Friday, 28 November 2008

Long Weekend - Bridestones

Fantastic, a 4 day weekend from College and only a small amount of homework - what could be better for a climber?
Unfortunately the weather had other ideas, with Thursday being a complete washout. I checked the weather again and again and the general consensus was that Friday would be cold with showers later on.
Friday morning however showed a different story, it was very cold about -3 and the day was supposed to stay that way all day, so i decided bouldering was in order. Without Franco, i decided against Slipstones as i would require his ability to 'figure out' boulder problems, so i opted to the North Yorkshire Moors, humble answer to Brimham - Bridestones.
It was icy on the drive to the 'stones and after a loongish walk in (to get around paying £7 toll!) we arrived convieniently at 'problem 1' on 'Pinnacle 1'.
My aim for today was to solo every line that looked good and to continue until i could climb no more.
I climbed a host of problems on Pinnacle 1 and 2, with the roof problems being especially worthwhile. I then walked over to the 'Pepperpot'. This lump of rock, standing alone on a rather thin stance has a couple of named problems on it and they are Mr, Master and Mrs Pepperpot.

I managed Master Pepperpot onsight, which i was rather pleased about. However, i thought it was probably slightly over graded, though it did depend on a loong reach.
I then climbed Mrs Pepperpot. This was harder, not technically, but because the holds above the overhang were 'soapy' (due to moist rock and sandy layer mixing) I fell off. Disgrunted i jumped on it again. Climbing to the roof, gaining the juggy pockets and swinging out - i hooked a foot over the roof and pulled. I didn't enjoy the scrabble with the soapy rock!
The groove on this buttress is also worth a mention, though i thought it was quite high considering, getting progressively steeper but on better holds.

After this i ventured to the High Bridestones (lewis, who had accompanied me was still on the pinnacles i think) and i looked at the guide. Instantly 'Big Dog's Cock' stuck out as a must do route! not just for the name, but also because it talked of "pulling over the roof - scary!". One to do without the mat i thought.
Sure enough i did, and thought it was worth HVS 5c as the landing looked superb. The climb itself was pretty good as well, climbing a sandy scoop to a capping roof. I gained the prominent roof from the right and hooked my heel into one of the water eroded jugs on the top. Not a time to slip if i cared about my ankles!

After some traverses and gentle 5a warm downs, i soloed 'Big Dog's Cock' again so Lewis could grab some photos.

Friday, 7 November 2008

An Poor End to an OK Month

We had already decided the Peak was the plan for the half term holidays. Looking at climbing all the classic VS's (probably solo) and HVS's/E1,2,3's that Franco had nailed on his previous Peak trips and i was after E4's in Jetrunner and The Strangler. Franco also had his sights on Black Hawk Bastion at Stanage and Life Assurance at Burbage.
I drove down on the Tuesday morning, it was cold and quite breezy but the conditions were good for Grit. We set to work, immediatedly Franco soloing Hargreaves Original at Stanage. I decided that Central Trinity was a better option but soon i found myself on Hargreaves as well. The slopey reputation seemed a tad exaggerated but it is a tremendous climb.
Next we did Inverted V which looks like such an immense line and it doesn't disappoint i opted for the righthand finish, but franco did the left hand as he had done the right hand finish before.
After this we did some short solos on 'Rusty Wall' and then i roped up for Flying Buttress Direct. A route i think everyone wants to do, however i was a tad cautious and climbed with some trepidation. The snow was falling at this point, which was quite cool and it was cold so my hands were numb. I thought to myself about all the unusual ascents we have had - climbing Seams the Same at 6am in the Slate Mines, ascending 'The Hot Line' at Rylstone in two pitches because we were arguing over who's lead it was!
This was different though, the cold and snow made this seem somewhat epic and Stanage almost had an 'adventurous' feel to it. I placed my largest nut at the back of the roof and then tested the holds. I could feel what to do, but i didn't trust my hands and i hadn't seen anyone climb the route so i wasn't too sure about how to overcome the roof... it certainly doesnt look HVS.
I reached and swung out. Hooked a heel on the the break and reached again. I couldn't feel anything. The snow was dampening the holds and it was bloody cold.
I rolled onto the next break and laid there for a bit, giggling at my lack of 'finesse' but i guess the route doesnt really take well to style.
I managed to stand up and ran it out to the top. Spot on route really fun move over the roof but i couldn't say it was HVS with a straight face!
The next day was too cold to climb, we bouldered at Plantation but we weren't particularly bothered about anything and the next day we called an end to it, after the start motor in the car stuck. I called the RAC and they fixed us and i drove home, under orders not to stop the engine!

