Sunday, 26 December 2010

Rosedale Ice - or not.

Decided to head around to the waterfall in a gully opposite the Lion Inn Pub at the head of Rosedale Valley. Franco was seeing family or sommet, so I asked me dad if he fancied a bosh around from the pub with the dogs. He agreed.
We made good time through the often knee deep snow occasionally finding nice Neve or raised vegetation but ultimately it's not too bad. The dogs found it hard going jumping through chest deep powder and i'm looking at one of them totally flat out, knackered.

It was warm, the car reckoned -5 on the way up but it didn't feel it. Though the cloud was building and it was nearly midday. After about 50 minutes, i think?, we arrived at the 'icefalls'.

Unfortunately the main fall isn't very big or very well iced. It's sides were made up of terraced ice that didn't look especially entertaining. To the left of the fall however was the most perfect steep slab of Neve. The powder was getting drenched by the water and had frozen to a bomber, Scottish-like Neve. I jugged up on that for the craic and then slid back down and searched out the Ice on the right side of the Falls.

There was one wall, hidden in a little alcove that seemed to be a well frozen mossy wall. I climbed up it directly, escaping left at the very top to get better frozen turf. It was quite enjoyable actually, on soft ice and rock hard turf/moss placements. Sustained III i would suspect?
After that, i found a slanting parrallel crack with a drift below. I had a play M7? i reckon it would be, got a few torques and a horizontal crack up it and found an old wooden wedge. Clearly someone had been climbing this in the summer way-back-when. Anyhow, i didn't fancy committing to it so pulled my axes out and dropped into the snow below. Which was harder than it first appeared.

On the way back to the path, dad spotted a thinly iced slab. It looked good, if a little slabby but the very thin ice allowed for some technical, soft hitting ice climbing. It was actually quite enjoyable.

I wandered back to dad and we made the, funnily, less grueling walk back to the pub (which was slightly uphill the whole way). The dog packed in 2/3 of the way back after he spent his last energy catching a rabbit. He managed to drag himself to the car though, good lad.

Nice walk out, certainly not worth the walk around for the climbing, considering the around at Round Crag is better. The ice wasn't perfect, possibly because the tempt was -1 when we got back to the car, there did seem to be a lot of unfrozen water about and that. Worth taking your axes though if you're planning on walking around that way i would say though, just for a bosh around.

Lets hope it either getting sodding cold again OR begins to melt the snow in the day and then freeze at night, if that happened there would be some amazing ice as most buttresses have good cornice-style accumulations above.

27th of December:

Currently much warmer, hovering around the freezing mark with fairly consistant snow fall currently, though earlier it was raining. I would say, judging by the quality of the ice yesterday the thaw started yesterday and has affected what ice there is.
Certainly worth leaving well allone and, with a bit of luck and some freeze/thaw there could be some really impressive stuff in a weeks time.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Moors Ice hunting

Went hunting for some more moors ice and found it at Blakey. Some good but small stuff, made a short video.

Of particular note was a column of ice, which was located just to the left of the Round Crag Pinnacle. As well as this there was a few small mixed lines and some technical thin ice smears. A few of the 'taller' corners up turf and ice were nice at a lower grade too.

Some cornices and windslab with potential to fly down a boulder strewn hill so, amazingly, take care near the hill edges and top outs.


Round Crag/Blakey Ridge Ice climbing. from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Lakes trip and Moors Ice hunting at Fryup.

I met up with Franco and headed to the Lakes, interested to have a few days there before Christmas. We drove over to -10 temps and was stoked to go to Scrubby. We woke up early and drove to Deepdale and walked up to the crag, on route the snow was varying from powder to neve. There was plenty of ice on show but when we could see the crags, Hutaple, Greenhow End and eventually Scrubby we could see they clearly were black. It was wintery but there had been no precipitation for a couple of days and non of it had stuck to the buttresses.
I was happy to get on anything, Franco wanted to try the open groove of Hrothgar (HVS) as an FA but we knew it wasn't in condition. Non of the mixed routes were, but Heorot top pitch was forming which is worth bearing in mind.
I started up the lower amplitheatre towards the ledge of Hrothgar, up some variable Ice and steep turf but we eventually decided to move together rightwards and we came to the crux of Pendulum Ridge (III,4). Franco wasn't really fussed but i fancied climbing it, he was happy to just solo about but i wanted to climb it properly.
Franc lead up the steep wall on hooks and then belayed and i followed, it felt quite hard really to mantle rightwards onto the ledge to the in-situ wire. After this I lead up rock and turf but noticed Franco was following up and we just soloed to the top. It's pretty sustained steepness for III. It felt very IV,4 to me, with a nearly 5 move on the crux wall, unless we did it wrong. We got on the line just before a couple of parties turned up and they were still on the crux as we were walking back down to Deepdale proper. Worth doing but i must say, Portcullis Ridge (further up Deepdale) is very similar in terms of steep turf and then a protectable crux (IV,4/5)which is slightly out of character, it's just as good so if you've done Pendulum Ridge, go do Portcullis Ridge next.

We returned to the hut and then decided we were better off just heading home, Black Crag Ice fall looks like its forming well from a distance. The following morning it hadn't snowed so we packed and left. I was sort of interested in wandering to do something on the Helvellyn range but the walk in / good climb ratio wasn't really in our favour, the only VI we know of is up on Cock Cove. I was also interested in trying the lakeland icefalls, but Honister is a long way away, Shoulthwaite Gill was apparently thin and i'm not really into Ice so i wouldn't want to punter around spoiling someone elses day.

We ended up heading back to the Moors and arriving back at Lunchtime, we unpacked had a relax and then head out on a 'dog walk' to check out Fryup Head Ice falls. There  was a lot of ice around but it wasn't really up to much, generally hanging off moss and heather that overhangs the cliffs. Dodgy territory.

The main waterfall at Fryup isn't frozen yet but if it does, it would be a great II/III. The left hand steeper version is frozen but needs thickening up before either of us fancy leading. Next up, roads clearing dependant of course, might be a trip to Saltburn sea-ice cliffs. Cool. If not, fancy checking out if the slight water falls at Hob Hole or Danby Crag have managed out...
 Fryup dale Water fall. Ice formed on left but main not so. Red from Iron leaching.

 Icicles of death. Hanging from overhanging turf

 Cool Moon-rise. Taken on a 4 sec. lapse held in hand so a bit shaky

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Thank You BMC

(Click to Enlarge!)

Thanks to the BMC, Choad Hall was lavishly fed with sandwiches after the BMC Yorkshire Area meet. However, as well as their fine dining, they also provide high quality literature. As well as a host of other things that i can't quite put my finger on? Insurance or bolting, something like that anyway.
Theres a few other jokes someone with a keen eye may be able to spot. Enjoy.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Early season pleasantry

The North York Moors got a dumping of snow, but the rest of north England didn't seem to have received the same degree of snowiness.
Anyway, a bit of blog searching and Huw was keen to head to the Lakes, being aware that the snow was easterly and a few hopeful blog photos, we decided that the pretty standard venue of Helvellyn was worth a punt for a early morning bash from Leeds.
Conor, eager to climb his first Winter climbs, picked Huw and I up at 4.15am and we headed up the A660 to the Lakes. Arriving at the foot of Helvellyn, at about 7.45am. It was beautifully white and just starting to glow a bright orange.

As this was a very first hit of this season, and Huw and Conors winter climbing was limited at best ! :-), I was happy to 'punter' around! Enjoyable climbing it was and well worth the gamble from Leeds.
We racked up, with standard first trip glitches like a loose anti-balling plate and overheating on the walk in. We decided, that seeing it was the first trip of the season, we'd start at the obvious central gully. Gully 2, grade I.
I don't think i've ever done a grade 1 before, the first route we did last year was a FA of 'Crazy Torque'  which was meant to be a grade II but we decided the big corner crack/roof looked to inviting! But Gully 2 was supplied with frozen turf, great neve and Ice patches. Actually, the whole face is well iced and the ice is reasonably good quality. A great warm up, with some 'Steck' style running on the upper neve. Bliss.

