Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Moors

Work is going well at York Potash and recently I (finally) managed to get myself a copy of Climb Magazine to check out our article. Written by Franco and photos by Dan Lane, I was transport during a two week Moors hit-up in perfect weather.

Dan, of Dan Lane Photography which can be found here: managed to get some quality shots through out the two weeks but only a few made it into ink within the magazine. Kindly though, he passed a load of photos of me on, which are found below.

Central Crack E2 5c ** - Stoupe Brow

Central Crack HVS 5a ** - Whitestonecliffe

Eve RH E2 5c * - Scugdale

Farndale Fayre E5 6b ** - Round Crag

Fire Dance E6 6a / F6c+ ** - Stoupe Brow

Hara Kiri HVS 5a * - Park Nab

The Prow E1 5a * - Scugdale

Top Gun HVS 5a *** - Ingleby Incline

Stonemaster HVS/E1 5a * - Ingleby Incline

Frenesi VS 4c *** - Peak Scar
If you think it's really self indulgent to post a load of photos of one's self on one's own blog, you'd be right. It is. I've currently got a warm and fuzzy feeling going on, but you should probably check out Dan's website too...

Friday, 16 November 2012

Working Man, but what about the climbing?

I'm now an employee at the York Potash Project (Sirius Minerals) and thoroughly looking forward to my working development. The climbing will take a big hit, especially over the winter, meaning headtorch ascents are an option; something I did occasionally at Leeds and It wasn't really very good. I preferred the wall after training my mind to accept plastic holds and now feel it's a shame I don't have a wall within walking distance... That said, i'm in the process of making a home wall; which should help me retain some sort of fitness. I fear I may never climb any harder than I managed in my peak years, which is disappointing, but i'll keep plugging away.

Pretty stoked by the idea of Moors bouldering at the moment and i'll probably get a few more sport holidays too over the next couple of years? Also, I suppose with a good income now, I may begin to climb in easier areas like the Lakes, Peak and Northumberland...

Anyway, it's all very exciting and here's to the successful development of the York Potash Project over the coming years.  

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Round Crag - Repeats and more...

Round Crag appears to be my 'go to' crag for a psyche shot in the arm. I've not been for a while and only really fancy Scut de Scun ai (E7), mainly as I dislike the landing of Pippi (E6) which can be attempted highball style (lower section anyway). Anyhow, recently Sam and Matthew plugged a couple of gaps with some good looking solos.

Vampiric Recession, E3 5c*, climbs the wall right of Vampiric Obsession (E5). It always looked worth doing, but I had not bothered with it and was pipped to the post by the lads. They also established a quick solo up the left arete of the unclimbed northside area of the pinnacle; this arete is Idle Ignorance, E2 5c.

Arriving at the crag I warmed up, then soloed Idle Ignorance. It's a short solo above a hole-ridden landing. I climbed up to some crimps then rocked rightwards around the arete onto a smear. I was pretty stuck in this position and sat here on my toe for some time above the much lower ground away from the ledge. Bricking one's pants, I stood up and finished the climb off. It felt E4 5c! I knew I must have climbed the route differently to the lads as they'd not mentioned it being quite so necky... I quickly set a rope up and re-shunted the line, this time staying left of the arete. This made more sense actually and I was a bit miffed I didn't climb it 'properly' first time. A dodgy landing and probs E2 5b/c, however a pad would make this a good little highball so worth a punt I reckon.

Now fully happy the lads were not infact sandbagging, I quickly abseiled down to check the top of Vampiric Recession. Matthew had a comment on this blog saying something about "pulled on loose heather which came out but another solid part held!". I decided to see if I could clean the top, but unearthed a decent bush root and also a couple of blocks which are solid. Good! I cleaned the holds, including a few smaller very dirty holds which obviously weren't used on the FA. Starting from the ledge, the route is instantly serious in feel. Some nice holds lead to a standing position on the initial hand holds and then, a rather cool crux at height leads into the root and rock top out. E3 5b I thought for this, as a couple of the little footholds made the top easier than doing it without I reckon? I'm not sure though, I suppose 5c is pretty easy (overall) but if this was 5c I think it was E4? Nice route, I'm glad it climbs well and that the lads got it done and dusted.

My shunt of Idle Ignorance had reminded me of the small crimps and holds on the wall to the right. I've cleaned this wall on a couple of occasions, but never really got around to sorting holds/sequences/figuring out where to start! I usually thought about starting from the gully below and in the centre before trending left. Another option was to trend leftwards across the slab from 'Heel...'.

However, on this day, I realised there was a series of moves to be made starting from the grassy ledge of Idle Ignorance. Stepping off the block, you teeter into a hanging corner before making some powerful moves utilising a couple of crimps, one positive and one slopey. A quick foot step through, left to right, then a re-step through right-to-left on an inclined hold, makes up what is the crux move onto a smear. Cool! From here a final insecure move leads to the nicely angled slab to the top. I was surprised by this little chop route, as I had tried to pull through the roof direct, further to the right and was annoyed that nothing climbed this wall. Admittedly, nothing does climb the centre of the wall, so i'll see if anything can be done to rectify that. I don't think it will be that good, but it's a local crag... The new route is probably E6 6a. It feels similar to 'Battle For Tripoli' and also probably my most quoted route 'Ginny Greenteeth'. The move is tricky but it isn't 6b, I don't think. Even so i'm fairly sure the route is 'only' E6, even if it is 6b...? The route might be able to start from below, I didn't try the other day as I enjoyed the sequence across from the ledge... Feel free to go and do it from the ground! :-)

So, a couple more lower grade Extremes at Round Crag, which although not *** are well worth attention for Moors aficionados. My new route is just another chopper, if it gets flashed I apologise for shunting the FA... Not decided on a name yet but as I'm currently looking for a job, it might be one of my last new routes as a jobseeker... (HOPEFULLY OF COURSE!) but we'll see.

