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!

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