Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Pen Trwyn - excellent couple of days!

I'd often seen the routes at Pen Trwyn popping up on UKC logbooks, with stories of excellent 'North Wales Limestone' and it's usefulness as a wet-weather option. Anyway, i'd not considered making it to Pen Trwyn before leaving Uni, until Conor put forward the idea of a day at the Orme and then a day in the Pass or Gogarth.

We returned home from Almscliffe and watched England attempt to beat the Italians by playing like Chelsea and going for penalties. Conor, Bert and I probably should have just head straight for North Wales! On route we were pulled over twice by a seemingly bored Welsh police force, for minor/non-existent offences.

Woken by lovely warming sunshine, we ate breakfast and climbed the first route of the weekend, Precious Metal - E1 5b **, which climbs a leftward trending weakness on lovely rock. Bert led the line first, with me flashing the climb on his gear. I found the climbing enjoyable but certainly noticed a difference to Yorkshire Limestone with footholds at Pen Trwyn often being on 'polished spiky smears' or in dish-like pockets, rather than on flat edges or black (polished) smears. The hand holds too felt a tad strange, i couldn't quite put my finger (sorry) on what it was...

Conor onsighting Excursion - E2 5b ***

Next up was Excursion - E2 5b ***, this time Conor climbed first, another leftward trending weakness on strange feeling rock. I again, flashed the climbing on the already placed gear. Lovely little route, ** or perhaps ***.
Conor high on Excursion

Bert on Excursion

Cool moves

Tricky moves high up

Conor was then very stoked to head into the shade (i agreed with this too!) to try Chain Gang - E5 6a/6b ***. I'd not highlighted any routes i wanted to do especially, just putting a note next to climbs that had favourable comments on UKC, so i was happy to try to flash the E5 after Conors onsight burn. He pulled on and placed the easy wire and medium cam that protect the start and crux. A quick shake and he launched into the crux sequence that we'd discussed from below. He climbed it in utilising our 'ground rehearsed' beta with a slight change to use an intermiediate sidepull-crimp. He clipped an insitu wire and made a move to an undercut... but, unfortunately a loss of momentum and a balance resulted in a fall. An unfortunate fall, one of those strange falls when you just don't quite get the hold properly and your arms just sort of give up. He pulled back on and lead to the top, with the meat of the climb already done.
Chain Gang Wall

Conor on the pumpy start to Chain Gang - E5 6a ***

Post crux, but just before the fall on Chain Gang

I then geared up and pulled on, the lower wall doesn't look steep, but you are soon starting to feel the effects in your arms. The rock however felt much better, less warm with conditions less humid as the day went on, i think this was the issue early in the day. Good holds leads into an awkward, crimpy section on good, but not juggy holds. Wire placed and cam clipped, i did the same sequence of moves, dual sidepulls, launching up to an incut with left and push through for a 'triangular' hold with right. A good wire and then a couple of burly feeling moves to gain some undercuts and another insitu wire and some cams from Conor. Pull over the roof on good holds, with a heel rest and then up the bold feeling groove choosing to run to the chains rather than place un-required gear. Excellent route, at about Fr6c+? I reckon. It would be nice to know if i'd have been able to onsight the line placing the gear, but a flash felt good non-the-less. Conor quickly climbed the line clean and Bert and I climbed the excellent Bauxed - E1 5b **.

Feeling a little embarrassed by my lack of onsighting, so far placing only a wire or two on routes Conor and Bert had led, i racked up to climb Precious Time - E4 5c/6a **. I liked the look of the line and it certainly looks 'varied and interesting' as the guidebook claimed. I pulled up to the starting bulge and placed, eventually, some small wires under the roof while being accused by my colleagues for wasting time not placing cams... I'm not a fan of cams on limestone after one ripped on me a year or so ago. Anyway, eventually i made the 'crux' moves around the roof above the rp's and made my way to a nice undercut. I was a little pumped from my gear placing and rushed a poor nut placement in a flared crack. Pulled through the roof to good gear in the crack and plugged away up the groove to a lovely traverse left to an excellent jug and belay. A great little route, felt fair at soft E4 5c to me with a tricky and bold feeling start followed by a bold section before pumpy but well protected climbing. Would be a very tough E3, i reckon but perhaps my wires didn't hit all the right places? Conor and Bert both led the line on my gear and felt similar with 6b+ climbing being soft for E4 but with a bold feel at a couple of points.

It was only about 3pm i think by this point and we were pretty stoked by our progress while climbing as a three (the wonders of bolted lower offs!). We stopped for lunch, taking in the views towards England while basking in the sunshine.