An OK October - Lakes

October was always looking like a good month, initally because quite often it retains some dry weather allowing for climbing and also it has the College half term, which means we could go to the Peak District to get some classic Peak ticks. However, October didn't really work out as planned.
On the second weekend, Ian Moore, Franco and myself travelled to the lakes to climb some lakeland routes and franco and I wanted Prana... It was wet and quite chilly with a brisk wind. The first day we decided Shepherds would be as good as anywhere and Franco could remember a route called M.G.C that he wanted to do there and i quite fancied 'The Black Icicle' though i don't know why.
We started off with the Icicle and Franco soloed Little Chamonix. The first pitch i reckoned would be the crux and i wasn't sure what Ian was like on 5b territory, having had limited climbing with him. The crux move is a delight and is well protected with a big nut. After that came the upper pitch which is 5a.
However, the upper pitch is a 'proper' E1 5a. It was pretty run out and involved a reach for a good but very thin feeling hold. It probably wouldn't go, but it certainly feels like it could! Ian climbed this upper part well and i followed him up. It was a good effort and a good route im glad we did.

Franco was now intent on climbing M.G.C and he did so quite easily.
I then climbed after him, but i found the going was quite strenuous after Black Icicle and i tired on the central part. The reachiness of the climb had me stumped so i fell off.
I then retried the line two or three more times, quite content to fall onto the gear as it was good practice, as i have taken very limited lead falls in my time.
The next day started quite chilly and it had rained. We opted for a crag i had not heard of called Buckbarrow Crag, near Honister Pass. It is a crag of natural slate which i was interested about and it had some classic HVS's that Ian was interested in, it also had an E2 me and franco thought about.
Me and Ian climbed a route called Alexas, which i think i'd heard of before and i seem to remember hearing it was quite stubborn for the grade. Anyway, we read the guide and i set off and realised that my first pitch was just a choss scramble to a crappy ledge where i disappointedly set up a belay. Ian came up and then climbed over the overlap and up the wet corner. It was disappoint really as it would have been two stars in the dry, but the wet slate was ultra slippy in the wet and it made lots of hte smeary routes quite bold. Ian however didn't fancy the next section climbing leftwards under the roof on the waterworn slate.
I followed up and managed to have a rest and take his gear on a very very cramped stance. I then attacked the slate slab leftwards, the moist holds and lack of friction made me really think i was bound to come off.
Luckily i didn't i and i ran it out to the top of the cliff from there placing a sling over a spike now and again. Ian followed up and we walked down to attempt the E2.
It was beginning to drizzle and franco climbed the starting groove well, bringing me and Ian up to a decent stance. I then climbed the next section which was a tad loose and damp and it felt unpredictable however i made it up to a lovely ledge where i sat looking at the steep continuation crack.
Franco and Ian climbed up and we finished up the upper crack, which was delightful and felt quite exposed with the Honister valley behind.
A decent weekend considering what could have been but we were disappointed not to have 'ticked' any classics we really went there for.
That makes two lakes trips with a lack of progress, if im honest.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Henshaws 2 Antarctica

Please take a look at my blog and email me with any questions at
The blog site is

I am leaving the UK for Antarctica on 16th November to climb Mount Vinson, one of the Seven Summits, (this will be my sixth). I am meeting 100% of the cost of the expedition myself, so all monies raised will go to Henshaws Yorkshire, Society for Blind People. I hope to be back in the UK by 18th December. The blog will be updated whilst I am both hiking/sled hauling and climbing and we hope to arrange a live satellite phone call from the summit. If you can post a link to my blog I’d be most appreciative.

The Just Giving site is For more information please don’t hesitate to contact me."

Kind Regards
Tim Ralph

Friday, 17 October 2008

Whitestone Cliffe and Ingleby Incline

Two amazing crags that myself and Franco have paid very little attention too really. Whitestone is the crowning jewel of Moors climbing, it encorporates everything that is to be expected from a quality venue; Looseness, Choss, sandbagging and most importantly, Death.
It stands facing the vale of York and anyone drivingup the A19 will be able to see it and it has a awesome attraction that can either lure climbers in or send them running never to return, im glad im not the latter.
It has an almost cult-following attracting all kinds of climbers from alpinsts and aspiring alpinsts such as Chris Woodal and Ian Jackson, to standard climbers like myself. It's towers of teetering choss, a mixture between Calcareous Sandstones, Dolomitic Limestone and the odd 'Dogger' make for an awe inspiring crag, the top section is apparntly Calcareous GRIT!.
The majority of visits are for the classic moors line, of 'The Nightwatch' which if you haven't done, you should. It's absolutely amazing and is solid taking as much gear as you would like although VS 4b may feel slightly sandbagged, if you are not familiar to the rock and it has an almost 'mountain crag' feel to it, which can be quite offputting considering the tame environment you were in 10 minutes before arriving!
I found myself being talked into Whitestone, which i was happy about but upon arriving found myself gearing up for 'Jurassic Scarp' an E3 5b on loose rock, with the odd sling runner for pro. I backed off the first pitch and franco gave it a determined attempt. He also decided against it, about halfway up.
Then it was my turn to climb 'The Nightwatch'. I have climbed on the moors, nearly a year and a half properly and i still hadn't climbed this line which is realistically 4 grades below my standard onsight level. However, it still felt up there and if i had climbed it onsight as an FA i would have been tempted to slap E1 on it! However, there are hunderds of holds in hindsight and all the gear you could want, especially thread runners...which lets face it are bomber! I think if you take your time and have ALOT of gear and quickdraws then it is an amazing route at the grade. Apparently, if Ken Wilson had known of its existance, he would have put it in classic rock.
After my ascent i walked off with the camera and took photos of Franco climbing the line Solo. He had climbed it previously and knew that there was always holds which is why, i said in hindsight it's probably VS+ rather than HVS or E1!!!.

