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'.