Harry Humpkin and the Exploding Pumpkin

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Mark Edele 10 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #153051 Reply


    My name is Mike Taylor. I’m a climber in Denmark. Over the past few years I’ve been spending a fair amount of time climbing West Cape Howe, and one of my favourite climbs there is “Harry Humpkin and the Exploding Pumpkin”.
    Speaking to Jim Nevin, there have been very few people to lead this route and they have only led it once due to the scarcity of sound gear and the obvious danger. (I’ve been trad climbing more than 20 years and wouldn’t lead it without a few bolts.) The gear on the lower part of the route is sparse at best, and most likely would pull on a fall. The fall would cause someone to hit the belay ledge and cause major injuries. After reviewing the climb with a few other locals, including Jim Nevin, I decided to contact Simon Yates who put up the first ascent to get his permission to put in a few bolts. Surprisingly it was easy to track him down and his response was that it was up to the locals. He said, “it’s your rock, it’s your decision”. After a few months of top roping it, Jim Nevin and I decided to put in two bolts for an anchor at the ledge and four bolts on the lower portion of the route. We still are uncertain if it needs one more bolt near the crux up top of the route. We’re still working on the gear placements. This is an amazing climb and in my opinion needs to be led by everyone that visits West Cape Howe.

    #153063 Reply


    Hi Mike,

    I’ve lead HHATEP at least 5 times and I’m surprised that you think that the belay on the ledge and the protection on the way up is inadequate.

    I find it’s no problem putting in more than enough nuts and cams for the belay on the ledge, and on the way up, while it is a bit thin for gear, if you look around I think it’s fine.

    If anything, if it’s bolted I’d possibly be less tempted to do it again. (Having said that, the next time I’m there I’ll give it a go.)

    By the way, I was there on the day that Simon first did the climb. I was also at Willy’s when he did Porky Pigsville – now THAT is a climb that needed more than one bolt! To freak me out even more, as I was leading it, he was telling me the story about how a couple of months previously he went climbing in South America with a friend and had to cut the rope…


    #153067 Reply


    To be honest that’s a bit dissapointing. It’s been led a bunch of times by me and my friends and whilst no bumbly lead, the gear seemed appropriate. Not all routes need to have the same risk level. Variety and routes you maybe don’t have the guts to lead make rock climbing the sport it is.

    Can you reconsider?
    WCH has no shortage of stuff to do and this was an easy TR if you didn’t want to lead it. Shame it was reduced to a lower level in my opinion. Reading Richards post about the Spartacus bolt in the peak Charles thread reminds me WA has more to worry about than carrots…..

    What sort of bolts and glue did you use?

    #153087 Reply


    I’ve climbed this route 3 times on lead. The last time was 10years ago so my recollection is a bit hazy but I seem to remember that there are (or were!) two(ish?) very rusty bolts in the bottom part…..looked like a zinc placed bolt with stainless hanger! hard to believe….The bolts were falling apart and may not be there any more…..obviously these need to be replaced. Other than that, the route is well protected with small, yet spaced gear. There are no ledges to hit so falls may be long but not dangerous. I fail to see what more bolts would do for safety…they do change the character of the route as they make it a brainless clip and go exercise. There are NO NASTY SURPRISES as any potential leader lowers right over the route so if one feels so inclined one can research and label with chalk all the tiny gear placements. So like Neil, I do NOT want to see more bolts on what is a protectable route (if you have the right gear and know how to use it).

    #153105 Reply


    Hi Matt,

    Sorry but I also think the bolting is inappropriate. I have led the route too. It took me several years and multiple visits to WCH before I decided I was ready to go for it – that’s what I liked about it.

    I second Ross, Neil and Phil who made some really good points.

    I’m not too sure what ledge you are referring to and why would any anchor point be required?

    I have an angle grinder, should you need it to fix this 😉


    #153107 Reply


    I climbed Sunshine Superman 15* early 2014 and had to skip the bolts on the second pitch to get the experience I was looking for… I would hate to have to skip more bolts every time I go down to WCH.

    #153164 Reply


    Yes it’s a nervous lead but as said already, easy to set up a top rope or pre place gear on the way down. If you want to do some practice laps first it is as easy as can be to set up. If you’re bold enough to take on the challenge of onsiting it then kudos to you (gear beta alert—- just be sure to take rp’s and c3’s) Keeping a cool head on small gear is one of the challenges of climbing and as this route has no ‘nasty surprises’ I say leave it be.

