Matt Helliker makes first ascent of Cornwall E9
- Friday 21st July 2023
Matt Helliker has made the first ascent of Anapanasati (E9 6c) at Doydon Point, a west-facing cliff on the north Cornwall coastline.
Posting online after the ascent Matt remarked about the area, ‘The north Cornwall coast still remains an area of huge potential, where beautiful steep walls of pillow lava have been crafted by the sea, on this section known as the Atlantic Coast. Doydon Point is a wall of complexities from conditions, access and unpredictable rock’.
Climber asked Matt a few questions about the route, line and grade.
Tell us about the route and how it climbs.
It climbs a beautiful leaning rippled wall through a roof into an intense steep groove, the moves are brilliant and powerful.
How long did it take from finding it to eventually climbing the route?
I found it in September last year but due to conditions, time and partners I didn’t get the opportunity until now, it’s a very hard wall for everything to line up. Swell, tides and wind all have a huge impact on conditions here.
How did you come across it as it's not the usual place for people to explore?
Dave Pickford gave me a tip-off to go look at Doydon Point, I had climbed there before years ago but had not been back. I went looking for a line he recommended but I ended up rapping into the wrong line and found this one instead, so I sort of stumbled across it.
What drew you to it?
After the initial excitement about the route, the area is absolutely stunning so why would I not want to spend time here for a project in my native Southwest
Finally, let’s talk about the grade and your thoughts behind it.
If Anapanasati was on a solid limestone sea cliff such as in Pembroke, I’m sure it could get hard E8 with F7c+ climbing, above a very big run with a 7B boulder sequence, though if you were to take the 12m fall onto a fragile hollow block (which I have seen move and sand drop out the back of) it honestly feels like it’s a 50/50 chance it wouldn’t explode on impact, resulting potentially in a ground fall. Someone else without this knowledge of the block might feel more confident in its ability but I lost all mine once I felt it move with all my gear behind it. So because of these reasons, I feel easy E9 is more appropriate, as this block thankfully hasn’t also yet been tested with a fall.
I spoke with Dave Pickford about the grade, a friend of mine who understands the complexity of the rock and knows the wall well. He’s climbed many FA’s himself notably in the area Wall of Spirits (E8 6c) at Pentire, a few coves further south. So comparing notes was super helpful in determining a grade of this route on this coastline in amongst its neighbours.
Matt’s an all-round climber having climbed F8c+, head pointed E9, onsighted E7 and bouldered V11. In winter he’s climbed WI7, on-sighted Scottish IX/9, Alpine ED4’s and made over 70 Alpine first ascents from the Alps to the Greater Ranges.
After success on Anapanasati, Matt is already scouring this area of coastline for his next project.
You can read more about Matt at www.matthelliker.com/