Sunday, 30 December 2007

An Uneventful Year Ender - Farndale

First forecast good day of weather for a few days, so Me and Franco decided to go to some of our more local crags. Farndale hosts two very nice but Esoteric locations, one of which Round Crag, boasts some of the hardest and boldest routes on the Moors. We set off on our bikes to the Forgotten and somewhat un-developed Middle Head.
There were quite a few routes we had lined up there, but as we raced along the old Railway track joing Rosedale with Teeside we knew the conditions weren't right, and also, that they weren't going to improve.
Sure enough, when we reached Middle Head, the seepage was evident and the lines we wished to climb were somewhat 'Out of Condition'. We non the less geared up and attempted a route i had wanted to do for some time.
The Roof crack, which the route took was good and dry, but the Slab above was wet and dirty, so i saw it neccasary to take a sneeky step left, to gain the top more easily.
Fran then decided to try and climb the good looking unclimbed arete, which unfortunately, ended up summing up what the days climbing was. Utter Toss. Not because of the Route i hasten to add, but because it started to rain.
Rock that was trying to dry up, soon became drenched with the seepage off the moortop and try as we might, the Arete was not going to fall.. Quite the opposite, the arete caused many falls for myself and Franco.

Battered and bruised, we set off for our bikes and we decided that a rekky to Round Crag was in order. No climbing was going to get done due to the foul weather so we decided to check out routes that "looked Doo-able" and see if there was some potential for some bouldering around the Crag.

We looked at the routes and discussed the talent involved in establishing these lines. Farndale Fayre and Scut di Scun ai were both looked at in Awe. Both routes unprotected, hard 6b/c climbing with awful landing's.

We made our usual remarks when we have a disapointing day at the crag, 'We'll come back in Summer and lead some stuff and that' the response, from either party is usually 'Iy'.

We set off once more on our bikes, but this time we headed home. Damp and a tad cold due to this, it was a disappointing end to what has been a great year of climbing.

Ps. I ended up forgetting 4 Karabiners and 2 slings, so i had to journey back to Middle Head on my bike in Freezing/foggy conditions. I arrived at the crag after an awful bike ride through Snow, and frost was developing on me. My face was numb and my feet wet. I found the crag after getting lost in the Fog and saw that Verglass had developed on the crag, but was now slowly melting. I got my gear and set off home.

I arrived home, completely numb. My clothes wet and slightly frosty. My hands were blue with orange spots...(god knows why that was!) and all i wanted to do was sleep. However after a quick shower i knew i had to do my homework.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Grit - Slipstones

What i thought was my first trip to the fabled Gritstone, turned out to be a great 2 days of climbing, however, it wasn't my first day on Grit'. Grit' i was told, was only to be found in the Peak District. Never the less, the climbing on Gritstone was brilliant, the friction for ones feet was supurb compared to Yorkshire Sandstone and the Routes allowed for plenty of Soloing to be done. Indeed, as the guidebook stated, it is a good place to push one's grade.

The first route i climbed was 'Ginger Badger' HVS 5b. Good climbing and a good introduction to the crag. As was 'Breakwind Arete', a route where i fully experienced the friction of Grit. My feet smearing either side of the Arete, something that would be damn near impossible on Sandstone!.
The next route i got out the rope, 'Escalator' at HVS 5b was a good grade, but the reach at the end scared me so the rope was used, infact i had to make a small 'pop' for the top and this adequately scared me enough, to allow Nick to lead me up some good HS's and even a spot of bouldering!!!

I then climbed one of the best routes i have ever done. 'Original Route' HVS 5a was just fantastic climbing, on good holds, quite pumpy and with a terrible fall, but the route was positive and thoughly enjoyable. As was Gollingith, E1 5b just to the right. Starts up a pumpy crack. This made the finish, over the overhanging wall of 'Original Route' quite interesting!

I returned a week later with my brother. I climbed a few more routes at the crag mainly around E1 but the day was less fulfilling as my first day on Grit'. However, Beldin Variation was worth the trip! A more taxing route than Beldin itself, the start is slightly desperate and then the sloping traverse was very new to me indeed! I rammed some cams in and began the traverse. I reached the finishing crack, pumped. However, i decided it nessisary to place anothe cam. With this in, i made the 'bold' top out move. Disaster, my last Cam walked and jammed the rope under the lip of the overhang! I was left to delicately and dangerously untie on the lip of the overhang, one handed using my Nut Key!
A hell of a scarer and a good lesson for fully extending Cams!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Lakeland Classics

A flying visit to Shepherd's Crag, ended up being one of the most amazing days i've had climbing. I did not like Rhyolite at all at first, and i struggled up a VS with Lewis Dale. I then soloed a HVS called T.D.M, which scared me as i was unsure about the rock, but i was bored because Fran and Lewis were climbing on Little Chamonix. It's THAT classic lakeland route, and i wanted to do it, but it deserved something extra special. Fran answered the thought by saying "Fancy a Solo?"
71m is quite a considerable Solo, especially on polished, unfamiliar rock - even though it is a VD.
We set off, and soon we were on the georgously exposed last pitch. Pulling up on those flakes was a joy and i even had the audacity to hang around for a couple of pictures.

