Thursday, 31 May 2012

Kilnsey - Trad/Sport (Dodger Direct and WYSIWYG)

I was stoked to get back into trad after forgetting my origins recently; a quick look at the forecast and it was for showers, so we chose Kilnsey. We arrived at around lunchtime as a three and made fairly slow progress for the first hour or so. I ran up 'New Mystique' (F6b) for a warm up and then Huw and Bojan toproped it too, before Bojan took his time putting the clips in 'Comedy' (F7c) - his first time using a clipstick.

After he had a play, i asked for a belay on 'Dodger Direct' (E3 5c) and i racked up some wires. Setting off up the steepish cracks, i found the gear placements came fast and obvious. My major concern was that i would struggle to see placements and select the correct wire, but nothing of the sort happened really and i was soon at the belay with a mild pump in my arms. Lowering down, i decided the route probably just warrented the grade. However, it is perhaps not too far off 'Brutus' (E2 5c) at Attermire Scar or even 'Crossbones' (E2 5c) at Malham, so perhaps a wee bit soft for E3. Nice route though, climbs better than it looks.

Dodger Direct - E2/3 5c**

After yet more Comedy action by Bojan i tried 'Optional Extra' at E4. Long story short this is not really a trad line anymore and after clipping the peg and trying to go to the right of the bolts, i was told by Matt Troilett what the actual craic was (i.e the lower off was gone) and i was soon clipping bolts and shedding my trad rack as i climbed the 7a+/b continuation above resting here and there. I stripped it on the way down, but might have another blast on it in the future?

Towards the slightly scrappy, but still enjoyable, upper wall and lower off

Huw and I then had a look at WYSIWYG, which gets 7c in the guide but is believed to be more like 7b+. Huw had a go at the shortish line between the overlaps and said the climbing was steady, when i arrived and quizzed him on it. I had a flashburn after receiving some good beta from a local wad and found myself failing at the very top (crux) when i didn't quite get a side pull right, not a bad effort for me. The humid, windless conditions made it pretty grim when climbing. I pulled on a draw to the flake and lower off and lowered down. 
After a rest and another go from Huw, i was pulling back on and was soon at the rest (after finding the start a bit harder this time). The brushed holds felt better but it was still a bit greasy and i fought my way into the undercut. Closing down stupidly hard on the undercuts i skipped the last bolt and reached around to the massive flake and belay. Cool route, really glad i got on it. Probably 7b, especially on a cooler day as it felt pretty similar to Wasted Youth (7b) at Malham and only a tiny bit harder than Cold Turkey (7b) at Trollers' Gill, and i wasn't miles off a flash. Perhaps i should try one of the extensions? Perhaps not. 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Trow Gill - first 7a onsight of the year and first 7a+ onsight (possibly)

After the early May sport bonanza, i had been cooped up inside revising for geology exams. The excellent weather, which i forecast would occur during the exam period to a chap at Malham, did indeed arrive and i've spent all of it either sat revising or sat in an exam. If i'm honest, i thought it was probably too hot for me to climb well anyway, but a sunny saturday after my main exam we decided to check out Trow Gill, as we'd heard good things and it was obviously going to be dry.

We left leeds at 12.30 and after battling shite traffic through Ilkley (when is it not bad) we were on the A65 towards Clapham in the beating sun, with me refusing to open windows for fear or fuel economy...

A nice 25 minute stroll up limestone countryside leads to a tranquil little gorge. The scrappy right hand side looking similar to Giggleswick but is home to some nice routes, however the oft-seeping main buttress on the left, looked amazing (and dry as a bone!). I had a choice between a 'relaxed' onsighting day or a redpointing day as the 7b+ up the centre of the main wall looks amazing. I chose onsighting.

We racked up and chose warm ups, Huw seemed set on picking the scrappiest bit of rock and the worst line while i chose the cool central flake feature (f6b) with a couple of run out sections. Nice climbing. After yet more scrappy shit from Huw, i chose to have a onsight burn on 'Brush with a Goat' (7a). After climbing the slightly dusty start, a powerful pull leads onto a juggy flake through the first overlap. Further moves lead to an obvious juggy undercut, which i was not strong enough to yard into, so i ended up crimping some crozzy, dirty crimps either side and sorted my feet. I wish i could climb properly... it would definitely make it easier. A couple more moves, feeling apprehensive at the prospect of my first 7a onsight of the year and i was there, at the pigs tail lower off... Oops, never used one of these before. Fortunately they are pretty self explanatory, but i did think for a second about going left to the double ring lower off of the 7a+!

