Portland 2023 was unlike any Portland the club has seen before. With a record-breaking number of first leads totted up by new Stoats, always paired with sunny skies and icy swims. The club visited a new crag this year with the introduction of Battleship Back Cliff which was greatly loved by the Stoats and we’re sure it will see many future visits from them.
The trip started off with a late-night drive down to the sunny town of Weymouth, where puddles up to the Stoats ankles were crossed only for all the drivers to arrive after the Scout leader left, entrusting the key to the great Molly Kemp who welcomed in the arriving cohort. Once everyone was settled in, and Meia had paraded her freshly baked bread round, plans for the following day began to take shape. With the weather looking less than pleasant for the second half of the trip it was important to hit the much-loved Blacknor Central crag early on. With very few Sportland veterans, the beauties of Blacknor were rediscovered as many Stoats completed their first leads on Fallen Slab with some brave climbers completing the picturesque Fallen Slab Arete 3*. After a hard day climbing, some keen beans headed to the beach for some icy swimming to make sure they were in perfect shape for some more high performance climbs the next day!
Sunday was a particularly wet day so while the rain passed and UBMC headed to The Cuttings they busied themselves with different activities such as brunch, sculpture walks, beach visits and connect four in Portland town centre. The sculpture walk was a highlight for many with some even finding a sculpture of a climber resulting in the photo of a climber on a climber on a climber! While other Stoats filled their bellies and warmed themselves with hot drinks the rain eventually passed, and the rock dried up. By the end of day 2, most UBMC members who were competent lead climbers had done an outdoor lead (with an occasional rest slung in a tree).
On Monday the trip was rounded off with a trip the Battleship Back Cliff. With Tuesday being written off for a day of climbing due to weather it was important that the Monday finished the trip on a high. This was no problem for this new crag. With plenty of routes to climb including crack climbs and some higher grade climbs for those that wanted to push themselves the crag provided everyone with great climbing with nearly all of the participants favourite climbs being at the final crag. A subsection called Brontosaurus was a great hit with leaders completing every single climb along this stretch, the flow stone also excited the Geography students on the trip!
A lovely finish to the trip with a celebration of James's birthday in the evening and a final pub visit, the Stoats got a good nights rest, ready for the early morning cleaning of the hut and drive home the following day. That brings Sportland 2023 to a close, as the island waits for their favourite visitors to come round next year.