Friday, 25 March 2011

Hetchell - Home to the scrittly solo

Heading home from Leeds to Castleton, i was driving back on a sunny, if a little muggy, afternoon. I took the wrong road towards the A1 and ended up passing Hetchell crag. I was planning on soloing at Scugdale on the way home but Hetchell is often a bit damp and it had been dry for a week so i took my chances. Guidebookless, i followed the path i vaguely remembered and sure enough, the crag showed up in trees on the left.

I had a rope with me as i planned to look at moors things, so arriving i decided to try the E4 5c, Dead Angst. I seem to remember Andy Hobson telling me to clean it prior to the solo, i think he said that, or he said it was good regardless but anyhow, i abseiled down and cleaned and chalked the holds.

Some asian lads turned up and started messing with my abseil rope, so i hung around and 'chatted to them' being told i was 'sick' and 'way-cool bro' and that apparently last time they were there, they found a rope and 'messed with it' but someone was using it and they 'nearly killed them'. I questioned their proudness on the subject, expecting some sort of backlash, i actually got an apologetic, seemingly friendly response when i told them never to mess with ropes at crags again..

Anyhow, i returned to the base of the crag when they seemed to have wandered off and set about on the solo. The starting crux i had a feel of and it looked ok, just crafy footwork i decided. I pulled on, and the holds, cleanish now after a quick scrub allowed me to gain the 'buckets' at half height. I chalked up and gained the two holds above, with a bit of a 'moment' when i couldn't organise my body position! I then looked up and found i was totally miles from the next chalked holds! What the fuck, i thought, fortunately, there are two fairly obvious slots in the small break a 1 pad 4 finger on the left and a 2 finger slot on the right, both a bit slopey and scrittly. Right foot high up to a shallow pocket thing (i would DEFINATELY want clean of scrittle) and i reached the juggy break and up to the top, via a couple of moments of being frightened... I wasn't sure about the top and groped around via lots of 'good' holds but no buckets that i wanted! I got up it to find the lads who once again were, for use of a more eloquent word, impressed by my exploits!

Dave Warburton soloing 'Dead Angst' at Hetchel from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Friendly little crag, i like it, definately a clean and flash sort of venue though i think as i scared myself again on the 'E3' to the right, chosing to finish up 'Dead Angst' at the top (slightly right of actually)as the top seemed very, very sandy.

Scared enough for one day i quickly departed for the Moors, arriving to some roast pork! Awesome day.

I reckon this was probably my last day climbing before heading to Wales/Ireland for 2 weeks of Geology Fieldwork. However after that, i'm mooching out to El Chorro with Cookson, H-dawg (he's from Halifax you know...) and Dr. Sean. I set myself the targets of V7/Font7a+, get some sport climbing done before hand and be climbing E2/3 by the time i left to Ireland.

As it turns out i didn't tick V7, a handful of V6's at Almscliffe was my best, though the last move of DWRoof and also the last move of Crusis would suggest i was almost there and to be fair i was hardly 'psyched' for it, just kind of went when the weather was shite! Also had a sit under the keel, sort of felt like another Almscliffe 'person'.

Trad was a tad disappointing. Ok, some E2's on grit, like the Shelf at Crookshite and a ground up of Atomic (E3) was nice enough, but i also took a gear ripping, ground clipping whipper at Gate Cote off one of the massively steep E2's there, so i felt a bit odd with trad.
I half fancied getting some of the *** Yorkshire Limestone E3's when the stuff was invariably dry during this great period of weather, but Oedipus is birdbanned now i think? I don't own a clipstick for the start of Central Wall and Amber Gambler at Attermire just looked plain nails to start! I couldn't convince anyone to go to Giggleswick south and i didn't really think about Malham!
I did however do a couple of Nice E2's on the limestone, Brutus and Comer at Attermire being worth the drive there and although i thought Comer was better, i was happy with Brutus as it's the kind of thing i'd have pumped out on properly in the past, but i found it almost 'pleasantly pumpy'.

