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