Fantastic crag, with a superb classic line amongst others which are well worth doing. If you have ever considered going, but then carried on down the A19 to the Yorkshire Grit or the Peak, next time, spend the day here.

The next day, we travelled to a more local crag. Ingleby Incline is blessed with a 40minute walk in, which leads to a wonderfully located crag, which exhibits the legendary moors sandbag. Many of the grades, if below E1ish, are about 2 grades lower than they should be, many of hte VS's are possbly worth HVS and Extremes are about 1 less or so we've found so far!
I had been before with franco soloing many of the slightly sandbagged extremes, which are generally gearless or micro routes / unrope worthy.
However, this time i returned for another reason. This was to climbed YET another moors classic i was yet to attempt. Cozy Corner, tackles the superb wide crack just to the right of one of the largest roofs on the Moors. It goes at VD, which it probably would be if you have size 4 and 5 cams, however if illequiped with micro nuts and cams then you would probably find it a bit intimidating!

I soloed the line in true moors fashion, offwidth-ing and footjamming the central section. And topped out a happy chappy! It's a great line! :-)
After this i checked the other buttresses i was yet to see and also looked at Time Captain, a route on my wishlist. It looked doable, although i may resort to practice if its E4, but i'd rather not!Running around like a headless chicken, Franco, directed me in the direction of an idea of a new route he had. We swanned up the inital wall to the overhang and placed some gear. He then pulled around the roof and then had a minor epic topping out via a very thin crack which when i followed him up was jammed full of very poor Rp's. 'They'd be Reet' was his statement as i topped on on the slopey slab above It went at about E3/5 5c/6a.
I then set about on the same route, but with time running out and my inability to climb technically, i reached right before falling off!!! This lead into the Crack of a HardSevere, but the moves leading over the overlap and the balancy reach rightwards, meant it was still quite difficult, perhaps 5b. The gear was quite poor being shallow friends, so E2 5b seemed like a decent grade for the line however, it would probably be HVS if we stuck to moors principles.
I called it a cop out finish but renamed it on the way down as i was running to get back in time for my pickup for 5 a side football. It was a good route, as it incorperated the inital roof difficulty and the gear is dodgey (shallow cams) so we decided 'Five-a-Side Finish' was worthy of a low E2 5b.

Cringle Moor

It's a shame this crag is north facing, as it has some stunning looking lines. I had wanted to visit for sometime to look at the 'largest roof in Cleveland' which is climbed by an E4. However, when finally seeing this line i was disapointed. In all seriousness, its a great looking line! but it wasn't quite as i imagined. I expected overhanging jamming however its more like a 4metre roof over a corner. Fair do's, its a line i certainly want to do, but whether or not the start crack will ever dry with these crap summers we have, is another issue.
Franco and I decided to solo a couple of routes to warm ourselves up, as the freezing fog was doing its best to wet everything and make us cold. We soloed 'The Voice' a delicate E1 that stops half way up the crag and then climbed 'Tell Chris Cragg's Nowt!' a HVS F.A that we put up on the upper tier. The name originates from the old UKC days, when we made our dislike for Rockfax guides apparent - however, it was all in good humour.

After Franco then, annoyed about not being able to climb 'Wedge Route' set about on a First Free Ascent of 'Terry's Dilema'. The Dilema, was commiting to the overhanging crack off a very poor slopey, filthy ledge. However, the climbing is protectable and you fall into space. As i found out!

