Except we fucking won't will we. Because here comes a massive wet turd from the weather gods themselves.
Fucking Storm Katie. Fuck off, you meteological slag, go piss on somewhere else. I spend hours trawling the met office and eventually decide that Torquay gives us the best chance of dry rock on Thursday. Is there actually any climbing in Torquay? Fortunately yes, a cool looking sea cliff called Daddyhole. Alrighty then. On the drive up we come across a shop telling bottles of Talisker for £24 a pop, and seriously consider sacking the whole climbing bollocks, buying a dozen or so, and getting stone drunk for five days instead. But Cam and Natalie are already heading over to meet us there, so that's buggered that one up. We'll have to go sodding climbing now.
Daddyhole Main Cliff
After spending the night sleeping in the car in a Torquay housing estate, classy chaps that we are, we awake to a grey but dry morning and scramble down to the boulder beach at the base of the crag. It looms above through the murk. Steep and featured, tinted shades of pink and brown. We climb the classic route Gates of Eden, which is easy but exposed jug hauling apart from one absolute arse of a move on the first pitch. I slap and curse at a series of shit holds, feet flailing everywhere, eventually manage to grovel onto a slab and the belay above. Fuck me that was nails.
Pitch one just below the crux wall
Staples mincing across the traverse of pitch two
Staples runs the next two pitches into one, and enjoys the best climbing on the route. Really easy but massively exposed, traversing into a cramped niche on an arête, then up a corner crack to the top. We immediately head down to do another one, only this time I'll make bloody certain Staples leads the hard bit, the lazy bastard...
Cam and Natalie climbing a VS on the left hand side of the Main Cliff
This'll do the job. Triton, an obvious corner feature. VS 5a. Hard for the grade. Perfect, that'll teach him a lesson. I jolly up easy vegetated blocks to a grotty belay below the main event. All the while the wind is rising and the sky darkening. Did I just feel rain? Maybe I'm imagining things. Either way it's not my fucking problem. Staples takes the rack and heads up the corner, and right on cue it starts to piss down with rain. His feet skid off the sheer walls, hands squelching uselessly inside the jamming crack. He puts about thirty-seven runners into a few feet of climbing. I'm laughing my head off and thinking how nice it'll be getting tippy-topped up, when there's a sudden heave on the ropes and I realise Staples has fallen off. Nah, that's impossible, he yells down, either we abseil off or you've got to do it.
Staples preparing to throw in the towel
Oh fuck you, Staples you bastard, fuck you in the dick. I don't want to lead the bloody thing, it looks really hard. That's why I made you do it. I desperately hunt for anything I'd be happy to abseil off. There's nothing. Sod all. Only one way out of this mess and its up. So off I go, greasing off the soaking everything, getting pumped to buggery. Soon I reach the nest of gear and have no choice but to continue upwards, making progress just slightly faster than I slide back down again. A final hard move, I crank through a layback, grab a block, the fucking thing detaches in my hand, somehow I don't lob off with it. I crawl onto the grassy slope above leaving a trail of blood, tears, and dribble behind me.
When you climb cracks oop norf your hands get all chewed up, it's called a 'gritstone kiss'. Well this wasn't a kiss. It was more like a 'being done up the arse for hours on end in a gloomy windswept travelodge just outside of Swindon'.....or something like that.
So, anyway, whatever. The forecast is even better Friday so we head up to the Culm Coast for a nice laid back day climbing slabs at Vicarage Cliff. It's a beautiful sunny day as we amble in to the crag along the coast path and hand over hand down the sketchy as fuck approach 'path'. Vicarage Cliff is a narrow fin of culm rising prehistoric from the sea, set against a pebble beach and towering piles of choss behind it.
The ominous rubble of Wreckers Slab
Natalie enjoying the pleasant approach to the crag
We spend an awesome few hours ticking routes on the slab while the tide is out. It's been years since I last climbed on Culm and I spend ages getting massive calf pump trying to fiddle wires in all the weird little cracks you get. The crux of most of the routes is pulling through the big overlap halfway up. Staples even manages to fall off one of them but God knows how. It's literally the easiest move in the world, you just stand up on a massive foothold, the massive nonce.
Cam leading a HS with about 3 runners in nearly 30m
Me on the classic Box of Delights (although I would've called it Box of Wanky Cracks)
Staples pulling through the tricky crux of Wellington's Stand
A couple of cool VSs at the end of the crag
All too soon the tide comes back in again and we retreat back up to cliff top and wander back to the cars. After a quick discussion, and much checking of the forecast - which is completely toss - we decide to head over to Woolacombe where Staples' grandparents own a holiday flat. They've very kindly given us the keys for the weekend, and we waste no time in getting completely arseholed on beer and whiskey. Sometime later we stagger into the Red Barn and then onto another place that I can't remember fuck all about for some reason. Eventually we're thrown out and on the walk home Staples hears a crash, turns around to see me lying face down in the road and bleeding everywhere. After picking me up and helping me stagger back to the flat the muppet decides it's a perfect time to go surfing. Blind drunk, all on his tod at two in the morning, in massive waves being smashed into the coastline by Storm Cuntflaps. Every time the water hits him he pukes everywhere. Got to get your jollies somehow I suppose.
The next day the weather is predictably awful. Which is handy, as I'm so hungover I can't even move. Cam and Natalie make the sensible choice and clear off home, while me and Staples linger like a rancid fart in a lift. Eventually, after a fry up, we think it's a great idea to try a route at Baggy Point. The drive there is through narrow, twisting roads, lots of abrupt stops and corners, and I'm fighting a bitter war against a fountain of vomit. Upon arriving at the National Trust car park an attendant puts her hand through the window for the fee, and is luckier than she will ever know not to receive the contents of my stomach instead. We realise climbing on a sea cliff isn't the best idea right now, and skulk back to the flat instead.
So we've still got a couple of days to fill but the weather is not having any of it. After much checking of the forecasts we come to the conclusion that Chudleigh Rocks is our best bet for Sunday. Climbing wise you know you are in a dark place when polished shithole Chudleigh is your best option. In the list of things I really don't want to do, climbing there just squeaks in before hacking off my spuds with a rusty saw.
Staples leading some awful bloody route in a hailstorm
It's grey and ominous. The wind howls around the crag, which is just as polished and uninspiring as I remember. Staples gets halfway up a VDiff when the inneviatble happens, a massive storm erupts and pelts us with rain and hail. He struggles to the top on rock with the friction of soap then brings me up to share the misery. All the cracks have got snails in them. We trudge back down and contemplate doing another route, but more hail comes hurtling down, and we think fuck it lets get pissed instead.