Anyway, we topped out on Conors first winter route and he was 'buzzing', so we walked to the summit, seeing as the gully tops out there! and then carried on to walk down Swirral Edge, and off back to the base of Red Tarn Cliffs.
Viking Buttress. IV, 5. 

Gully 2. Grade I. 

Next up, V Corner. A grade III, classic reputation and we pretty quickly soloed up to the corner and Conor, very psyched, despatched the pitch with relative ease. A good effort from the winter 'novice'. Duck to water and that.

After this we had a sit around and eat and drink, I then fancied climbing something 'tricky' which i decided would be a toss up between Viking Buttress(IV,5) and Blade Runner (IV,4). Anyway, people began to amass at the crag, as the day progressed and for whatever reason, i didn't decide to get on Viking Buttress and went for the icy groove of Bladerunner.
 Gully 1, with the groove of 'Blade Runner' IV, 4 on the left.

 The initial groove was a little tricky on thinnly plated rock and a pinnacle of ice to stand on. I found no gear here and 'fiddled' for a about 5 minutes wondering whether i should back off. I decided to 'commit' as the moves looked good and i managed to make a further move to gain a crack where i stacked a couple of hexes and hammered them in. Good.
The next series of moves through the bulge are great, with a giant full axe torque you could hang a donkey off, then with much more gear, carried on up to the top bulge, which is negotiated with a cool seqence of bridging. A brilliant 45m pitch in my opinon and i was happy to see it received another ascent that day. Well worth doing!
After this, we chilled out again, then headed up to solo, Gully number 1. A grade II. However, during the day, the neve had begun to lose it's bite and the turf it's solid texture. We went up anyway as it was certainly still climbable, but it was trickier than II, in my opinion, the corner wasn't banked out with neve as i'd seen photos of, and the groove was plated with very thin verglass and slightly unfrozen turf. Anyway, myself and huw continued and topped out on Helvellyn for a 4th time. We were tired after our 4am start and decided to head home at 2.30pm after a fully successful day.
 Huw and Conor and fellow climber on Gully 1.

Huw on the central section of 'Gully 1'

Tricky maneuvoirs in 'Gully 1'
So, Helvellyn is certainly 'in'. The only route i saw that wasn't in was 'Rape and Pillage' which was bare, but looked hard to start.
The view of the rest of the lakes was bare. The western hills were white but not overly so, other than the Helvellyn range, the Fairfield Gullies looked snow filled, so definitely potential for neve in them, if not now then in the future. The rock over Deepdale way looked black though, unfortunately.

The conditions deteriorated during the day, as you'd expect. Not to any bad state, but the early morning was rock solid and blissfully quiet, we had the entire crag to ourselves.

A nice start to the season, with some nice lines ticked and a good day of gaining and losing and gaining height, good for training and such like i guess.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Grit Bouldering (Burbage and Baildon)

I decided to try and embrace this aspect of climbing seeing as it's getting colder now. We ventured to Burbage, as Huw has a knackered hand and fancied somewhere to go easy soloing. I was quite stoked to 'see what i could boulder' so decided Burbage would be ok.
Myself and Ewan quickly flashed 'Banana Finger' V3- but then found that the direct wasn't very appealing - the prospect of shinning yourself hardly makes one KEEN.

I then wandered over to the Burbage South boulders, i found a nice little steep rounded rib, on a boulder down and left of 'sheep'?? block. The guide i had, gave it B7, font 7a/7a+?? anyway, it started with feet on a ledge and crimped up to a wierd pocket and then, hopefully a big hole.

Eventually i found how to start, using a double knee bar and reach, but found i couldn't campus up to the pocket as my feet kept hitting the adjacent block. I eventually just did it, trailing a leg onto the block. No tick, but nice enough moves.
Me and Ewan then tried 'the sheep'? V5ish, up discontinuous cracks. Unfortunately, i found the topout slippy and then burst a tip!

I put my finger bursting down to the hard bouldering a week ago at Ravenswick, as my fingers were not 100% weirdly all week, they seems to have bloodblisters underneath. Anywho, i wandered back to the car slightly dissolutioned and disappointed that my attempts at embracing such an aspect of climbing backfired. Oh well, i'll try again sometime... I'm pretty keen for Bridestones, Slipstones and maybe Earl Crag bouldering??? To be honest, i'd like to do some Limestone bouldering in Yorkshire - any areas anyone knows of?!


After a few days off, my tips recovered and everyone went to Tremadog for the weekend. With work and limited psyche i stayed at home. After discovering Twig (Andrew Harvie) had a day off, we arranged to go somewhere local, and with the foggy weather i decided Baildon would be a good bet. It was ok, warm and damp but we were able to a have a couple of hours messing around.

 We warmed up on 'The Mantle' - V5/Font 6c**. An entertaining struggle that i managed 3rd go.

We then tried 'Without Moon' which looked good in a photo i'd seen of it. It has a knacky starting move and then a very, very large jump for the top rail. I tried to jump but i don' think massive jumps are my thing, and at Font 7a+ i'm guessing it's going to be reasonably hard!
Anyway, after this it began to rain and then Middlesbrough were beaten 0-1 by Millwall. Nevermind! I am however re-psyched to try Swingover (E3) and Wombling Wall (E4) as they both looked achieveable again.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Hilarious blogs, Roseberry banter and a spot of bouldering...

An interesting week for me, really. Firstly, the appearence of the rather comical blog, which seems to have taken the UK internet climbing scene by storm. FIT INNIT...

Good work.

The Ravenswick Experience:
My short series of problems illustrating Ravenswick as a bouldering venue.

The Ravenswick Experience from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Then a return to the Moors, where i teamed up with Franco, as usual, to suss out the potential on the Moors for FA's and such and what would go in the winter etc etc.
We decided to nick to Ravenswick Quarry to gauge each others strength after not climbing together for a while and Franco recovering from a broken hand and what not.

Ravenswick was a bit of a success though and we repeatedly returned to the crag on a few evenings during the week to boulder on the almost perma-dry walls. We created a whole host of problems and eliminates and intend to make some sort of 'stoney-esque' numbered holds topo for the crag. The best little problems there are the traverses (Font5+, Font6c, Font6c+ and F7a+!), 'Hidden Tresure' Font7a and a few others. There'll be video up tomorrow, that i made which is just a amateurish overview of a few of the problems there, hopefully it will attract a bit of attention for people that use the crag to train/boulder or havent been?

Me on 'Marooned Circuit' Font 6c*. ©Betaguides

We also had a bosh up to Roseberry to finish Pasghetti Direct, the main wall up the Face. Unfortunately, the wet weather had taken its toll on the sandy rock, making it unclimbable. It was very windy and cold anyway! One to mull over the winter time i feel, the route looks pretty serious. In a delusional state of disappointment, we made a silly video on the Face of Roseberry. It does have some decent beta for Pasghetti Alpinist (E4/5) and some other stuff.

Roseberry - Get Psyched... from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

As a result we ended up returning to Ravenswick for yet more bouldering, in the presence Lee Robinson and Sam Marks. There'll be a video up in a bit which should hopefully ignite a bit of interest in this great training venue and any feedback of problems or what not can be added to UKC or commented on here, as we'll be making a Stoney-esque numbered topo for the wall, in time!

On a related but slightly dated note, Lee Robinson organised a 'moors bouldering meet' and Ravenswick was visited. The majority of their problems were put up on the Larger expanse of Black Wall, below the routes of Fred (E4), Black Magic (E3) and Jug (VS) - the area to the right of where myself and Franco have been concentrating. This area is more prone to seepage and we were unable to repeat their good looking problems. We'll return, maybe over the Christmas period.

Well Worth A Look: And while on BETAGUIDES, have a look at his RAVENSWICK FREE TOPO.