Thursday, 25 September 2008


This was my first trip to the grit crags of Yorkshire, although i've been to Brown Beck crag and Slipstones, these are most definitely North East crags and don't count as Yorkshire Grit. (After recent events on UKC, i will clarify this. I believe Slipstones is a Moors crag, as it was pioneered by lads from Teesside and it doesn't have the feel of Yorkshire Grit at all. The Definitive guide is also the north East England guide, not the Yorkshire Grit guide. That is my arguement, you don't have to listen!)
I drove down to Rylstone, really really hoping to get a good day on the grit and hoping that my recent lack of climbing wasn't going to be too noticable.
Franco had been once before, with the Ian's and wanted a good day at the crag as his experiences last time were mainly wet and cold.
Looking up from the road i could see the monuments and i got a feeling it would be a good day for us, expecially with it facing north west the sun wasn't going to be too unbareable or reduce the friction.
We arrived at Monument buttress and i looked at 'Monument Crack' (E1) which i decided was probably a very good climb well worth doing. But it also looked like the kind of E1 which can give you are very hard time if you a tad out of practice. I left it alone.
Franco decided to 'warm up' on 'Pocket Battleship' a micro E3 to the right. It looked hideous, pulling on slopers around a bulge and i decided it wasn't for me. Franco persuaded me to climb 'Monument Crack' and i did really like the look of it.
I climbed to the roof and decided i was far too lazy to try and place some gear so i reached the jugs and pulled around the roof. I then 'scraped' my way up the next section to the rest and placed some gear.
No handed rest in the niche was very nice and franco walked around taking some photos. I chalked up and got ready for what i thought was going to be the crux. Electing to jam rather than pull on the side of the crack, i climbed the last section with ease getting lovely 'sinking' jams.
We then walked over to 'Dental Slab'. What a climb this is, seriously if you haven't done it, do it and if you have do it again. Currently loving jamming, i jammed all the horizontal breaks and rocked over onto them to reach the next. I don't know whether this is the way to climb it, but it certainly was enjoyable. The mantle to reach the flutings was good fun solo as well. A classic that definitely failed to disappoint!
We then climbed another couple of crag classics. 'Crazy Diamond' was a route i really wanted to do, due to the fact i like Pink Floyd and Shine on you, Crazy Diamond is such an amazing song and also the line looked challenging. The initially techincalities were quite straightforward and then the upper slab was good fun, standing on pebbles. It did feel abit E3- 5b while on it. (edit, we climbed the wall to the left of the arete)
We then climbed the 'easiest E1 on Yorkshire Grit' which is 'The Hot Line'. I decided to 'Jazz' it up abit so i alternate lead it with Franco, who actually quite liked the look of the route, so i was happy to sit on the big ledge and look at the view while he climbed. :-)
We then climbed Veteren, which was quite bold but at a 'just to say' friendly angle. Very escapable though.
Then over to Poetry in Motion, which was a bit disappointing really. We walked down in the dark and then drove to Harrogate to get a pizza! 2 for 1 in some overpriced shop, which worked out to be.... like buying two pizza's...
I drove home and franco snored, i was impressed with my navigational skills on unfamiliar roads and at night, with headlights (when dipped) which are absolutely shite!


This is a climb that is coverted as one of the best in the region and the fact it was a jamming line made it appealing. This would be a stuggle. UKC logbooks showed that there had been some attempts recently but non of them were clean leads. It certainly sounded like a classic moors sandbag.
We arrived for our first trip to Beacon Scar. I liked the look of the place, certainly need to go back and do Mongol, Tremor and no doubt franco will want Fat Bastards Last Fling, a bold looking E5.
Looking up at Gehenna, i liked the look of it. It was a proper jamming line, a nicely sized crack with very little either side for the feet. It certainly didn't have the 'feel' of getting on a HVS.
The climb starts with a Niche, which you can arrange protection in before exiting it up and leftways, via some rather awkward moves on shallow jams on slightly damp, green soft sandstone.
The jams kept going for longer than i was expecting and i reached the horizontal break after about 7 or 8 jams (i looked like 2 or 3 jams would have got me far enough from the ground!) I placed some gear here as the run out from the niche was too far for comfort and i was tiring.
Luckily, you can rest on a good jam here and after placing a nut and cam i got my final jam, gastoned the crack and reached into the lovely pockets at the top. A truly great climb. Harder than it looks and it looks hard! but funnily enough HVS doesn't seem too bad for it, perhaps E1.

