/ Wrecker's Slab!
Last weekend’s sunshine was too good an opportunity to miss out on a smash and grab raid of the 140 metres long Culm Coast sea-cliff adventure route of "Wrecker’s Slab" at Cornakey Cliff in North Cornwall. The route is perfectly described in Rockfax as “one of the longest, most alluring and serious VS climbs in the West Country”. Remarkably my climbing buddies and I saw hardly a soul all day and had the cliff all to ourselves! I guess the Culm Coast is just a bit unfashionable nowadays…
So has anyone else out there got any fond memories of doing this crumbly classic or an epic tale of derring-do to tell? Was the gnome still in-situ on the belay? Did you celebrate your ascent with a calorific cream-tea special at the legendary Rectory Tea Rooms apres-climb?!
Anyway it was a superb and scorchio day and the entertainment was duly recorded on my GoPro camera. So for anyone interested in viewing a short film of this classic adventure route then please use the following link:
If you wish to sample the full High Def experience you should be able to change the "Quality" icon to 720p HD in the bottom right hand corner on the You Tube screen. Finally look out for those crazy buzzin’ flies at the top of pitch 3!
Great climb and great video!
We have climbed this twice and both times got caught in rain, even though it was sunny when we left Bude. The second time was just a shower which quickly passed and the rock dried, but first time a real downpour which turned it into quite a challenge for us. The rain started as I was following the second pitch and by the time I reached the belay the cliff and both of us (wearing t-shirts and shorts) were soaked. The decent option involved two assails from somewhat dubious anchors and then a very long wait for the tide to go out before we would be able to leave the cove. I think we would have frozen to death during the wait. So my husband manned up and led the final pitch in the pouring rain, probably the most scary thing we have ever done! I was absolutely frozen belaying him and could hardly move to climb, but finally made the top and the rain stopped for the walk back to the car allowing us to warm up slightly.
One day we will get to do it in good weather....
Is the short bit of fixed rope still there to help with the final bit of the approach decent?
Good stuff mate.
>I guess the Culm Coast is just a bit unfashionable nowadays…
It's just that bloody walk in! Saps the life out of me. Gently up...gently down...gently up....ad infinitum.
Ah go on then- Climbed it a few times, great fun every time. Most recently in pitch dark after my partner suggested "just a walk on the beach with all our gear, we won't actually climb anything...".
For a real culm adventure, get on The Plank a few routes left of Wreckers. The loosest route I've ever been on, run out, huge chunks of rock peeling off the overhangs above you and exploding onto the slab. Excellent stuff. That was mainly in the dark come to think of it. I wrote the logbook entry for that, I can't recommend the extra belay enough!
Another option is Jolly Hell, somewhere between the two. 8 hours we spent putting that up, it was an absolute disaster. I started out into virgin territory from the 1st belay of Jolly Roger, heading up the right (instead of the left) of the slab. Huge run-outs on awful gear and holds that can you can take with you if you want. After creeping further and further upwards on pitch 2, with no sign of a good belay or even a good runner, I found myself stood on a tiny pedestal, in the pitch dark; my world reduced to a bubble of head torch light, 10m above a tied off lead placed peg, when I heard the chilling call; "you're out of rope". The only possible belay was a tiny seam that would only take knife blades. The only two we had were in the first belay. Unable to down climb the high slabby rockovers, not trusting a single runner in 60m of climbing and not willing to simul-climb on such friable rock, my only option was to call down for one of the ropes to be untied. My belayer dutifully obliged with only an "if you're sure" as protestation. I pulled the rope up, untied the other rope and joined them together. The only problem being that I now had 60m of slack which my belayer couldn't take in due to the joining knot, and I was unable to place any more gear as I wouldn't be able to belay properly...if I ever found one that is.
A quick calculation (read: guess) told me that if i fell, providing the tied off peg held, i would pull up about 10m from the ground, well below my belayer. Good enough, so onward I trembled, in my tiny world of LED warmth, balancing up an unfairly loose corner, rock cascading below me. Still no belay. After almost 60 more metres, and once again almost out of rope, I found myself pulling onto the ridge with difficulty. "If you fall here Dave, you'll fall 120 metres before you stop...if the peg holds. If it pops...brown bread mate. Shut up. Crack on". Finally, I topped out and threw the rope around a boulder the size of a car and yelled the happiest "SAFE" of my life.
Unfortunately, it was another 3 hours of stuck ropes and trying to shout 120m on a sea cliff (in the end, abbing half the climb and jugging back up was the only way to let my belayer know he could finally start climbing) before a friendly head torch came into view, and ambled up to the belay. I tried to stay cool and British "bloody hell, for a moment there I thought we were gonna miss last orders", but the sheer relief on my face betrayed me.
A good adventure? Yes. An epic? No; we still made the pub before closing!
The Culm coast; never a dull moment.
> Great climb and great video!
> One day we will get to do it in good weather....
> Is the short bit of fixed rope still there to help with the final bit of the approach decent?
Hey Andy thanks dude hope you catch a weather window for PyF North face next winter! As for the Pom demanding an actors fee? Well I've got him on a YTS scheme where he has to actually pay me in beer vouchers apres climb... :-0
<laughs> An excellent tale of derring-do, tomfoolery and boldly going where no-one should ever really go so thanks for sharing!
>The Culm coast; never a dull moment.
Never a truer word spoken!
I have it on good authority that the infamous gnome is presently taking a break from climbing by fishing for frogs in a certain local doctor's garden... :-)
Thanks dude though I reckon I've more chance of winning a Golden Raspberry... ;-0
no-one around to hear your screams!
Due to a few too many tots of rum last night with my own shipmates, I found the camerawork on P1 (that's as far as I got) made me feel like I was back at sea running a big swell and my office started to spin. I'm now waiting for things to steady down but have a pint pot beside me just in case...
I'll watch it later maybe.... Thanks matey!
Hi Mark yep you spotted the deliberate mistake! The only thing I can say in my defence was I was going crazy from the heat and had the CC North Devon guide with me... :-)
Flashback to 15 years ago. Too much beer in Bristol Friday night, got lost en route driving to Wrecker's and did some polished stuff at Chudleigh on our way down south instead. Then recovered ourselves over lunch, found the right farm, paid for parking, yomped across the fields and ab'd down someone else's ropes into the wrong bay. Half an hour of traversing slippery boulders saw us at the bottom of Wrecker's and getting going rapidly as the tide encroached. I seem to recall excellent climbing with little flakey bits tumbling down the slab continuously and some dodgy peg belays. Older and wiser now...
Nice one! The curse of the demon drink...
I did Wrecker's last year. We got up at the crack of dawn hoping to beat the expected crowds. Topped out at 10.30am without seeing anyone else.
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