Black - Octopet (E4/5), Green - Honey Arete (E5), Small Red - Vampiric Obsession (E5). Blue - Idle Ignorance (E2) and Right-Most Red - New Route (E6)

Friday, 5 October 2012

Clemmitt's additions and Psycho Syndicate

Sam and Matthew have been busy, finally climbing the once-pegged crack at Clemmitt's found just to the right of 'Yellow Brick Road'. Franco, Twig and I had jokingly claimed the line and called it 'Welcomed Back to the Beaver Pack', after looking at the route in the pouring rain. We estimated a grade of E4 6b for the crack in full.
Sam and Matthew climbed the crack flash, climbing from a tree up the crack to the rocking-but-solid block and making an excellent move to the arete at E3 6a. A brilliant addition and better for ignoring the overhanging start by stepping in from the ledge. The upper crack remains though, so I gave it a quick shunt and it indeed does climb at about E4 6b. A shame that its eliminate to go direct, as you can move left at 6a, as otherwise it would be excellent. Still worth doing I might do them both on lead in the future.

Sam and Matthew also quickly dispatched a slab to the right of the crack. I gave it a top rope and agreed it was worthwhile climbing, which starts with an unprotected 6b move, before decent but tricky to place gear and an exciting 6a safe finish. E5 6b for this route I think they gave it and I agree.

Yesterday, alone, I wandered up to the Wainstones to see if my recent board training and mental thinking about Psycho Syndicate had made a difference. I have elected to shunt this line as I was a bit scared of jumping off higher up as the ground is uneven and is probably about as hard, technically as i can climb. Anyway, I quickly found I was much stronger than last time I tried and found I could indeed make the moves which I was delighted about.

The start is a tad reachy but you soon find yourself on a foot ledge with hands in slots. From here Franco made a move up using a mono pocket and high step. I found my finger was unable to fit in the slot so I decided to try it another way. Martin Parker had posted beta on Franco's blog so i decided to try that. It felt like it would work on my last visit. Martins method is to gain a poor left hand sidepull/undercut, which you can get 3 fingers on, but you end up pulling on just one (which is currently wrapped in tape! Ouch). From here I found I had to get very 'straight on', rather than sideways as i'd have expected, in order to get my right foot to step through on to an edge. I had failed before on this not trusting my shoes but here with a newer set i found the move much friendlier. A powerful stand up to a mono/ or two finger razor edge if you crimp the outer part of the hole before and technical foot move and heel use. Scary. A powerful and bold feeling cross through leads to the top. Wild!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The end of the season... Billet The Kid (E5), Tormented Sole (E7), & No Expectations (E5)

With Franco returning to Manchester, our last ten days or so were a mixture of new routing and choosing the best place to get any climbing done depending on the weather. Generally very sunny, it allowed plentiful time out and about but perhaps not where we'd have liked. After quickly dispatching that 'sort-of-project', Weasel Arete, we decided we'd done enough new routes and we were best off focusing on stuff that inspired.

This summer has been a bit odd for me. Last year I managed two E7s but told myself this year I was only keen for safe climbing. Now for bog standard, non-strong climbers like me that means easier grades, as i'm still fairly sure i've yet to climb 6c on trad. Still there was plenty left to do which inspired for the both of us.

After Weasel Arete, we ended up checking out Tranmire, which affords some interesting test pieces but unfortunately we didn't have the time to fully check it out, so instead Highcliffe took up some of the slack on the extremely sunny and warm days, with a clean ascent of Moonflower (E4/5 6a/b) for me which was good as i've wanted to do it for years, having already done the direct. The next couple of days were less focused on us though, with the young upstart Sam accompanying us to the crags, we pointed him at classics and he dutifully ascended them in good style, with a ground up of Scarecrow Crack (E1), Stargazer (E3/4) and Moonflower Direct (E4). Excellent day out!

Sam also managed onsight ascents of Ali Baba (E2), Fever Pitch (E2), Mongol (E2), Yellow Peril (E3) over the next couple of days, with myself spending this time cleaning and climbing Yellow Peril at Beacon Scar and also cleaning and rehearsing No Expectations (E5 6b) at Landslip.
I had always looked on the wall left of Mongol at Beacon Scar and knew of Paul Inghams E2/3 that climbed the groove and crack system. It didn't get any stars and it looks a little eliminate low down but i decided to give it a good scrub while the lads were enjoying the superb Gehenna (HVS) and Mongol. After a right good scrub the climb was ready and I quickly despatched the line; tackling the groove direct which felt around 6a-ish. Good move and lovely high up. Better protected that the description suggests I think. Also the insitu tree is no more!

Similarly, while Sam enjoyed an ascent of Ali Baba at Wainstones, Franco and I ran to Landslip. I'd been on the line before on a strange evening with Richard and Phleppy, but didn't feel it on the day so backed off the idea of leading. However, with mid afternoon conditions feeling better than the previous attempt at dusk, It went with little issue. Several cool moves lead up a groove/blind flake system via shallow cams at half-height before some very thin feet allow some good slots to be reached higher up. Finishing leftwards towards the arete. Good stuff, glad we checked it out!