I think the highlight of the first 3 months of year has to be the Sport on the Yorkshire Limestone. I was always told that it 'seeps til summer' but thats just the big crags really and there are some esoteric gems (if you like that sort of thing, which being from the moors, i do!)
I ended up spending a total of 4 days at Gate Cote Scar!!!! mainly due to it's quickdrying, sheltered character which was impressive during a week of heavy showers and strong winds. There were also days at Troller's Gill (should have done more but partners not interested in the place!) Panorama is great and Moughton too. I managed my first F7a in the UK and also my first F7a+ too, though, they were bouldery through lower overlaps and then easier above, so i don't know how much of an idea that gives me of Chorro!

Then obviously a E3 and E4 at Hetchell yesterday, though, highball solos are my forte, even if these are the wrong side of highball! Anyhow, let's see what Spain brings!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Crookrise and Attermire

Nice couple of days, firstly up at Crookrise, soloing the Crease Direct (E1) and Hovis (E1) which were nice routes and Winters Day (E2) a cool, if slightly eliminate slab. Then i decided to crack the rope out and do The Shelf (E2), which was a nice one mover, which until you pull into feels like it's going to be E2, but is probably only HVS, with a size 1 cam! Pretty cool little route regardless.

Attermire Scar is a crag i'd fancied going to for a while for a bit of short, limestone tradding. Anyway, only managed to find one person keen to head up for the day, Huw, so we did and managed to tick some great little routes, with Brutus (E2), Tipster (E2), Smitton By Anguish (E1). I also got a treat by finding Comer (E2) dry, which is apparently quite a good result for March.
The very interesting fact was that the crag seemed un-polished which seemingly suggests the crag has recovered over the last 10 years or so (judging by rockfax database comments) so that was another nice suprise.

Nice crag, sunny or sheltered or shady depending on which buttress you head to and what you fancy.

Attermire might have been my last day out before Ireland Fieldtrip and spain. I'm a bit disappointed we couldn't get a couple of days at Troller's or Loup Scar but finding the time and people who were keen for F7+ sport has been unfortunately hard. Never mind, we'll just see how spain goes now?

Friday, 11 March 2011

Gate Cote Scar

50mph winds and westerlies with showers, i proposed Troller's Gill. Unfortunately Huw doesn't seem to like the place and there aren't really many other people in the club willing to go to F7+ crags, i don't know if it's because it's sport or because it's 'hard' but anyway, i decided to search the guide for somewhere that might be worth a 'punt'.

Gate Cote Scar, East facing and 'quick drying' seemed a little bit too good to be true, but after the evenings rain i knew the quick drying aspect would have to be truthful for a successful day.

We drove over through early afternoon dry weather arriving at the crag to rain... Fookin' hell!
We walked up anyway and found it was dry, another exception coup for the 'choad hall' team. Admittedly first impressions of the crag is that it isn't Kilnsey, Malham or anywhere else like that, but it was dry and clean and that's all that matters... (and for the record it's actually very good!)
There is a healthy mix of trad and sport. I was keen for the sport seeing as rain was a potential factor so we warmed up on a lovely F6a+ arete, while it snowed... making jokes about climbing in Switzerland or somewhere similar.
We had a sit around and ate some food while the snow stopped and i tried the F7a***, "A Matter of Degrees". The start felt nails and i gave up. Trying the F7a** "Arc de Ciel" to the right. This was easier and i quickly got up to the top bulge and was undercutting my way to a good F7a O/S. I'm still not sure about the start to the other one, it looks like it may have lost holds? I'll try abit harder some other time.

The short day came to an end with Huw climbing the F7a and then climbing the F6b groove line, which looked good fun. I then rushed to try the F6c+ to the left but found the second clip hard, which was scary... I also found out it's given F7a+ elsewhere...?! Another one to come back for.

