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?!

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