Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hawkcliffe finally let's me down...

Rain finally breached the seemingly ever dry defences of Hawkcliffe and when myself and Conor returned, with me being stoked to look at Stepmother Jag - E4, Call of the Curlew - E4, Driveby or Shamrock (E6's) i was pretty disappointed to discover the crag was damp.

I had a quick look at the direct finish to Woodland Ecology, which looks possible but hard so i changed my attentions to a sort of 'alternate finish' to Woodland Ecology itself as it tackled the driest section of crag. I'd actually already soloed the top 'new' bit the day previous while there on my own, but i returned today to lead it properly - i prefer to do FA's with someone else.

Baisically, it follows Woodland Ecology to the gear and then makes tricky moves up to the base of an obvious unclimbed scoop. From here, it is possible to reach out right and finish for the final move of Woodland Ecology baiscally avoiding the large ledge and adding several more (i thought) good moves on this great slabby wall. Decided it was E4 6a* as the moves and positions are good even if it is a tad eliminate. The moves are similar but more sustained than Woodland Ecology and the gear is closeby but i wouldn't call it perfect.

Anyway, made up for a damp day at the crag - i might leave it til next year now and go elsewhere? Though, perhaps i should make the most of Blood on the Shamrock being clean... though i haven't the foggiest how to shunt it safely and i don't think i'm good enough to flash it? We'll see...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hawkcliffe revisited... Woodland Ecology & Flame Arete

My wednesday day off was put to good use with a return to Hawkcliffe, hoping to find it dry after last nights rain. It was.
Arriving at Emerald Buttress i wanted to do Woodland Ecology and Huw was keen to follow up that or Ginny Greenteeth or whatever. I decided i wanted to do Woodland, repeating the start (which is the same as Ginny) to the gear and then right to the Arete. I repeated the start with ease and then placed some gear but failed to head right on scrittly holds, so i backed off and abseiled down to clean the holds i could reach... And gave it another go. This time i found the clean holds a nicer crimping proposition and it make the experience much easier, however i still needed a slight footslip to jolt me with adrenaline which allowed me to reach blindly around the corner, into the slightly dirty scoop and then, the scrittly and airy ledge - it's clean now!!!. The finishing arete of Blood on the Shamrock providing a beautiful finish... Have to do Blood on the Shamrock now!

Woodland is an odd one, its sooo much easier than Ginny Greenteeth its amazing they have the same grade. E4 5c and E6 6a seem to be more representative of the routes, although i muddled around on Woodland Ecology, perhaps put off by the grade wondering where the E5 6a bit would be...? That said, i did feel i benefitted a lot from previous doing the start of Ginny Greenteeth, up which it starts, but even so it's a world away from Ginny Greenteeth! Still, a quality little route and well worth doing, it's the easiest of the buttress and provides a good warm up for the bigger challenges that await...

Huw then followed me up and also did Ginny, seeming pretty impressed with the climbing - what a buttress!

We then went over (somehow missing Adam Hughes who was at the crag today too!?) to Flame Arete. This is a terrific, bouldery arete, well protected and with some good moves. E5- 6b-** is a fair reflection of this route which i got after several ground up attempts... Theres some many different holds and sequences i kept getting drawn into different holds and body positions. Doesn't really matter though, cracking arete climb.

Chalk on Driveby - Good effort Adam! Start of this 'Charlie Don't Surf' also chalked which is great - this crag is seeing a proper revival. Class.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Elevator - Eldwick Quarry

Adi Gill's Eldwick slab first came to my attention with the appearence of a cracking photo on UKC, see below. A pleasant lower wall leads to a cam just above half height backed up a tad lower with a swedge 4. After requesting beta from Adi, he suggested just headpointing the climb as the climbing is quite sequency and this suited me fine, as 1 cam between me and the ground, while repeatedly failing on a 6c move was not what i really wanted while trying to get around half days out due to lots of coursework and the possibility for the singular cam pulling...

Adi Gill on the F.A of Elevator E5/6 6b/c**

Anyway, i had linked the climb with Conor in a quick flash before rain came so this set back the date to get on it again, to today. Returning with Huw and Ewan i was stoked and the baking sun was pleasant, though a little to warm perhaps. I decided to 'quickly' check the moves and gear before doing it. Unfortunately i found the move at the top much harder than i remembered, falling off the slap to the top break.

However, i eventually decided that it was ok and i made the cool series of moves up to the swedge and cam. Rockover out right to a thin crack and then make a short series of right to left reorganisation of feet, prise the elevator doors open and then pop to the break. I placed the size 5 friend and then decided to traverse the break right, rather than clip a preplaced loweroff. No reason either way, i wanted to top out properly, but that top rock is rank.

Excellent route, short lived and flashable with the beta - hard onsight mind you! Ask you are interested for beta or just watch the video below :-)

Edit: As for the grade, i am unsure. At the time i felt it was probably E5 6c, similar in someways to Mane Vision on the Moors (E4 6b). However, recent ascent suggested E5 6b. I am interested in this as i'd have felt a mid 6b move in this situation would be E4, but perhaps a top end 6b would be E5. However, i found the route very cruxy and the dynamic nature of the move, for me, suggested 6b (solid) to me... regardless, E5 i think it will settle at and you can take your pick - E5 6c describes the nature of the moves and position in regard to gear, even if the move isn't actually THAT hard... 