Lovely view


Pesky seagull


Unfortunately however, this rest made us feel somewhat jaded and psyche was lost. I was tempted to look at Scary Canary - E5 6a *** or More Genius - E5 6a **, but decided to instead climb the classic Plumbline - E3 5c ***. This excellent looking line up the groove/crack system is indeed a plumbline! I racked up, feeling tired and made my way up the easy start passing truly excellent wire placements. A quick couple of locks and some nifty footwork gets you past the bulge and crux. Feeling pretty steady a couple of mono pockets provided some interesting holds and i ran it out to the belay. Great route, steady away with a bit of fitness but i can imagine myself, a year ago, getting well and truly shut down at the bulge. I'm not convinced this is harder than say Triermain Eliminate - E2 5b *** at Castle Rock in the Lakes. Who cares though! It's a great route and really, really, really well protected. Conor and Bert repeated the trick and we packed up to head for some food and then the Pass.

Another pleasant nights sleep, we awoke to a grey day... it pretty much started to drizzle as soon as we awoke (good timing!). We chanced on going to Rhoscolyn with myself and Conor really interested in doing Warpath - E5 6a ***. However, Holyhead was wet wet wet, so we headed BACK to the Orme! I was stoked for two days there regardless so i wasn't too fussed. Today the conditions felt far more humid, so we decided to warm up on the apparently classic String of Pearls - Fr6b+ ***. An excellent looking sport line, I was happy to go first, expecting easy, interesting climbing. I certainly got interesting! Some thin moves low down, on grim feeling holds (humid). A couple of clips felt hard while slipping on small crozzly crimps and then the top section on much more positive holds, had me sweating up badly. A beautiful cross-through and the belay was clipped. Excellent it certainly is, thoroughly enjoyable and perhaps not far off Fr6c!  Conor repeated the line and then, Bert lead Pale Shelter - E1 5b **, which is excellent too! Then the rains came. We hung around while Conor ran to get a clipstick thinking our day was over, but it actually soon dried off and Bert got a good lead on String on Pearls and stripped it. Conor told us conditions were much nicer on the other side, so we stopped by to tick off Kanly - E2 5c *.

Bert on the very enjoyable Pale Shelter - E1 5b **

Move to the bolts

Long story short, Conor lead first and followed a line of weakness up the groove before continuing leftwards up a hanging, leftward trending scoop to a lower off. We realised Kanly went direct, but the link up between Kanly and The Stirrer, an E2 5c to the left, felt good and is well worth doing actually at about E2 5b *.

A tired day ended after lunch with a lead of Pocket City - E3 6a **. I was feeling ok, while Bert and Conor were a bit tired. However, I certainly was more interested in a tick or two at E3 rather than trying one of the E5s i'd highlighted. I chose Pocket City over Solid Gold (E3), while thinking that all the routes on this buttress looked hard! I was pretty apprehensive getting on the line, trusting the grade and how straightforward Plumbline felt the day previous. After a bulging start, protected by small wires, a cool crux rockover to a mono left me on a good hold with an excellent wire. From this point on, the mood calmed and the enjoyment raised. From below the line looks poorly protected up to the big undercut, however, hidden holds and gear makes the climbing continually interesting. A cool move to the undercut, which is host to some amazing holds, allowed a chill out with bomber gear below the groove. A few high feet moves and locks in the crack before strange, but excellent moves up flakes, monos and crack holds. Belay reached, i was pretty buzzing with this end of trip E3. Great moves, great if-a-little-sharp rock and good gear make this a must-do! A good reminder for me that it's all about getting on routes and not taking too much to heart about how they look from the ground. Conor climbed the line well with very thin tips, with me not really thinking and telling him there were no sharp holds (oops).

Packed up and away we went, drafting lorries back to leeds on very little fuel - good work Conor! A good couple of days on the Orme with a roadtrip to the Pass and Holyhead thrown in for good measure!

A final thought though... After doing a bit of the classic low extreme trad on the Orme and having recently experienced a fair amount of Yorkshires finest limestone trad, i really do wonder why Yorkshire limestone trad is not as popular... Many of the pitches are longer, with rock good and positions excellent. Routes such as The Diedre (Kilnsey), Central Wall (Dib), Butchers Dog (Kilnsey), Worlds in Collision (Kilnsey) are all comparable, or better than the classics such as Plumbline and Excursion...  I'd assume the classics of Malham are just as good! Basically there is little excuse for Yorkshire Limestone trad to be forgotten the way it seems to have been... still, that said i'm not sure how much more i'll do in the near future, as I've returned to the Moors!   

