Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Purile Ticking: Moonraker

In October Duncan and I headed down to Devon for the weekend. Climbing wasn't the main aim of the weekend, but we were both keen to climb the mega classic Moonraker at Berry Head.

I've wanted to do Moonraker for ages. First it is in Hard Rock and secondly it was Pat Littlejohn's first big new route. Legend has it that his partner Pete Biven liked it so much that he went back and did the second, third, fourth and fifth ascents as well!

 Duncan traversing out of the cave and about to get wet legs. Photo: Ripley.

After a late start, because of the Rugby World Cup, and we were found ourselves looking across at the vast, overhanging cave that dominates the Old Redoubt. Gulp!

The traverse into the crag is quite involved - it makes the traverse to the Main Cliff look like walking to Stanage. It starts with some interesting down climbing before crossing the big cave, after which the fun starts. You have to get the tides just right or you'll end up traversing on steep 5b ground. Unfortunately, we got them just wrong and ended wadding for a few metres, before getting established on some steep rock. A few moves later and I was perched on a small ledge, with wet legs, making room for Dunc, more than a little bit intimidated by what was to come.

Duncan seconding pitch ones. Photo: Ripley.

As with most routes of its time Moonraker follows a line of least resistance. However Berry Head is a big steep cliff and its easiest route still puts up quite a lot of resistance. It was with some trepidation that I left the belay, climbing rightwards, hands and feet in a horizontal break. The rock's steep and my arms are weak from the summer in Peru. I'm pretty pumped by the end of the pitch, which was pure class and exceeded my, very high, expectations.

Me starting up the large corner crack. Photo: Campbell.

Dunc dances up the next Pitch and it's my turn again. The long corner crack looks quite tricky, but it goes ok and soon I'm on the top, strapped to the flag pole, looking out to sea.

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