We did, the next day! Similar weather a couple of lads, Daf and Sam who were keen. Unfortunately the weather was worse, more rainy today.
I decided to trad climb today and tried the 'classic - Blue Meanings' E2. I however didn't really know which crack to head towards on the upper wall and then it began to lash it down, so i escaped right up the VS. Abseiling down, the wall the 'E2' didn't look E2... more E3 5c, but i'll have another play when it's dry!

Huw got some trad in while it rained and then I decided to try the F7a+ under the main low overhang, which climbs a short wall on sidepulls and through the roof using an obvious hole. I had tried it the day before and given up finding the moves bouldery. However this bouldery section was the only dry rock, so i quickly had a rethink and found the sequence went much easier if you use your noggin'. I was past the crux on a bomber finger lock, getting pelted by rain. I popped to the incut which felt like shit, even thought it's a jug and over the next 10 or 15 minutes skated my way to the top. Hard fought clean ascent in the rain, of a very well named route - "Sunshine on a Rainy Day"... excellent.

I intend to return, but perhaps on a more pleasant day to do some of the trad in better conditions. It's worth a look, as it does seem to dry very fast and it's certainly sheltered from westerly and westerly showers.

Keen for all this early season Limestone esoterica, really should go to the proper venues though!


After a fair few limestone visits, Huw said he was more keen for a gritstone crag. I decided i had some unfinished buisness at Slipstones, Huw had never been and i knew i could fill a car with people to pay the way.

We arrived to sun and nice temperatures, story of the week! not bad for march. Anyhow, I decided to focus my attentions rather than just randomly soloing everything, so got straight on Ripper and after a early slip i was topping out after the exciting upper section, not one to be underestimated. The day got pretty productive, with leads of 'Zoom' (HVS), 'Agra' (HVS) two routes i'd never had the balls to solo, seeing as they are so well protected. Also did Wisecrack which was nice, as it had always looked nails when i was younger.
I also managed 'Timeless Divide' which is the hanging arete after a V4 boulder problem start, I'd seen a chap lead it way back when and he said it was a whale top out and fully deserving of E2.
I climbed the V4 start and then plugged some cams in that break, which you could sleep under! then, knee bar in utilising the obvious holds (which i didn't do for a while!) i found the jugs on the top... whale you say?

After this, i only really had 2 objectives left. Sulky little boys, the Font7a+ arete, (which i later found is nails!) and Atomic (E3). Timmy was keen for Atomic, so i lead up, committed to the pocket and pulled for the top. It felt piss, really easy. Until i ended up down by timmy... What went wrong?! I tried it again and got further away from doing it 4 more times! Timmy then had some plays and eventually got it. Spurred on by this, i got back on and 'sent' it first go? Completely identical sequence everytime, was it cooler? more windy? No idea, but anyhow it's a great little sequence a cool V3? above the cam laced break.

An evening was spent soloing around on the brilliant micro routes, Aces High (VS), Ellingstring (VS), Steve's Wall, Pauls Arete and Stainthorpes Wall (all E1). We also met a potential Leeds Unier as well, which was nice we need a few more keen climbers to join the club who know what they're doing already!!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Trollers Gill

I'd been to Troller's Gill before and wanted to do the Jim Grin F7a. Unfortunately at the time i wasn't leading F7a and the same day had climbed The Diedre (E2) at Kilnsey. I had on that occasion climbed Shaggy Dog Story (f6c+) which was nice enough.
Anyway, Saturday was grey and drizzly, so up early and keen we had to sit on our hands a while and we rushed some uni work out the way by 11ish. Then set off, hoping it would have brightened up by lunchtime. It didn't really brighten up, but the drizzle stopped and there was a chilly breeze. Regardless, we arrived at Troller's Gill to overhanging walls of white (dry) limestone.

I looked at the Jim Grin and exactly the same as last time i came, wasn't entirely sure where it went and decided it was something i'd rather onsight than redpoint, it just looks like if you don't get it first go you'll get more and more tired if you have to try it twice or three times, resulting in a failure. It was cold too and we don't have a clipstick to retrieve if i couldn't do it, so being a wuss i said i wasn't keen.