Anyway, quality climb which is well worth seeking out and there is a cool Font 6c to 7a-ish? finger crack in the quarrybay to the right of The Elevator, called Comply or Die. Definately easier if it is clean and not damp/ferny!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Ginny Greenteeth - Hawkcliffe

I quite like Hawkcliffe, its sort of forgotten but somehow the lines aren't that dirty and the climbing is amazing. I had always noticed 'Ginny Greenteeth' in the guide and after rapping down it on my last visit, knew that an onsight was off the cards for me.

I returned today, lonely, to have a quick play with the plan of giving it a quick shunt and realising it was hard and bold and then doing something else. However, i found the climbing excellent and wanted to be able to revel in a clean ascent.

The crag (that i could see) seemed dry after the nights light rain and i was delighted to see Emerald Buttress (and what a buttress it is) looked reasonably clean and totally dry. After setting up a shunt line and giving a 10 or 15 minute chalk and clean i flashed (on shunt) up to the really cool balance stand up just below the crux, near the 'arete'. The start is tricky and a bit bold - i would advise taking a pad, then you make moves past 'gear slots' which i thought looked shit (until i found the ACTUAL gear slot which is rather good!)

By this time i had already set my heart on climbing the line today and i spent the best part of an hour i think? or so figuring how to make the top mantleshelf/reach/horrorshow more bomber. Eventually, my beta was to stand in the hands off chillout (which is a must just before) and let my fingers dry out!
From here a crimpy pull and poor feet lead to a sloper then a slight readjustment to a good hold and highfoot. Move right to a good hold to top out, don't try to go direct.

Ginny Greenteeth - Picture courtesy of '' taken from

Cool little website with some good photos, historical stuff and quality anecdotes - take a look!

I tried the line as a oner, then again and decided it was worth a punt but i and i'm happy to admit it, decided to leave a hanging line of the top section... just in case.

Setting off, the intial moves felt easier without a shunt and i quickly found myself just below the 'chill out'. A terrific move (i think the move that made me want to solo the line actually) utilising a thumb sprag (not like the photo!) allows me to arrange my feet so i can take my hands off. I chilled here for what felt like ages but might only have been a minute or two. Hands up to the crimpy parts of ledges above and then VERY specific feet (i found that if i didn't have the bang on it didn't work for the next move - scary shit!) i was really pulling hard to the sloper that allows a slight piano-play to the better nubbin. It's not over though, as the left foot is now ready to pop off the overhung crimp but a right foot pushed against a small flake allows more balance and santuary. A couple of moves right (around a metre) from the slopey ledge leads to a good hold and footholds out right and an ok top out into grass.

What a route. What a buttress. But what about the grade... E5 6a*** is bold 6a but i felt there was a 6a move low down then sustained 5c up to the cool reach seen in the photo. This move is probs 6a (especially if you do it like that!) and i thought the top was hard, still 6a, but hard.
The gear is a funny one. I turned up today to solo the line as i had previously rapped down and seen some shitty pockets and Nik Jennings had soloed the line so i decided it was probs just a solo... however i totally missed the good rock slot about a half metre lower than the shitty pockets until i found it while shunting... The problem is i'm not convinced the gear will keep you off the deck from the top crux... A running belayer will, but i usually find you end up going further than you think from rope stretch, belayer pull etc etc...

For what it's worth - i think it's tricky to read, the crux is at the top, you're facing a long fall or potential deck (maybe softened by rope stretch) and it's not a path up to that point. E6 6a+*** for my money, but it might feel a bit nicer with gear and a fellow climber in the vicinity, perhaps?

But regardless, it's an amazing climb, 10 minutes from the road. Convienient to get to, scramble up to and set up a abseil on and the climbing is quality. The buttress isn't that dirty, it seems to take sod all seepage. I'd recommend a pad or two for the start, you may as well! I'd also recommend the gear, which if i had seen last visit i wouldn't have come back today on my own. I would have still headpointed it though...

I want to get good enough to onsight/flash climbs like this, so this was a brilliant little education for me.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Eldwick, Earl and Hawkcliffe

A week of less travelled Yorkshire Grit crags saw some nice routes ticked and some good projects lined up. The weather meant I was stoked for 'cold north facers' hence Earl and Hawkcliffe and they worked out ok, but i still found the temperatures too hot, unfortuantely.

Eldwick contains a quality slab climb, with a cam at just above half height and a technical sequence at the top. 'The Elevator' E6 6c** is currently on the wishlist but after a quick play on it, as i was told it would be hard to onsight/GU, then i feel it will go. It's an ok proposition to GU i think, perhaps with beta? Anyway, i chose repeated lobs onto a singular, admittedly good cam, wasn't to my liking and went for a project approach. Also at Eldwick is a tricky, but excellent finger crack 'Comply or Die' which is rated at Font 7a+* and climbs really well. It could be easier than this, if you're a crack wizard?

Earl was a useful day out, the crag was damp from dew? i think but it was dry enough to allow a few routes and highballs to be climbed. 'Rat Au Vin' and 'Sharp Arete' providing enjoyable short solos up aretes on good gritstone. Then, while waiting for 'Sour Grapes' to dry, we journied over to 'Tiger Wall' which provides a great MVS solo across a prow of rock and then i climbed what i reckon is the best E2 on grit i've done, Earl Buttress. This excellent route climbs up to an awkward rest and gear then committing moves up to a jug and cam leads you to jug haul up the steep wall. Excellent stuff.

Further left, we had a quick play on Eraser Slab direct (E2 6a*) which is a nice rockover move and i looked at Kipper (E4 6a*) which looked excellent and also Early Riser (E5 6a***). I wasn't keen to solo either of them, especially after seeing someone recently slipped at the top (on top rope) of Early Riser - cooler and drier day for it i think, or a quick headpoint? I dunno, who cares.

