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...