We spend a week in the Lakes climbing at Castle Rock, Eagle Crag (Grisedale), Durple Gill, Gowbarrow, but on the last day we did some fantastic stuff.
We returned to Castle Rock, having failed on Triermain Eliminate due to rain, we decided to go after lower numbers. I climbed Zig Zag and the Fantastic Overhanging Bastion with my brother, thus ticking two of the most celebrated routes on the Crag.
Me and Fran then turned are attention to another lakeland classic, Harlot Face. This summed up to be one of the most extreme routes we have done. It is E1 5b, it is on steep exposed terrain but it has a gentle side because of it's very well protected crux. However, we had never climbed E1 over 8m before and Rhyolite is a different propostion to good old North Yorks Sandstone.

Fran climbed the first pitch, up to the ledge at half height. This was the worst pitch, it was lacking on gear and was suffering from seepage and moss. We climbed this eventhough it was out of condition, and then came my lead, the crux.

This involves climbing the Overhanging crack of Triermain Eliminate and then swinging boldly out right onto the ajoining slab. The route then follows reasonably juggy ground to a vegetated belay, and safety. This was a great achievement, our first "proper" E1 lead and it was done in less than ideal conditions.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Climbing Mowgli

Park Nab, the crag that i will always associate with the beginning of my climbing, had a great buttress that contained some of the areas finest routes. One very wet day in the 90's, the Buttress gave way and collapsed leaving a scared area of rock, from which Mowgli was born.
The route on first glances looks impossible, an almost featureless slab of rock, but it is climbed at the resonable grade of E1 5b.

I had always gazed upon this slab, and imagined how good E1 climbers must be, as i walked from Severe to Severe and i always told myself that this was one of my climbing goals, something i would aim to achieve, perhaps before i left the area for University.

The time came however, much quicker than i expected.

2 October, one of those calm, clear days that is perfect for climbing. We had climbed E1 before, but they were less serious E1's that perhaps were overgraded, this however felt serious. Today was perfect though, so we climbed it. Something, we had never noticed was that the route traversed in from the right arete, therefore what looked like featureless wall, WAS featureless wall and the route avoided it!
It fell with remarkable ease, considering the look of the climb. Even so, it was a serious undertaking, the blocks below are scary, and the lack of gear means that a solo is the norm.

The picture illustates the severity of failure.
P.S On the 6th of January 2008, the Direct start to Mowgli fell, it is a technical climb that was solved well by my climbing partner Franco, i quickly followed and we agreed on E2 5c* for the tricky 'Achilles Last Stand'.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

First E2 Onsight Lead

I had climbed E2 before. But they were reasonbly small and i had soloed them, i also, had taken two or three goes to get the moves right. These included Cold Turkey and Chilled Out at Cold Moor.
Hungry Heart at Oak Crag was different, 12 metres, 'Adequately Protected', it had the feeling of a proper E2 climb and indeed it was.
An exquisite Arete climb, on the unfortunately green main buttress of Oak Crag. It didnt matter to us though, the climbing was great, the situation is fantastic and we really felt proud about this achievement.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

First Ascents

Every now and again, when we were visiting crags we'd see rock, with no noutes on them. We'd often comment and say there should be routes on there but we never did anything. Eventually, the penny dropped. Why didn't we do the routes?
The first crag we put up new routes on was the Esklets. It was a local crag and there was a lot of undeveloped rock. We put up some decent lines, and then both me and fran returned at different times to continue with the work. I returned with my Brother to create 'Eskrement' at HVS 5b (named so, to keep an Esklets Tradition going). Franco, my climbing partnet, then returned by himself and polished off several other routes.

Our next First Ascent was, 'Ling Arete' at the Wainstones. This is a major crag in North Yorkshire, so we were amazed when we found that this line was unclimbed. We decided that it was going to have to be hard, otherwise it would have been done in the past. We set up the top rope, and proceeded to work the route. The Top rope, soon led to a Pinkpoint, then a Redpoint. The Grade was HVS 5a, which seemed quite low considering the amount of effort put in, however the line is very good, and it is quite a commiting route. Indeed, it is in the Current Local Guide and the Rockfax guide, so hopefully we will see some repeats of what is definitely our best FA.

We also found a Slate quarry near Patterdale in the Lake District. It is about 10 metres high and makes for a good days entertainment should you be unable to get out of Patterdale, as is what happened to us. We found a few routes the best being 'Stormbringer' which again was HVS 5a, but the direct start was E1 5b.

In January 2008, we started our project at Park Nab. A route we thought had been climbed before, it was the direct start to 'Mowgli'. The guidebook stated 6a/b. We decided it would be a good chance to 'break' into the 6grades. We set about the bouldery start and found it was resonably difficult and that it didn't ease. Franco, who really wanted the route then set up a TR and we worked it. We found it was quite a bold problem, which was sustained and required a careful approach pulling on very positive albeit Very small edges.
Franco completed the route and then so did I. A fantastic slab climb on a featureless piece of rock, we were so proud to have done such a route, and to then find that it hadn't been climbed before was the icing on the cake!

Hopefully some more FA's should follow, as we have found people are mostly encouraging when you do find FA's.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Climbing At Camp Hill

Camp Hill, a lovely crag nestled above Botton Village in NorthYorkshire was the place we first started to achieve things. VS's, HVS's and one of my first E1's fell at this Crag. It was a good place to go and push ones grade.
The best route on the crag is Ace of Winds, which i still need to do, but the second hardest route at the crag, and one of my favourite climbs i have done, is Cling Wrap Direct (E1 5c).

We went one blustery Spring day with the idea of climbing this, which we did, Albeit on Top Rope. We did however return in the late summer and Lead it, which unfortunately put an end to our climbing at Camp Hill.