Then decided to have a bit of fun, trying 'Overhanging Wall Direct' which is E4 6a in the guidebook, but used to get HVS 5b. Eitherway, its a well protected (albeit with a ledgey fall) top out over a perched boulder. Scrittly holds, which i cleaned with my hands from the rest below, allowed a few campussy slaps and heel use. I'm not sure it's E4, but what i do know is it's not HVS... ;-)
Unfortunately, the early evening brought midgies, so we were unable to do anything else but Earl was a nice enough day out.

Hawkcliffe. Excellent crag this, possibly my favourite Yorks Grit Crag. It's got a combination of very big buttresses and smaller craglets, with some classic stuff. I climbed Squirrel Crack (E1 5b***), Fistful of Siestas (E2 6a*), Syrett's Slit (E1 5b*), Abandon Hope (E3 6a*). While i also cleaned and tried Flame Arete (E5 6b**) ground up, but it was too hot for me and i sweated up hilariously, calling it off! I want to go back when its cooler and hopefully still dry to give this a go. I also had a rap down and then climb back up of 'Call of the Curlew' (E4 6a**). It's an odd one, easy enough when you know how, but the start is bold but 'only' 5c? then gear which is adequate i think and pumpy to place then, an 'easy when you know how' rockover on to the arete leading to a slopey and scary top out. I have to learn gritstone climbing realising that 'non' holds are often very useful and again, when it's cooler i'll go back and see how this feels, as i wouldn't have got on it the other day.

The harder stuff at this crag looks good, but i just can't seem to get my head around small, flat crimps on gritstone, i love them on sandstone, but grit just leaves my fingers feeling like they are crimping metal or something? Anyway, hopefully the cold will help out?

Finally, i thought i'd jump on 'Blull Glum Gommit' (E2 6a**) or whatever it's called. It looked fine, but the peg is half snapped through  and if this pulls you'll swing into a corner. The moves are on these small, flat crimps, which i can't figure out how to use, as like i say, i love crimps on sandstone/limestone. Anyway, careful with Blull Glum... due to the peg issue.

Quality Crag, Squirrel Crack and Syrett's Slit are excellent routes as is the short and sweet Fistful of Siesta but if you go it's probs worth taking a nylon brush to allow you the option to clean your line or to clean something up if you do the clean stuff! This crag really should see a bit more traffic, it's 10minutes from the road! Stoked to look at Ginny Greenteeth (E5 6a***), Emerald Arete (E6 6a**), or Woodland Ecology (E5 6a**) too - i think.

Monday, 19 September 2011

The triple E7 Moor's Video's - Danby and Stoupe Brow

Video of Franco and my ascents of 'Die By The Sword', 'The White Scoop' and 'Waves Of Inspiration', graded H7 6c**, E7 6b*** and H7 7a***.

Two E7s an amazing last day of Summer '11.

Stoupe Brow, the large quarried walls overlooking the beautiful seaside village of Robin Hoods Bay has attracted myself and Franco ever since we finally saw the picture of the huge boulders, with the smallest inclusion of quarry walls in the background.

Since then, we've been a couple of times, but often we get put off by what we class as a 'long way to go', however our summer of cleaning, climbing and prospecting First Ascents has lead us back to the crag we always knew had potential.

The Central Crack (E2/3) was climbed by myself and Franco and may be a first ascent? Regardless when we did this a year or so ago, we noticed an obvious leftwards trending sequence up a scoop. The 'Time For Tea' of the Moors we thought!

We were wrong. The large looking holds are awkward, non-positive but do afford a quality sequence of move, safe to say, not in the E3 5c league of Time for Tea. Franco had worked the line telling me of sustained 6a/b moves leading left further from safety and when i had a play on the line last year i was shut down by the slopey, slightly dynamic nature of a deceptively steep feature.

Popping left into the Scoop

Finger dishes

Returning full of confidence i got to work shunting the crux sequence and i found myself unable to decypher a sequence i liked the feel of, considering a fall will either see you slam into a corner or worse, the ground.
Eventually though i found a sequence i liked the feel of. The intial traverse being friendly and allowing chalking opportunities, you then find yourself crimping into a scoop to get feet on a good rail. From here a pop leftwards to a flat 3 finger dish is the beginning of the tricky climbing and with each move of the gripping sequence up the scoop, the gear becomes further and further away.

Crimpy crux moves

High feet and an insecure step

The result of a fall is mixed. The crux for me was the pop, which is safe enough with the gear placed from the chockstone in 'Central Crack'. However the moves up the groove at 6a/b above this, leading to a very scary almost E6 6a finishing move where the ground is a certainty. I had a rope at the top to grab just incase, as the top outs at many of the buttresses are steep onto grass, with very little substantial vegetation to grab, however it is possible to top out 'properly' on this route but might be exceedingly dangerous to do so! I'd recommend a brush of it too, as the abseil scours in some of the rock and the plentiful stakes would suggest a Coastguard or Mountain Rescue practice site.

Amazing climbing, beautiful feature - what a way to finish the summer!


Terrifying finishing reach

Nick, my brother who had come along to Stoupe spotted a large, corner crack which he dilligently cleaned and sorted out. He then lead the climb, opting to 'traditionally' wedge himself up the crack somehow gaining height with every wriggle. Low gear was all he managed to place and topping out he was certainly quite run out! I then seconded the climb and couldn't figure out how the hell he climbed the crack so i opted to use the small selection of crimps and pockets that adorned the walls of the corner and bridged my way up the line. He couldn't tell me what grade he thought his method was, however i feel a grade of HVS 4c* or E1 5a* would describe the ascent by myself. Either way, we called it 'Best of Both' in reference to the fact you can thrutch or delicately climb the line with both options being memorable and also a bit of joke regarding Hovis.