After yet more rock dodging on belay to Huw, i returned to the shady north facing wall and set off, onsight, up 'Bush of Ghosts' (7a+). After repeating the start of the 7a, you make reachy moves to good holds and a good rest at the top of the flake. There was no chalk and a bit of vegetation growing so i'm fairly convinced this hasn't seen much attention this year. Several more technical moves leads to a weird undercut and choice of sloper or crimp. A tiny fingered individual could probably get better purchase in the pocket but i could still yard on it but unfortunately in vain. A quick rest on the bolt while i cleaned all the holds in reach, i pulled back on and flashed to the top. Oh well!

After YET MORE choss bothering from Huw, i decided to leave the technical wall climbing alone and try my hand a right to left rising line through some stepped bulges. Polka Dot Demon (7a/7a+), was the line i chose and i quickly made my way up the good holds to the start of the leftward traverse. I rarely climb fluidly and with rhythm onsight, where holds keep appearing and sequences work but here i found myself pretty smoothly gaining the base of the upper groove. Crux done, i think... I had a bit of a scare when i thought i was going to have to mantle the ledge precariously, but fortunately found the slightly blind nature of the groove was hiding a hold from me and i was soon sat happy at the belay. It gets 7a+ in the guide, but is certainly at the lower end of this spectrum. Huw then seconded the line with as much ease as he was climbing the 6a's on the scrappy wall.... haha.

I finished off with another 7a onsight, 'Open for Business', which i felt was fairly unobvious and pretty dirty, definitely worth 7a in my mind. Still, really enjoyable climbing and a helluva-lot cleaner now!

Finished on the sunny side, with a nice 6b+ and then left the crag at 10.30 arriving at Leeds after dropping folk off at Midnight. Good afternoon out, but now back to revising, until the good weather ends i reckon!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A nice send off before the exams

Having never really got anywhere with sport climbing before, the recent month of hyperactivity in this aspect of climbing has seen me launch from failing to lead 7a at Malham, to four 7b redpoints in three days. After climbing the bouldery 'The White Zone' at Troller's Gill, i returned to Malham and despatched my 'long term' project of 'Wasted Youth' on what was either the 3rd or 4th redpoint. I also led, putting the clips in, Consenting (7a) and Free and Even Easier (7a+) on the day too which was nice.
We returned to Troller's and i got back on Hoodoo Guru and sent that first go of the day, 2nd redpoint, putting in the clips. After a short rest i dogged up 'Cold Turkey' and then redpointed that first go. Finishing the day with a couple of laps on Barguest Direct/Jim Grin.

Im delighted with my progress (even though every man and his dog climbs 8a on bolts), however, i think the thing that pleases me the most is that over the last couple of days i've become psyched to 'get stuff done' and not settle for the minimum requirement, i.e just doing Hoodoo Guru and then chilling out, which ultimately earned me a second 7b in an evening. Likewise, i'm delighted that i recover so effectively after climbing; it wasn't long ago that if i climbed a route of 7a or such, i'd be too tired to achieve anything else on the day. I'm not sure what's changes really, even when i was climbing this regularly in the past i would struggle to do several routes that i found 'hard' in a day.

Really psyched to actually project something now (7c/7c+), with some onsight burns on 7a/7a+/7b to get warmed up at crags and keep me thinking for trad. I suppose there has to be a spanner in the works though and there is, exams for the next 2 weeks. Oh well, rest up and store the psyche. I'd like to climb a proper 7c before i leave Leeds in early July and with my gains in the last month, this is certainly achievable.

Not sure what i want to try, a friend is just starting on 'New Dawn' (7c) at Malham, so i may go along with that as it's a classic, apparently! I feel like doing something hard at Trollers too, as it has never let me down that place, even though i struggle to get my regular climbing partner interested in going there. Perhaps Angel Heart (7c/+) or Tinderbox (7c+) would be good to play on? Who knows, should put a rope down and see!  

Monday, 14 May 2012

Recent Sport, Hawkcliffe and short term aims

After going to Malham with Sean a month or so ago, i have bee thinking about gaining a bit of sport/trad fitness after the winter of bouldering. We returned to Malham and i quickly dispatched 'Rose Coronary' 7a in redpoint style and then, flashed the 7a 'Puddle Jumper', after absorbing the beta from Conors attempt. I enjoyed the climbing but the excellent beta from Conor was conducive to the flash.

After this, i got back on 'Wasted Youth' which i tried with Sean a month ago. Then, it felt like a series of reachy, occasionally powerful moves that i could not get near linking. This time, after putting the clips in, i found that i could do the moves much more easily and was soon sprinting up the lower wall and through the crux. However, i began to tire and sweat on the upper wall and with the last hard move to a ledge, i found myself floundering. I made the move and grabbed the flat, polished limestone hold but then found the ground was approaching fast and i was off... Bollocks!

One thing to take out of it is that i've got to sort my head out, into getting things done. I find that i take the positives from failures (which is good) and i find that i don't mind about doing nothing as much these days, but i do HAVE to start getting up things when i have put in the hard work...