Get 'sending'...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Wales, Gogarth and Tremadog

A Quick weekend hit of Wales with a new found psyche and a new climbing partner for me, Ralph. It was a good weekend.
We raced down to Gogarth and walked to Wen Zawn. T.Rex was on the cards. I didn't feel strong enough or have the self-confidence but climbing with someone like Ralph gives you a bit of extra motivation. Unfortunately we didn't have a long enough abseil rope and didn't fancy the jumping over sea boulders to get there, so we decided to just cruise the classic, Quartz Icicle (E2).
I got the Quartz vein pitch and enjoyed the moves and holds, Ralph got the top pitch and eventually worked out a finish to the route, going far more direct than the guide suggested but the route finding was a bit awkward, i didn't mind i enjoyed hanging out above the sea (I think this was my first cliff above the sea?), even if it was a tad chilly. Wen Zawn to yourself is bliss.
I did nearly suggest doing Dream of White Horses seeing as we were there, but we both fancied going to Easter Island Gully to try Supercrack (E2/3) and Wonderwall (E3).
We rapped in and Ralph pretty efficiently climbed the more-straightforward-than-you-think 'Supercrack'. I hadn't cleanly climbed an E3 in quite a long time and this lack of confidence showed when i realised that i'd end up seconding Supercrack and having a bash at the tricky looking Wonderwall. I changed my mind. "Rap and strip the gear Ralph" i shouted up.
He did, leaving in the first nut and cam and then i roped up and climbed Supercrack, rather than Wonderwall. After clipping Ralphs first gear, i quickly got to work hawling my unfit, confidence lacking, overweight arse up the steep lower wall, rattling in gear here and there.
I arrived at the jug, where the crack branches right and felt fine, i had a 2-3 minute shake out and gear check and then got to work on the 'decidedly awkward' upper crack. It really isn't awkward - it has one tricky move that can be well protected (even though i didn't!). Perhaps we both just got lucky but we both felt it was pretty much over once the steepness had been passed. Great climbing anyway, well worth doing and i'm glad i did that over dogging Wonderwall, i'll come back and do that.
We finished the day by escaping Easter Island Gully via the interesting and superb, Phagocyte. HVS.

The next day, Tremadog was on the cards as the weather was iffy. We warmed up on 'The Void' E3+ and thoroughly enjoyed it! I ran the first two pitches together up the awkward groove then the great crux of Vector. Then trending right via a awkward ledge and crack to the Belay, a brilliant 40+ metre? Pitch, felt very E2.
Ralph had already said he wanted the crack pitch and i didn't offer a resistance. He likes his cracks and he made pretty steady work of the upperwall. One unfortunate slip when starting the crack!! was the blip, but a great piece of climbing on his second go.
I seconded the line cruising the first crack section 'elegantly bridging' but then found the move past the peg pretty hard, but i think he had placed a wire in a finger lock? so i'll return sometime and give it a bash myself!
We then had sandwiches and it was already early afternoon, so i elected to climb 'The Grasper" (E2). A route i'd heard about and a line Ralph hadn't done so i seemed the logical choice. Ralph climbed the first pitch of Zukator, as it looked the obvious thing to do and is 5c as well. I then enjoyed the upper corner crack of bridging brilliance, slotting in wires here and there and ultimately cruising it. I didn't really find a 'hard pull' but i did find the top out awkward? Either way, a brilliant line well worth doing but next time i go i'm giving Geireagle (E3) or maybe Cream (E4) a bash.

Bon Weekend, cheers Ralph.

Returning Psyche and loathe of Grit

I haven't posted in a while and it's not because i haven't done anything, but more because i've seen myself fall out of love with climbing in such a way i barely even remembered why i did it. The problem was the Gritstone, my old coin word for when things go shit, but i'm afraid i just don't like the stuff really. After my horrendous time at Ilkley falling off Slyvia nad Slyveste, i journied to Stanage, where i eventually managed to do the crux of the very reachy 'Moribund' E3 5c and then proceeded to fail on Guilotine (E3) and find Saliva (E1) moderately tricky. I did however get on Left Unconquerable (E1) and find it pretty easy going despite it's reputation for being pumpy and the conditions were very cold and wet in the crack for jams.

My psyche began to return though with the visiting of proper crags and stoked folk. Firstly Huw Goodall. Huw was a good climbing partner during the last couple of weeks as we told me about the wonders of Heptonstall. Admittedly it was a place i'd wanted to go for ages, but Huw reignited my interest in this aspect of Grit climbing and we quickly journied there with another psyched lad, Ralph.
There for an Evening, we only really had time for a route each, so Huw climbed Fairy Steps Direct (VS) and I climbed the classic E2-, 'Thin Red Line'. This crack system and hanging chimney at the top create a great quarry route, well respected throughout the area. I must admit when Ralph told me i had to finish left through the Chimney i thought he was lying, but it's true it adds to the climb, even if it feels horrendously eliminate.
Ralph then repeated Forked Lightning Crack, something i intend on ticking next time i go. A good trip, with psyched people and a reminder to me that i do actually like Grit...Quarried Grit.

Out of the LUUMC lot, a couple of lads have said they fancied visiting the Moors for a spot of weekend climbing. Conor was unavailable, but myself and Huw had a 3 day weekend and with transport looking suspect at Leeds, i offered the idea of heading to the Moors and staying at mine for the 3 days and climbing the wonders of Moorland...
Huw agreed and we were soon at the horrendously lowcloud hit Moors. Dischuffed, i was. I had intended on taking advantage of the dry weather to take Huw to Wainstones and Ravenscar for the Friday but that wasn't to be and instead we headed to the only place i could think of that was lowlying and quick drying. Park Nab.
It was a nice enough afternoon, soloing and leading about on the crags micro lines. Huw climbing the 'classics' most notably, Hara Kiri (HVS), a great little route.
The next day provided more agreeable looking weather and i elected to introduce Huw to the amazing Whitestonecliffe. I had told tales to the LUUMC of the hanging walls of death, Silica concretion 'bombs' and the brilliant feeling of climbing on 'cheese'. I think the majority went back to drinking their pints and talking of Rylstone, but a few were interested and now 1 was about to enjoy the delights.
I talked about 'The Nightwatch' (VS) all the way to Whitestone in the car and when we arrived Huw jumped on it immediately. He did well, climbing the route quickly and he didn't protect it ridiculously like i know folk can and have! I'm pretty sure he ranks it up their with one of the better climbs he's done, certainly single pitch.
After this, i climbed the two routes i'd delayed doing for years. Central Cracks and Countdown Direct, both HVS and both brilliant. I don't know why i hadn't done them, maybe because i was scared of Whitestone? Maybe because when we went there it was to try the traverse? Or more likely, because i'm a lazy climber and they looked damn hard work for HVS, a grade that, if i'm honest, doesn't really interest me anymore.
How wrong i was.
The climbing is superb, the rock and jams brilliant on both routes - just Whitestone enough so you remember your there, but solid in the vast majority. I topped out on both routes feeling pretty good and interestingly, completely unpumped, which i found quite interesting as i felt they would leave me fighting due to my poor ability at the time and lack of fitness. Anyway, they are both WELL worth doing.
We finished the day with a quick ascent of Frigg (HS) which i found was a little tricky for the grade if taken direct, but plenty of gear. Another good shout if your there.
Finally, we went to Scugdale. Huw fancied some microrouting/soloing and he wasn't disappointed. The sun beat down after burning away the low cloud and he ticked all the classy micro routes at Scot's Crag and then managed to get New Dimensions (E3 6a/V4) on his 3rd attempt, after a bit of beta from myself and Martin Parker (Whom i finally met, nice chap with a decent legacy on the moors). A good effort from Huw, who'd have got it second go, if he wasn't such a wimp on the rounded top out! ;-)

All in all, a return of psyche all because of a day on Quarried Grit and a weekend in the Homeland :-)

Thursday, 30 September 2010


Back at Leeds after a reasonably eventful summer hols. I returned in fairly decent spirits hoping to get a few weeks on the Yorks Lime before the autumn hit too hard and i was also quite stoked for getting friendly with the Gritstone...
Unfortunately, the weather was somewhat poor during Freshers week and the Lime seems to have had its summer, so we had two trips to Ilkley and Almscliffe.
I was feeling strongish and confident so i got on 'Sylvia' some E3 to the left of 'Sylveste (E2)' on a small buttress in the Rocky Valley. Unfortunately i didn't give the line much thought and i was soon picking myself up out of the rocky pit from below the climb, with a bleeding but ok leg.