The summer ended with a quick headpoint by Franco of The Tormented Sole E7 6b ***, which climbs the arete of the Kraken Buttress. I had previously added a direct up the wall to the left, Billet The Kid E5 6a * which i really enjoyed climbing but it's not the 'main event'. Anyway, Franco managed a quick ascent and I managed to quickly link it on a Top Rope. I was stoked to try to repeat it in a session but we decided to head to Stoupe Brow instead... Would have been a tall order I reckon anyway. I just took the second!

Great stuff.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Otter Hill E6

We've been back to Otter Hill twice since last summer, on both occasions to check out the left arete of the buttress and on both occasions we were heavily rained on. This left a bit of a disgruntled impression of the crag for us and it felt as though we'd never return this summer. However, after an extremely windy half session at Ingleby, with Franco getting a tad further ground up on Time Captain RH, we decided to wander to the more sheltered Otter Hill for another look.

Franco had abseiled the line previously and we had wanted to ground up flash the new line. However, this led to the wasting of time that resulted in major dampening incidents of the past. Today we decided to quickly top rope the line to ensure a quick dispatch. I was pleased we did.

The lower wall leads quickly to some gear at around 3 metres. From here to the top break, each move takes you further into unprotected soloing. A sustained and interesting series of moves lead up the wall to the right of the arete and an enjoyable reach provides a break and gear. From here a pump-inducing top out can be made finishing with a flourish with the aid of lichenous slopers, heather and heels. Great stuff.

The route itself was not how I thought it would be, being quite tricky to suss the moves and being further between holds than it looked from below. No moves are harder than 6a, but the overall sustained feeling and increasing seriousness with the potential for decking off at least one move, possibly two, means a grade of E5+ or E6- seemed prudent. It's a strange one, very easy climbing but not really safe. H4 for the headpoint but hard E5 or even E6 to onsight. It felt a good notch easier than Ginny Greenteeth (E6 6a) but that is unsustained and pretty obvious and also has two no hands rests... So i suppose an easy E6 is a hard E5 and that seems about right...  

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Running down the clock

So far this summer has been a good mix of some easier FA's and some good repeats of existing classics, a balancing act I've enjoyed. However, as the summer begins to cool down we saw a burst of development in late August/September and I expect to see the same this year. Maintaining the balancing act of development against established routes I hope to get a hard copy of my targets down and we'll see how many I get done...

So far we've established some cracking routes and repeated some gems too, the most important being recorded in this list and new routes in bold.

1. Rivers of Sand E4 6a - Roseberry Topping. A pseudo-adventure route on slightly sandy rock with a bold starting groove!
2. Thor's Axe E3 5c ** - Thorgill Crag. A photogenic sharp arete, consisting of a short technical crux. 
3. Love or Confusion E4+ 6b * - Ingleby Incline. An interesting climb, culminating in an undergraded bold finishing mantle. Closer to E5/6? for the onsight. 
4. Ellis' Eliminate E3 5c * - Ingleby Incline. Pete Whillance soloed this... however camming devices protect at halfway on the traverse. Another excellent neglected route.
5. Psychosis E5 6b *** - Smugglers Terrace/Fox Holes Crag. A super crack climb with a hard committing crux protected by RP's.
6. Sea King E1 5b ** - Smugglers Terrace/Fox Holes Crag. A pleasant line of weakness and relatively long route. A good addition from the youths!
7. Time Captain E4 5c ** - Ingleby Incline. A tremendous route, long in nature and pumpy. Not technically demanding and generally well protected, however the route retains an overall feeling of commitment. 
8. The Parochial Dream E5 6b * - Thorgill Crag. A sweet highball following a line of pockets up the barrel shaped wall. Bold in nature but protectable with modern age pads. Still worthy of an E-grade.
9. Peel Out E4 6b* - Wainstones. An excellent highball up a slightly eliminate line. Lovely technical climbing deserves more attention especially in the age of bouldering mats.
10. Stargazer Direct E5 6b ** - Highcliffe. An exciting and technical wall climb, with a high and committing crux. Fiddly gear protects (filed down RP or RP + coin); certainly originally graded (E4) for a rehearsed ascent.
11. Beaver Fever E1 5c * - Round Crag. While only being a short line, this little climb packs a few more moves than might be expected. Well protected and technical this adds a low extreme to the crag and helps to create a more 'rounded' grade skew. Awfully named.
12. Slip and Fly E4 6b * - Esklets. An Ian Dunn route, given E3 6b when the peg was new, is now closer to E4 with a heavily rusted peg. Perhaps it would hold? I'll let you find out. A great route, but you need a fair old span on you!
13. Cold Moor Dynos E2/3 6b ** - Cold Moor North Buttress. Removing the aid and side pull from 'Overhanging Wall' via a dyno and then a FA up the scoop to the right of 'Spine Chill', via a large jump. Excellent one movers!
14. Grand Master Flash E5 6b *** - Scugdale. The amazing Dave Paul extreme. Highball in nature these days, it's still not really a good idea to fall off! Technical throughout, powerful low down and with just enough to get the nerves twanging. Super. 

So whats left to do?!

Well, Ch-Ching (E6 6c) is high on the list, after I fell off ground up and hurt myself on the nearby rocks. I'll certainly approach this as a highball with pads and treat it differently to an ascent of Stratagem (E5) up which the route finishes and which is also on the to-do list! Psycho Syndicate (E5 6c) is another one, I've not managed a method that involves monos while Franco easily yarded to the top via an undercut mono. I will probs throw a rope down this one and see if I can work out a 'normal' way to do it! If its mono-dependent, i'm not stoked!
What else? Well Steve Crowe put a few bits and bobs around the place when guidebook checking and he gave A Reach Too Far (E4 6b) three stars. It's got to be worth doing! Bit of a hike to the crag just to do this route, so I've kept putting it off. We'll wait til it's windy or not midgey!
Theres a couple more things at Ravenscar I'd like to do, Screwed (E5 6b), Gangrene (E3/4 6b), Three Screaming Popes (E6 6c) and maybe Rock Bottom (E3 going on E5 6b?). Round Crag is still important to me, I'd love to do Scut de Scun Ai, but i'll be waiting til its cooler. Its a bit choppy, I'm not sure I can justify another E7 6b... Pippi the E6 6c however looks excellent but a hard old start. I still need to do Time Out, E3 /4 6a ***! Would be nice to tick the whole block.
Esmerelda E7/8 6c or Original Sin (E7 6c) are Waterton classics and I'd love to do one of them. Can you shunt Es with the overhang? I'm yet to try.

