Friday, 30 March 2012

Moors in March - Humbug, Boulby, Clemmitt's and Glaisdale Woods

Returning to the moors after term finished and my week in Northern Ireland on fieldwork, i blasted up to Scugdale on the drive home from Leeds, just to make use of the chilly evening after a bright, clear day. I had reduced my food intake while in Ireland and felt light on the day, so after warming up on a few classic solos, i popped my pads down and tried Humbug.
I had been told that using the flat hold on the left made this route more like eng.6b rather than 6c and sure enough it went after a few goes. The method without the hold left felt doable too, but i would like a spotter really as that rock looks awkward to land on!

Couple of days ago i headed to Boulby with my bro and 80's Pete. It was a really warm day and i struggled to climb much hard and just ended up softening my tips up. I did a few nice bits and pieces. A 'hammered' slab contained a few nice slab problems around f5 and then the steep, flake crack on the steep side which goes at about f6b+ from sit. Boulby is a nice little place - a lot of rock! Shame the crag looks too chossy but the outlook is beautiful and the walk in, momentary.

Clemmitt's with Sam on an evening was another 'wasted day'. With no daytime partner and massive expense to drive to Smugglers/Ravenscar etc i was unable to make the most of the completely dry moors by visiting north facers. However, i decided an evening trip to an east facer would hopefully be cool enough to climb. It was, just about.
Sam and I warmed up on 'Ground Effect' boulder doing the 6a and 6b left wall and left arete and then i rather slowly managed Paradise Traverse 7a, which was soapy in the lingering heat. Lovely little climb which is odd, as it has big hand and footholds but still feels tricky.

Finally, my bro and I had an evening wander around Glaisdale woods. Nick wanted me to look at the craglets at the top and after a good stomp around, we walked down to the bottom boulders and I climbed Lee's 'Dreamcatcher' arete, above the den/cave, 3rd go after a couple of false starts - nearly flashed the fooker!
The arete is good, climbing on pockets early on before making use of the arete and holds on the face. For my ascent i started lower than in Lee's video pulling up to put my heel in a big pocket. I then did sit down variations, one utilising a block i later realised was not part of the boulder itself (!) and was infact part of the den, so the stand start is probs best for sure.

Want to go and find Lees 'The Cutter' but he's as yet not disclosed where it is...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

More esoterica and a Thruscross revisit...

With Uni fast coming to a close, i am running out of time to visit all the weird and wonderful little crags of the Yorkshire Grit area. These seldom-travelled, oft-overlooked crags are usually always host to some excellent climbs which would be 'classics' at more popular venues.

After wasting my morning/early afternoon watching Middlesbrough embarrass themselves on the BBC, going down 0-2 to L**ds, i nipped out to Crookstones or Hellifield Crags - depending  on what you call them.
I chose the 'direct' approach, apparently strenuous and half an hour long... However, the YorkshireGrit PDF approach is good and if you follow your nose as well, the approach is short lived. I wandered up with two pads in about 25 minutes.

It was breezy, grey and chilly - a contrast to sun baked Leeds but something i was fairly thankful of in terms of climbing conditions. I set to work in the 'Areteland' area, with a quick bosh up the easier aretes before trying the 'E2'. This was green and the top was a bit wet, the landing isn't cracking so i backed off. The E4 (same arete on the right hand side) however was clean and the landing acceptable. That said it was a bit spicy on my own, in the low cloud, but after a 'test drop' i managed to psyche up and get the top. Scary!

I carried on with less high problems, the best being 'Christian's Dyno' - Font 6b and Overhanging Crack (Font 6b).

Nice little crag, the properly north facing bits were green and sandy, the rest just suffers from a lack of traffic. It would be nicer on a warmer day where you could take your time to clean things! Another little craglet ticked off.

With the good weather continuing and with a Monday off uni, myself and Huw decided to try to get a day out at either Hebden Gill or Thruscross (Again). The patches of low cloud and noticeable breeze meant we decided Thruscross was the better choice.