Last time i was there a bloke told me to do Angelic Upstart F7a, which he said was best if the first two bolts were clipped, so as we warmed up on that F5 on the left hand side we did just that. It was cold and i could feel the psyche draining from me, but i decided that the more bouldery looking sequence through the first overlap looked a nicer propersition, today. (excuses, excuses)

I pulled through the overlap on unfortunately damp undercuts, which made staying on the next sidepulls interesting, i managed and got a left foot up to a small rail. There were two side pulls to go for, a wierd blocky looking one, that didn't look stable and a better one that was a bit lower. I opted for the lower, solid looking one. It wasn't right. I tried to pop up but got it wrong and was off. Gutted.
I tried the loose looking sidepull, it was the perfect height and was totally solid. More gutted. I lowered off and Huw had a play doing it a totally different sequence, ha!
I got back on it after a bit of a rest and food and using my slightly weird sequence (left hand to undercut, right foot up high for balance and match into the wet undercut) managed to gain the sidepulls above the roof (ignoring the apparently juggy pocket just right...) which allowed a quick hand wipe and chalk and then up into the groove above, which for some reason felt traddy, weird bridging and sort of half rests.
Enjoyable route, but would have been super necky at E6 6b, admittedly, a pad or two at the start might have made things slightly nicer...? I think a couple of wires would have gone in higher too, anyway, respect to anyone that onsighted that as E6, top effort.

Chilly and a bit 'over-limed' we drove back to leeds, Boro lost 5-2 to Reading apparently and Huw and I decided gritstone was on the cards. I fancy some trad, preferrably on limestone or the lakes but it's meant to be like 2 degrees tomorrow, so perhaps Slipstones would be a better bet. I do have unfinished buisness with Atomic E3 6a, Sinbad E3/4 6b and Sulky Little Boys Font 7a+... I say unfinished i've never actually tried them and seeing as i've been to slipstones twice that's pretty bad going!

We'll see, very keen for all this bolt clipping. Huw and Conor said something funny the other day - having headpointed an E7 in the summer and now turning my hand to sport, perhap's i'm becoming the next Sean Jacobs? It might not be a bad thing, but will i spend years in leeds? Do a PhD? Entrepeuring my way to sunny holidays, clipping bolts in Spain?

Nah, doubt it - A geology PhD sounds friggin' horrible!

A dry week - Yhorkshire Limestone!

It's been dry since monday, so come wednesday myself and Huw decided that Panorama and Moughton Nab were on the cards. We managed to find Conor, Timmy, Alex and Tom who were keen and in the Espace we drove, relatively cheaply out to the dales.
Moughton was the destination first and after a warm up and a nice tick of 'Avalon' F6c, we went to the steep right hand side that had been drying off nicely in the warming sun.
"Bucket Symphony" F7a, looked like the most appetising line and i said i'd go first - prepared to fall off and end up redpointing it. Anyhow, the first move is a big jump for a massive jug. I didn't commit for a while but when i did properly go for the jug it was much easier than anticipated. Climbing up the jugs and incuts i soon encountered a loose rock, so jumped off.
I pulled back on and climbed up to this and removed it.

Starting lunge for the huge bucket on 'Bucket Symphony'

Timmy cruising the start to 'Bucket Symphony'

Conor on the powerful starting moves of 'Bucket Symphony'
  I had a rest and Huw had a go, and after sorting the start out, flashed the rest of the route following my lead and chalk... I then got it on my first ground up attempt which was nice and flowy, i didn't even feel pumped at the top.
Timmy and Conor got on it and Timmy managed a fine flash (after sorting out the start) and i climbed 'Burly In Ribblesdale' F6c, which climbs to the left via a reach and pop all on good holds. Nice.