Another moors classic ticked and i was happy that the climb was a struggle. We didnt have enough time for anything else and i was tired anyway, pleased that i felt i could jam. This inspired me to visit yorkshire grit the next day.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

End of the Summer

The last week before College, we managed to get across to the lakes for some decent climbing. The weather was reported to be hit and miss so we took our chances. I however felt decidedly ill but it wasn't too bad.
On route we stopped off at Healheugh and also Lamb Hill Quarry. The former provided some good gritstone cragging in a remote setting which was quite a nice break from driving. Lamb hill however was a little bit disappointing though we might drop in again next time we go to the lakes. Saturday we got up and drove to Gimmer where i climbed Springbank (E2-) which i thoroughly enjoyed as i climbed it feeling very sick and very dizzy which made the fact i climbed the slabby start all the more pleasing.
Franco and Luke tried 'Eastern Hammer' but neither of them could get past half height on this pumpy problem.
We retreated to Catherdral Quarry. Franco and I were interested to see how it compared to Welsh slate... It's alot more frictiony!
It began to rain and i felt very ill, but luke was 'psyched' for Darklands (E3 5c) which he despatched very efficienctly, in the rain as well. It was quite impressive.
Next day we went to Black crag (Wrynose) which was nice, albeit small. We did the usual stuff there, including 'Glass Slipper' (E2-) and Needle Arete (E3-) and some solos. This was a good day for me as i again felt like shit, but still got some climbing in. I knew once i felt better, the weather could deteriorate. It did, but not after heading to Hodge Close Quarry and then Parrock, where we just messed around on some bolted, slate slabs.
The next two days were shite, as it rained quite a lot so Luke left with Rob and Lotte and the next day Franco and I returned to the North East...

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Brown Beck Crag

The day news broke about Ian's death, Neil and Myself were planning on journeying to Goldsborough, but we called this off. Unfortunately the weather had been awful for the week before and it continued to remain shite.
However, finally there was a break in the weather and i decided that it was too late to arrange to climb with anyone else so i raced to Brownbeck Crag to take advantage of the dry weather. I did just this, but i forgot my guidebook.
Luckily, i study my local guidebook a little too much and i could remember the lines and grades for a lot of the routes at Slipstones and Brown Beck crag.
The climbing lived up to the expectations i had for the place, with 'Pella' VS 4C*** and 'Wichita Linesman' HVS 5b** being extremely good routes which would be amazing if a little larger!
There were some other good aretes and 'E' numbers at the crag, but the VS and HVS would make a trip there worthwhile!
I also dropped in on a bit of a Daemon at Slipstones. 'Seven Up' and it's direct start E2 and E3 respectively had evaded my grasp for some time and i knew i could climb them! I did just this and it made my day to be honest!
I intend to climb at Goldsborough this summer and also maybe Healheaugh. I also wouldn't mind climbing some proper limestone, but a local very good looking crag appears to be closed, so im rather disapointed about that.

Summer 2008 - From bad to worse

On the way up the Ben. Ian was soo excited, but he wanted a picture with some Deer first!
Not particularly flattering, but the memories from Smiths Route will last forever!
Ian Soloing 'Inverted V' at Stanage. This seemed very impressive at the time, i was envious!
Again, not exactly flattering, but a hell of a trip and a very good laugh!
Just before Ian fell a fair distance after 'giving up' on the wet upper cracks. Again i was amazed with his climbing

What a fcking, shite summer this has been. Not only has the weather been awful, but my friends have been at the Alps climbing amazing routes while i was left in the UK unable to go aswell! However, as you may have heard a friend of mine, Ian Jackson tragically died in the Alps while climbing. This truly has been a summer of unrivalled sadness. Ian was a good lad, a heck of a climber and he made an impression to everyone he met. The thread on UKC after his death, proves this. He will be missed by everyone that knew him and his loss will be felt, probably forever.

My Summer - 2008
The soloing trip to the Lakes kept me contented for the first few weeks, but i became restless. Desperate for good weather and a new crag i started to look at even more esoteric venues that were easily reachable. Luckily one evening Franco's dad, Neil decided that he was able to go climbing, this was much appreiciated and we went to the nearby safe-bet of Camp Hill. There Neil ascended the good Severe and VS that he wanted and made a determined attempt to second me on the very nice HVS called 'Cling Wrap', something he is going to lead in the future and something i think he will have no problem in completing.
I also, decided that it was time to try 'Ace of Winds', this amazing looking climb has put me off several times, for one because it doesn't LOOK HVS and two, because i had to downclimb from the blank wall at half height!
This time however, i managed to reach the loose blocks. I arranged some decent protection then made a lo-o-ong reach to the top. There was nothing but sloping rock; on Grit this would have been enough, but Camp Hill isn't quite Grit. It's alot courser than the rock at Scugdale or Wainstones, but it didn't have the required friction. I eventually managed to get a high foot lockoff in a small crack under the roof and a blind reach around the roof to, luckily a good lip on the top. This was enough. I topped out on a great route, one that has repelled me two or three times, but i was right, it doesn't look HVS and it isn't!
The next day, i dragged budding climber, Matthew 'Mini' Cooper from Sleights along for a 'introduction' to rock climbing. We spent the day looking at rope technique, climbing technique and placing gear. He is a quick learner and i soon had him seconding me up routes and soloing some easy safe lines. He then lead, albeit dogged 'Longbow' but he was happy enough and i was ecstatic with what he had achieved. I then, asked if he would do me a favour and take a photo or two of me on a line i was yet to try. 'Pinnacle Face' HVS 5c, just looks stupid. The start is definitely 5c or harder and then the upper wall is difficult to protect and not ALOT easier. The guide also says 'use the right arete, if you must!' Personally, if you can't use the right arete, then it is totally eliminate as it is making you do very unnatural moves! Anyhow, the exposure was nice, but it wasn't the line i was hoping for!

