Monday, 3 January 2011

2010 - A Round Up

Thinking back, slightly hungover on the previous year, my first thoughts were that it was a bon year. But i always struggle to remember the finer points, the details and the interesting little aspects that define a year worth describing as interesting. The only way I do this is to re-read blogposts and look at the UKC logbook, thank god for such devices as i'd forget stuff i've done, even really good stuff!
Anyway, 2010 started with a winter route with my bro and then, a uptake of Trad again, mainly at the Leeds local spots like Baildon and Almscliffe. I seem to remember feeling decidedly weak and falling off Moria (E2) at Baildon.

Return to form:

After this we managed to get a brief spell on the Yorkshire Limestone as well, with an extremely dry January and by early March my last winter route was climbed, Moss Ghyll (V, 5) on ScaFell. And by the end of March i was climbing regularly, starting to regain a bit of fitness with a reasonably successful trip to Millstone/Lawrencefield with the MUMC or BUCS or something. I remember climbing Suspense (E2) a route i was apprehensive about in regards to onsighting it... which i did, with ease - which was nice. I also onsighted Satire (E2) an extremely steep, strenuous gritstone route. Quite unique!

Satire E2, Baildon Bank

Moors FA's & Gritstone:

At a similar time we also revisited Ravensdale AKA Stoupe Brow on the moors. This coastal crag, near RobinHoods Bay was in need for further development and a quick trip allowed the ascent and repeat of some of the prominent cracklines, and some work on the 'White Scoop' (E7).

I spent April swanning around soloing places, a lovely evening up at Ogden Clough comes to mind with some quality solos of gritstone micro-routes. I enjoyed it the most i think, because for me, Gritstone is all about micro routes, 6-8m lines which takes gear but whats the point, just spend the evening tootling about, Slipstones, Ogden and the like is what i think of when i think Gritstone.

Seacliffs and Slate:

May saw my first trip to the Sea Cliffs of Wales. Indeed, by first Seacliffe experience. Admittedly i wasn't anywhere near the sea at Gogarth Uppertier but i enjoyed the Strand (E2) and also the funky Failsafe (E2). After this i also climbed one of the best routes i've done on Slate - the German Schoolgirl (E2).

German Schoolgirl (E2) Dinorwig Slate Quarries

Yorkshire Limestone:

After this the weather seemed to pick up and I found myself at the yorkshire Limestone more often, climbing for the first time at Malham and also trad at Kilnsey. It was also this time i discovered that my main climbing partner at Leeds, Ewan, was totally against Sport climbing. This still strikes me as odd seeing as he spends a lot of time 'training' at the Depot, something i can't bring myself to do. Anyhow, we spent a good few days, ticking E2 routes like The Diedre, Crossbones and Sundance Wall. I also did my first sport route on a sweltering day (the same day as the Diedre) at Troller's Gill, some pleasant but short F6c+. Pretty stoked to go back there and do the F7-stuff there. To be honest, i'm pretty psyched for anything on Yorkshire/Cumbria/Peak Limestone as well as Seacliffs and Lakes/Wales Trad. (Just like anyone else really!)

Exam Leave:

I think the end of May/Early June saw me on Exam leave and I was home in Castleton without my standard climbing partner Franco. I ended up getting 'stoked' knowing i needed to climb before the exams and then my 2 weeks of geology fieldwork in Scotland so i, quite uncharacteristically, one foggy/Sea fret Yorkshire day jumped in the car without too much thought and drove over the A66 to Brough to a soloing crag I'd heard of but never been to - Windmore End.  I ended up spending the day soloing limestone micro-routes, in 20degree heat with a beating sun with lush views across the Eden? Valley. Amazing stuff. I also did some of my first E3's for quite some time, admittedly, they were soft i think but micro-soloing is my forte i would say, generally pushing the boat out more than most.

80's Pete / Neckband Crag:

On the way back i had a brain-wave and rang 80's Pete. A lad that i'd never really met from Saltburn. He's stoked and works mornings and such so is often available for climbing. This was a lucky break for me, as he was climbing in the same grade range that I was and was psyched for similar stuff. This meant I could go and get on E1/E2 territory in the Lakes without Franco (rightly) encouraging me to "stop choading around on E2 and get on something 'ard". Anyway, i climbed some stuff i'd wanted to do for ages, Big Dipper/Mirrormere (E2) at Hodge Close Quarry and Asphasia (E2) at Sergeant Slabs.

The big deal for me though was me persauding Pete to go to Langdale and walk to the apparently perma-wet Neckband crag. I'd seen it in the guide, it's got a beautifully draw topo in the Langdale guide, showing the strong lines the crag exhibits and a plethora of stars at E2. I was drueling.
We walked in on a boiling day to this north-facing crag and arrived to a chilly, breeze whipping around it. It was outrageously cold considering what the rest of the country was experiencing!
It didn't matter and we climbed some of the finest stuff i've done. Admittedly i've not really climbed all that many 'uber-classics' but these climbs are certainly deserving of *** especially compared to some of the shite that gets ***. Tracheometry, which is a 'variation' on a 'bitch-of-a-start' E3, is one of the best E2's i've ever, ever done. 45 metre single pitch of amazing overlaps and thin fingerlocks and such.  Razor Crack (E1) is one of the best single pitch lines i've been lucky enough to climb too.Outrageously good or so i thought anyway! If you get the chance you've got to go to Neckband.

