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!
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!