With time and light starting to leave, Franco then decided it was time for his ascent of the outrageous and beautiful smooth rib, we'd both had a play on a few days earlier. The climbing is superb. Starting with a balancy, dynamic step up to a crimp the rib above allows itself to be climbed with the utilisation of micro-crimps, pops, huge rockovers and iron features. Oh so typical of the moors sandstone. Low runners protect the desperate moves low down however the upper wall is tricky, reachy and ultra bold. Franco decided a grade of H7 7a*** was adequate, explaining that the climbing would probably be much harder than E7 to onsight. The question of whether or not the route is 7a or sustained 6c is also a funny one, i am of the feeling it's certainly 7a for anyone sub 5'10!

Desperate Crimping sequence

High feet and morpho moves

What a day, what a crag - which may not be quite the all round venue we thought... it seems we may have another 'Round Crag' on our hands as many of the sub - e grade lines are not as good or as numerous as we first thought. Regardless, it's a quality venue for E2+ and certainly needs further development!

Bold and thin above gear

What a summer - come on!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Danby - Aretes, Offwidths, Bold Walls and boulder problems. Phase 1 of re-development complete

Franco and I have completed the 1st wave of re-development at Danby Crag, a fine crag now boasting a brilliant wealth of difficult and excellent routes. The culmination of this frantic summers work was a quick headpoint by Franco of the bold, hard and brilliant 'Die by the Sword' followed by the discovery and ascent of 'Stalin' a quality offwidth struggle.

Danby this year has seen the addition of routes all across the escarpment at grades, generally in the E-grades. However, part of our relationship with this crag was to develop any unclimbed lower grade routes too or to clean / publicise any excellent forgotten routes.

2011 development has added the following to Danby:

The Jungle Drum - E4 6a**  Classy arete climb with gear at half height

Jack Metcalfe on 'The Jungle Drum'

The Polish Diplomat - E5 6b* Wall climb, with adequate gear at half height and a very hard pull to gain the top

Dave Warburton on 'The Polish Diplomat'
Chocolate Moose - E4 6b** A leaning, highball arete that is font 6c+ above plenty of pads

Franco Cookson soloing 'Chocolate Moose'

Palma Ham - E2 6b (Font 6c) A hard rockover leads to a slab. Providing a rare opportunity for moors padding.

Dave Warburton padding up 'Palma Ham'

Palma Ham E2 6a (font 6c) - Danby Crag from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

The Battle For Tripoli - E6 6a** The Danby frightener. Continual interest up the groove to a horrifying step onto the arete, above a huge fall

Howl Psyche - E7 6b* Another serious outing climbing through a low roof via dynamics or gymnastics. Massive fall potential

Dave Warburton Soloing the frightening 'Howl Psyche'

Die By The Sword - E7 6c** Brilliant, fingery and sustained moves up the wall right of The Hypocrisy of Moose. A running belayer won't stop you hitting the ground, though it will lessen your journey down the steep bank!

Franco post-crux on the outrageous 'Die By The Sword'
Stalin - E3 5b** The pinnacle offwidth is steep. It has good hand and footholds on the wall however to aid progress. Very low runners are of little help, though huge cams will make this one safe (and lower the grade!)

Dave Warburton - struggling to overcome 'Stalin'

We also established some fine boulder problems in the 'Ravine' area and also below 'Twin Aretes' Buttress.

Vulcan Bloc Arete - Font 6b+** The photogenic arete is climbed from sit to a tricky top section. Eliminates abound.

Dave Warburton bouldering out 'Vulcan Bloc Arete'

Marine Band Traverse - Font 6c* The obvious traverse of the odd, wavy break. Strenuous and powerful.

The Effervescent Pheasant - Font 6c+/Font 7a*** The brilliant arete, found deep in the woods is climbed from sit.

The Effervescent Pheasant from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Aside from our new routes, we also cleaned, photographed and reviewed the quality of:

Osiris - HVS 5a** Now given two stars this obvious crackline is sustained and tricky. Excellent climbing but still a tad dirty.

Roosevelt - VS 4c** The underrated crack and slab is clean. Protected at the hard bit it has a tricky, unprotected start. Excellent climbing

Dave Warburton leading the impressive 'Roosevelt'

Valiant - VS/(mild)HVS 5a*** The superb groove-crack is barred by a protectable, tricky bulge to start. Excellent moves past this allow the well protected groove to be enjoyed. Superb climbing.

Sam Marks enjoying an ascent of the terrific 'Valiant'

Castle Ridge - VS 4c**  Originally graded VD (along with the rest of the buttress) this tricky climb is finally given a more fitting grade and contains some great climbing. The rest of the routes on this buttress are less tricky.

Creeper Wall - VD**  This remains the same as it was, but it is very pleasant and clean currently.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Farndale Fayre - E5 6b**

A went up for look at Farndale Fayre the other day, with Franco in wales i decided i might have been able to work the moves, then solo the line - saving a bit of time. However, upon abbing the line and checking/cleaning the holds i realised the moves looked tricky and i failed to figure out the moves past the 'arete pinch'.

Steve and Karin journied to Round Crag yesterday, quickly checking many of the lines, including Farndale Fayre. Utilising this opportunity to finally meet Steve and Karin, i went up too and managed to figure out the moves past the zero friend on a Top Rope.