It happened again, at Troller's. Arriving with Ewan to see Gareth and Alison were there too, we warmed up and then i got on 'The White Zone', F7b. I put the clips in and remembered the crux and then rested. Jumping back on i climbed steadily up the technical wall until at the depression. I launched into the cool crux sequence, pulling on the series of small crimps... off. Dropped it. Bloody hell.

I rested then jumped back on and sorted it no problem, i needed to do a chalk up before getting the last crimp. Annoying bit of micro-beta for me and it was all over. I enjoyed my first 7b, as i felt the way i did Haslam was 7a+? but anyway, it's either my first or second 7b (as i don't think i've climbed 7b on trad?).

After this i decided i wouldn't rest on my laurels and i tried Hoodoo Guru. Flashing the start, i fell off the hard pull into the groove and then carried on up the groove which i found ok, on hidden crimps. I then found the moves right tricky and i lowered back down after dogging heavily to the top.
After a brief rest, i pulled back on and once again climbed the start ok, before failing to quite snatch the hold just at the base of the groove and fell off, catching a testicle. OUCH. I pulled back on and cruised the rest; which was a surprise after finding the bolt to bolt tricky. I realised clipping the lower off that if i had concentrated more on the crux, i'd have cruised it. Got to start getting clinical! Not enough days left to keep having to make multiple trips to the same crags to do the same routes. Got to start ticking some of these routes i have on my 'wishlist'...

On Monday, i travelled to meet Adam Hughes at Hawkcliffe. We were stoked to have a look at Andy Crome's 'Visions in Tan' (E6/7 6c)... After having a quick top rope we both realised the move felt too powerful for us; i'm not sure if i'd have got it even when i was bouldering quite a lot over the winter, so i think its just too hard for me. Feeling it in my fingers and arms, after my recent climbing, we tried 'Zyo Kluk Klik' E5 6b**. I was interested in this for a flash burn on, but after climbing the lower easy wall, via some damp and muddy crimps and placing the gear i slipped out of my crimps at the peg. I wasn't too bothered but soon found the rockover, before the crux, felt hard and after finally achieving it (after a clean of the arete as far as i could reach) i realised that a technical, really insecure foot swap was required, so i jumped off and offered the lead to Adam.

Adam cruised up the lower wall clipping the gear and began to make the rock over. Unfortunately he slipped and lamented trying it my way, finding he was capable of pulling through a different way, slightly lower. After somehow flashing the crux around the corner, looked sketchy, he was smearing up the bold upper arete and then rapped back down. I had a quick top rope but found i couldn't seem to repeat the move without the buzz of the lead and just stripped it and called it a bad day... Nice to meet Adam anyway, certainly had a good outlook on climbing.

I might give Hawkcliffe a miss until Conor fancies doing Flame Arete; if i go back i've got to grow a pair and get on either Driveby or Blood on the Shamrock. Hopefully a few more 7b's and E3/4 onsights will help in the mean time - Where next, Honley if it drys. Eavestone, if it drys...? Also, is it getting too warm for gritstone for me now, it was only 12 degrees today but it felt too warm, strange old day indeed!    

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Panorama Crag - Again?

A strange day on Sunday. It was dry but the forecast threatened showers and i was stoked to go somewhere having been to Hawkcliffe the day before to shunt 'Visions In Tan'. Excellent, short lived but hard wall climbing. I hope i can get a proper top rope down it to see if that makes it feel any easier as it is quite overhanging.

Anyway, unfortunately i couldn't persuade anyone to go; but Huw and Rosie were up for returning to the rather friendly, chilled out crag that is Panorama. Myself and Huw had noticed that the left wall of the main block, was unclimbed and the capping roof looked entertaining. I half convinced myself the lower wall might be 6b unprotected highball slab climbing and that it was worth climbing just as it's there.

We arrived and i rapped down, cleaning the plethora of breaks and holes. There were a lot of holds on this wall actually. I then top roped the line clean, first go. Slabs are strange, you can clean lots of holds but when you're on climbing it you always end up using something you didn't expect to. I arrived at the break having probably climbed a 5c/6a move and utilising crimps i have missed on rap. Oh well. The roof above is however a different matter. A pocket and an edge are present and the climbing was very bouldery. I wasn't particularly bothered about this and felt the line, if there is a line, naturally sent you up the niche in the roof rather than going for the main overhang... I cleaned the top of the buttress of skrittly stuff and racked up for the lead.

Quick solo up the lower wall, to the break. It's nice moves on some pleasant crimps and the break takes a range of cams from 0.75 to size 5. I then moved right to the niche and up via a jug to a slopey top out which felt around 5c. All in all, a nice little bit of climbing but nothing to write homeabout; the roof direct would be a good laugh but i'm not going back for it. I felt the lower unprotected wall was probably worth around E4 6a and then the finish through the roof feels around E2/3 5c. However at the break you can just traverse off right all the way to the E4 arete and finish easily or if you're highball soloing just traverse off left - but then you don't top out.