Rejuvinated, with the recent improvement in weather i requested that Lewis would come to Eston Nab. Hardly Esoteric in the sense of the word, with it's views across Teesside and it's well used footpath above, popular with the local inhabitance. Parking at the Cross Keys on the A171, (to avoid parking in Eston!) we walked across and i got my first glipse of Eston Nab. "Oh well, it doesn't look too bad" i said, in fact i actually found the backdrop of Teesside an interesting change from Rolling moorland. The dockyards were certainly a better setting than a large group of houses.
The climbing was a tad dissapointing, i was hoping for higher buttresses. Luckily, the trip wasn't a waste, as i soloed alot of lines and then lead a VERY good HVS called, 'The Other'. This line takes a corner crack to a small ledge, then gear can be arranged up some criss-crossing cracks before undercutting a roof and traversing rightwards to allow a pull over to the top. Immense!
Lewis, didn't fancy it. I don't know why he did the hard bit reaching the roof the top section was the reward, but i lowered him anyway.
It was from about 1pm that things got bad. We walked to the monument and i climbed the 'back wall' at E1. Then the air became cooler and then rain drops started, we quickly set off for the car, but we were caught in a heavy rain storm. From this day onward, the summer has been wet, miserable and quite frankly woeful.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

A lonely Summer - Soloing

Unable to commit to a trip to the Alps this summer, due to my 'not quite right' knee, i have been left in the UK, while all the other climbers in the area, including Franco have gone to the continent. Lewis has remained, but i feel he will not have the commitment to journey here, there and everywhere and pay for it! Matthew (mini) Cooper, is a longshot as he is a busy person with commitments over climbing, which is fair enough but i hope to take him climbing in the next few weeks. So as a last resort, hopefully Shaun will be around to go climbing with but as yet i have not received an Email.
The weekend just gone, saw me and mum travel to the lakes to see family. This was quite a nice treat and it allowed me to solo some lines that i probably otherwise would have struggled to have gotten around to. The first evening, i travelled to 'Durple Gill' that small slate quarry near Patterdale and soloed the lines me and Franco established there and also a new direct variant, called 'Stalion Twister', due to the Deep Purple/Stormbringer theme. However, i appear to have lost my Belay plate here as well, though i am unsure as to how?!
The next day was a rest day as i felt a tad undertheweather and it was VERY hot, but the following day Flynn (dog) and I raced up Grisedale and i set about soloing the classic routes there, such as 'Sobrenada' Vs 4c**. This is a terrific route, though i climbed this and it's direct finish with a hanging rope, just in case!
I then worked 'Pericles' HVS 5a* before soloing it, this felt about E1 5a soloing, but a very nice route all the same. Similarly, the route at the right of the crag called, 'Morning Slab' which follows a nice scoop up a buttress, given HVS 4c** i decided it was probably just as well onsight soloing it, but i saw two or three gear placements, including one where i thought the crux was! Even so, the ascent i think merited 5a and probably E1 5a** at that!
I'll be happy if the holidays carry on with ascents such as these, i don't mind reducing my grade, if it allows me to climb such nice routes.
Next trip, the East Pennines, to do some Gritstone soloing at spots such as Goldsborough! (I hope)

Whitestone Traverse - E2/3 5c A1***

Firstly what an amazing place, unlike anywhere i've ever been or seen before. The limestone pushes up for about 40metres and is uniquely architectured with gigantic cracks, overhanging caves and 'doggers', which are large concretions which are quite sort-after, as they provide the only really bomber holds!
The venue, as stated in the guidebook is not for beginners, children or pets. On arrival, you can understand why. The cliffe is loose, forboding and is defended by a dense barrier of undergrowth, mainly (man-eating) nettles and lacerating thorns, as well as seriously dangerous pit falls and chasms!. This was my first trip to Whitestone and it was pretty much exactly how i imagined it, perhaps slightly more solid!

We abseiled down and walked through the undergrowth to the start of the traverse, (a traverse called, 'Chameleon' no doubt due to it's constantly changing behaviour!) steady climbing at first for the main part, except from the '4c' 3rd pitch, which was overhanging, pumpy and sparsly protected...E1 4c? The next corner was a nice pitch, probably the easiest that we did, but this still had an unprotected 10 metre runout with a grassy mantle on to a ledge.

