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 :-)