Arriving as the sun began to break through the cloud, we warmed up on some weird HVS, that traverses the ridge of a boulder. It's not bouldering, but its not really a route... strange, but oddly good...
After this, we both quickly climbed 'Yarn Spinner' E2 6a, the high arete with a low crux. Cool moves and an enjoyably bold top section on good holds. I then disturbed a Barn Owl (amazing creature), which was nesting in the block on top of the 'Thruscross Boulder', so avoid that if you go!

It was now time for the main attraction, Laughter Lines, E3 6b. This steep, flared crack set on a prow looks inviting, however on our last visit it was wet. Today, seepage still dominated the lower crack however we soon realised it didn't affect the climb. After some early attempts, i found a jam and 'fridge hug' technique worked of me. With small edges for the left foot and a right heel-toe in the crack i managed to pop my way up weird fingerlock gastons and eventually the bulging holds at the top. Awesome! We climbed the line above pads, but it would be just as easy to lace it with gear.

With a good tick, we walked over to 'Heart of Oak' area and while Huw climbed the 'forgotten gem' E1 6a, i cleaned the top of 'Rising of the Sap' E3 5c. I had bouldered up to the lip of the buttress on our previous visit but was met by a mossy crack and turfed up hold - i jumped off. I cleaned it this time around and after spotting Huw for a bit, stole the pads and quickly climbed the line - finding that the reason the top holds where filthy was because you didn't need them! Doh. Enjoyable little climb, it sort of looks a bit weird, but climbs really well.

Finished off the day potting around on the smaller boulders closer to the reservoir as the sun beat down. Excellent day out :-)

Friday, 2 March 2012


An afternoon off uni on Wednesday and after a couple of dry days, i was interested in doing a bit of highball soloing and short trad to get back into the swing of things; a winter of bouldering left me feeling a bit wary of trad. Uninspired by the prospect of Baildon, Almscliffe or similar i put forward the idea of Thruscross to Huw and he was keen.

We arrived, via a pleasant drive out of leeds at Thruscross reservoir and walked up to the deer fence and along the moorland side until the second large gate. Here we walked down to the Washburn Walls and Thruscross Boulder.

Huw and I quickly geared up and in turn climbed the E1 5b*, High Lair, which climbs a short interesting cracked wall before heading right below a bulge to step back onto the arete and finish in a good position on clean rock. A strange little route but a worthy warm up. Huw then did the HVS to the left and cleaned the top section which was a tad green.

I then fancied a crack at Ratlin' Row E3 5c**, which ascends a short steep wall to a break below a roof, before breaking out right to a jug and mantling to the top. I worked out the start and popped up into the break and placed some runners. Reaching out to the jug with my right, i matched and held the swing before throwing a right heel on to the shelf. Rocking over, i reached over to the top of the wall and deciding going further back was a good idea, i palmed into a mossy, wet moorland... oooops. With a wet hand, i struggled to gain purchase on the top and facing a boulder strewn landing (the gear being pretty useless here) i managed to pullover. Phew! I cleaned the top section and unearthed a friendly crimp and Huw repeated the route, second go.

We wandered to look at the E3 6b crack 'Laughter Lines' which looks like good fun and worth going back for as well as the E2 aretes, E6 6c arete and E4? 6b crease all on the Thruscross boulder.

However, the short evening time constraints meant we seaked out the classic, 'Heart of Oak' E1 6a. This is a lovely little square cut arete and after a few false starts, i managed to figure out the crux. I topped out on the right handside, as it seemed sensible to do so? Then while i had a play on the dirty E3 traverse on this buttress, Huw bouldered out the quality crimpy low level traverse.

We finished at Landslide buttress with Huw soloing the interesting and varied Severe and myself enjoying a quick solo of 'Dam It All' E2 5c, a route up the undercut wall with a high, committing step at half height. Sat at the top with a lovely view of the dam, it was a very good decision to head to Thruscross which had dried completely in the two days following on from rain on Monday. There was a lot of very pleasant looking bouldering and i'll certainly be heading back for a bash on a few of the other things there. Shame Beanstalk buttress probs won't come in till the summer?