The middle fin at Lower Sharpnose has 'slumped' during the winter storms. Lower Sharpnose is a popular crag on the north coast of Cornwall characterised by three thin fins of rock sticking out at right-angles into the sea. South west regulars have been aware for years of the huge crack of Lunakod, on the north side of the middle fin, and this is where the sheet of rock has sheered away from the coast line. Many have expected this to happen at some stage.
The huge slab has toppled around 10 to 15 degrees, but in a strange quirk of fate appears now to have come to rest in a stable position. Mark Glaister was in the area researching his forthcoming Rockfax book to West Country Climbs when he noticed the rock fall.
"It's amazing! The Middle Fin has slumped over but appears now to be totally stable. I had a really close look and I can't see any way that the face can fall any further," says Mark, "obviously there is some debris where the fin sheered away, and the routes Spoils of War, Clawtrack and Lunakod are no more, but most of the other routes have suffered nothing other than a change in angle!"
Mark decided to try the routes on the now-slabby side to check the grades for the new guide. Challenger, a former bold E4, has become a delightful slabby route at E2 5b. Twilight Zone, another bold E4 that was one of the better routes on this face, is a brilliant HVS 5a.
"Twilight Zone is now a mega-classic destined to become one of the big ticks of the South West", says Mark. Inspired by this new slab, Mark and his Dutch companion Hertz Vanhire went on to add a new route to the right of Twilight - A Likely Story takes the blank slab directly and weighs in at a very bold E5 6a, 5c. "I am not surprised this one had never been climbed before, there are no holds or gear," said Hertz.
Mark wasn't sure what the more famous routes on the now overhanging side were going to be like. "We had a brief go at Pacemaker but that was already a pretty pumpy E5 at its old angle, now it is going to be up in the E7/8 region I think and for someone a bit fitter than me at present."
It looks like the steep side could become a new forcing ground for hard trad re-ascents over the next few months with some plum lines and big grades awaiting.