So what about new routes? Theres some good stuff to get into but it's whether we choose ground up or headpointed ascents. Time constraints are the issue for me here. Ingleby, Smugglers, Stoupe Brow, Thorgill, Kay Nest, High Crag, Highcliffe all seem to have hard and superb routes ranging from nasty highballs to long committing routes of the well protected or choppy variety!

The List I would like is;

Ingleby RH - E6 6c    WORTH DOING
Ingleby Direct E5 6a/b    PROBS NOT WORTH DOING
Ellis' Direct E5 6c?        NOT WORTH DOING
Landslip Arete E8/9 6c          HARD START!
No Expectations E5/6 6b         DONE, a cracking little route.
Kraken Arete E7 6b (with 6c start)      DONE, a classy piece of arete climbing
Kraken Wall E5 6a/b (with 6c start)       DONE, a powerful crux.
On Crack E6 6b?                            TRICKY START ON POOR ROCK
Tranmire Slabs (x4) E4 to E7?       WORTH DOING
Kay Nest Wall & Slab E7/8?         NOT SURE

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Grand Master Flash...A Dream With Wings, innit?! Who know's but where did Cannonball Run come from?

A strange 10 days or so for me, with some good ascents but also some failures and poor decisions. It started with some bouldering at Thorgill, where I grounded up an E5 and managed a 7b dyno and 7a+. This suggested I was going well, but still struggled on 'deadpointing' small pops and lacked that couple of inch (or less) required to static these moves. Anyway, a painful fall off Ch-Ching and a total shut down trying to pull on the monos of Psycho Syndicate left me feeling a bit down, however these were balanced by enjoyable ascents of Peel Out, Stargazer Direct, Slip and Fly and i suppose you can throw in the enjoyable dyno-solutions to the North Buttress at Cold Moor there too, as i hate dynos!

The dyno unlocking the left side of 'Impossible Wall', which we named Footless Crowe. Named after the first developer of the buttress, Steve Crowe and the fact its a dyno, as well as the obvious reference!

Franco on Psycho Syndicate

Anyway, Grand Master Flash has always been the scalp I wanted at Scugdale, for me it's the centerpiece of the crag (even though it's off to one side) and, although I don't feel at my strongest (or fittest anymore) the cloudy day seemed right to have a highball on the The Master. In reference to the title, this route has been claimed as several different routes by Dave Paul, Monty (maybe?) and most recently Richard Davies. Oddly, a Dave Paul traverse (Cannonball Run) suddenly appeared on climbonline, which i'll have a look at next time I think.

Originally headpointed, it has seen repeats in this style as well as at least one onsight. I was stoked to onsight or ground it up. However, arriving at Scugdale it was sunny so Franco quickly utilised the newly chipped hold on Humbug, which was in the shade, to climb this bit of wall. Obviously the original Humbug has been awfully damaged by this chiselling-moron, but the move that remains is an interesting spring from the sidepull to the top. The Shelf has also been chipped, by the same person. Certainly a case of someone bringing it to their level, as they haven't created buckets, they've just improved pre-existing holds, with two finger edges. The person in question must have about Font 7A strength though, if they even managed to do 'Humbug'?

After swanning around in the sun, we made are way to Grand Master Flash, which was thankfully just in the shade. Still very warm, we had a look at the buttress from the ground and it looked sandy. Franco rapped and cleaned the holds quickly and I set off ground up. A few powerful moves low down, that are pretty easy to read from the ground, leads to a couple of poorer crimps. I made a move up but i couldn't yard on the left most crimp and i was soon plummetting to the ground. It's high! Fortunately, my usually debilitating left knee has a mind of it's own at the moment and didn't seem to hurt, so spurred on I went again. I reached the same point and 'manked' off it, blaming sweating fingers. Franco flashed the line, enjoying the warm rock of the head wall in slightly scared fashion! Disillusioned by the the events, I elected to abseil down the line and check the crux. I cleaned the crimps and felt the hold above. I found a different crimp which when combined with the original meant didn't have to pull on the sloping number - great! Back to the floor, i powered on up the steep wall for a 3rd time and quickly found myself on the scary headwall. Great route and moves!

I was slightly disappointed by the fact I had lost my ground up, trading it for a far less satisfying 'inspection of route' but theres too much to do and what feels like too little time. A great problem and one I feel is deserving of its E5 6b grade, perhaps feeling E4-ish with pads. Interestingly, I don't think it's 6a, as touted by Ram Man (at about the same time as he did a two finger one armer off the starting hold of New Dimensions!), but the crux feels like it should be a hard pull on a crimp, when in actuality, it ends up being much less powerful...but does involve finding said crimp! Oh well, I'm sure most folk are better at hold finding than I am.

Great route, protectable these days with pads though perhaps not really a good idea to go 'Gung Ho' on as the crux is quite high. Certainly comparable to The Parochial Dream, in terms of feel, perhaps being a tad easier, but more crimpy and harder to read?