Rather embarrassed about this with the new Leeds Uni climber Heather Florence; i decided seeing as i was geared up i'd do Sylveste again. Unfortunately this didn't go to plan and after totally missing the big hold, slipping off microcrimps at the top, I took a nice whinger with a much lighter belayer in the form of Heather... What a start to the gritstone campaign, it truly is a whack rocktype.
I ran away from Ilkley, glad i hadn't got on Blind Valley(E3+) and that was that.

Almscliffe that Saturday was strange too. I arrived and looked at Western Front. It looks so doable and so it should be it's E3. It was cold and windy though, so i soloed about not actually finishing anything and just downclimbing from cruxs and such - really strange feeling.
I found Conor and asked him to belay me on Great Western (HVS***(*) (Apparently)), seeing as i'd never got around to doing it last year. I climbed up Crack of Doom (VS), then told by Conor to carry on to the top to 'a jug and rest' i did so. I found a pumpy, non jug and got a nut stuck... Then i Anihilated my fore finger knuckle ragging it back out - i currently have a rather large chunk out of it.
I reversed to the traverse and found a beautiful cam slot. Fook sake, i pratted around higher up and then on the traverse line found a much better bit of gear and contrary to many peoples thoughts found the traverse seemingly unpumpy...? Finished up 5* finish, which is a good *** line but not really sure about the jamming, you actually have to go out of your way to jam, but they are nice but nothing to whittle on about 'the best jams on the crag'.

Sean then asked if i fancied doing Yellow Wall (E2) , his 1 remaining un climbed line at the grade at Almscliffe. I didn't know what it was, where it was or anything about it so i belayed him on it and then decided i may as well do it for the craic. It's a good 1 mover, with cams on the right and feet difficult to place. Might have to do Yellow Peril (E4 topout) one day, if i start to find a love from rounded gritstone topouts?

Seemingly ok day ended with me and Sean trying Forgotton Wall (E5), but i quickly discovered the move to be nails (6c) and reversed. Sean had a go and fell off then started to redpoint the crux. He did OK nearly latching the break but hurt his knee, so he lowered and then everyone wanted to leave so i didn't actually have a go at the crux. Never mind, its grit 6c so i wouldn't stand a chance anyway.

Stanage on Saturday, Stoked?, no not really...

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Hodge and that...

A few days in the lakes was planned and we departed to the CMC hut, intent on ticking Lakeland E4's.
We chose Dow Crag, as the guide had 3 *** E4's in a row on 'B' Buttress, that seemed like they all needed doing. Unfortunately, Tumble, the classic E4 was wet in the lower groove so i backed off and then we discovered that Genocide now didn't have the peg insitu which would mean it was harder than E4, pretty de-stoked by this Franco soloed Eliminate A and then we left Dow Crag to Hodge Close, just down the road.
Franco On Genocide E4?, Dow Crag
Franco Soloing Eliminate 'A', VS, Dow Crag

Limited Edition (E4 6a/F6c+) had been on my to-do list for ages. I viewed it as a better protected, harder Ten Years After and i liked the sound of that. Franco climbed the route first from the 'Big Dipper' rampline, quickly popping his way up the starting groove and then simply rocking through the upper reaches of the climb. He abbed back down and then i had a bash.
Franco On Limited Edition:

The moves off the ledge are thin, the second clip feels desperate and then a long reach or pop to a really good hold. We both felt it was touching Eng. 6b but it was very warm.
Above this is a good 6 or 7 metre run out, leftways where soloing 5b/c helps you, until you reach a 3rd bolt. Above this is a great piece of flake climbing and a 4th bolt. Then, reversing 'Mirrormere' you traverse right for around 7 metres to a foothold and 5th bolt.
A thin, contorted rockover leads into the final tiny flake and the top. Great route, slightly unbalanced due to the hard start but the positions are good.

We left back to the Club Hut and decided that a visit to Cathedral was in order. Unfortuantely, Basilica the big E4 up the huge wall was seeping, so we decided to try Cold Turkey, E4 6b...

I don't know if this was ever ed... but unless abseilers and perhaps waterwash has combined to totally strip any holds off this slab, the climbing was very, very hard indeed. Certainly not E4. We rapped in but i sacked it off and got back out on the left. Franco was interested to see if it was possible and he did get to the top of hte climb but said it was totally ridiculous. Above the two lower bolts are two rusty pegs, they looked bomber enough but the top wall would be run out with moves of 6a at least, making the whole thing seem to be 6b moves (now 6c??) into run out 6a... yup, sounds E4...
My mood got worse as on the drive out of Cathedral i hit a rock protruding into the road and got a flat tyre. Unfortunately someone had taken the spare out of the car, so stuck in the middle of nowhere we abandoned the car and started walking back to the Hut at Ullswater. We luckily got a couple of hitches and arrived to find the hut had been booked by RAF Squaddies. Great.

While in the hut, i decided it was time to try the new and poorly understood 'Dunne Diet'. However, the effects have been not all that i expected..

I had rung my parents are asked if they fancied a trip over to the lakes...and if they fancied bringing a spare tyre. They did, as they had been planning on visiting the lakes anyway, which was lucky.

The following day, after repairing the car we gave mum and dad a tour of the quarries and then invited them to watch us climbing at Hodge Close, as it was roadside and easy to see whats going on. My parents had never seen either of us climbing and often asked about rope management and belays and such so it was a good place to show them 'the ropes'...

Bloke on 'Sky' E2/F6b+
We climbed 'Sky', a retrobolted E4 5c, which is now F6b+... it really should have had less bolts to make it E2/3 but never mind. Great climbing well worth doing.

Me climbing Sky, E2/F6b+
The parents seemed to enjoy our quick ascent, without issue and they left to Ambleside. Franco and I stoked for 'First Night Nerves' found it was wet, so we decided to try 'Carpe Diem' (F7a+) which climbs a shallow groove formed by the rockfall. I remember myself and Franco looking at it before, as a trad line.
Anyway, the climbing is nice, but the bolting is poor. Far too many closely spaced bolts but then the only tricky clip, the 3rd bolt, is placed awkwardly and the 2nd bolt is far to close to the 1st... I don't know how to bolt but it seems a shame a nice feature of rock has been spoilt, not by the bolting but by a poor job of doing so. Still, climb is worth doing - don't get me wrong!

Franco then had a quick play on a proj...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Le Pinnacle de Choad

Another cracking day at the local crag, Round Crag aka Pinnacle de Choad. Named so, because the pinnacle is wider than it is tall!
Journied back with Andrew (Twig) Harvie in order to 'send' Vampiric Obsession, Francos New Route on the north wall of the block.
I'd done the moves on TR and cleaned the line figuring out the beta so Franco could flash it, which he did. I however couldn't do the climb due to having to meet my parents in Rosedale, on that particular day.
I arranged with Twig to go and i'd settle for Vampiric and he would try 'Fresh Arete' - E5. However, it was warm so we located ourselves on the North wall and quickly got started headpointing Vampiric, it quickly became apparent that Twig was more psyched for this as well, as the dynamic moves of Fresh Arete was going to aggrivate his injured wrist.
In the end, i lead Vampiric after a couple of Top Ropes. I climbed up to the gear via the long reach to the break and installed two cams, 0.5 and 1. Then with these protecting the technical stand up move above, i was quickly at the crux. A reach and a pinch and a left hand slap/snatch into the crimp side pull. Over the top on the tree root, which i had 'backed up' by tieing a rope to it for stability!
If any one is wondering it would be possible to dig off that ledge, but it would dirty the climb to such a degree i think it would be a poor choice!
Great climbing, really enjoyable. Around F7a, with a 6a/6b crux towards the top which the gear in the break wouldn't catch you from. Nice.

