Climbing Cornwall’s Classic Commando Ridge

Looking down at ridge protruding from the rough Atlantic like a dinosaur, we wondered how many abseils it would take to get to the bottom and whether boots were a good choice.

It all started 12 hours earlier, driving south from Bath to Bosigran at the southern end of Cornwall. The mission: To climb the famous Bosigran Ridge, a route steeped in history, first climbed by Arthur Andrews in 1902. The route went on to become known as ‘Commando Ridge’ after it became the training ground for commando soldiers who, during the 1940’s, prepared for wartime cliff assaults during World War Two.

Two abseils later we glimpse the start of our climb between big waves smashing into the tough Cornish granite. The three of us looked at each other, no one expected such high swells this morning and the homemade cider hadn’t helped from the previous night. We decided to go for it, find a new way to start the steep first pitch and traverse onto the first pinnacle over the sea. 60 meters of rope later we made it onto our climb. The fresh sea air and fear of the unknown began to make us excited about the climb ahead.

Our Rockfax guidebook describes ‘Continuously excellent climbing, brilliant rock, exhilarating situations and a stunning location make this the very best VDiff in the West Country. Although protection is always at hand, the exposure, sections of down climbing and the traversing nature of the route call for all party members to be competent at the grade. Slings are very useful.”

To make the most of the climb we had another 8 pitches to go. At first the going was great, sticking to the knife-edge pinnacles wherever possible but soon the climbing changed, it became a mini-alpine adventure. We found ourselves butt shuffling over sharp ridges, down climbing through belays and traversing some cheeky technical sections that made wearing boots all the more exciting. Being able to down climb and set up multi-directional belays was great practice for the greater ranges and also made for some incredible snaps of the team as we moved together on one rope.

The hours passed by smoothly, we would climb for 60 meters until the rope went tight, stop, fix a belay, and bring everyone back together.

Completing our final pitch, we traversed high on the summit ridge and with a quick scramble up the heather cladded hilltop we knew that in 25 minutes we’d be sipping a celebratory pint at the Tinner’s Arms in Zennor. Who knew, maybe as we would enter the patrons would erupt in a spontaneous round of applause, perfectly ending our adventure…

After reading all the ‘hype’ about climbing the ridge we couldn’t agree more -what a perfect route to take all climbing abilities, safe and escapable yet with a real sense of adventure. The best 5 hours to be had climbing in the South West!

Congratulations to Alistair Bell and Kiefer Mockford, guided by Kyle Worgan, who braved not only the adventurous climb but also stomached Al’s home made cider.

Special mention to Mammut for its durable rope which survived the harsh Cornish granite.

If you would like more advice about climbing in the South West, or would like to develop your skills contact Original Wild today.

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