Unfortunately, time and weather prevented a lead so i returned today with Franco, intent to get the line done as the climbing and position is excellent!

It was windy - this 'hurricane' must be coming and it felt really hard to hold the positions on the arete as a result. However, after a few trial runs and placing the friend from the ledge, which is tricky, I felt i could go for it, wind or no wind.

Starting moves

The climb was fine, initial reaches establishes you on the line and then a tricky sequence popping up to an arete pinch, then a massive heel throw allows the bold, upper arete to be gained. Loved it! The friend protects the moves up til the ledge holds on the left, from here you're soloing.

The arete-pinch reach
Amazing route, with powerful climbing to compliment the other brilliant routes on this quality pinnacle. What a day out you could have - Fresh Arete, Honey Arete, Farndale Fayre for E5 aretes and then the rest of the crag of course!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A few forgotten gems

A couple of days at the 'less popular crags' looking at some of the dirty, lost or neglected 'classic' routes of the Moors. Many of these found their way on to my ticklist on UKC:

High Crag - Tripsdale

Myself, Franco and Sam ventured to the elusive High Crag. I actually wanted to go to Tarn Hole to do the E4*** but we thought a warm up on Kestrel Crack, Warrior and Hanging at High Noon was a good idea...

Kestrel Crack is HVS 5b** currently and climbs the fairly straightforward looking crackline. I viewed it as a non-sandbagged crackline, which i thought was quite a result! However, the climbing wasn't quite as straightforward as i thought and cleaning the route onsight, i found a bit of Heel-use prudent to negotiate the roof! It's a quality climb actually and it's well protected (crack innit!) but the climbing is tricky, E1 5b** for my money but it's a bit of Flying Buttress Direct at Stanage... HVS for the E1 leader maybe?

Heel action on 'Kestrel Crack' HVS **

Through the crux

Sam then fought his way up Warrior - THE elusive classic E2 that sounds so inviting, mysterious and amazing in the guidebook. Kestrel and Warrior are worth the walk up on their own. As for the walk in, cutting direct up the valley through the bracken isn't really that bad, but if bracken walking isn't your thing you can follow a farm track from the river crossing then cut back along the moor top to the crag top.

Starting difficulties - Warrior E2 ***

Upper steep groove

It began to rain, so Hanging and the project we found will have to wait, as well as A Reach too Far at Tarn Hole!

Highcliffe Nab:

Franco and I visited Highcliffe for my birthday. I was going out for a meal that night so we chose a local crag and went with the idea of cleaning a few classics and doing Magic in the Air.

Long story short, we got on Ping. Onsight cleaning made the route feels desperate but after my ascent and Franco's then rapping and cleaning, the line is currently very clean and deserves to be climbed more. It's super well protected, tricky to start and tricky to finish but it's excellent, with good moves and a nice position. Get on it and keep it clean!
Franco starting 'Ping' - E1 5c **

central crack section

central crack section

clean enough for a solo
Franco then sussed out an FA and while he cleaned it up, i quickly abbed down Magic in the Air (E5 6b***) with siderunners, which i placed. I didn't really clean the line, as i was wondering how i'd fare if i climbed the line 'sort of onsight', so i checked there were no majorly dirty parts and cleaned some wierd ivy like plants that would have caused some top out issue.

Franco belayed me on Magic and after initially thinking i would flash the line, i floundered reaching off a scrittly hold on the arete (really regret not cleaning it better). But after a quick rest i set off again and making the delicate starting moves up to the big arete hold, i was pulling around the arete and up on to the sculptured wall and pockets that Stargazer finishes up. Excellent route.
What's more, it was nice to compare the line to some of the F.A's we've been putting up recently both in terms of quality and grade.

Franco then finished his cleaning and soloed the line quickly, believing the grade was around E4 5c*. Another bold tester he called 'Curious Intrigue'.

Starting moves of 'Curious...' E4 *

The awkward midheight reach

high up on smeary layaways

More highcliffe action followed, with a return to the left side to clean 'Peeler' the E1 5c** crackline. This thin crack is well protected but is hard. It was really very dirty, with ferns and moss so franco managed to get his way up it onsight, then realising the top out was horrific, lowered off the top most gear. I then rapped the line and cleaned it. It's excellent and now clean enough for an ascent up to the top. However I DID NOT clean the top out as it's a big job and may require a saw for a couple of felled trees. My advice would be to SET UP A LOWER OFF, for this climb and Gluon, which i also cleaned and looked more E4 6a than E2 5c.

Franco onsight cleaning, 'Peeler' E1/2 **

Finally we finished the day with an ascent of 'Holden's Wall'. Another superb route. The poorly protected start is followed by a juggy top out with good reaches, protected by an awesome thread. A really quality route. The right hand start is as good, if not better with slightly better moves but it's harder at 5b. The Holden's Wall area is really easy to get to along the top track, the obvious prow is easy to see and get down to. There really is no excuse to go and keep this one clean.

Holden's Wall - HVS **

A final Highcliffe word of advice:

Final word, there are lots of lower grade routes (Severes and VS's) that look good over the left side of the crag too. We found a nutket and nylon brush were enough to clean the cracklines of Ping, Peeler and the buttress routes of Gluon, Holden's Wall and Franco's 'Curious Intrigue'. However perhaps for some routes a wire brush would be useful but use it carefully. Also, something larger for the cracklines which are choked with mud might be useful, perhaps an Iceaxe or trowel? But again, be careful using it.