After this, i did Fresh Arete again to show Twig and then with a choice between Time Out (E3/4 6a) and Dither (E2 6a), i decided a quick jaunt up Dither was worth 15 minutes of my life.
It looked like a well protected mantle move, but was dirty. I climbed up, placed some gear in the break (which would be better but needs a good clean!) then dropped down for a rest. Boshing up again i mantled over the lip, hands on small sloping pocketty things, i began to slide backwards in the heat. I popped for the top but it was futile and i took a pretty decent fall into space.
Most fun i'd had all day, as i sort of didn't expect the gear to hold (even though it was good!) and i didn't really expect to come off!
Pulled and went again, made the move around the lip and on the slab again, pulling on small irony monos and slippery warm edges, i suddenly found the incut on the Arete. Shite.
E2 6a with that hold, without, no wonder it felt desperate! Nice enough climbing anyway, good for a nice clean fall one of the better no starred routes i've done.

I wasn't too fussed by this, a mixed day of Headpointing a lower end E6 then failing to Onsight a hard E2, means i can headpoint about 3 grades harder than i can onsight, overall (seeing as i onsight E2/3) but mainly installed in my mind that my ability to onsight is shockingly bad! Never mind :-)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Strong and finally mobile.

Since returning from the Alps, our family has only had 1 car. I am too tight to buy myself one and i can't really justify it at University. I used to get convienient use of the parents car, as we had a 2nd car that mum could use if i was out and she needed it.
Unfortuately the Landrover died so the Parents have been monopolising their car (fair do's!) and i've seen the odd afternoon here and there climbing as a result.
Now, after a month of making do they have bought a second car - i have 2 weeks to get climbing before university starts... so first stop. ROUND CRAG, again!

Twig is psyched to Flash the E5, Fresh Arete which is cool and i do feel like i should go and nail 'Vampiric Obsession' seeing as i have already cleaned and tried some of the moves prior to Franco's Flash the other day and then running out of time for me to have a go.

Fortunately, Franco's University work is nearly ended and we are planning to hit the Lake District this weekend, stoked for big, bold, Lakes Slabs in the Quarries. Cannae Wait, a month too late but never mind...

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Headpointing highs and impressive flashes.

(Video's now present )

My last post was about 'making the step up', my chance to finally climbing something perseived as being 'hard'. The day finally came, in rather poorly planned circumstances.
Franco and I arranged to head to Round Crag, as Franco had a few jobs to do and i didn't have access to a car, but could get a lift nearby from the parents as they went to Rosedale show.
I arrived and shunted 'Fresh Arete' (an E5 with siderunners in a nearby E3) and got a text from Franco saying he was behind in his schedule.
I lazed around, listening to music and sleeping on my bouldering mat as it was still early.
I occasionally got up, when i was chilly, to work the line again - i felt pretty ok on it, but the whole thing felt sketchy, sketchier than my previous morning on it, but i reckoned that was just because i knew the occasion was fast approaching, i knew it wasn't just Top roping for fun, it was top roping for a solo.
Franco arrived and we each had a couple of goes at the line. Franco admitted that he was less stoked for this particular FA, but we both knew he could easily do it.
I decided that even though i felt a bit psyched out by the prospect of a ground fall solo, i should probably do it as i certainly had it wired in my 10 or 15 top ropes.
I liquid chalked up, this beautiful invention helps with my sweating ailment, for that i am most grateful.
Anyhow, as the video coming will show i climbed it quickly, leading the line with low runners at the break/ledge where you start 2 metres off the deck. At the top block are good nuts to protect the top out. Infact, i climbed the line so quickly i totally forgot to chalk up at my chalking points which was quite funny as i'd spent a few TR's deciding where i could and couldn't chalk up!
Awesome feeling when i pulled over the capping block and stood up looking back to Farndale. Sweet.

Round Headpointing from Ram Man on Vimeo.
Above, Steve Ramsden climbing the Arete (with a good angle of video) and showing the side runners and moves from directly behind. The Fresh Arete sequence is after the starting route which is the impressively bold Pippi longstocking.

"Round Crag New Routes"

Round Crag New Routes- from Franco Cookson on Vimeo.

Climbing, is F7a+ we reckon, with unpredictable, slappy, compression moves. The climbing itself is fairly staightforward to headpoint/beta, as i had previously climbed the arete with Siderunners 2nd go, but onsight would be pretty hard and ultimately from the higher moves you'd almost certainly hit the floor, despite everything Franco would have done in regards to running belaying.
I'm not out to sandbag folk, so i've decided to stick with E7 6b rather than E6 6b, as even though it sticks out like a sore thumb at this sandbagged crag, it's what you'd want to be climbing to try and ONSIGHT it! Ultimately it should get H7, but i think i'll just stick with giving it a big phat E grade as it makes me happy :)
I can't rename it, but i would have liked to have called it Choados or Choadasaurus Rex. Partly because it's funny to me and it describes the Round Crag Pinnacle well (being wider than it is tall) but also it kind of keeps up the tradition of odd route names (Hypocrasy of Moose, The Otter Wilderness Route, Welcomed Back to the Beaver Pack, Pasghetti Alpinist for ours and then Three Screaming Popes, Primate Wardrobe Superviser to name some previous era FA's)

Being very slightly less self orientated, we wandered to the north wall of the Round Crag Pinnacle and made a start on the FA of the blunt arete to the right of Honey Arete.
The moves looked good, on undercuts and largish edges. It was very dirty though and happy from my headpoint i said i'd clean the line on abseil and sort the moves on toprope.
I quickly found a sequence but the last move kept me guessing for some time. Eventually, i figured it out, a beautiful wide pinch.
I cleaned all the nessisary holds well and then shunted the line again. I then set to work filming Franco's Flash. He asked what i thought the grade was, i didn't know, maybe E5? Before i found the move i thought it was going to be E7 or worse but if the runner at the starting undercut were good, then the first few moves would be protected.
Franco and I, in our haste however didn't have any gear that would fit such as crack as we only brought gear for Fresh Arete, so Franco just soloed the line. I watched, heart in mouth.
Pretty solid flash from Franco who exclaimed E6 at the top and said it was certainly one of the harder flashes he'd done! It certainly felt like a good series of moves when i shunted it to clean it, i will have to head back up sometime and do it, shame i can't ground up it really

some afterthoughts by Franco...

Post-Vampiric Obsession Fear from Franco Cookson on Vimeo.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Time to make the step up?

Fresh Arete has seen a lot of activity recently. Steve's FA then a few repeats, it's well worth climbing in it's current state, but the goal for myself and Franco, as locals, is a solo.
The climbing is around F7a+, not particularly hard but with no runners and hard to onsight slappy moves and a difficult to read hold, then the resulting solo may well be E7.
I've climbed Fresh Arete with the side runners second go ground up and felt pretty bomber on it then, only failing first time due to sweaty hands and being unable to chalk up. My second go i found a chalking point and the ascent went with no real issue.

Anyway, the climbing is good and suprisingly secure considering how it is climbed with slaps. The two moves i dislike, are both easy but just sketchy. Firstly a reach up left to a positive sidepull, i have to lock and then slightly dynamically reach which feels horrible. Then higher up is the crux, a tenuous smear which has always felt fine, but it's a smear.

I've since shunted the line 5 or 6 times and felt pretty bomber on it. My last two attempts utilising liquid chalk which seemed to help with my ailment of over sweating on the crux.
E7 6b, F7a+ solo? with a protectable topout, perhaps this is the time i make the step up to easyish headpointing, with their impressive looking grades...

On a similar note, i met up with Steve Ramsden for the first time at Round Crag. We sort of managed a half decent couple of hours at the crag, in between heavy rain, with me sort of half cleaning 'Honey Arete E5 6b***' and then after failing to find a sequence on TR, Steve then managed the line in damp conditions, with little effort!.
It's probably worth a clean and TR every time i head up there, it will get cleaner every time but it won't stay clean, on the north face of the pinnacle. Climbing didn't look all that 3* either, but the landing is soft into the bog!

Monday, 9 August 2010

FA's and Repeats - Moors!