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Almscliffe: the 'Big Three', in 3 hours?

Me and Conor headed up to Almscliffe which bemused us both as it's somewhere we've both avoided, often being de-psyched by the place. I had ruled out doing any of the 'Big Three' during my time at Leeds but found myself gearing up below 'Wall of Horrors' E3 6a/b***. The weather was bright and windy... the tops of the routes being well beaten by whipping winds... fun times!

After a successful ascent of this, then flashing 'Big Greeny' E3 5c/6a*** on Conors gear, we got on to 'Western Front' E3 5c***. Unfortunately, by this time the sun was onto the wall and the jug/sloper that you use to gain the ok jam felt greasy and we both failed on this move. I rested and chalked the hold and then made the move with ease. I was only really stoked for the onsight so stripped the gear.

We managed to each onsight/flash 'Wall of Horrors' and 'Big Greeny' and then dog 'Western Front' in a 3 hour period, which we were happy about... Not the full task, but not a bad effort. Overall i thought Big Greeny and Wall of Horrors were better climbs, as Western Front boiled down to one hard and unpleasant move... But i did fail on it; so it's obviously just sour grapes!

Thursday, 21 June 2012


A couple of days at Kilnsey with Conor and Luke proved fruitful, but also left some unfinished business and with July approaching fast, i'm not sure if they'll get done. .. Anyhow, it started with a quick redpoint by Conor, Bojan and Lucy of 'Comedy' (7c) while Luke tried 'Stolen!' (8b) and I got stuck into 'Metal Guru' (7c). 'Metal Guru' seemed to be made up of a frustrating start followed by a series of powerful moves culminating in a throw for a flat-hold... The top section was not too bad. Anyway, a couple of redpoint goes saw some progress with me eventually managing it in two halves. I however lost my interest as it boiled down to one move, the skin on my fingers was sore and i didn't want to go home with nothing. So i turned my attention to the trad...
After chatting with Steve Crowe, he pointed me at 'Butchers Dog' (E4 6a) which i'd noticed on previous visits, so i was stoked to give it a bash. Steepish 6c+?, safe climbing sounded good to me. The traverse left felt like the 6a part to me, with distant gear (a broken wire in a placement!) but soon i was into friendlier climbing, with solid pulls on good holds and locks with excellent gear. Some good rest points and further pulling leads into a steepening section... feeling pumped i headed towards the peg ... Arms weren't screaming but i could feel slightly less grip being gained from the rock, a mixture of unchalked and tiring arms... I abandoned clipping the rather shite looking peg and trended left to easier ground - bold but secure. Excellent.

Butchers Dog - E4 6a **
Photo: Conor Cussell

I really enjoyed this route, certainly an underrated line which gives honest, solid and clean climbing with good gear, after an adequately protected start. I do hate the fact that when getting on trad routes at Kilnsey, you get strange looks! Also, even though i'd eyed the line previously, i was glad Steve and Karin had recommended it as it gave me the impetus to actually get on it.
Luke had already nailed Stolen! which looks wild and starts up the frankly nails sounded 'Cold Steal' (8a/8a+). And he turned he attention to a link up between '50 for 5' (7b+) and 'The Ashes' (7c+) which goes about 8a? Conor was just as quick with his redpoint of 'Sticky Wicket' (7b/7b+).

Luke starting up 50 for 5.

Tricky moves high up the wall

Staying at Luke grandparents spot, the evenings would consist of a wander down to the River Wharfe for a swim. Brisk refreshment after a day getting eaten by midgys. Psyched for this! Food was just as excellent, pasta and veg followed by plentiful volumes of pineapple and plantane (awesome food!) for desert.

The following day Conor and I were interested in doing 'Worlds in Collision' (E3/4) or at least the first pitch of it. This suited us as we both wanted to lead the first pitch and we were primarily sport climbing as a three. After a warm up on Directissima (something i'd done in the past when it was running with water), i belayed Luke on an unsuccessful attempt at the link up. On only the 2nd? Or 3rd RP though he was cruising up the top section and i took some snaps. I then had a quick burn on a 7b i'd dogged up before and fell off at the last bolt, annoyingly - good progress though. One to just keep having a clips in bash on each time i think, as it gets me pumped.
Resting (another redpoint)
Another redpoint, resting at the heel hooks

Techy sequences high up

Conor and I then jumped on Worlds. I lead first, up to the traverse. After eventually (poor reading skills) found the correct traverse line (gardening as i go), i was making steady moves up above the peg. A long reach to a poorish break and a slight traverse left. I was feeling a little harrassed here, I dislike pegs so i backed it up with an ok wire in the break and then telling myself that no move can be hard as its 5c, reached up into a pair of poor pockets. I tried to chill here a bit, but struggled to get comfy, so made a rockover and found, to my relief, a hidden jug. Nice climbing on good holds leads up to a new belay on the right. Conor then quickly lead the line on my gear. Excellent route, well worth doing my only disappointment with it was that it felt tricky E3 5c** for the first pitch, whereas i was hoping it would have the E4 experience - that said, we should have just done the top pitch but that's our mistake to make! Little bit of gardening on the way as well, but thats the joys of Limestone trad.

