Sunday, 28 June 2009

Thirlmere, Borrowdale, Dow and Slate!

Monday afternoon, after retrieving Franco's Moped from Malton, we set off to the Lake District with the plan of action being to settle some unfinished buisness and nail some new routes and possibly push the grade out a wee bit.
We took advantage of the light nights, with a hour and a half stop by at Castle Rock of Triermain, to rattle off 'Triermain Eliminate'. A route on both of our wishlists after we had been rained off the Top pitch, in the past.
Franco dispatched the route with ease, i however found the climb rather tiring (driving is my excuse plus it was still VERY hot) and elected to take a rest in the final niche, only a metre of so from the finish. My choice was a good one i think, because i had problems topping out on the slopey grass.
Abseiling back down the line to remove gear showed how overhanging the north wall was, i passed franco on the half way ledge a good 2 metres out and was atleast 3 metres out at the base. No wonder the place is quite pumpy...
We met up with Luke Hunt, and his friends from Uni, Tom and Miles. We chose Dow Crag as the next days location, a crag i was looking forward to as i had never been.
We arrived at the crag in the mid afternoon and decided to 'warm up' on 'Pink Pather' - E2 5c.
Unfortunately, our route finding was awful and i climbed a 'non-line' taking the central section of an E3, to an exposed and poorly protected rightwards traverse. I was bricking it and after my minor epic managed to downclimb to more substantial gear where i lowered off.

Still unaware this was the wrong route Franco climbed the line finishing up the Arete at the top. Declaring it E3+ 5c+, which seemed to be the case when i was up there.
Thoroughly de-psyched, i was happy to lay around on an exposed slab taking photos of Franco and Luke attempting 'The Shining Path' - E5 6b***.
During this time Tom and Miles were enjoying the classic, Eliminate 'A' - VS.
Luke made a valiant O/S attempt but eventually flagged and rested. Franco then gave it a bloody good go, but floundered at the extremely tough and sequency looking crux.
Luke then gave it another go and managed the line with only a cheeky pull on the quickdraw, which was unfortunate.
Wednesday, we chose Borrowdale with Reecastle being the choice. It wasn't quite as i imagined it and i wasn't feeling at my best. Franco therefore climbed first despatching 'White Noise' - E3, rather easily with Luke following. Tom and Miles were climbed the only VS at the crag and then had their eyes on 'The Rack' HVS***.
I attempted an E2 on the righthand side, but it was dirty and i just lost all motivation. I couldn't see a safe 'E2' way of doing the moves so i downclimbed.
I later made myself feel slightly better, climbing 'The Rack Direct' E2 5b*.
Luke and Franco were currently boshing around on 'Penal Servitude' E5 6b***. Luke eventually managing the line with a small rest.
With most of the evening still available, Franco elected to go to Black Crag in Borrowdale as he fancied another barefoot solo of 'Troutdale Pinnacle' Severe, and also a look at 'Prana' E3 5c.
I joined him on Troutdale Pinnacle (with shoes! :-) and then agreed to do the embarrasing first pitch of Prana, an awful wet slab up to one of the most comfortable belay trees ever!
I sat basking in the evening sunlight, watching Franco eventually pull through the crux overlap high on the Headwall above me. I seconded it, which was nice and the moves were all good solid 5b/c. We were both quite happy and wandered down to Grange, where Tom, Miles and Luke were drinking.
Thursday, saw Luke, Tom and Miles depart back to Manchester. Tom and Miles going to some music event or some such...
Franco and I decided to go after a route we needed to tick and i also had a bit of a point to prove. I really want to like Slate!
Cathedral Quarry it was, Darklands was the target and i was going to feel secure on Slate.
When we arrived Franco's second route, Basilica was being muddied and polished by Abseiling hordes.
We decided to try and climb Darklands as two pitches to remove the rope drag. I climbed to the belay and then Franco climbed through, clipping the numerous bolts and decaring the route an absolute softtouch. He abseiled back to me on the belay but unfortunately the ropes were stuck. So in the end i seconded the top pitch. I wasn't too bothered. The route is indeed a softtouch, there are 1 two many bolts and by this point i was qutie psyched by the route to the left, 'An Alabuse'.
It takes a rib to the right of the big, dark hole leading to the entrance. It then steps right and laybacks up a large flake leading to a delicate cruxy finish on the top slab.

I went first and really enjoyed the climbing under the impression it was E2 but it turned out to be E3. Really nice juggy moves, lead above the void. Then a delicate ramp leads to the layback, which is interesting! Then the top is a sequence of high feet and crimpy jug pulls. Really really nice route, one of my favourites!
Franco then climbed the line and abbed for the gear. Then climbed 'Rim Fisher' another E3, which was apparently much harder.
We left back to the Moors, after a brief chat with a nice bloke about the bolting situation in the Quarry. Darklands in particular appears to have 1 too many bolts and certainly didn't seem to fit the E3 grade as a result? Never mind its a cracking line!

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