Portland deep water soloing

I said to @PaulSagar at some point that I might write him a newsletter article about Portland DWS, but now that the season has started I got carried away with the excitement and turned it into a blog instead.

Paul, you’re very welcome to adopt it into the newsletter anyway if you would like - alternatively if it triggers any (easy) follow on questions that could form a replacement I could have a go at some scribbles to cover those off instead.

The logistics around early/late tides are undoubtedly going to be challenging until overnight stays are allowed and I can make no firm promises on account of the demands of childcare but in theory I’d be happy to play guide if anyone did want to give it a go.


This is awesome, thanks.

Presumably I can do DWS with only one leg so long as I don’t fall on the rocks?

No problem!

As with all one legged climbing, it just depends how strong your arms are doesn’t it?! :muscle:

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Plus an inflatable splint might be useful, just in case the arms prove inadequate,

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@dabarlow - Or cause an unfortunate situation where Paul ends up floating foot up/head down if he somehow happens to bang his noggin again… :wink:


Just as an add on to this, judging by the tide times for this weekend (big mid morning high tides) the tides for a fortnight’s time (first weekend in Sept) will be similar and therefore pretty well timed for Portland DWS. This weekend there’s a lot of swell forecast - I’m going to go and have a look anyway, see how much of it is making it round to the sheltered east side, but we’re camping on Portland anyway so it’s low risk - but thought it worth mentioning since it’s probably the best weekend tide time combo I can recall this season.

I was going to say thank you for sharing this is very topical as Mr Pirouet and I were just scheming it would be great to try a first easy DWS somewhere as a target for those of us climbing lower grades (me more than he). Then I looked at your ticklist. Taxi for one. More seriously maybe we could plug into you sometime for some suggestions for confidence building on easier stuff

The ticklist is definitely not definitive - it’s a list of things that I feel are the sort of must-do across the grades.

What sort of grades are you looking for?

The other thing is say is that actually on a nice sunny day pushing the boat out is pretty fun so getting on some stuff you might fall off is no bad thing!

mmmh 6b/6c borders outdoor sport on a good day


You’ve got a lot to do on Portland at those grades. Some of the ticklist is graded in UK grades - ignore those, french grades are the de facto currency for dws and UK grading is basically a historic thing. For each area the routes are roughly in grade order, so for Portland you have about 9 routes on the ticklist at 6c and below:

  • Temporary Lifestyle is about 4
  • Red Crane 5
  • Big Easy, Spittle and Spume and Ixtlan at 6a/+
  • Hooked and Russian Roulette at 6b/+
  • Crab Party and Octopus Weed at 6c

There’s more around those too that are good. Big Easy Arete (5+?), Lateral Thinking (5), Smile Please (6a+?), Samurai in Autumn (6b) off the top of my head are good and safe (at the right water, obviously) too.

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Hope that helps

I’ve not done anything at Beeston, which is most of the page there (although I gather Belly Button and Bay of Rainbows are excellent), but note the S grades on the green spot stuff - probably not ideal beginner material as you need to jump out to clear the belay ledge which I doubt is the sort of intro you want!

yeah maybe complete beginners could find it stressful - i can post pics of the other areas but it was the only place i could see a few 3’s and 4’s to warm up and I was actually looking at Octupuss Weed. looks great fun.

@ajmorris228 - Crab Party is in this years calendar, looks amazing but pretty strenuous! :joy:

Pic of Hazel Findlay climbing it from online.

I think it’s my picture isn’t it?! (The calendar one, obviously. Not Hazel)

It is superb. Not many places you get that much roof at such a reasonable grade.

(You can cut loose less than this)

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Yep, Andrew Morris photo credit and Louis Boscene climbing.

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I got washed out from a trip down there this week by the bad weather, only to find those pictures in Google’s “here’s what you were doing a year ago” reminder. Talk about rubbing it in!

Thanks for all the info guys. These photos looks pretty inspiring!

To resurrect this one with some hopefully useful info - I got an annual tide time book for Portland recently. Judging by that, it looks like the weekends of 26th June (clash with Cornwall though I think) and 11 September look like the best weekend tide times of the year, in terms of having good deep water at a sensible time in the morning. Runners up are 10th and 24th July.

There’s a campsite right atop the climbing all summer, which is fairly basic but very well situated and can be found on FB:


Sounds like a plan!

11 September in the diaries…