Conor on Worlds In Collision - E3/4 5c**
(photo: Luke Tilley)

Successful couple of days, really glad i got on some of the trad there. Quite stoked to do the 'Big C' (E4 5c) but its on very popular ground so i doubt i'll ever see it quiet. Next time i go back, suppose i should re-try Metal Guru and maybe think about Central Wall (E4)... but trusting pegs ain't high on my list of enjoyable activities.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Tournament of Shadows - Plus Video!

The weather picked up after the drizzle of Capt. Cooks Crags and I decided i would return to Round Crag proper for the first time in 2012. I drove up with the dog to have a look at Nick Dixon's 'Scut de Scun ai' (E7?). The route climbs a shallow, steep scoop and is graded E6 6b... however the total lack of gear, chop route nature of the line and possibility that holds have fallen off have made this feel a lot more E7/8!
I gave it a quick shunt, struggling to link sections together but doing all the moves. It was hard in the full sun, with a dynamic ending with hugely high feet. Really really grim! Excellent moves but not for me, so i went to the east side of the pinnacle for some shade.

I was going to just shunt Honey Arete and Vampiric Obsession to keep them clean, however i ended up thinking about climbing the wall between. After an abseil and clean i decided a much better approach would be to link Vampiric Obsession into Honey Arete, taking in the hard starting moves Vampiric before tackling the bold and thin (E5 part?) of Honey Arete. I chalked the holds that looked the most useable and brushed them vigorously. A good tip is that if you brush holds with a nylon brush to remove lichen and dirt, you then get as much chalk on them as possible and brush it in a bit. Then leave it for a day or two. With this in mind, i left and planned to return the next day with a belay stake, pads and partners!

Twister - maybe i should have called my new routes Stormbringer?

Stormy weather
Sam and Matthew were stoked for Round Crag to do some stuff they had their eye on, so i was happy to join them and get Sam to carry the belay stake. I placed this in above Dither, to allow me to clean the unclimbed routes on this buttress, and also to provide a belay for Dither. After a short cleaning session while Sam and Matthew warmed up on some solos, I got ready to flash the link up i had cleaned the day previous (I have done Vampiric and Honey Arete before!) and i'd also watched Steves and Francos videos of the two routes.

It felt nice to be back on dry sandstone once more and the clean and chalk the day before had it in perfect nick, I was soon pulling up to the undercut and chalking - seem to do more chalking than climbing. A fierce pull on a flake allows some footswapping (which is protectable if leading), but this time rather than standing up, i stepped left to a good hold in the centre of the face - this move felt straight forward which i was happy about i'd have been annoyed if the step across was too hard to flash! A pull leftwards leads to a chill out and chalk up, while desperately trying to remember how one does Honey Arete... this time coming in from the right hand side. A few slabby moves to get feet organised and i was reaching onto the good holds of the arete. I was surprised how big they were! Then i remembered that it was the feet that are the issue. Perfect smears! Brilliant climbing.  A slight 'dither' as i hadn't worked my feet up properly but it was soon over. Sweet.
Starting undercuts...

Slabby action
Arete moves

A strange one really, i climbed the link up as to me it is a line in itself. It has a different feel to Vampiric and Honey Arete and incorporates good climbing from both, following a line of weakness. I enjoyed it anyway and called it The Honey Badger Link Up or just Honey Badger. As for the grade, well that's another tricky one. We always thought the E5 part of Honey Arete was the 'E5 6a' upper arete after an E4 6b hard start... But perhaps it's E5 as you have pretty sustained 6b into 5c/6a climbing... If the upper arete feels E4 then the link up will be E4, if not then E5. Obviously having done it I was more confident, i do remember Franco fl-onsighting it and thinking it was pretty scary! It has a nice feel, it starts on dry ground (something Honey occasionally does not) and it is less cruxy than Honey Arete - probably an easy climb if you've done Honey and Vampiric before. I also reckon you could carry on the traverse around to the corner left of Octopet - perhaps the first section of an epic, Round Crag Traverse!

