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Routes in Carn Gowla

Mercury Direct T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Type: Trad, 250 ft, 2 pitches
FA: P. Littlejohn, S. Jones 1974 (left hand finish) R. Edwards et al. Aug 1979 (right hand finish)
Page Views: 35 total, 1/month
Shared By: Nick Russell on Sep 1, 2013
Admins: Chris Owen, Euan Cameron, Nick Russell

You & This Route

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Mercury is not just a route; it's an experience. On the 80m abseil to the base of the route, you swing side to side, freeing the rope from it's various snares on the superbly textured rock. One big swing right, round an arete, and there it is. The huge corner, one of the best lines in the West Country, is truly awe-inspiring! You look up at it's big rightwards arch, down at the big sea crashing below your feet, and continue.

The ledge is above the high tide line, but at anything other than low tide or dead calm water you'll be getting a soaking. We chose the low tide option, for more atmosphere. Waiting for my second, I look up the route, telling myself it's can't be that bad. The crack is wide, but not too wide, a short section up to a slab. Rest there, then it steepens again before the belay ledge.

Second down, secure to the ab rope, time to go. Low tide doesn't last forever. The juggy rock that threatened to trap the abseil rope is gone, it's smooth, slate-like rock here forcing you to use the crack (a #3 camalot protects here, and smaller gear in subsidiary cracks to either side). The climbing is quite straightforward until the steepening where the crack becomes wider. No #5 cam to protect it, I need to think about this.... It's over pretty quickly though and I traverse, satisfied onto the spacious ledge on the left. Perfectly placed, 40m up, just before the corner arches over.

Pitch two starts quite gently. Awkward at times, but the rock is low angle and there's a good crack in the corner. A steepening looms above, but I know the trick. Traverse out right just before, until it's possible to resume upwards progress. At a semi-rest, I pause to contemplate the moves ahead. No protection, some good edges for the feet, very thin hands, should I have followed the chalked-up line lower down? Before I know it, I'm contemplating the final moves before the salvation of a piton. It's tricky, possibly the technical crux, and the gear in the corner is at least 5m out to my left.

After the piton, easier climbing but another good runout to the roof. Gear here, more rightwards movement, a weakness in the roof and I'm pulling up jugs to the top. I tie a prussic to the pre-placed anchor rope (don't forget this!) and bring my second up. What a day!


From the furthest car park two bluffs of rock should be visible. Go down to the left (facing out) of the left-hand bluff. The abseil is from a thread and nut anchor as low down here as you can get.

The fixed rope for the topout should be placed on another small outcrop about 20m left (again looking out) of the abseil anchor. Run this down to a fairly worn ledge at the cliff edge.


Everything you've got. Big cams are useful on the first pitch. For the short offwidth section you have the choice between a #5/#6 or a modest runout. You can lace the initial corner of P2 with finger-small hand size gear but nothing will help you on the slab traverse. A piton at the end provides salvation.


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Nick Russell
Bristol, UK
Nick Russell   Bristol, UK  
E2 5b. Bold on the second pitch, but technically not hard for E2. If the commitment adds to the adjectival grade it's top-end E2, otherwise maybe a bit soft. Sep 30, 2013