No pictures or videos for a while, as my camera got drenched last week by a massive thunderstorm :-(

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Stargazer Direct

A terrific route. Not eliminate in my opinion, infact I think this is better than Super Direct? Good moves and pro upto the break, then more small gear and further tricky moves. A small slot, which currently cointains a euro which Jas Wood used to protect the route and apparently a filed down RP was used on the FA. Certainly a tricky onsight! Which is why i would suggest this is hard E5, not E4 as currently suggested! This is added to the fact that the top move is reachy, tricky and amazing. Stargazer and Stargazer Direct are excellent routes on an excellent wall. The super direct appears to be a bit eliminate to me, as you just sort of climb the pits ignoring the large holds of Stargazer. Heck, whatever really some good routes here but perhaps graded in the past for headpoints and that top important hold is somewhat sandy, so perhaps still best approached in that manner? It's up to you... Certainly as good or better than any of the hardish stuff I played on Yorkshire Grit. Well worth doing.

I had a quick play on Cardiac Arrest, hard climbing pulling through the low roof, upper is thin but steadier, i.e less reachy. I noticed that the FA climbed to the ledge on the left than pulled to the good sidepull. If I do it, i'll do it like that, it's eliminate not to in my opinion and depending on where the side runners are I can see it being E4/5 6b? Looks full E6/7 6b to me to climb side-runner-less certainly on a par to Scut de scun ai. Bold. Not sure it's worth it, i certainly won't be investing any time.


Esklets - Slip and Fly & Vinaig Arete

We returned for a couple of hours of guidebook checking at Esklets. We quickly climbed the 'E4 5c' arete I didn't fancy on the last visit in the full sun and found that un/fortunately, the route was actually much easier at around E2 5b. The moves are lovely, on good quality rock in an exposed setting. I enjoyed it, a pleasant outing.

I then lead, after a couple of false starts getting up to the flake, Slip and Fly E3/4 6b. I have previously had a quick look at the reach on this climb, which is pretty massive if your average height, it would seem! I utilised two very poor smears for feet and reached, half powerfully, half delicately towards the break. Latched, i sprinted the finish and encouraged franco to fl-onsight it. He did, with ease, reaching the break with his feet on the lower break! Massive.

A previous attempt at Vinaig Arete - E2 5b
I reckon if your sub 5' 11 or something, it's going to feel around E4 6b with it perhaps being E3 6a for the taller individual. It probably deserved E3 6b when the peg was new, but it's pretty rusty. It might hold, but i'll leave you to find out! Great route, loved the moves even if it was right at the edge of my reach. Will be interesting when the peg goes, I suspect top end E4 or E5 really, as the fall will be potentially nasty in the roofs? I dunno, we'll see.

Ch-Ching, Peel Out and others. A Hasty highball session

A strange use of time recently, with short trips to crags usually in pretty poor conditions. Warm weather with strange localised showers meant we wanted to stay local but visit the north facers... with a hope they didn't retain any dampness.

Ravenscar was up first and after managing to figure out a starting sequence to Ch-Ching (E6/7 6c), i made the moves up and tried to slap to the hole. Unfortunately i went with my left and grabbed it momentarily, but was soon flipping off slapping down the rocks. A painful elbow and a few cuts, I was a little shaken but not too badly damaged. I was off put trying again though. Franco however, impressively flashed the climbing and it's still on my to do list as a first E6 ground up.

We journied to Wainstones and highballed very quickly, the lovely Peel Out E4 6b which felt pretty steady after a false start or two. West Face Direct E5 6c however felt a wee bit harder. One to try on a cloudy or colder day i reckon. Psycho Syndicate E5 6c was a good little tester, I had never really managed to get started on this, but after a fair few false starts, we found ourselves on the headwall. Tiny monos and very green rock quickly left us defeated. A return and perhaps an abseil to clean/look at holds might be a prudent use of time for this classic test piece. We soloed a direct to Chop Yat Ridge (VD) which was around HVS, a route we had thought about doing years before and never managed. It was easy today, but a boldish solo which affords adequate gear. Tony Marr climbed this apparently ** line a year previously, so alas, our 'project' was already done!

We warmed down at Garfit Quarry, quickly climbing the E2? 5c crackline, which is a tricky little number, probs E1 6a with poor feet. Crampon scratches and broken footholds suggests some chump has been trying to create as much damage at the crag as possible - I mean, they obviously weren't trying to climb anything, just scrape there feet on the rock! Fortunately, its only the first foot or so. Even so, good quality rock with techincal rock routes isn't really 'on', in regards to Moors sandstone. There are nearby chossy cliffs and shale banks that will afford much better outings. Botton Head, Cringle Moor, Landslip, Carlton Shale to name but a few.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

A Thorgill Highball

Sophie returned from Deutschland and we returned to Thorgill, a crag set in lovely surroundings near the sleepy village of Rosedale. Franco was keen to check the highball wall out and I was interested in a bit of the bouldering too.

We warmed up on the slopey, slippy Thorsminde (7a) and then boshed the excellent Bermuda (7a+), which climbs on positive crimps and pockets on a steep section of wall avoiding the right arete, finishing at the apex, which fortunately feels natural and non-eliminate. Ace. Franco then turned his attention to a 7c, which i looked at a 7b dyno called KGB. I like the idea/motion of dynos, but i'm absolutely crap at holding holds dynamically and i really fail to time everything and generate the power required. Anyway, after 7 or 8 goes, i found myself swinging from the monster jugs at the top. Delighted.