Returning to the Moors, i had a couple of days off climbing but we soon were back to our usual antics of FA hunting. The weather was showery and i didn't have a car so Twig from Ayton drove over and with only 2 hours before he had to be back home, we quickly ran to Clemmit's Crag. A poor crag even for the moors, but the finger crack there was yet to be climbed and we did so in a team Ground up. Funny times in the rain. The harder moves are low down, but its fairly sustained, fiddly wires and an old peg for gear, at around E4 6b.

However, far more importantly was a return to Round Crag up near Blakey. I'd been here lots before but usually got shut down by the place and it wasn't my favourite crag. WE had always been torn between using hte crag as a training venue or, getting strong elsewhere and then Onsighting/Flash/Ground Upping these short, bold test pieces...Well, fit and light from sport i was quite psyched.

Steve Ramsden had recently put up a new E5, climbing the arete left of Scut di Scun ai, he called it 'Fresh Arete', apparently due to the conditions at the time. Franco had mentioned this FA before but his goal was a solo, Steve on the other hand climbed the line on Side runners in Time Out, which are placed from the ledge they both start on.
Franco said that he was up for working the line for the solo and that it was a great route to try and flash.

Franco TR'ed the line again, i watched for BETA! Then placed the Rps in the crack to the left and had a look at the slappy, compression climbing. The runners make the climbing seem quite safe, but i was far from convinced by their quality. I must say it would be a hard, pure onsight.
I reached the crux and on two undercut/sidepulls i was unable to move my hands. Sweating but unable to chalk i couldn't pop for the next hold. I was off, one move from success.
A smallish swing to the left and that was it, my flash attempt was gone, i didn't even end up that near the ledge, like i thought i might! Funnily on llowering me down Franco said he thought that was it. He didn't rate the RP's either!

Disappointed that a very flashable E5 had gone, i lowered and chalked up LOTS. Then boshed up again, this time finding a right hand chalk up point just before gaining the awkward right hand sidepull/undercut. This was enough, a tenuous smear and reach and i was slotting a cam into the crack at the top and then i grovelled over the top. Not a Flash, but my first E5 ground up.

Below is a video of Steve Ramsden first climbing the HARD E5 'Pippi Longstocking' then after, is the FA of 'Fresh Arete'.

Round Headpointing from Ram Man on Vimeo.

Copyright Steve Ramsden.

All this sport climbing has it's benefits, eh.

2 weeks of Alpine Sport...

My knee began to give me trouble and the weather turned shite. This added to me being uninspired by the hills as all they do is cause my knee pain, meant that valley cragging became my main exploit for the last two weeks of our month in the Alps.
The weather being poor, meant we moved from the poor quality shack we had made, to a better known one elsewhere.
Me in the Bath and Chris at the Shack
This is where Chris was staying too and Franco and Chris had already teamed up to 'send' the American Direct on the Dru, in icy conditions!
I, unable to venture to the hills got in touch with my mate from Uni, Huw and we climbed some pretty poor sport at La Joux. This psyched me up to head back to the hills, for a rematch with Dimanche Noir (VIII).
Myself, Sam Dewhurt, Franco and Chris made one last foray into the hills armed with huge supplies, a tent and lots of gear. The weather was meant to be awful and we decided to sit it out and seige anything going in order to save our last 10 days!
We managed to get on Dimanche Noir, after an evening of heavy rain. It looked seepy but there was no option - we were both stoked for the apparently amazing second pitch, pure friction climbing on perfect Chamonix Granite.
Franco lead the second pitch, a 'F7a' slab pitch with 'unavoidable, bold climbing'. Chris and Sam elected to try an unknown route to the left as it was chilly and hanging around to climb Dimanche as a 4. The following  2 hours was ridiculous.
Franco, slowly but steadily made his way up the damp, cold slab in what can only be described as an odds game for success. Chris meanwhile was taking whippers and french freeing this blank, hard looking thing to the left.
I eventually seconded franco up the slab, the moves were utterly brilliant but the climbing was so smeary or non holds that when i eventually arrived at the belay after a couple of falls on 'hard points' franco and I laughed at how desperate it was for F7a! Amazing effort onsighting the pitch it must be said.
We rapped from here as the weather closed in, rescuing Chris on the way! Then, spent the next 2 days sat in a tent as the Aiguilles got snowed on, eventually admitting defeat when it dried up and ran back to the valley, via 4 different descents! Chris running down in the rain the night before to meet a friend (taking no gear as we hadn't decided to come down then), leaving me, Franco and Sam with a shit load of kit. Sam happily got the Tele down, taking two HUGE rucksacks with him. Franco ran down with a rucksack full of gear and 4 helmets on the outside and i, without a rucksack, had a few drybags on a piece of sling around my shoulder. Funny looks from walkers on the way down!
Down in the valley, I however found myself feeling light and strong on the local sport crags and i got a huge confidence boost with a flash of a F6c+ at 'Church Crag', when Will Sim and Oscar showed us this quality crag, that isn't in the guides. With this confidence, I quickly RP'ed my first F7a at Monolith and then towards the end of the holiday, a double O/S of F7a at Gaillands. The photo below is of 'Le Plague' F7c. This was good bouldery fun, which non of us managed. However, the same route with use of the arete is F7a, this was my first flash (before we tried the F7c!)

Me gurning on 'Le Plague'

The highpoint of the sport for me, was a near-flash of 'In Absentia' F7b at Gietroz. We weren't sure of the grade but the climbing looked superb. As it was, it was better than superb and my fall from the last bolt was not annoying, as Franco and Sam reckoned it was F7a+/F7b (Sam originally thought it looked F8c!!!!) and we later discovered it was F7b***. Go do it - It's amazing.

Franco on the brilliant 'In Absentia' F7b

Anyway, currently much more psyched for Sport climbing now, i actually enjoyed it in France/Switzerland.

Chamonix Aiguilles

This was my first 'alpine season', that said the season didn't amount to much 'alpine' climbing. The first week was spent warming up and getting fit walking up to the chamonix Aiguilles.
The First day was spent finding a place to doss, not the campsite at Argentiere - instead we decided to 'have a bit of fun' and look for a woodland bivi site, rumoured to exist. We found it, thanks to Franco's somewhat limited knowledge of the area and we spent the day finding supplies to make our 'Favella'. The skeleton of the structure was still in place, with some repair work, obviously being obliterated by the winter months? Anyhow, this was home for the first fortnight.

The second day in Chamonix, we racked up and walked up to the Aig. de L'M. Arriving in the afternoon we had a sleep on the bivi ledge below the cliff and then, with no forecast of showers, we go on my first route in the Alps, The Menegaux Route - TD/VI+. This was a good intro, we ended up climbing at like 3pm til 5ish i think - totally opposite to normal but it was ok, the descent (sans boots) was interesting down the deep snow couloir on the left of the L'M.

Returning to the Valley, to rest and eat our next 'hit' was the Pillar Rouge on the Blatiere. This great crag, gave us a good few days climbing over the next 10-14days or so. The Majorette Thatcher TD/VII/Font 6b crux! was a tricky little number with a cruxy pull through a roof then glorious jamming above. We had to rap a pitch early, as the sun came around in the afternoon, not a bad effort walking up from the valley that morning!

Me on the first pitch of Majorette Thatcher, on the Pillar Rouge.
Les Diamants Du President, TD, climbs a large chimney/diedre system to the left of the Majorette and we elected to 'run' up this climb. The climbing was good lower down, with a brilliant twin crack jamming crux pitch. Above, the climbing was diedre based with some amazing, but totally sketchy (for me being fat) offwidth/chimney climbing some of which was totally run out as we didnt have big gear.
We then had a 3 day rest in the Valley, refuelling and then hit the next Aiguille along, the Peigne.
The Peigne has a beautiful slab, facing Chamonix and this is full of classy, slab pitches.
We woke early and walked up to get on 'Le Ticket, Le Carre, Le Rond et la lune' TD+/VII+. Unfortunately, the weather was damp in the morning and we loited around at the base of the Peigne making Cairns.

Me and Franco with one of Franco's Cairns.