I elected to belay here, which was a mistake. It was a good idea as it much reduced rope drag and meant franco was right next to the belay on the awkward mantle, but it was a bad choice (unbeknown to me) because it meant i'd get the next '4c' pitch.
From the tree about 40 metres futher along the cliffe, i set off on this pitch, '25metres of 4c' which climbed along to an arete then pulled around it to a ledge. I set off, immediately a hold snapped, but i held on and put a sling runner on one of the trees branches. I then made the rather strenuous moves to the arete. I pulled to gain the arete. Next thing my heart was racing, tiny bits of limestone shrapnel were bombaring me and i realised that my hold had snapped, again i had managed to hold on, but i flashed a look at Franco, and my tree runner and decided whether it would be better to jump off in to the chasm below (which you couldn't see the bottom of) or to try and climb the route and increase the runout. I elected for the latter and made a last ditch, whale on to the tiny ledge around the arete. The whale itself must have taken a minute or two, as i couldn't make any unbalanced moves due to the size of the shelf, i was fully aware that a slip backwards would have been disasterous.

Luckily, the following pitches were much safer and more enjoyable. The 'large slab' area of Whitestone looks impressive and Franco decided he wanted to climb this route as one push. He did placing two runners! over the 40m slab. I followed him up along the slab in the glorious sun to what has to be the best belay i have been on. The two peg's on 'The Leash' provided a belay well above the trees, about 10 metres below the top of Whitestone, with views into the Vale of York i was happy to stand with my calf's burning on the slab.
The next sections were rather poor. Franco managed to drop his belay plate, but rather than give up, he downclimbed 30m to the base, found it then managed to reascend the cliffe on what looked to be 5a/5b territory? We then climbed around to the large, dead tree on 'Gamin' and abseiled to 'the ledge from which the 5a pitch could be taken'. This wasn't any ordinary 5a pitch though, the loose rock and crap gear meant Franco had the unenviable task of attempting to climb this pitch safely, something he did very well but the poor gear and lack of promised peg belays meant franco abbed off and i downclimbed a very useful but bendy tree from the ledge.
Lewis, who had been taking photos and acting as back up did a superb job and after reclaiming lost gear such as the nut i dropped on the 6th pitch and the gear left in the 5a pitch we journeyed back to the car to drive to Peak Scar and bivvy as this was the next days climbing venue!
We had learned alot, and felt we'd given the traverse a good go, the 9 hours spent on the route taught us much about our climbing and partnership. It's given E2 5c A1 ***, but we didn't get to the Aid pitch, which we intended to try and free climb, but even so i felt like i'd been climbing E2 all day, we thought that E2 5a would have been a much more realistic grade for what we did!! A superb route, 283m of sustained climbing on loose, friable rock and with dodgey protection or at least questionable, such as the gas pipe runner on the Slab pitch!
One to return to, even if next time Franco and luke try it and i'll take pictures!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008


Now im driving, getting from A to B is alot easier and Franco and i have been to quite a few crags where perfect conditions a must and recently, the conditions have been perfect!
We returned to Raven's Scar, this time WITH a rope! so we were all geared up to tackle the classic E2 ticks of Satchmo and Fever Pitch. I had wanted to do Stardust and Screwed as well, but this didn't happen.
Satchmo fell after abit of hard work, the initial crack is quite thin and hardwork, but then a path leads to a good rest below the leftward slanting layback crack into a small groove. I stepped up and put a good nut in an old peg scar and then proceeded to layback uptowards the groove. I had a few anxious moments, as the upper crack was a tad greasy but it all went to plan and i topped out without incident - a fine route and an obvious strong line. Get on it!
We then walked over to Fever Pitch, apparently bold Franco led it first and got a good rack of friends in, this allowed the climbing to be enjoyed as the pitch was well protected. A great climb with longish reaches between good holds and a short but positive pocket pulling section in the middle. The top out sequence was awkward but this was a good finish to a superb climb.
Me on Fever Pitch - E2
After our sucesses here, we had most of the evening left so we decided to drive to High Crag and Tarn Hole for a look. Unfortunately the walk in was MUCH longer than expected and High Crag was midgy heaven, we were defeated so we went home as it was now getting late. Certainly a pair of crags to come back to though, especially for 'Warrior -E2' which is the large groove behind Franco in the picture.
Tuesday night was the Brimham meet with the CMC, however getting to Brimham after college just seemed abit silly really, plus i had to take my mum to Northallerton train station. So we elected to meet up at Scugdale. Luke Hunt, Lewis, Franco and I set about soloing the lovely buttresses of Scugdale 'popular' (Scot's). We got Lewis up some lines and then Luke climbed the classic 'Eve, Right Hand' which Franco and I prompty soloed as well.
After a warm down here, on routes such as Pluto Variant - we journied to Barker's as Luke and I WANTED the fantastic 'New Dimensions'! Franco soloed it first while i took a video of him then i tried it, but with little confidence in my ascent i didnt request a video....i was gutted when i topped out!
Luke then climbed the line and we rejoined below 'Sculptured Wall'. Luke climbed the route with ease and then Franco tried it but didn't complete it as he was feeling abit 'weird'. I climbed the line with a few anxious moments but ultimately, the route was straightforward and stepping right onto the front of the buttress was 'nicely exposed'.
We did some warm down routes and i tried in vein to stop Lewis backing off routes he couldn't get first time! I failed, but next time i will get him up 'The Cleft'!
It was now very late 10.30ish so we dashed back to the car and drove back to Castleton where i dropped everyone off. I then had a mini epic as when Franco tried to close the car boot. The latch didnt work. He tried and failed so i just drove down and tried to fix it myself....i failed. Unfortunately failure wasn't an option as the battery would have died with the car internal lights on, so i set to work dismantelling the locking mechanism. I succeeded and i was very happy, i updated my logbook and then went to bed at nearly 1am, very knackered.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