Bermuda - 7a+ **

Franco then started work climbing the red coloured, barrel-shaped wall above this boulder which was clearly home to a tricky highball. Franco cleaned the centre of the wall to an undercut, while i looked at a hole a metre or so to the right. After some holly tree bending, i found this provided the easiest method of gaining the line of pockets at 1/3 height. I however, found the start anything but easy and repeatedly failed on the move even though my fingers were around 1mm from the hold. I couldn't static it and if i popped i fell off. I got increasingly annoyed and this increased when Franco simply reached the hold, barely trying!

He found the upper wall bold, but soon managed the line above our raft of pads :-)

The Parochial Dream - E5 6b *

Thorgill highball from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

I, eventually, repeated the route too which was a good confidence builder for me, as i'd probs not have managed this last year. All in all a good shortish day. Some good bouldering, a first 7b for me and it was a dyno and then finishing up with a highball 7a/E5 6b which we both thought was rather good... Two E5 6b's this week at opposite ends of the style/climbing variety spectrum. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Coastal F.A's - Psychosis E5 6b ***

With some good weather forecast and strong westerlies, we decided the east facing coastal escarpments were a prime venue for a two-day hit. The team of Franco, Sam and I was joined by Matthew Ferrier and we made our way through the 9ft high bracken towards the base of the crag...Jurassic Park indeed. It would have probably been best to abseil in, but we enjoyed the bracken-bashing, as it was a fine warm up!

Sam and Matthew got to work on the left arete of Contraband Buttress, a route Franco reckoned would be around VS. Franco and I geared up to try the ace-looking splitter crack right of Contraband Crack (HVS 5a **). I had cleaned the line in the winter but Franco wanted to try to onsight the route. A few ups and downs placing the starting wires and working out the moves, provided him with a good warm up. Ready, he pulled on via the bold feeling sequence past a good/flared (depends on hand size i think) jam. He managed to get some more slightly fiddly gear, but then floundered on the hard sequence above. He worked out a powerful sequence utilising a mono and climbed the perfect finger crack to the top. I was delighted the line had turned out to be a quality pitch.

Sam trying to onsight what would later become Pi Arete - E3 5c *

Franco fighting with Psychosis - E5 6b ***

Taking advantage of the situation, I said I would give it a go on flash, on Franco's gear. Too good an opportunity to miss really! I pulled onto the lower wall and made the moves up to the jam. Pulled over the overlap and found a comfortable position in a slight bridge. From here, a big move off a mono was apparently the way forward. I however, tried a different, hopefully more static sequence and found one which resulted in a large cross through. Ace moves. Boshed up the final crack, milking the really good locks until the final move which is sweet. Really cool route!

Shorter mans method...

Franco repeated the line placing the gear and I did too. It's a really good route, solid climbing and a strong line. Excellent gear the whole way which can be fiddly in parts which really adds to the work the arms have to do! Delighted with this climb. Franco thought it was worth E5 6b and I thought it was pretty similar to Chain Gang (E5 6b)...but Conor and I thought this was worth E4 6a? Perhaps we were going well, but regardless this is a little harder so E5 6a/b seems right to me. I think my crux sequence was easier than Franco's but he didn't try my method so we'll see. With that, Psychosis was born.

Cross through

quality finger locks to the top

During the same time, Sam and Matthew climbed a short but nice looking unprotected HVS 5b slab on the left flank of Contraband Buttress and then went on to lead a good looking crack system. The route starts at the left most crack of Evasion Buttress, before climbing up and right joining the continuing crack systems and gaining a fair amount of milage on good quality rock. Well protected, enjoyable climbing. I really enjoyed a quick repeat and felt E1 5b ** was a fair reflection. Sam decided to call this Sea King, as a helicopter whizzed by during the day.

Matthew on the second ascent of Sea King - E1 5b *

Franco checked a potential super route and Sam soloed an E1 5b slab between his HVS slab and the unclimbed arete. I rapped, cleaned and checked the arete then lead it with this knowledge. A good one mover, which is an uncomfortable height above wires in a slot. Possibly tricky to read, but easy enough when you know how... Sam managed a good flash. The route is made up of 4c climbing up the lower, juggy arete before a 5c rock over to reach the top out. The rock is lichenous, but it's uncleanable lichen which is the odd stuff that basically coats the rock in a hard plating. It climbs fine. I enjoyed the move, as did Sam so we decided a star was worthy for this shortish route. I called it Pi Arete, an excellent name that Franco came up with.

Sam Marks with a quick repeat of Contraband Crack - HVS 5a **

Day one over!

Day two was a little less full on, with Sam and I climbing a new E2 arete I called Eidolon before, Sam and I climbed Fire Dance using the bolts which is about F6c+ I think... Franco rapped a crack which is another good looking route, so plenty of future potential.
Central Crack, White Scoop and Fire Dance on Walrus Buttress

Low down on the Eidolon arete - E2  5c

Barry the boulder with a lovely view

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Esklets - Chilled out cragging

I haven't been to the Esklets for many years, it was infact of the first places Franco and I did some 'FA's and we've always regarded it as a decent crag. I still want to climb Slip and Fly (E3 going on E5 6b), plus i wanted to sort out the crag grades, stars and climb a few of the routes i'd not actually done yet.

Right Unconquerable VS 4c **

Sam and Jack, who joined Franco and I at the crag, warmed up on the crag classic Right Unconquerable VS 4c **. Franco and I chose to climb the good looking Esklets Eliminate HVS 5b *. Both climbs were are spot on and well worth doing.

Esklets Eliminate - HVS 5b *

Recent ascents of Waiting For An Alibi MVS 4b and No More Heroes VS 4c last year, resulted in votes on UKC of ** and ***, respectively. I reckon they both deserve a * for sure, as they follow good crack systems.

