Since the publication of the CC guide to Portland there has been a period of intensive development on Portland, some of which has taken place on previously un-documented crags. With that at mind, and with the next Rockfax guide another year away, DCWEB has produced an interim mini-guide to some of the latest routes, available for download here.
Ever topped-out from a climb at the Boulder Ruckle and found the belay consisted of a rusty stump of metal and some scrubby bushes? Here's your chance to do something about it! Scott Titt has organised a 'stake-bashing' day, so come along and get involved(full details are here).
Martin Krasnansky climbing Extreme Lives
Photo: Angus Edwards.
A venue that was in danger of becoming overgrown is the Lost Valley. Here John and Mick have cleared an extensive area of vegetation to create a host of worthwhile climbs at the entrance to the valley, again mainly in the easier grades. Marti Hallet also joined in the fun and bagged some of remaining lines further left to leave a total of 12 new routes to go at.
Dungecroft Quarry is also nearing maturity, where Adam Perrett, again aided and abetted by Mick and John have plugged the remaining gaps. Tom Beaumont has also added some more new routes at the far end of the quarry. An excellent topo of developments at this crag has been produced by Adam and is available here.
In terms of harder new routes, none can match Bob Hickish's new route at the Cuttings. At an unlikely F7c+ , 'Under Duress' climbs the much-fancied right arete of Fighting Torque. Notable repeats in the last year include Gavin Symonds and Martin Krasnansky's ascents of Freaky Ralph, and Gaz Parry's quick-fire repeat of Palace of the Brine. On the DWS/ trad front both Martin Krasnansky and Angus Edwards head-pointed Extreme Lives, a previously unrepeated and dicey proposition.
New Pigs-tails lower-offs: Coming to a crag near you.
Dorset Bolt Fund:
On the re-equiping front, the DBF has purchased some 'Cows-horn' lower-offs, some of which have already been placed on popular climbs. The idea is to prevent any more wear on the belay staples, some of which are beginning to show their age. The new lower-off's are considerably cheaper and easier to place than chain belays.
Sadly on the 25th September Barry Humphreys lost his life while climbing at Blacknor North. Barry was climbing Drag Racing Underground when a foothold broke, dislodging some loose rock, which cut his rope. Barry was a keen and much loved Portland regular: the crags will be a poorer place without him. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Bob Hickish climbing the second ascent of Event Horizon at the Promenade.
Photo: Jon Howell
Access News: It has been reported that a pair of Peregrine falcons have nested at the Drag Racing Underground area of Blacknor North. Please avoid these routes until the end July.Comment on this Item ~
Bob Hickish climbing his new route, Fuel My Fire at Unknown Ledge.
Photo: Gav Symonds
On the repeat ascent front Southampton based Martin Krasnansky has been particularly busy, culminating in the third ascent of Vespasian at Coastguard South. Watch this space!
In other new route news the Portland's-own 'dynamic-duo' have been in action again! Not content with creating Portland's most popular crag(the Bower), John Leonard and Mick Ward have turned their collective energies towards Battleship cliff. Art for Art's Sake , F7a+, climbs the attractive wall left of Judge Jefferies, starting up that route. John later added two line further right. Pyramid, F6b+, and April Skies, F4 offer good climbing on clean rock. The first ascent of Pyramid was the subject of some controversy in that unknown persons removed the tape (new bolted routes in Dorset are marked by finger tape on the first bolt until they are climbed by the bolter or offered up as an open project). Once the tape was removed the route was ascended by several unaware parties during the week. When John returned at the weekend he was dismayed to find that the route he had spent hours creating had become a trade route. Whilst this could be seen in some ways as a validation of the quality of the climb, climbers are urged to respect the considerable efforts of first ascentionists. On a more positive note Mick and John cleaned up the remaining projects at the Bower, with the 18m 'Voices in the Bower', F3, being a particularly attractive addition.
A topo of the Bower is now available here ( thanks to John Leonard).
Climbers should be aware that there has been a recurrence of children throwing items from the cliff-top at the Blacknor cliffs as well as a thefts of climbing equipment. In one incident climbers were directly targeted with rocks. Any further incidences should be reported to the police before a tragedy occurs.
The Dorset Bolt Fund.