Final word of advice, in some cases the top outs are 'dodgey' but may be a lot of work to sort out. If you're not a local or it's just too big an effort, just set up a lower off when you are cleaning up your chosen route. Some of the routes are really very good and you'll be helping with the restoration of this accessible, quality crag!

Peak Scar thoughts:

Very short thoughts... some of the HVS's are actually E1! But should get done more than they currently do...

Monday, 29 August 2011

Howl Psyche & Battle For Tripoli - Danby Crag First Ascents

Myself and Franco both have projects at Danby. Franco is currently working on 'Vulcan Arete' and the 'Moose Wall', both E7 6c but at opposing ends of the bold spectrum. I however was very stoked by the easier but ridiculously bold, 'Otter Wilderness Direct'.

Ive shunted the line in the past and felt good, but wanted a cool, breezy day. Funnily such a day came along however it only dawned on me it was the perfect day, when i was shunting it for the second time, today. I felt solid enough for a lead, the low 6b crux felt fine and a half slip was held today, which gave me some confidence. I asked franco for photos. I needed proof and memories of this adventure.

Crux Heel
Abseiled down, i placed my mat on the dusty ground and slapped a load of liquid chalk on. It's the best. Franco prepped, i set off, climbing the starting crimps, which will remain dusty for eternity i think. A quick sequence of pockets, side pulls and heels and i was crimping my way to the sloping shelf, with it's critical (for me) thumb hold. A quick chalk and a high foot, two finger crimp on the right rocking up higher and higher to a side pull... now, heart in mouth smear feet on the sloping ledge and chalk left and right.

Sloping hold with thumb hold
 A scary, feet smearing reach from here gains the first really good hold, a bomber pocket. A series of beautifully sustained, well positioned moves find their way delicately up the arete. The line is the same for the top of the groove to the left and also, Franco's 'Otter Wilderness Route'.

John Dunne - esque?
Top crux. Necky 5c.
Slightly unstable
 I was pretty stoked topping out and i felt the ascent was a small step up from Fresh Arete. Although Fresh Arete contained a dynamic pop at the top of the main difficulties and is unprotected, the arete i decided to call Howl Psyche (due to the nearby village, Houlsyke) i felt was far bolder, even though it was static. A fall, from any point on the route will result in a fall through a tree, down into the boulders below. If the floor was were you start the route, i'd have graded it E6, but feel the added fall zone means E7 is worthwhile.

Heel for stability
'Howl' Psyched!
Franco, spurred on by my ascent, decided it was time to beat his long term project, the groove. To call it a project is a bit of a falacy. He had taken a 'factor 2' into the undergrowth hanging on the cliff below. He had never been back. However, aware of the upper moves from my ascent and from his own ascent of 'The Otter Wilderness Route' he made his way up the groove. At around half height is a horrific step onto the sloping ledge of the route i had just ascended and they finish the same. The route is sustained at 5c/6a and is unprotected. However, with the evidence of surviving a factor 2 from this very route, he decided a rope and belayer was a better option than 'the perfect shot'.

I then shunted Franco's Hypocrisy of Moose. I had belayed him when he did it and i had seen him work it a couple of times but i'd never actually tried it. I flashed on shunt up to the rickety flake and then floundered, eventually finding a sequence to get established around the corner on the opposing gastons. I couldn't get up and around to the next hold and wouldn't like to test the tri-cam (the Rp's will rip out!). The topout is horrific too... Awesome line, good holds and really good moves. Pretty un-obvious and it's bold. Can't believe Franco lead it, i thought i was going well at the moment!

We finished the day on a boulder below the buttress. Hidden in trees a carpet of moss simple folded off and the arete below was cleaned and quickly climbed, providing perfect moves in an endearing position. We decided it was a bit stiffer than the other arete we had ascended at Danby and felt Font 7a*** described the climbing well, however we were pretty knackered from the day! Danby now has a fair bit of mid grade bouldering and highball routes which were delighted about!

The Effervescent Pheasant from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Bring on the run into Uni... 3 weeks to go. What can we achieve?!

A wild day at Lion Buttress, Round Crag - 'Mane Vision' E4 6b * + Video!

Sam on the start of the cruxy, 'Mane Vision' E4 6b

Darkness and a 1 hour blast in the space of 3 days at Round Crag had seen Franco and I discover another fine unclimbed line. Lion Buttress, the host to a couple of fine lower grade routes, also contains a central wall, spilt by a traverse crackline, 'The Kitten' (VS).

Franco had previously attempted to climb direct through the break and in the dark he said the climbing was thin and excellent, if only he knew where the next hold was! I had returned with him to try it and my first attempts too showed that a quality sequence of moves, protected by good gear with a tricky little fall was the routes character, something i liked the sound of.

Focussing hard, it's a long way to that tiny crimp

Franco, had trashed his tips on several attempts at yarding on the thin, two finger crimp but eventually stood up and looking comfortable and in the sunlight this time, he reached to a tiny protrusion. Balanced and comfortable, it was a matter of just reaching the sloping crimp on the micro-ledge... Bang.
Franco hurted down to my position with yells of anguish. The protrusion had snapped! Bugger!

Huuge reach
It was now a straight dyno to the sloping crimp, using reflex strength in your left arm and the tiny two finger edge with your right, you would have to pop again with your right and hold the swing. 6c move for sure.
Franco, desperately got closer and closer to hanging the crimp taking some unbalanced, sideways falls and I, lacking the reflex strength never really got close to hanging the crimp. There had to be another way.