I then tried to repeat Eskrement HVS 5b **. This was one of my first 'proper' FA's but i remembered placing a side runner in the crack to the left (before i knew what side runners were). So i fancied climbing the line without the runner, thinking it would be around E2 5b? I set off up the scoop, passing a small cam placement before reaching a slot. I cleaned the slot to find a good nut placement. From here it's pretty easy to place a cam in No More Heroes, which is a bit of a shame, but it's not actually higher gear and it's further away from the moves. You could reach the break above, by climbing the crack, but the slightly eliminate line of Eskrement tackles a mantleshelf on the right side of the ledge/rib. I couldn't commit to the move... Oh dear!

Realising i'd sandbagged myself, hilariously, i checked the move out on a top rope... Jesus. I really must have not known anything about grades. The move is certainly 6a territory, but a small crimp was pretty greasy in the sun. I'm not the best at mantleshelves, but regardless the move is harder than 5b! It's a strange one, it feels awkward, hard, unbalanced and a tad scary but then it's all over. A solid one mover! I was glad to have re-lead it and sorted this little issue in my mind out. I knew deep down i'd sandbagged this, but i thought it was just adjectively, not technically. I'm quite amazed i lead this climb when i did, as the top rope practice won't have been extensive!
The line itself is ok, but it is eliminate. One could place a side runner (i don't think it would make much of a difference) but then also lay back up the crack. But i suppose you could argue that about many climbs. Certainly not a ** line, as i gave it when i did the FA 4 years ago, but i think it's worth a * for the moves and the feature which is followed is good.

Sam, Franco and I climbed the HVS 5c, Eskhew, which we felt was closer to E1 5c * for the fact the route starts with a tricky 5c move, with 5b at the top with an unprotected and dodgey fall. Franco and I then climbed the HVS 5c to the left, which starts with a massive 6a span, before unprotected 5b climbing to the top. E1/2 for effort, i thought.

Franco tried a slab project, but conditions deteriorated and I had a look at Slip and Fly. The peg looks shit, it's a massive move. I reckon this is E4 6b at least, as although gear below the peg will keep you off the deck, it's going to put you into a unpleasant roof. The peg could well hold, a good chance it will if you tie it off (on abseil first?). Either way, it looks good and i'll go back and do it, as it's reachy and powerful - something i shy away from on trad.

Franco and I then soloed a few short walls on the right hand buttresses, about 10m to the right of the main buttress, which afforded some nice moves and positions.

A choppy arete, around E3/4 5c.
A quick potter at a crag without access, allowed some lovely micro routes to be ascended. I donned full colours for the event. The arete direct is around Font 6a+ or E1 5c *. The left wall provided a terrific font 7a span. The right wall provides a nice HVS 5b and a sit down rounded prow finished the short session with a font 6c. We were shouted at to leave, so we did.

Arete Direct - E1 5c *

High Feet

HVS 5b

Incline Beasting

We trekked up to Ingleby with a load of gear, pads and a stake + hammer to cover any eventuality at this expansive and largely unknown crag to us. We knew the routes, but not the belays/gear etc for many potential gaps.

We warmed up on a direct start to Pepsi (HVS 5a). Franco made a quick onsight attempt, slipping off trying to reach right into a damp slot found on the finish of Pepsi. I then, after two false starts on the flake, found myself on thin crimps. I sorted my feet, a blind push into the big hole with Franco giving directions, before spanning left to a dry pocket. A good move, a pushy boulder problem with a slopey landing. We originally thought it was 6b, so E2 for effort without pads, but hindsight makes me think that it was perhaps 'only' 6a, therefore E1 and i wasn't pulling hard in a hope to retain finger tip skin!

Unclimbed arete left of Pepsi

Franco did some nice bouldering, but i chose to watch/take pictures in an attempt to retain skin, before we headed over to Love or Confusion E4 6b *. I had wanted to do this for a fair while as i thought it looked a good line with a scary mantle finish... Franco cleaned it and said the top looked 'ok'. I flashed the boulder problem start, which I was pleased with before making my way up to the gear slot. Hex placed (it's been a lot time since i've done that!) and i made the cool step up to gain the protruding ledge... Now mantle!
I couldn't make head nor tail of the mantle, so with a choice of falling or trying a different approach, i stepped right and spanned to a flake before rocking up and to the top. Felt E3 6a or so, perhaps 6b if the start is 6b and a nice bit of climbing... but not the original route!

pleasant bouldering on perfect rock

I asked Franco to second me and see if he could finish direct. After a bit of a look, he managed to pull on two minging crimps and a high heel. Basically, a dodgey 6b, possibly 6c according to Franco move at a safe, but uncomfortable height above the gear which i would describe as adequate rather than bomber... We felt Onsight, the mantle made this route more like E5/6 6b! Certainly a good piece of climbing, but * felt correct as it's escapable at the top (thankfully).
When we were younger, Franco tried to climb the tall slim wall left of Love or Confusion, he dubbed it Physical Graffiti and reckoned it would be around 6b/c. Very small sidepulls/thumb sprags lead to an obvious thin slot via a big move. I rapped and cleaned it, something we never considered 'back in the day' and this first ascent mentality we've developed allowed Franco to quite quickly manage the font 7b? moves up the wall. It is a boulder problem in regards to style, but the landing is not great and it manages to achieve a fair height, so the old Moors/Northumberland grade of E4/5 6c seemed appropriate. I didn't bother trying, i can't dynamically climb to save my life! It looked nice though and a bit of an odd feeling, even for me, that a 'project' that had been around for so long was done. The term project is a bit of an odd term though in this regard. It was a problem Franco had tried before Uni and never looked at since!

