s OK though. We’re planning on going back soon – I must climb Rippled Wall!!

Ya, that’s great news that your elbows are doing better. I’m happy for you. I just had my last physio session yesterday. I’m still not 100% but maybe 80% and hoping that I am at least going in the right direction.

Yes – we have to meet up – drop me a line when you are free!