Panorama Crag - Dispatches follows the chalk before climbing the niche in the roof behind the branch. No New Is Good News, climbs the wall right via the greener coloured rock. The E4 to E1 climbs in the guide climb the wall around the corner.

I turned my attention to the E5, 'No News Is Good News' which climbs just to the left of the arete and right of the route we put up; which incidentally we called 'Dispatches'. The E5 starts at some pockets and moves right towards edges high on the wall, via a very thin sequence. I pulled on and tackled the uncleaned, skrittly climbing making a long move to the very thin hold. I pinged off and landed by Huw and Rosie, slightly frustrated but glad i had missed the rock we had managed to not pad out...  Rosie and Huw needed to be back by 7.30 so i knew i only had one more go. Annoyed that the other route had taken so long, i carefully climbed back up to my previous high point and managed to keep myself on the wall on the minute holds, which i must admit surprised me... Two tiny crimps, feet on good smears, i reached right along the rippled edges and found an incut crimp. Toe in the pocket and a hold of the swing and i was boshing up the easier ground above. Pretty happy with this highball and if this is E5 6b reckon the 'fa' is probably correct at E4 6a.

Nice crag; if the first time we'd gone had been nicer weather we'd have probably finished the lot off in a day! 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Honley Wood and Mytholm Steeps Quarry - The Cat Test E6 6b**

A bright, May Thursday was forecast and myself and Conor decided we'd pay Honley Wood a visit. This is somewhere i'd spotted in the guide and earmarked for a scout, mainly to try 'The Dogs Biscuits' E4 5c**. Anyway, after arriving to find a damp crag, we left in high spirits as the main buttress looked excellent. The E4 arete, E5 wall and E4 crack all looked excellent and well worth doing - but one to re-add to the list. I hope i get a chance before leaving Leeds.

We left to pastures new and rather than heading to Heptonstall, decided to try another esoteric spot - Mytholm Steeps Quarry. I recalled seeing this crag had an E6 and after quickly checking on Conors Iphone, which coincidentally are amazing - i've never used on before!, found that was the case. Apparently only 10m from the road, we decided this was a capital idea and arrived to a seemingly dry crag. The guidebook suggested that dropping in to do the HVS was worthwhile and we were happy enough to just do that if it came to it, however we actually found the line to be wet, what a shame as it looks excellent! - Go do it! It's 10m from the road!

The centre of the quarry is adorned by a yellow, undercut arete containing a zig-zag crack. This is the line of 'The Cat Test' E6 6b**, a 'new' route put up in 2006 by Neil McCallum and Matt Troilett. We set up a rope and i cleaned the front face of the arete, it wasn't dirty as such but pretty dusty and cobwebbed. We both decided the pegs were 'ok' but not really confidence inspiring to 'lob' onto. They are well placed and the rock looks fine, but they are rusty. They could be fine, but i'd check them to see if you're happy. We decided the crux was between the two pegs but the lower wall looked pretty sustained either way.

I found the lower arete enjoyable and fell off gaining a hole at the base of the zig-zag crack. After this steep moves up the crack leads to a second peg and a 'crank' to a crimp rail. Some excellent steep moves. After this the climb reaches a niche on the arete and due to the rope being on the left of this, we didn't climb the upper wall. Conor then had a play and link up and I linked up to here in a oner.

I ran back around and cleaned the upper wall and its crimps and then Conor had a quick play on the upper arete. In the process, I talked myself out of top roping it 'just once more to make sure', and i set up for a quick lead. It went fine and i was soon at the top belaying Conor up, happy that i'd made the right decision in a quick headpoint. I will quite often sort the moves and get ready but feel too tired and have to come back another day, but not in this case, which made me happy.

The line is really good, the climbing excellent the only issue is it is superficially dirty and a bit sandy. It's *** climbing for my money with a * reduction for the dust. It doesn't really matter, its great moves in a good position and i think it would be flashable / ground uppable if you're strong/trust the pegs. I'd abseil to check them but i'm not the most ballsy climber. As for the grade; if the pegs are bomber then it could be a hard E5? There's a crack so you could get wires but you'd have to be pretty strong i think to place them? I'd like to think it's E6, possibly the lower end of the spectrum. It is harder than Flame Arete (E5-) at Hawkcliffe, Magic in the Air (E5) at Highcliffe and i reckon it's got a similar feel, climbing wise, to the White Scoop (E7) at Stoupe Brow, which is far worse protected. It's probably similar to flash as 'Fresh Arete' with the siderunner which is E5. Funny one, i'm not sure. I'd say if you're local and decide the pegs are fine, it's definitely worth grounding up!