We wandered along to the impressive buttress that host the classic VD Cozy Corner and Time Captain E4 5c **. After a quick abseil down a couple of potential projects, Franco cleaned the final groove of Ellis's Eliminate E3 5c * and i racked up with a few cams for the break. Pete Whillance apparently soloed the F.A of this climb, which would an amazing achievement if he did it onsight... It attracts a bit of dust on the crux! Anyway, I pulled up to the horizontal break, then traversed right placing gear about half way. The final moves towards the ledge were a little green, dusty and slippery in the sun... I rocked around the corner and blasted Franco for his poor cleaning skills. I wasn't bothered really though, if i'd fallen off it would have been different!
Franco quickly seconded, chalkless, which nearly cost him his clean second!

We then checked and cleaned some projects which should be excellent. Time Captain, when the slab is dry, looks amazing but actually pretty hard at the top! Stoked.

We walked back, with all the gear and I felt absolutely destroyed. It's not a long walk in, but you wouldn't normally carry the amount of gear we did! Good day to lose some weight...!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Roseberry Bouldering and a New Route - Rivers of Sand E4 6a

With poor weather being the bane of the UK climbing community at the moment, we've been clinical with our crag choice of late...That said, it would be nice to be able to stick to plans and involve more people, but at the moment it's hit and hope and don't plan anything in advance! For today, the quick drying, oft windswept crag and boulders that make up Roseberry Topping seemed a perfect choice for the foggy, windy conditions. The team was Franco, Sam, Sophie and I and we arrived to light drizzle and fog, but it didn't affect anything and soon the sun burned off the morning greyness, which was a surprise. The wind was evident from the clouds, but the aspect meant we were totally sheltered.
We warmed up with a spot of bouldering, quickly flashing a 6c+ version of Mike Adams' Asgard (7a+), which we started from a dual incut crimp and right heel, rather than in the depths of the cave... Seemed logical to us. Didn't care much for the wire brushed foot holds, like. Then attentions turned to Stegosaurus (7b) and T-Rex (7a+). Unfortunately, the thin and eliminate nature of Stegosaurus put me off, i was also most displeased by the level of wire brushing that had taken place on the crimps. The yellow, newly exposed rock was weathering to a clayey texture. It's really not good, who ever is wire brushing these holds needs to know it's ruining them, it looks shit and it's totally unnecessary! It's basically vandalism and it might improve the hold for you on the day, but it knackers them for anyone else. And with news of chipping at Scugdale, sounds like some pretty serious education is required!

Franco and I flashed T-Rex, so again probs cleaned up a bit from the F.A as it felt more like 6b+... that said, i'm not sure how 'strong' I am at the moment, having done no established bouldering for some time... but the best i've flashed in the past has been 6c+... i know i'm probs able to onsight 7a or above, but this felt too easy... Not sure really.

Edge of Glory - 7b+
(Foreshortened slightly!)

Sam cruised our own The Shelf 6b+/c and then Franco lanked the 7b+ wall to the right, that i knew he'd be able to do, having watched Mike Adams lank it too on a video. Then as the sun baked the rock i tried Edge of Glory 7b+, which was too hard for me and my fingers got sore with the sweat peeling the skin off... so we turned our attention to a trad line we'd thought about for a few years but never got around to.

7b+ Wall right of The Shelf

The route climbs the wall to the left of The Shelf, continuing up the headwall above. The rock looks ok, if a little iron-y so we elected to top rope it... A few ascents to clean the sandy, friable rock up and suss some gear and I felt i was ready to go... The start, up a slim ramp feature leads to a cool rock over and then a high, 5c/6a move which is scary on slightly friable feeling rock.

Starting ramp of Rivers Of Sand

The break allows for some nut placements in a crusty break, providing relief from ground fall and then a move into the niche provides a rest. Phew! I noticed i could see my heart beating in my chest, so i chose to take a chill out in the niche and focus on my breathing... Incidentally, from this point it would be possible to tackle the arete direct from here, which actually looks entertaining with a large reach or pop i.e bolder than the wall climb so certainly not an 'escape'...Anyway, a minute or so later, i followed the line of monos and sandy crimps rightwards... Feet feeling sketchy, even on big holds in the break, the dual mono rightwards move feels ace. Some better holds arrive and a good nut slot eases any anxiety regarding the first break. A reversal back to the left to a crimp, allows a high rock over (such a good move) which gains jugs, sand and the top out! I named it Rivers Of Sand...

Top rock over - cool move! 

It's a good route, bold and pretty serious at the start before gear and a rest. An entertaining, tricky traverse gains good gear and then a 5c, perhaps 6a? rock over gains the top. It retains a sketchy, scary feeling throughout and the rock in parts demands respect, but the gear is good. We felt the start was not actually hard, but just bold which makes the move to the break feel harder than it is... it might actually get 5c if it was on the ground perhaps? E4 5c/6a describes the climbing well i feel, well worth taking a look at if you fancy climbing on the main face of Roseberry... The Pasghetti Alpinist (E5), Accelerator (HVS), Rivers Of Sand (E4) and The Shelf (E1/2 6b) are all well worth doing, the higher grades possibly best suited to prior-inspection style ascents!?

So basically, a good mix at the moment. Some easy and testing bouldering below the crag, some nice highballs on the right hand main face, with some 'adventure' style routes on the main face and right hand main face.. with the smaller, enjoyable solos in the south-east alcoves... Go and enjoy it!

Got a video and some photos of the stuff from yesterday will get them up at some point...