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...

1 comment:

David Bulley said...

Wow I didn't realise there was so much at Highcliff. I went for a look once and didn't think much of it, but then again I didn't try climbing which I should have :C