Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hawkcliffe finally let's me down...

Rain finally breached the seemingly ever dry defences of Hawkcliffe and when myself and Conor returned, with me being stoked to look at Stepmother Jag - E4, Call of the Curlew - E4, Driveby or Shamrock (E6's) i was pretty disappointed to discover the crag was damp.

I had a quick look at the direct finish to Woodland Ecology, which looks possible but hard so i changed my attentions to a sort of 'alternate finish' to Woodland Ecology itself as it tackled the driest section of crag. I'd actually already soloed the top 'new' bit the day previous while there on my own, but i returned today to lead it properly - i prefer to do FA's with someone else.

Baisically, it follows Woodland Ecology to the gear and then makes tricky moves up to the base of an obvious unclimbed scoop. From here, it is possible to reach out right and finish for the final move of Woodland Ecology baiscally avoiding the large ledge and adding several more (i thought) good moves on this great slabby wall. Decided it was E4 6a* as the moves and positions are good even if it is a tad eliminate. The moves are similar but more sustained than Woodland Ecology and the gear is closeby but i wouldn't call it perfect.

Anyway, made up for a damp day at the crag - i might leave it til next year now and go elsewhere? Though, perhaps i should make the most of Blood on the Shamrock being clean... though i haven't the foggiest how to shunt it safely and i don't think i'm good enough to flash it? We'll see...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hawkcliffe revisited... Woodland Ecology & Flame Arete

My wednesday day off was put to good use with a return to Hawkcliffe, hoping to find it dry after last nights rain. It was.
Arriving at Emerald Buttress i wanted to do Woodland Ecology and Huw was keen to follow up that or Ginny Greenteeth or whatever. I decided i wanted to do Woodland, repeating the start (which is the same as Ginny) to the gear and then right to the Arete. I repeated the start with ease and then placed some gear but failed to head right on scrittly holds, so i backed off and abseiled down to clean the holds i could reach... And gave it another go. This time i found the clean holds a nicer crimping proposition and it make the experience much easier, however i still needed a slight footslip to jolt me with adrenaline which allowed me to reach blindly around the corner, into the slightly dirty scoop and then, the scrittly and airy ledge - it's clean now!!!. The finishing arete of Blood on the Shamrock providing a beautiful finish... Have to do Blood on the Shamrock now!

Woodland is an odd one, its sooo much easier than Ginny Greenteeth its amazing they have the same grade. E4 5c and E6 6a seem to be more representative of the routes, although i muddled around on Woodland Ecology, perhaps put off by the grade wondering where the E5 6a bit would be...? That said, i did feel i benefitted a lot from previous doing the start of Ginny Greenteeth, up which it starts, but even so it's a world away from Ginny Greenteeth! Still, a quality little route and well worth doing, it's the easiest of the buttress and provides a good warm up for the bigger challenges that await...

Huw then followed me up and also did Ginny, seeming pretty impressed with the climbing - what a buttress!

We then went over (somehow missing Adam Hughes who was at the crag today too!?) to Flame Arete. This is a terrific, bouldery arete, well protected and with some good moves. E5- 6b-** is a fair reflection of this route which i got after several ground up attempts... Theres some many different holds and sequences i kept getting drawn into different holds and body positions. Doesn't really matter though, cracking arete climb.

Chalk on Driveby - Good effort Adam! Start of this 'Charlie Don't Surf' also chalked which is great - this crag is seeing a proper revival. Class.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Elevator - Eldwick Quarry

Adi Gill's Eldwick slab first came to my attention with the appearence of a cracking photo on UKC, see below. A pleasant lower wall leads to a cam just above half height backed up a tad lower with a swedge 4. After requesting beta from Adi, he suggested just headpointing the climb as the climbing is quite sequency and this suited me fine, as 1 cam between me and the ground, while repeatedly failing on a 6c move was not what i really wanted while trying to get around half days out due to lots of coursework and the possibility for the singular cam pulling...

Adi Gill on the F.A of Elevator E5/6 6b/c**

Anyway, i had linked the climb with Conor in a quick flash before rain came so this set back the date to get on it again, to today. Returning with Huw and Ewan i was stoked and the baking sun was pleasant, though a little to warm perhaps. I decided to 'quickly' check the moves and gear before doing it. Unfortunately i found the move at the top much harder than i remembered, falling off the slap to the top break.

However, i eventually decided that it was ok and i made the cool series of moves up to the swedge and cam. Rockover out right to a thin crack and then make a short series of right to left reorganisation of feet, prise the elevator doors open and then pop to the break. I placed the size 5 friend and then decided to traverse the break right, rather than clip a preplaced loweroff. No reason either way, i wanted to top out properly, but that top rock is rank.