The vicious winds of the moor tops were battering, relenting for short, 10 second periods of calmer, warmth. It was a chilly day and the conditions on the rock, were good...but i didn't think the wind was conjective to success, not only that I was scared at the prospect of Franco managing the sloping crimp dyno hold and me being resigned to accepting i was unable to pull off such a feat. I pulled up again clipping the gear and chilling at the 'Kitten break'. I pulled on, left hand into the 3 finger pocket/edge. Closed to a powerful crimp. Right hand on the pinch undercut getting my feet up into the break and then in one fluid movement rocking up to and holding the tiny, finger splitting edge. This time, I felt more composed, in balance and fiddling my feet about i through caution to the wind and pushed a couple of fingers from my left hand onto the stub of the broken protrusion. The 'gaston' held and i was stuck two fingers on a gaston, two fingers on a unforgiving, but excellently shaped little crimp.

I stood for what felt like an age. This wasn't some wierd out of body experience, it was windy as hell and i held the position for the best part of 20 seconds, battling to avoid being ripped off the wall. I could see, just about the grey, sloping edge and while stood motionless, i visualised deadpointing it. Over and over.

I popped and at the same time, unconciously tried to snare my left toe against the break for balance. It worked, allowing me just enough time to hang the sloper before my left food followed me around to the right. Ground up and now facing a ledge hitting fall, i was scared. I reached up higher and scrabbling for feet, I nearly threw it all away with the mantle finish. It was complete.

I was happy, but also gutted. I felt the wall was going to become a dynamic test piece, but if i'm honest i'm just glad to have climbed it in a really fitting style, ground up. And i wouldn't have managed the dyno, so i shouldn't complain!

Franco then, utlising my beta made a quick ascent. We were unsure whether the 'more static' beta was indeed worth E5 6c, unlike the dynamic stretch... I think it's probably E4 6b with the static crimping which wasn't how we were trying it originally.It's a quality challenge, quite contrary to the bold lines of Round Crag proper.

Sam then tried the line, but struggling to manage the huge rockover to the tiny crimp, he didn't quite manage to hold it, firing off and rather nastily scraping the front of his shin. I could see white on the front of his shin and i bricked it, asking him to show me the wound quickly. Fortunately it was just a fatty layer, which i really should have come to the conclusion of quicker, due to his reputation for having chubby little legs...

All in all, a wild day up on Blakey in the roaring wind. The buttress, with it's Lion/Big Cat theme had to be adhered to and we felt 'Mane Vision' was a good attempt at keeping with the Lion theme and also a bit of a remark to the fact it was climbed, eventually, the way we were attempting it at first!

A hard (for me) route which is well protected where it matters and is in contrast to the poorly protected routes of Round Crag. I feel it's a useful addition to a crag in a great setting which i really hope starts to see a bit of traffic. A brilliant day out at E5, Honey Arete, Farndale Fayre and Vampiric Obsession, using Heel of Approval to get yourself warmed up to boldness! Then a well protected struggle with Mane Vision!

Mane Vision E5 6c, Round Crag. Ground up FA from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

To wrap up a decent summer...

Time feels like it's running out, fast. There's so much i want to do, both established routes and the FA's we're desperate to get done while we are both based in the Moors.

Established Routes:

1. Magic in the Air - I'll happily tick this with the siderunner at E5. If it feels nice, then i'd be interested in the actual line, which without side runner is E6/7   - Done with E5 side runners. Awesome route!

2. Stratagem - The E4/5 testpiece of Ravenscar is off putting as it's awkward and hard and easy to blow at the top - which i hate.

3. Hanging at High Noon - E4 slabby wall at High Crag. Steve and Karin's route that gets the stars, but will need a damn good clean! Might try to get some action shots of Warrior too? - Got Warrior shots and found a project

4. A Reach Too Far - The E2 6a (1pt aid) was freed by Steve Crowe and Karin Magog and is rated at ***. This esoteric gem has to be on the list, will be very interesting to see the how the quality is!

5. Farndale Fayre - Steve Crowes' E5 arete. Short in height but big in impact. You get a good photo to, if I can get the bottle and a 3rd person for photos! Don't think i have time to get stoked for Pippi or Scut de scun Ai. - Done, headpoint after being shown the sequence by Steve.

6. Grand Master Flash - Bouldery then thin up top. I must be able to give this a good go onsight now? Given E5 but has been proposed to be an E4.. not sure about this though?

7. Pyscho Syndicate - Extremely thin and very bouldery. Given 7a back in the day of 7b's due to sustained nature by the F.A and described as the 'hardest move in the world' (at the time) by R. Fawcett on a repeat. It is now graded 6b, but can only be desribed as nails!

8. Time Captain, Love or Confusion, Res Publica, Cardiac Arrest, Teesside Twitcher and Three Screaming Popes would be excellent too - far fetched though! - Did the Web - E5 6a**

First Ascents:

1. Otter Direct - The blunt rib at Danby is my project!. Currently the direct start to the 'Otter Wilderness Route' is regarded by myself and Franco as one of the very boldest routes in the Moors. The climbing sees a crux at around 4 metres at 6b. With sustained top end 5c above. There is no gear and the fall is doubled by the cliff below the route which has an ominous hole too... E7 6b.  - Done. 'Howl Psyche' E7 6b*

2. Vulcan Arete and Moose Wall - Franco's projects but they require time and attention from me too. Danby will be a ridiculously well routed crag in the high grades when achieved. Jungle Grooves could go too but at E6 6a, it might be a straight choice between Otter and Jungle in terms of not taking too many risks...
Jungle Grooves climbed at E6 6a by Franco, now called 'The Battle for Tripoli' also did Franco's Wall project 'Die By the Sword' - E7 6c!