We finally did get on 'Le Ticket' and cruised it, racing a standard, fast, french guide. Nice chap.
Franco ran down to the Valley that night to get food for an extended stay and returning in late, we had a bit of a sleep in. Still stoked to climb, we ran up to the Blatiere again and jumped on the 'Crook-Penning' TD/VI+. We intended to run up it, quickly for practice. We did, good climbing.

Franco leading 'Plus Lourd Que L'Air' ED/F7a+
Our final action on the Aiguilles, was to climb 'Verdon Memories' ED/VIII-. This is a harder version of 'Le Ticket' with a F6c crux slab pitch. The climbing is brilliant with micro holds and perfect friction on the rock. We were on the route super early, making our rubber shoes feel hard in the cold but we climbed the route without issue and elected to 'run' up the 'Voie Normal' - AD all the way up the Peigne. However we ended up on the West Arete? as we were simuling territory overtaking parties, the climbing felt V+/VI but it was probably slightly harder line than usual as we were going around parties.
We ended up at what we think was the Lepiney Crack. Nice finale to the Peigne!

Me seconding 'Verdon Memories'

Slabby brilliance on Verdon Memories, Aig. du Peigne.
We intended to climb the Super hard, super classic 'Dimanche Noir' ED3/VIII/7a slab. Unfortunately, my knee made an appearance on the walk down from the Peigne so i sacked it off back to the valley, as i was not prepared to hurt my knee as i'd be unable to get myself down to Cham, if it did 'go'.
The Chamonix Aiguilles for me were fantastic. I've never done multipitch over 3 or 4 pitches really, especially not 35-50metre pitches sustained at a grade! The routes we climbed, on paper, were towards my limit as well which i was delighted about.
Certainly amazing climbing, on amazing rock in stunning surroundings!

Sponsored by Marmot

I think this was our last forray up to the Aiguilles during the 'hot weather' and we ended up spending a couple of days in the shack. It was dry enough, but the area was littered with holes when we arrived. These were undoubtedly mouse holes and our suspicions were realised when they became ballsy enough to walk on us at night and such like. We caught sight of a few and tried to make our belongings mouseproof but eventually, after a night in the shack alone, when Franco went up to Les Dru with Chris, I couldn't do it anymore. I was worried sleeping in the woods on my own anyway and that hightened awareness meant i heard every squeak, every mouse running over my sleeping bag and i eventually snapped, catching two and swiftly killing them. I don't know why i did it as it wasn't their fault, but it made me feel better and i was totally 'in-tune' with my aggressive, hunter side - which allowed me to catch bloody mice with a plastic bag, a stick and rocks. Ah well, enough was enough we searched for a home more suited...

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Kepper's Groove

Two weeks ago i was TRing the Groove at Kepwick the night before heading to Leeds to depart on scottish geological mapping. Two weeks of lost climbing, but some running and caving saw me feeling fit but not climbing fit. I had actually put weight on but felt pretty good, a 3 hour ascent and descent of Ben More Assynt from Inchnadamph being an impressive feat for me, anyway.

We returned to Keppers, me mostly interested in seeing what i was still capable of climbing. I however felt pretty good with a quick solo of a pleasant enough E1 and then had a bash at the 'FA' of the blunt arete which franco had just soloed. Goes about E2 5c with a heathery topout.

Then we got to work TRing the groove again, i however felt much better on it this time around. The rock was dry this time, however it was very very hot. Liquid chalk was out and i found that i could do all the moves except the top horror move but was unable to link them. Happy enough with that.

An early Link of the left Hand finish - H8? 6c

Link of the Kepwick Groove from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

After franco i eventually managed wierd starting move and then pulled through what is meant to be the crux. A hard pull from the starting pocket to an edge. It's tenuous stuff.

Crimpin' hard from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Finally another view of the route, with half a link and some crappy banter, which is quite funny, if you can hear the dialogue... but you might have had to be there!

Franco climbing / banter from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Sticky Damp

3 days of horrendous north east weather coinciding with the return of Franco from Uni, meant that climbing looked rather limited before my departure to NW highlands for Geology fieldwork. However, a day at Newton Aycliffe wall for a bit of bouldering and then tradding up the scene with some runout, traversy lines and taking group clipping falls meant that a good day was had by all! Well, Franco, Pete Simpson, Rebex and I all thoroughly enjoyed it anyway!

My last chance to climb was Thursday evening, amazingly it had sort of dried up a bit in the brief afternoon without rain and Franco rang to ask if i was up for a crag. I decided it would probably only be a look, but took ropes, gear and stakes and sledge hammer (all usual FAing stuff) to the crag.
Pleasantly suprised by the dryness, althought it was quite chilly we quickly made a top belay out of stakes and then started to play around on the already horrendously scarred, cleaned holds.
Starts with a big pop/reach to a slopey pocket from an undercut which i think will be pretty morpho. Then from there a hard move up and left to either sidepulls of a pocket, then using mono pockets for each hand a high foot into slopey dish/pocket and a great move up at left to gain the blind flake. Futher contortions reach the top.

Good climbing, F7cish very little in the way of placeable gear as well, were into skyhook and micro, wired tricam territory if we can figure out how to place them on lead... Cool moves with a pop to a dish pocket, sidepulling up a cool blunt flake and beaut deep finger pockets, leading to a balancy morpho finish. Bon.


Video's non removed.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Lakes, 2 1/2 days.

Wednesday, 80's Pete and I travelled to the Lakes in search of classics in the HVS to E2 range. We decided that the often talked about Sergeant Crag Slabs was probably the best option, seeing as we'd never climbed there is easy to get to and had plenty to go at.
We arrived to a pretty full crag with two parties already there. In a rather slow day, we ticked Terminator 2 (HVS***) and Lakeland Cragsman (HVS***). I climbed the classic slabby (E2 5b***) Aphasia, with Pete also climbing the pleasant Quicksilver (E1**). Aphasia was interesting as it was much more sustained and far better protected than i thought it would have been, i ran out of QD's by the crack and sacrificed cams and screwgates but ultmately just ran it out a bit!
Pete was at work at 6am the following day so we rushed off to the car, i'd hoped to have gotten enough time to climb Bleak Howe Buttress (E2 5c***) but it wasn't to be.

The following day, when Pete finished work at 2pm, we journied BACK to the lakes with an evenings cragging in mind. I decided that Hodge Close would be ideal and we quickly despatched the classic 'Behind The Lines' (HVS***), this being Pete's first Slate climb. I told him that he'd get on well with the climbing as he's an intelligent climber and places his feet well. I then decided to sack off trying Limited Edition (E4 6a***) to do the reputedly very good Big Dipper/Mirrormere (E2 5b***).
I asked Pete to climb the first pitch up a strenuous crack and then lovely rampline, which is E1 5b on it's own. This line takes a cool left to right of the buttress, with a belay on bolts. The second pitch which is E2 5b, tiptoes from the belay leftwards for 30 metres to an arete, via two bolts.
Great piece of climbing, on both pitches a definite classic.
After Hodge, we returned to the Hut at Patterdale where we met Chris and Heather Woodal, which is always nice, they told us about their week in the lakes in the good weather - jealous.