Excellent route, short lived and flashable with the beta - hard onsight mind you! Ask you are interested for beta or just watch the video below :-)

Edit: As for the grade, i am unsure. At the time i felt it was probably E5 6c, similar in someways to Mane Vision on the Moors (E4 6b). However, recent ascent suggested E5 6b. I am interested in this as i'd have felt a mid 6b move in this situation would be E4, but perhaps a top end 6b would be E5. However, i found the route very cruxy and the dynamic nature of the move, for me, suggested 6b (solid) to me... regardless, E5 i think it will settle at and you can take your pick - E5 6c describes the nature of the moves and position in regard to gear, even if the move isn't actually THAT hard... 

Anyway, quality climb which is well worth seeking out and there is a cool Font 6c to 7a-ish? finger crack in the quarrybay to the right of The Elevator, called Comply or Die. Definately easier if it is clean and not damp/ferny!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Ginny Greenteeth - Hawkcliffe

I quite like Hawkcliffe, its sort of forgotten but somehow the lines aren't that dirty and the climbing is amazing. I had always noticed 'Ginny Greenteeth' in the guide and after rapping down it on my last visit, knew that an onsight was off the cards for me.

I returned today, lonely, to have a quick play with the plan of giving it a quick shunt and realising it was hard and bold and then doing something else. However, i found the climbing excellent and wanted to be able to revel in a clean ascent.

The crag (that i could see) seemed dry after the nights light rain and i was delighted to see Emerald Buttress (and what a buttress it is) looked reasonably clean and totally dry. After setting up a shunt line and giving a 10 or 15 minute chalk and clean i flashed (on shunt) up to the really cool balance stand up just below the crux, near the 'arete'. The start is tricky and a bit bold - i would advise taking a pad, then you make moves past 'gear slots' which i thought looked shit (until i found the ACTUAL gear slot which is rather good!)

By this time i had already set my heart on climbing the line today and i spent the best part of an hour i think? or so figuring how to make the top mantleshelf/reach/horrorshow more bomber. Eventually, my beta was to stand in the hands off chillout (which is a must just before) and let my fingers dry out!
From here a crimpy pull and poor feet lead to a sloper then a slight readjustment to a good hold and highfoot. Move right to a good hold to top out, don't try to go direct.

Ginny Greenteeth - Picture courtesy of '' taken from

Cool little website with some good photos, historical stuff and quality anecdotes - take a look!

I tried the line as a oner, then again and decided it was worth a punt but i and i'm happy to admit it, decided to leave a hanging line of the top section... just in case.

Setting off, the intial moves felt easier without a shunt and i quickly found myself just below the 'chill out'. A terrific move (i think the move that made me want to solo the line actually) utilising a thumb sprag (not like the photo!) allows me to arrange my feet so i can take my hands off. I chilled here for what felt like ages but might only have been a minute or two. Hands up to the crimpy parts of ledges above and then VERY specific feet (i found that if i didn't have the bang on it didn't work for the next move - scary shit!) i was really pulling hard to the sloper that allows a slight piano-play to the better nubbin. It's not over though, as the left foot is now ready to pop off the overhung crimp but a right foot pushed against a small flake allows more balance and santuary. A couple of moves right (around a metre) from the slopey ledge leads to a good hold and footholds out right and an ok top out into grass.

What a route. What a buttress. But what about the grade... E5 6a*** is bold 6a but i felt there was a 6a move low down then sustained 5c up to the cool reach seen in the photo. This move is probs 6a (especially if you do it like that!) and i thought the top was hard, still 6a, but hard.
The gear is a funny one. I turned up today to solo the line as i had previously rapped down and seen some shitty pockets and Nik Jennings had soloed the line so i decided it was probs just a solo... however i totally missed the good rock slot about a half metre lower than the shitty pockets until i found it while shunting... The problem is i'm not convinced the gear will keep you off the deck from the top crux... A running belayer will, but i usually find you end up going further than you think from rope stretch, belayer pull etc etc...

For what it's worth - i think it's tricky to read, the crux is at the top, you're facing a long fall or potential deck (maybe softened by rope stretch) and it's not a path up to that point. E6 6a+*** for my money, but it might feel a bit nicer with gear and a fellow climber in the vicinity, perhaps?

But regardless, it's an amazing climb, 10 minutes from the road. Convienient to get to, scramble up to and set up a abseil on and the climbing is quality. The buttress isn't that dirty, it seems to take sod all seepage. I'd recommend a pad or two for the start, you may as well! I'd also recommend the gear, which if i had seen last visit i wouldn't have come back today on my own. I would have still headpointed it though...