3. Kay Nest Wall - I've not really looked at it in regard to free ascents, but i've heard it's E7 6c, well protected by original, hand drilled minature bolts which may or may not hold... Finishes with a dyno to an edge or something horrid.

4. The White Groove - Hopefully the coastal super route, at a run out and sustained 6b this is considered E7. It just needs a couple of days dry weather and then a warm, full day as it's a bit of a drive from the main moors. - Given another clean and sorted a sequence. Tricky, physical climbing leading to a bold top section.

5. Puma Wall - The wide wall, with a break at half height on Lion Buttress. It was attempted by Franco in the dark and he said it would go. Climbing is top end 6b with good gear - a well protected tester. E4 6b is a tentative guess. - (DONE!) - Mane Vision E5 6c

6. Otter Arete - The left arete of the newly discovered Otter Hill Bastion - bold and probably E4+

I will not do all of this, but it would be excellent to do a handful of each list! And the rest will have to be done whenever i return in the future! Stoked.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Honey Arete - Round Crag

No silly videos or action shots today, after a dodgey morning of car related troubles and such, we eventually got ourselves to Round Crag. I was not stoked for Danby today and i was looking forward to trying 'Honey Arete', which meant hoping that our drainage work had been successful.

The ground below, usually perma-boggy was a beautiful dampish, sort of solid, but now without worry of getting muddy and wet. What an improvement!

We observed the tall, elegant arete and commented on the two obvious cruxs, one past the pocket at 3metres and then the top section which looks thin. I was psyched out by this and having previously Shunted the starting moves with Steve Ramsden didn't really mind a quick rap down to clean holds and then shunt back up to check how it climbed, Franco was off looking at Scut de Scun Ai.

We both elected that a 'fielder' below was a much better option than photos on this occasion and with the confidence of a human impact reduction, Franco then, similarly to 'Vampiric Obsession', onsighted the climbing following my cleaned holds and i quickly did similar with the knowledge of my own pre-inspection.

Franco at the top of Honey Arete
The arete is graded E5 6b*** and i would fully agree with the quality when it is clean. Hopefully a few more ascent over the next year or so may keep the holds lichen free... The grade is a funny one, it's extremely bold but the landing is flat. The actual 6b crux may be ok to jump off from, but i wouldn't like to slip. I would regard the top, thin smeary section to be very serious. Good effort to Franco for onsighting it!

Myself, chuffed even if it was a headpoint

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Snotterdale Crag - New Routes and bouldering (Video!)

Felt un-stoked for Danby today, but still in the mood to climb. I was actually looking forward to maybe repeating some probably un-repeated lines and the best place for that we decided was 'Snotterdale', the blacksheep of the Scugdale family.

I'd been before and climbed the excellent E2 of Desperandum, which is reason enough to go alone. However our last visit had made us aware of an FA or two. There were also a couple of E3's which are Steve Brown and Dave Paul routes, i think, which are always interesting to try to climb!

Carrying on the current tradition of looking for warm up boulder problems at these cliffs, we soon found a rather cool looking prow system. The rock was clean and the holds provided were really good! A quick look and soon a quality, albeit short sequence was put to use. It's a tricky one to grade, but there is a definitive crux and we decided a Font 6c* would probably suffice. It could be a tad easier? Either way, we were both certain it was a very worthwhile little problem to do at the crag.

Font 6c - Wizard's Prow

Wizard's Prow

We the turned our attention to the line we had spotted last year. An obvious hanging crack, slightly remeniscent of 'Strapadictomy', but obviously a statement to be taken with a pinch of salt!

Franco was stoked to climb the line onsight. But it was in serious need of a clean, so i volunteered. However Franco was adament that a onsight/ground up ethic was in place on the line and that he was capable of climbing the line while cleaning...

Long story short is he was. After two or three gos up and down, cleaning as he went he said he fancied a crack on lead. The small tricams, cams and mid sized sideways nut providing the gear in the horizontal break. A quick rockover to a gaston and then a relaxed 'flow' onto this allows the top to be reached. I then repeated the line with the beta of Franco's successful ascent, but the crux couple of moves are excellent.

An odd climb to grade, as the gear is ok but the landing isn't perfect. It's not high, but the move is tricky. It's a 6a move and the gear is there but it might not stop you hitting the small series of ledges and, it may well pull out? We opted for E4 6a** and named it 'Snotterdictomy'...

After this i was interested to either climb 'Soothsayer' a rather cool looking E1 5b wall climb, or 'Sixth Sense' an interesting slabby wall at E3 6a. I opted to look at Sixth Sense and quickly gave it a clean which it was in dire need of! I then soloed the line, eventually making the unbalancing and bold move to the pocket at the top. I then panicked and asked for Franco to run around for a rope. However while he did this i remembered what i was doing and made the move ok. The top out is a bit rank though! Franco said he wasn't really that interested in it, but i told him it was good. He repeated it and agreed it was a worthwhile climb, certainly worth a * which is doesn't receive currently.

The midges arrived in a bad way, so we quickly climbed the quite long, angled arete at the lower tier which went at Font 6b** which has a couple of really good moves including a long slap for a sloper. Excellent!

Taken in poor light with the last life in the camera - The long and very cool Font 6b arete, 'Lady of the Lake'.

The film below might be a bit shite, as i have put both ascents of all the routes on, in an attempt to help get an idea of how to climb the routes, Franco will often LANK lines and i'll often make things look desperate...

Snotterbad Little Movie... from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.