First Lakes trip of '08 and the wonders of 'Automobiles'

After all Franco's climbing recently, i was prepared to travel to the lakes regardless of weather just so i was away from the Moors and the thought of College, which was in a couple of days. I travelled over with Neil Cookson to pick Franco up from Penrith train station then we shot over to the CMC climbing hut and then walked to Eagle Crag (Grisedale) to climb 'Kestrel Wall' which was the plan for Neil for his Birthday and the reason we were in the Lakes.

Neil on the Classic, 'Kestral Wall'

After he climbed this however, Franco and I embarked on 'Horse Power' on the Upper Tier. I climbed 'Pericles' to the Upper tier, this contained some good, if slightly committing 4c climbing up a groove but it was a good warm up for the E2. After a bit of a faff, we both climbed the route on lead as i climbed up first but required a OO friend, so Franco climbed it with the friend and did it, the highlight of the route being a boldish swing right on a good hold then rocking over onto a large 'flake' style block. A first E2 in the Lakes.

The Next day we ventured to Borrowdale and after many disagreements, (based around going to 'Black Crag' for Prana , 'Eagle Crag (Borrowdale)', 'Sergeant Slabs' for Asphasia or 'Bleak How') we decided Eagle Crag was the way forward, lured by the plethora of ***'ed E2's and E3's! However, see soon found that this classic crag was exactly that, a classic crag. I looked as though climbing had not been done here for decades! We set off up 'Post Mortem' and after a VERY sketchy, green, vegetated and loose 5a first pitch we had me on the edge all the way with a crux overhanging groove at the top. I got to the ledge. How could 5a feel as bad as that! I was thoroughly exhausted and very very dirty. I brought Franco up and we laughed at how 'epic' it was! Unfortunately, Franco couldn't climb the 5c overhanging offwidth and i wasn't feeling up to it at all, seeing as Franco is climbing so much better than me at the moment. We abbed off. There was alot of bird activity around the otherside of the crag, we thought they were Eagles, but they were probably actually Peregines after we saw them 'swooping' but im no Ornothologist!Franco on the Horrific Offwidth

After this setback and a lot of time lost (but not wasted!) we walked around the hill to Bleak How, where due to time issues we climbed 'Psyched Out' and 'Bleak How Eliminate' which were only 20m which is abit tame for the Lakes but needs must. It meant we could push ourselves.
Franco on 'Bleak How Eliminate'
Franco and I climbed Psyched Out and then Franco climbed the Eliminate. A very good effort and i really fancied a crack at it! but it was too late i seconded him up and we ran down to get a lift. A good day was had in actual fact and we know that the area is CERTAINLY worth another visit.The Aptly named, Raven's Scar

We returned to the Moors, on the saturday as the weather system moved from the East to the West so we did a superb job in avoiding bad climbing conditions. Me and Franco then decided a trip to Raven's Scar was in order. I have now passed my driving test so i drove to Hasty Bank and we set off for Raven's Scar... unfortuntely, we didn't have a rope as confusion after the lakes trip had left us Ropeless. We however, undeterred soloed some classic easier stuff at Raven's Scar and a greasy, scary E1. After a few videos of classic lines we walked to Wainstones where there were some climbers who nicely lent us a spare rope, which Franco used to dispatch Ali Baba -E2, again for the 7th time?!

Some 'trippy' camera trick Franco managed. A few more solos and then i drove home to Neil's 'birthday meet' in the Downe Arms. A decent Saturday was had and the weather was actually superb!