Cornish local, Tom Bunn has just added what may be West Penwith's first 8A boulder problem with an ascent of Wonderland, found in Priest's Cove. The problem starts up Axiomatic Sit-Start, 7A+, breaking up and left with some independent climbing, before finishing as for Dreamboat, 7B. Tom has suggested it is a 'soft' 8A.
Tom found the boulder after an abortive attempt at a new aid route, which later became The Pioneer, at Dodman Point with Alex Orr, the pair decided to check out Priest's Cove. Just before turning back they spotted the top of the boulder in the distance and decided to check it out. Tom commented on finding the boulder:
"We almost didn't bother checking it out, because how many granite overhangs in Cornwall actually have holds on them, right? To our disbelief this one was covered in just the right amount."
Tom began travelling back and picking off the easier lines on the boulder such as Axiomatic and Dreamboat, before beginning work on Wonderland. Tom spoke further about working on the Dreamboat Boulder:
"I came back a few months later with my very tolerant girlfriend Elaine and got to work establishing the first routes/ problems. Finally having done the more amenably graded problems, I started work on Wonderland. After around 5 sessions, nearly 1000 miles of driving and alot of bruised finger tips It finally happened."
The 16 move problem begins and ends with relatively easy climbing, but has a meaty crux in the middle involving bearing down on a sharp crimp, getting a heel hook and then bearing down even harder to get into Dreamboat. Having only climbed up to 7C+ before this problem, Tom was unsure of the grade but commented on his thoughts on the difficulty of the problem:
"Finally linking all ~16 moves together felt harder than I expected, even climbing it 1st go 'that' session. Personally it's harder than anything I've ever climbed and therefore suggest a grade of soft 8A. Wherever the grade settles, I'm just chuffed to have climbed such a truly wicked line!"
Tom is really keen for more experienced boulderers to get down and repeat his problem to get more of a consensus on the grade.
Tom has made a video of his ascent:
Tom is also behind RustyPeg.co.uk which features videos on South West Climbing plus free downloadable topos including one to Priest's Cove.
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