    #153166 Reply


    “(gear beta alert—- just be sure to take rp’s and c3’s)”…. Thanks Ryan… Did I just loose the onsight? 😛

    My two cents worth is that I think a lot of the recent bolting at WCH is unnecessary, especially on routes such as HHEP. Not only are nice big shiny ring bolts kind of ugly against the nice black rock, the routes are crap (for WCH). If you want to bolt stuff, replace some of the old ones on some classics, like Mike Law’s routes, and put a second bolt on Didi Wa Didi (I can’t find it). There are plenty of routes at WCH to last a life time. Lets not wreck the place with excessive bolting. It is suppose to be a place of adventure!

    #153502 Reply

    John boy

    A bit harsh calling all the new stuff crap in the last couple of years I think Jim nevin.remi vignals.pattrick maher.Ron master.Jonas Hollingsworth and Ross weiter have put up some real classics out there some with no fixed gear at all. they have my respect perhaps you should show some Chris.

    #153503 Reply


    I too led this climb on sight and had no issues with the gear, yes it is small gear but adequate. Each climber has a different opinion on what is adequate but it doesn’t mean we need to fix up every line to match all needs. The intention of route descriptions are to advise whether routes are runout, sketchy, well protected, sustained, etc. So I too am not keen on the idea of retro-bolting such a classic slab climb as HHEP.

    #153856 Reply

    Ron M

    Putting the Bolting of HHEP to one side, Chris calling all the new climbs at west cape crap is bullshit. Maybe he needs to show a little more respect to those who are willing get of their arse and put up new climbs. You want to Replace dodgy bolts, maybe you should do it yourself!

    #153979 Reply


    I think we should all stop attacking Chris and concentrate on the real issue here. He didn’t say all the new routes at WCH are crap, he said that these new bolted lines are crap for WCH. My impression is that this is referring to the ethic of the crag as a whole rather than ripping on everyone that has put a line up recently. I’m of the opinion that at a place like WCH, bolting should be kept to an absolute minimum and I’m a little sad to see people whacking bolts in everywhere they think the gear is potentially a little thin or flaring (i.e. Dark Arts).

    As far as Simons comment goes “it’s your rock, it’s your decision”, I fail to see how the opinions of two people plus a couple of locals is enough to warrant a retro bolt. It’s been shown in the previous comments of this thread that quite a number of people have lead the climb and are sad to the level of it brought down. If you really want to put a bolt in an existing line then why not put it up on this forum first and see the general consensus before getting the power drill out. Unfortunately in this case, regardless of climbing populations opinions, the bolting is already done.

    #156320 Reply


    Hi Mike and everyone else,

    I was down at WCH not too long ago and did a few climbs.

    I’ve done Harry several times before (without any bolts), so I thought I’d check out the new bolts.

    I think the two belay anchor bolts are not needed – there is a perfectly good crack one metre to the left where you can whack in a few cams.

    As for the other bolts, I don’t see the need for any of them – they are all within half a metre or so of horizontal cracks where you can place small cams or nuts.

    If any bolt was really needed, the place to put one would have been a single bolt in-between the two that are fairly close together.


    #158631 Reply

    Mark Edele

    A slightly belated addition to this thread. I was down at WCH on the weekend, and onsighted HHEP. I did clip all the new bolts. My reactions are mixed.

    On the one hand, I would not have attempted an onsight of a route at this grade described in the guide as “with thin protection”. Given that my ability to spend much time down there is limited, I might never have climbed it without the retro bolting. I agree that it’s a great route and that it deserves to be climbed by many. I’m glad I climbed it.

    On the other hand, I did feel that the route is now over-bolted for West Cape Howe. One of the bolts is right next to a small vertical crack, which would take gear. Other bolts are, as pointed out by others, very close to horizontal cracks which take gear. It would take longer to climb the bottom part without the bolts, and it would be a more nervous endeavour.As I climbed it, I thought how hard this must have been to protect back in 1989, with no micro cams. With modern equipment, the thing is much better protected than it was for the first ascent (I had a rack of “basic cams”, i.e. ripped-off Aliens, the three smaller sized of BD X4s, and the smaller sizes of normal cams, plus a good rack of small wires).

    As for the question raised in Mike’s original post: I don’t think another bolt at the crux is necessary. If we are talking about the same crux section, there is a good placement on the level where your feet are before you commit to the move, and once you have done it, there’s a crack right in front of your nose. So at best you slip some meter and a half or two meters into good gear.

    Overall, I do worry, like everybody else here, about retro-bolting becoming a trend in this area. WCH is quite a special place. It’s scary and it’s remote, and it’s beautiful. You are often on your own, and most of us climb lower grades here than elsewhere. It takes longer to be ready for a harder climb here, and mostly even easy climbs give you a run for your money. I would hate to see this spoiled for the next generation of climbers.

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