The Sun was lost so we all left to Panorama. We thought it as closer than it was and after thinking we wouldn't find it, i ended up careering around looking for the correct way over to some distant cliffs. Found it and i decided to just get on Panoramic, F7a, again for the flash.
Unfortunately i was knackered and the bouldery, powerful moves on jugs admittedly, powered me out. I put the clips in and sorted out some good beta and Timmy flashed it, following my line of chalk and utilising the hidden incuts and jugs here and there.
Huw mean while climbed a fine F6c+ and F7a to the right. Making me feel pretty downhearted about being totally knackered.
Awesome 'Sole Marks' in underlying Greywacke near Panorama Crag

Therefore i decided we'd come back the next day!

We returned to Moughton and i wanted a play on the less steep walls right of the Moughton Mauler (E4), which looks ok as well for the record, bit blocky and dirty. Anyway, it didn't really happen a quick try of a F7a+ and a fall off a cool short F6c meant that we were a bit dissolutioned with the place. So we returned to Panorama Crag.
I felt a bit tired and feared not being able to cleanly do Panoramic, which to me seemed like a wasted journey! So i ate a shit load of food, flapjack and a pasty, all the John Dunne recommended stuff and had a lie down in the sun. After this i jumped on Panoramic and despatched it first go. Happy.

Huw Goodall flashing 'Panoramic' F7a** at Panorama Crag from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Huw then flashed it, so i asked him for beta on the F7a he did the day before, which he told me and i prompty flashed that. Doubly Happy.
Huw then did a steep one move F6b+ and i got a 'second wind' and started feeling pretty psyched to get on another F7a, but with light running out and it getting cold fast i ended the day with a quick 'send' of a F6c, and F6b, up the blocky overhangs to the left of Panoramic. Awesome couple of days out on the Limestone, really really happy to get some done before Easter and good to tick some Limestone 7a's in England, even if they are somewhat bouldery.

Very keen for Troller's Gill next.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Almscliffe and Sport...

My thoughts this year have been on getting stronger and better as a climber - rather than just focusing on trad. My nemesis is bouldering, especially so gritstone but i have gritted my teeth recently and have 'hit the cliffe' with my housemate Huw. I must admit that i am fond of what i class as 'highball' gritstone like Simon's Seat South Crag and Ogden Clough but 'harder' more technical or powerful bouldering isn't my thing - as i don't get on with slopers and i'm not strong - Hence why i'm willing to try it now as it's bound to get me strong!

Anyhow, a couple of trips to Almscliffe allowed the ticking of some V6/font7a's around the Crucifix area of Almscliffe and i'm currently failing on the last move of Demon Wall Roof  font 7a+, this i'm fairly sure will go soon. I've briefly held the top hold of Crusis Font 7a+/7b?? and me and Huw's currently project is 'The Keel'. This is V8+/Font 7b+ and involves some pretty cool moves, so i'm looking forward to getting back to this, hopefully i can finish off DWroof so i can focus on it more.

I've also managed to get some limestone action in, we travelled to the very quickly drying Robin Proctors Scar. When we arrived it was chilly, damp and we warmed up on some F6a+, which was really nice. The crag quickly dried off and i decided to try to get through some F6c/F6c+'s as there is only 2 F7a/F7a+'s and they didn't look my style. Anyhow, i enjoyed the 'milage' 6c day and it bodes well for E3 ticking. Very very keen to get to some other crags around, thinking Panorama and Moughton soon for more focussed F7.. climbing which i'm looking forward too. It's all training for becoming a stronger climber which i should do, it will definately aid my trad climbing. In conjunction with the bouldering too i feel more confident on the gritstone, ultimately i'm getting more out of my increasingly runnning out number of days climbing (due to geology related field course and exams).

We'll see what happens in the next few weeks - i think we have 5 weeks or so until easter, where we go to Ireland for 2 weeks geologying and then 2 weeks in Spain sport climbing (which is what all this training is for). After Easter spain, it's all about revision and catching up on the work i should have done in easter (fieldwork reports!) so i think i'll miss climbing here and then after hte exams it's straight out to the dales for my dissertation mapping. I will get some climbing in here, i must admit i could be somewhere shit, but i will probably have to work extra hard for partners and such. Looks like a year of Limestone for me and more importantly bouldering and sport! Keen for it, if i'm honest!