I want to get good enough to onsight/flash climbs like this, so this was a brilliant little education for me.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Eldwick, Earl and Hawkcliffe

A week of less travelled Yorkshire Grit crags saw some nice routes ticked and some good projects lined up. The weather meant I was stoked for 'cold north facers' hence Earl and Hawkcliffe and they worked out ok, but i still found the temperatures too hot, unfortuantely.

Eldwick contains a quality slab climb, with a cam at just above half height and a technical sequence at the top. 'The Elevator' E6 6c** is currently on the wishlist but after a quick play on it, as i was told it would be hard to onsight/GU, then i feel it will go. It's an ok proposition to GU i think, perhaps with beta? Anyway, i chose repeated lobs onto a singular, admittedly good cam, wasn't to my liking and went for a project approach. Also at Eldwick is a tricky, but excellent finger crack 'Comply or Die' which is rated at Font 7a+* and climbs really well. It could be easier than this, if you're a crack wizard?

Earl was a useful day out, the crag was damp from dew? i think but it was dry enough to allow a few routes and highballs to be climbed. 'Rat Au Vin' and 'Sharp Arete' providing enjoyable short solos up aretes on good gritstone. Then, while waiting for 'Sour Grapes' to dry, we journied over to 'Tiger Wall' which provides a great MVS solo across a prow of rock and then i climbed what i reckon is the best E2 on grit i've done, Earl Buttress. This excellent route climbs up to an awkward rest and gear then committing moves up to a jug and cam leads you to jug haul up the steep wall. Excellent stuff.

Further left, we had a quick play on Eraser Slab direct (E2 6a*) which is a nice rockover move and i looked at Kipper (E4 6a*) which looked excellent and also Early Riser (E5 6a***). I wasn't keen to solo either of them, especially after seeing someone recently slipped at the top (on top rope) of Early Riser - cooler and drier day for it i think, or a quick headpoint? I dunno, who cares.

Then decided to have a bit of fun, trying 'Overhanging Wall Direct' which is E4 6a in the guidebook, but used to get HVS 5b. Eitherway, its a well protected (albeit with a ledgey fall) top out over a perched boulder. Scrittly holds, which i cleaned with my hands from the rest below, allowed a few campussy slaps and heel use. I'm not sure it's E4, but what i do know is it's not HVS... ;-)
Unfortunately, the early evening brought midgies, so we were unable to do anything else but Earl was a nice enough day out.

Hawkcliffe. Excellent crag this, possibly my favourite Yorks Grit Crag. It's got a combination of very big buttresses and smaller craglets, with some classic stuff. I climbed Squirrel Crack (E1 5b***), Fistful of Siestas (E2 6a*), Syrett's Slit (E1 5b*), Abandon Hope (E3 6a*). While i also cleaned and tried Flame Arete (E5 6b**) ground up, but it was too hot for me and i sweated up hilariously, calling it off! I want to go back when its cooler and hopefully still dry to give this a go. I also had a rap down and then climb back up of 'Call of the Curlew' (E4 6a**). It's an odd one, easy enough when you know how, but the start is bold but 'only' 5c? then gear which is adequate i think and pumpy to place then, an 'easy when you know how' rockover on to the arete leading to a slopey and scary top out. I have to learn gritstone climbing realising that 'non' holds are often very useful and again, when it's cooler i'll go back and see how this feels, as i wouldn't have got on it the other day.

The harder stuff at this crag looks good, but i just can't seem to get my head around small, flat crimps on gritstone, i love them on sandstone, but grit just leaves my fingers feeling like they are crimping metal or something? Anyway, hopefully the cold will help out?

Finally, i thought i'd jump on 'Blull Glum Gommit' (E2 6a**) or whatever it's called. It looked fine, but the peg is half snapped through  and if this pulls you'll swing into a corner. The moves are on these small, flat crimps, which i can't figure out how to use, as like i say, i love crimps on sandstone/limestone. Anyway, careful with Blull Glum... due to the peg issue.

Quality Crag, Squirrel Crack and Syrett's Slit are excellent routes as is the short and sweet Fistful of Siesta but if you go it's probs worth taking a nylon brush to allow you the option to clean your line or to clean something up if you do the clean stuff! This crag really should see a bit more traffic, it's 10minutes from the road! Stoked to look at Ginny Greenteeth (E5 6a***), Emerald Arete (E6 6a**), or Woodland Ecology (E5 6a**) too - i think.