With the Alps trip encroaching fast, but with a 2 week loss of time for geology i was really psyched to go to the lakes and do big routes. Franco however, back from Manchester wasn't. He was far more interested in Moorland FA's. The main objective of his, the Kepwick Wall.
I'd never seen it, but we arrived on a windy, cold and dampish day. Setting up a TR we played around on the amazingly hard, tenuous, dynamic, hard, thin, smeary, reachy, balancy, tenuous, hard and death-causing moves. Franco was psyched, i was happy to treat it as training...
While in the Torridonian area mapping I also had a brief foray into the Caves around Inchnadamph which was pleasant relief from the mapping and on our 'day off', i fell ran from Inchna up to Ben More Assynt and Conival which was pretty cool... Awesome area of the country, shame it's in the arse-end of nowhere as i'll probs be reluctant to head back!
The Alps:

We'd always wanted to go to the Alps. Franco had, he went that ill-fated year with Ian Jackson and Luke etc. I had stayed at home, over-cautious about my injured knee. This year however i was more prepared to go and see how it went.
We chose to 'warm up' on the Chamonix Aguillies. These short (long for the UK!) multi-pitch routes up to, around 10 pitches generally, but climbing at our (my) grade was going to be very good stuff!
The weather was boiling. Far too hot i would sweat my way up from Cham to the plan and then carry on up to the Blatiere or the L'M or Peigne to get on a route. It was a month of Very early valley starts, rests on the plan and then routes til the afternoon. Aweseome stuff - the first couple were killers but cable-cars just aren't game (unless they were cheaper...!) 
The routes on the more 'adventurous' peaks were falling down, even at night. It was incredibly hot. Anyhow, we achieved some amazing routes, Menegaux (E1), Majorette Thatcher (E2/3), Verdon Memories (E3/4) into the SW arete of the Peigne and then descending with a doubled 60metre..., Le Ticket et la Lune (E2/3) as well, were all fantastic routes, with great climbing on amazing rock.

 The Majorette - Blatiere

However the weather didn't stay hot. It soon got unsettled, very, very unsettled. The whole of the alps seemed to be in the same boat and for the next 2 weeks we sat around in our shack (eventually moving to a proper shack) and climbing some sport in the valley. I didn't mind this, as i wanted to clip some bolts all year and i managed my first F7a's onsight - or so i thought. It so happens that a F6c+ i onsighted in Costa Blanca has been upgraded so that was nice too see. I also met the talented Will Sim for the first time and some other cool guys like Chris and Sam.

 Verdon Memories

 Verdon Memories

I think my most vivid memory was when we threw caution to the wind and walked up to the Peigne, after an evening of heavy rain. Franco and I were utterly-psyched for Dimanche Noir. F7a slab climbing apparently. 
We climbed up the first pitch and i hung out, ready for a long time hanging on the belay while Franco tenuously onsighted the slab pitch. I wasn't wrong. 
While Franco, picked his way up the slab on tiny white and pink crystal clusters, Sam and Chris were on a line to the left. Chris took a whipper and then began to aid his way up - the banter was hilarious. 
Franco was still slowly and methodically making his way up the line of smears, past some seepage.

The weather rolled in, and we were soon in a cloud. I was shivering like mad and franco was below what he was calling the crux, about 5 metres from the belay. He made it, i don't know how. I seconded, reasonably well at first the smears were outrageously thin but held weight and i soon arrived at the crux. I fell off trying the outrageously contorted rockover/reach thing but some of the 'holds' were damp in the 100% humidity of the cloud. I still don't know how Franco climbed it.


In Absentia - F7b

On the rap down we saved Chris who was stood on a tiny, sloping ledge for the past 20 minutes? And we ran back to the tent just before a storm hit. We woke to snow plastering the range (full mixed conditions) and we sat in the tent for 2 days while it snowed and rained.
We ran to Switzerland and went to Giertroz, where we had a good day before a big storm hit. I nearly onsighted In Absentia F7b, failing at the last clip. Franco O/S it and we both thought it was one of the best routes we've done.

Returning from the Alps, lighter, stronger and psyched Franco and I went moors FA hunting. We achieved some good stuff at Round Crag, with Fresh Arete, Vampiric Obsession and some other stuff around and about.

After the moors episode i climbed with Ralph for the first time, climbing some quality stuff at Tremadog, (Grasper E2, Void E3) and also some great stuff at Gogarth with Supercrack (E3) and Quartz Icicle (E2). Also the beautful but short Phagocyte (HVS)

Great back end of the year but soon Uni work got too much and then i tried bouldering and pulled a finger tendon and i've not climbed for months since really! Weak, yes probably but i don't know yet - i haven't climbed for ages!