Tackling Trad On Dartmoor

Tackling Trad On Dartmoor

Jake // January 25, 2020

With September swiftly approaching and with poor weather soon to follow myself, Tristan and Shanie took the weekend to have our last Trad climbing trip of the year before retreating inside for the winter. For day one we decided to check out a new crag, there are so many options on Dartmoor but it’s too easy to be lazy and visit the close by ones. We went to Hound tor for some easy lead climbing, the area proved very popular with walkers as there were lots of easy scrambles but we were the only climbers. We tackled three routes: 

Sheep May Safely Graze 14m S 4a. This was a weird and windy route, not difficult but I didn’t really enjoy it. Lots of the holds are slopers and the gear wasn’t fantastic. But after each move there was a resting ledge which was nice. Due to the curve in the route there was tonnes of rope drag, double ropes would have been better.

It goes at about Vdiff 10m S 4a. This route was very straight forward and felt like a Vdiff! It climbed like a ladder and felt great. The gear was really good but all cams, I had to descend at one point to reuse my first cam placement. Though if you’re confident you could easily climb this route with minimal gear.

Liar’s Dice 8m S 4a. After a cheeky barbecue we tackled the final route of the day. This route was very different with lots of smaller moves. There were lots of nice holds and excellent gear placements to go with it but nowhere to really rest. The hardest part of the route is just hanging on to place gear, this route made me realise I need to be more efficient with selecting the correct gear. My arms were wrecked by the time I topped out and then I had to haul Tristan’s carcass up the route as well!

For day 2 we went to Dewerstone which is a place we were familiar with, I had led all the easy routes before and didn’t feel up to anything harder. So we started with a lead of Admiral’s Hole which was a weird overgrown route, hardly a rock climb at all. Myself and Tristan spent the rest of the day obliterating ourselves on top rope routes well above our grade. While Shanie took the opportunity to practice with her camera, traditionally she is a nature photographer so “action shots” are something new, I hope you agree that they look awesome!

Goblin 16m VS 5a. This route was our nemesis. The route is just a standard slab until you reach the overhang, we must have spent over three hours on the route trying to get over it. No matter what we tried we just couldn’t make it over. I got the furthest but just couldn’t find a hold to pull myself fully over. The routes were definitely within our grasp but we used up our energy working it out so we didn’t have enough in the tank for the final push. We will get it next time!

With our arms literally noodles we finished with some nice abseils, Tristan and Shanie hadn’t done much abseiling before so I demonstrated the technique but trusted them without a safety rope, just a prusick. On the descent Shanie slipped and smashed into the rock, letting go in the process…. the prusick held, good to know it works! It’s so easily done that’s why a backup is so important, it wasn’t the first time I have seen it happen either. No wonder most climbing deaths occur on descent. Climbing aside Dewerstone is a fantastic place to practice abseils, there’s plenty of tree anchors where a recoverable system can be set up. The descents are long enough to properly get into it and rappelling through the forest canopy it’s absolutely stunning!

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