The forecast was potentially hot with thunder showers, but even so i decided a trip up to the esoteric gem of Langdale, Neckband Crag, was the best bet. I had half considered Goat Crag, Borrowdale, but decided to hit Neckband as it was likely to be in condition given the recent very dry conditions.
It was in condition and im exceptionally glad we went. Pete warmed up on the distinctly awkward classic HVS corner crack, Mithrandir. Great climbing but definitely awkward for the grade. This was the trend of the day.
I was going to get on Gillette Direct (E2 5c***) but Pete declared an interest, so i got on the *** variation to an awkward E3 6a. This route, Tracheotomy(E2 5c***) misses out the very awkward looking overhanging finger crack, that i looked at but couldnt fit fingers in. However, Tracheotomy, turned out to be more than worthwhile.
Starting as for Gillette Direct, it pulls out right and follows the upper cracks of the E3, with some great thin locks and padding and brilliant gear. It was all very sustained and ultimately amazing, worth *** at any crag in both our opinions.
Pete then climbed the well thought of Gillette Direct (E2), which again provided thought provoking, intense climbing for the whole 35metres.
I finished off with Gandalf (E2 5c**) which looked inaccessible with the traverse to its undercut base being totally mossy. However, the holds were clean in the main and i climbed this again, with interest. Not as good climbing as the previous two routes (no bad thing!) but probably more worthy of ** than many routes!
Pete then finished with what has to be one of my favourite climbs yet. The E1 5a***, Razor crack, tackes an obvious splitter through 4 overlaps. He climbed it steadily enough but was tired. I go on the second and was blownaway. Juggy climbing, with perfect gear lead to a cool rock onto a jug and then, brilliantly, a little offwidth section. I decided i may as well offwidth climb it with a fist and hand jam pull into the niece and then an ankle/leg lock hands off rest and lean back. Brilliant.
Finishing up the final overlaps via some quality locking and more perfect gear!
E1 5b for my money perfectly sustained 5a climbing with a 5b crux and perfect perfect gear. Go and do them all, now!
The left side of the crag is clean, despite the large black mossy streak, however the righthand side appears to have been forgotton for longer. I fancied the E3 there, but the crack systems were very much vegetated and regrettably, i'm not the one to clean them.
Wandered back to the car in the baking sun (having been almost chilly in the northshade of the crag) and returned to the moors via some convection rainfall (showing it was a good couple of warm days!) content with money well spent!

Tahu Ratum - British Expedition

This summer, sees an attempt at the as yet unclimbed NW ridge of the stunning Granite peak of the Tahu Ratum, Pakistani Karakorum.
Luke Hunt, Tom Ripley, Hamish Dunn and Holly Mumford of various universities in the UK are heading out 23rd of July to hopefully bag this most impressive FA.

The following blog, is a good in depth piece written by the team:
Tahu Ratum - Blog

Awesome stuff!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Windmore End

The weather on't moors was pretty shit. I'd been unable to find a partner and the west of the country was seeing decent weather. All in all, i had two choices go to the Lakes soloing or stay at home and train? (not likely)

In the end, i decided to sort of cut it half way. I didn't really want to go to the lakes and solo classic HS's or VS's, i just wasn't in that sort of mood. I fancied a day soloing at a 10metre crag - but didn't really fancy going all the way to the Lakes for that, at say Black Crag, Wrynose.

In the end, my thoughts drifted back to an email i had received a few weeks back from the Cleveland MC. It was a meet reminder for a sunday meet at Windmore End, above Brough. I had considered going, as it is reputed to be a lovely soloing crag made up fo pretty solid, nicely weathered limestone.
I had the routes list as part of the email and there were quite literally 100's of routes from Diff to E3. I decided it was a much better option than soloing say 'Fool's Paradise' or 'Eliminate A'.

Departing the mist and rain of the moors, i was greeted by sun and warmth at Windmore. The drive over was busy with holiday makers heading to the lakes and horse's heading to Appleby. I was quite happy about exiting the A66 early, actually.

The crag itself barely exceeds 8-10metres and is composed of beautiful limestone, it was somewhere i'd spotted as being 'close to the moors for sussing out limestone' when i was younger and had only experienced Grit and Sandstone.

Long story short, the crag in my eyes was great. Great views, great rock and all on good holds. The routes never have horrendous slopers or thin slippy footholds or anything 'cruxy' like that, they just seem to be good moves between good holds. Either jugs, or good finger jams or bomber crimps. It really was bliss.
The grading was soft too i think, unless i was going well. A few of the E3's i soloed said 'Very Bold', which i found were bold but so they should be for a 8m E3 5c...
Perhaps it's just coming off the back of the last 6 months on the Yorkshire Shit(grit)stone? Either way, soft grades or just they suited my stile of being slightly bold without trick moves, it's the enjoyment that counts and 5 E3's 4 of which were Onsight all made up of good moves is a good day out for me! :-)

Well worth the effort if you live nearish and probably worth a detour on the way to the Lakes from the North East, if you enjoy 8metre, Soloing of a variety of grades. The VS's and HVS's that i soloed, mainly on the 'Far Right' were excellent too.


Saturday, 29 May 2010


After having to go to Leeds, on the nicest day of the week, for a meeting about the forthcoming fieldtrip, rather expectedly the weather crapped out on the saturday.
I decided to hit the old training patch of Ravenswick, with it's slightly overhanging walls of limestone it's the Stoney, of the Moors.

Arriving in the heavyish rain i wasn't too hopeful, but was pleasantly suprised to see the walls dry and not seepy.
Over the next 3 hours i traversed the usual traverses on black wall. Gutter Crack to Flake Crack traverse (with jump finish) being the best, but i did the variants too with bummelzug start and also Marooned (with easy beta) up then managed the 'hard' finish to the traverse.

Gutter Crack to Flake Crack Traverse from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

This goes by traving right on the crimps then gaining a much smaller crimp, below the pinch hold. From here you much pop to the good pocket with your left. This constitutes the crux and is hard and very fluffable. I didn't manage the V7 full traverse utlising this finish.
I ended by traversing whitewall (v2 5b) along the bottom break, having a leg bar rest for 20 seconds then traversing back slightly higher. Good little session considering the weather.

Marooned - Ravenswick from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

P.S the weather was 'mid heavy rain' you got wet if you stayed in it. What i did notice was that if you fixed lower-offs, you'd get away with climbing the routes in the conditions and the bouldering is good. Worth bearing in mind.
There are many 'easy' problems possible all along the wall.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Nesting Shoes

From now on, don't bother repairing or resoling your old, tired winter cragging shoes, just open them out, stick them somewhere sheltered say a garage or shed with plenty of access from the outside world and let them become homes for birds...

Returning from Uni, i went into the shed where my training wall is. Intent on actually using it i set about making some routes/problems and then went to get my shoes, that i'd left in the garage over the winter.

The Swallows, that reside in our garage every spring were happily buzzing around the roof space crapping at will. I was quite shocked to find my shoes had become the early attempts at a home, unfortunately for the poor Wren or whatever, i decided i wanted my shoes back.

So, if you have any old shoes - lop 'em in a shed and see what happens.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Philleas Fog

Steve Ramsden, the Moors raider from Hull found a very good looking boulder problem at Camp Hill, Philleas Fog Font 7a*.
My final exam at Leeds Uni, Maths, was over and unable to find a climbing partner in Leeds i quickly made my way back to the Moors and after a meal with mum at a garden centre, i made my way with the dog to Philleas Fog.
The rock looked good and was still chalked from Steve's ascent. I quickly jumped on it, this time unfortunately without videos!
I didn't make much progess on my 'flash' attempt. I've seen his video and it made the start look easy and the top look hard but doable. I found the start quite a shock, but made it to the lunge for a good hold before struggling to get my feet up and falling off.
Second go was much better, i gained the crimp on the right which i found good until i started to pull on it, when i seemed to slip out of the blighter.
Over time, about 20 minutes i eventually (without using a heel on the big sidepull) gained the final flake/crimp on the left. Here Steve drops his right knee on a rightward facing hold and slaps the top. I tried and failed, miserably.
I gave up on the dropknee, and just placed a foot against the rightfacing hold and jumped for the top. The holds were ok, but the friction certainly wasn't brilliant. It was about 10 degrees and no wind, i was running out of chalk.
15 or 20 goes (from standing), two of which i held the top before popping, i eventually nailed the 'good' bit and made sure i didn't come off! This time from sitting, i had got the bottom of the little left flake/crimp where i could get a smaller but more positive contact.
Very Very Very happy, with this ascent. Mainly as it's brilliant climbing but also because i'd come from Leeds to do it!
Felt very much harder than Waylander, (Font 6c+), so if Philleas is Font 7a, then Waylander must be easier.
I've now repeated two of Steve's Font 7a's and found them both tricky but eventually got them. I think this is my achieveable bouldering grade, i've done a harder one mover of his, (For Leichenstein) but i did it differently.
Food for thought anyway, but i fancy the trad or sport :-)

Philleas Fogg @ Camp Hill from Ram Man on Vimeo.