Observant visitors will notice that there is now a link to a Dorset Bolt Fund page at the top of this page. This page was created after a number of users of UKClimbing.com expressed an interest in making a donation to the retro-bolting efforts in Dorset. Visit this page if you want to help enhance and maintain our sport climbs - its now quick and easy with a Pay Pal account. Developments this year have indicated that the efforts of the Bolt Fund will begin to switch from retro-bolting climbs originally done on dubious protection to replacing worn out staples. An early indication of the work that may be required is the failure of two staples this year and the imminent failure of the second staple on 'the Price of Silence' at Battleship Back Cliff. DCWEB will also soon have a facility where users can of report bolt failures or visible deterioration to fixed gear on routes – watch this space!Comment on this Item ~
Big news over the winter is the appearance of northern raider, Gaz Parry who made two significant repeats. Firstly at Dancing Ledge, Gaz took advantage of the recently re-bolted climbs on the lower tier with quick-fire repeats of Hells Darker Chamber(F8a) and Legendary Shadows(F7c). Gaz found them both to be F7c+. Inspired by these routes, Andy Long and Gaz went on to retro-bolt and subsequently redpoint Infinite Gravity( F8a+) at Blackers Hole. Gaz enthused that “"Infinite Gravity is without doubt the best route at this grade in the UK and in fact as good as any route of its style in France or Spain. “ The potential for new lines at this crag is huge, with several strong lines beckoning...watch this space!Check out Gaz' blog for more details.
Most of the activity over the last few months has been concentrated on the East coast of Portland, with 3 new crags being developed. First to get going was Tom Beaumont, who has developed the short crag that is right of the Road Rage wall at Cheyne Weares. These routes are accessed via a fixed rope up the tottering scree slopes, or from abseil bolts on the top of the crag. On the left is 'Italian Eight', F6b+. To the right is the thin crack of 'Threatening Speedos', F6c+, and the flowstone arete is 'Pouch of Douglas', F5 and right again is 'Bariatric', F4.
Not to be outdone, that intrepid duo of Portland locals John Leonard and Mick Ward tackled the intriguing pinnacle of Nickodemus' Knob. The Knob can be found about 1km north of The Cuttings. From right to left the routes are: 'Wild Rover', F6a (J Leonard), 'Nick O' Demus', F6a (M Ward), 'Big Wall Dreams', (J Leonard), F6a+ and finally 'Nick's Bulge', F6b(M Ward). This pair then focused their collective energies on the Cuttings( this winter they have been so productive that they been dubbed the 'Lennon and McCartney' of Portland climbing!). Mick added the technical groove of 'Levitation by Proxy', F6c, to the right of Knockout Punch, then the pair adopted a 'buy-one-get-one-free' approach to the next projects. A single line of bolts protect 'Finesse', F7a+ ( the arete right of Levitation by Proxy)and, right again the left side of the lay-back groove is 'Hidden Treasure', F5+. Development then shifted to the Cuttings lower tier( to the right of the existing line of 'Round the Bend'. The fine central groove yielded an aptly named F6a, 'Winter Sun' (J Leonard), and the easier line to the right is 'Time out of Mind', F5(M Ward). While climbing these routes, the secluded bay to the left attracted their attention. After a good deal of work a worthwhile venue, dubbed the Bower, has emerged, with a sunny sheltered aspect and accommodating routes. At the time of writing some of the lines are unclimbed, please respect these. Described from left the first two lines are projects, then the initial corner is 'Suntrap', F3 (M Ward), the arete is 'Tinkerbell', F5+ (M Ward), the groove right again is 'Far From The Madding Crowd', F5(J Leonard). He harder line to the right is still a project. The prominent corner line is 'Godbeams', F4 (J Leonard), while the airy-looking right arete is a project.
Also on the East Coast, Ben Stokes continued to find new problems in the boulderfield. The 'Staunch Bro' boulder is a newly-uncovered boulder at the southern end of the boulderfield, visible from the Cuttings approach before you reach the New Cuttings. 5 new problems were added, with the full details available here.
Rob Kennard and Steve Taylor found a window in the autumnal weather to plug some of the more glaring gaps at the Amphitheater Roofs. A so-called 'warm up' gave the thin roof crack of 'Mankini Biscuit', E2 5b. The corner right of the 'Mojo-Pin' slab yielded a fine sustained and delicate E2 5c, in the shape of 'Mansion Pond'.Comment on this Item ~