I have always wanted to climb more at The Cuttings Boulderfield, Portland. I live on the island but have always climbed either at Neddyfields – a small bouldering crag where all the climbs are like cruxes of sport climbs – or the many sport routes around the island. Any time we ventured down to the Boulderfield we would get our asses handed to us, so I wanted to change that.
My first trip down to The Cuttings this year was with an injured Emmie and tiny sausage dog Tilly. This time I had a Rockfax miniguide from Tom which helped a lot! I had set my mind on climbing as many problems (bouldering routes) as I could, not thinking about grades just getting used to the feel of the rock and how it works down there.
As you get down in to the Boulderfield there are endless boulders but they are all staggered and hidden, to find a climb is a mission if you don’t know your way around. So after 20 minutes of scrabbling all over the rocks and gullies with Emmie, her broken ankle and Tilly with her tiny legs we find our first boulder.
I only climbed easy routes for the next couple of hours, but got very frustrated with climbs which should be within my grade range but couldn’t do. I left with not the best taste in my mouth but I had climbed nine new problems which was quite a lot and I felt the ache the next day.
After a few days rest I head back down there with Tom, he knows his way around a few boulders in the south section and we got off to a great start finding our first boulder – Highball Wall – which isn’t as high as it may sound but compared to the rest of the boulders which hardly breach two meters
this one is quite high at about three to four metres. We climbed all the routes on the boulder fine and really enjoyed the little crimps up the steep slab.
We move on to Terror Boulder which is named due to the drop beneath you steepening as you climb. It was great fun but much harder than the grade portrayed. We start losing the beautiful sunshine for the cold clear night so we end it with a project. It’s this great traverse which takes you from a heel hook start on sloping holds leading to a crack which you twist your foot in – this move hurt my leg the next day. We didn’t crack the route that day but sometimes it’s more fun finding a project you can’t do than completing a load of climbs.
I headed back down a few days later and this time my partner in crime is Connie, we hit up the Highball Wall for a good warm up and then go straight for the Terror Traverse. This time everything went really well, I get twisting with that knee and just get to the stage where Connie has to give up trying to spot me, but I back out. I was so close and it had got my blood going so much so I jumped straight back on. I get past the same stage and swung one hand under the other so my arms were crossed. My hands have reached the end of the problem but I’m now at the worst bit to fall on, straight down the steep slope. As I move my feet I feel my arms starting
to twist my body away from the climb and my feet becoming more and more useless. I was trying to think how I could back out of the climb without having to fall all the way down the slope. There was no way, only by finishing it. Managing to get a high heel hook helped me have another point of contact which meant I was able to top out of the boulder to finish.
That moment of panic and fear, then calming down and realising you can do it is one of the main reasons I love climbing.
We pack up and go on the hunt for more climbs but fail with daylight leaving us.