The East facing (shadow side) of the Pinnacle. Rope is down 'Vampiric
Obsession'. Chalk showing the traverse of 'Honey Badger'

After a chat with Sam and Matthew about what they should do next, they decided to headpoint 'Heel of Approval' a one-mover i did last year above a bit of a dodgey landing. As the most undesirable of the Round Crag routes, this makes a good practice headpoint for the lads and i was happy as i doubted anyone else would repeat the line! As they set up a rope i carried on cleaning the unclimbed routes - jesus they were mucky!

I could hear the odd exclamation from the lads, it sounded like it was going pretty well and after not much time at all they were both ready. Good effort! I got the camera and watched as Sam quickly and efficiently despatched the route with interesting beta. Matthew then repeated the climbing doing a sort of hybrid between my beta and sams... I must admit they made it look very easy indeed. They also both climbed it more on it's right hand side rocking around the corner whereas i sort of mantled directly above the blocks of doom. However, both agreed to ground up/onsight the route is certainly dodgy and both agreed with E4, but i like the fact that tackling from the right might improve the fall somewhat. Good effort from the lads anyway! I had a quick pull onto the starting crimp and did a lock off - it's cleaned up nicely! Sam reckoned hard 6a, Matthew easy 6b... I reckoned it was a Font 6b boulder problem so i think that sums it up nicely really. I think they both agreed that if there was more hard climbing above it would be a decentish route too, as it is, it's rewarding but a classic no-star line ;-)

Sam on 'Heel...' or should that be called 'Foot...'

Matt doing Heel of Approval

The easier but enjoyable climbing up the arete

With a choice of headpointing Vampiric Obsession (E4/5*) or onsighting Dither (E2 6a*) they chose Dither. I was happy about this as its a good, well protected climb where you have to 'go for it' and either succeed or take a good, no pussying about fall. Matthew was up first, i couldn't see him completely as i was cleaning the wall but after a bit of a struggle finding holds he was soon clocking up the air time... Solid effort. After a rest, he was up again pulling on the arete and crimps on the slabby wall. This time success!

Sam on the techy start of Dither (E2 6a*)

Committing move before the crux
Sam then gave it a few goes, but didn't feel right on the crimps to commit. Around the same time while shunting the higher moves on the wall i pinged off a bomber crimp so i'll let him off with deterioration of conditions due to humidity !! That was that for the day...

The final day of good weather before a shit storm that was forecast and me returning to Leeds, i decided i would head back up to Round Crag to see if the wall had cleaned up at all. I arrived and rapped down and brushed it. The wall starts with a boulder problem, pretty easy i think only font 6a+/6b? but it's awkward off the ledge, the shunt might make it feel worse and the ledge is sandy/damp. All in all, the start is a bit of a bitch. Still, the upper wall climbs well and it's a good piece of rock.

After failing to link the crux into the upper wall yesterday, I was hopeful i could today but it did not start well with two pings off. I wasn't warmed up though so i pulled on some holds on the upper wall. I then did the move twice in a row and decided that was good enough (!). Uncharacteristically impatient I decided i would 'give it a go'  and put my pad down where i thought i was land... the video seems to suggest otherwise - oops!

I had not thought about the start, how to keep feet dry but a traverse in from Dither seemed ideal. I was soon at the start, stood on a pre-placed tea-towel on the ledge (aid?) and desperately fighting to get the last remaining particles of chalk out of my empty bag. A uncomfortable, but incut two finger crimp with my right hand and a open hand hold with my left, right foot on a poor smear and power up into a bunched position. From here, it feels like no moves are possible but a lurch for a rounded crimp is the way forward... I don't quite hit it right and i'm dropping... shit. Fortunately the straight arm bounces my fingers onto the crimp better and i'm soon wall climbing my way to the top, via a pleasant but bold sequence. I really enjoyed the climbing on the upper wall and the top out is possible - though i'd never actually tried it... Hence my double-chalk up just below the top!

Crux start

Enjoyable upper wall

I really enjoyed this, even if it was a bit ball-achy to start and to stop your feet getting dirty. It's always been there, unclimbed while i've enjoyed days at Round Crag so a good tick for me. I called it 'Tournament of Shadows' and decided that it was a tricky tech. 6a move to start into 5b/c for the top. I reckon it's E4 6a for the start alone and E4 5c for the upper wall. The bouldery start could be made 'safer' with a couple of pads and spotter - however a Peanut 5 can also be placed in a horizontal slot but i'm not convinced it will take a proper fall. Above this, the route is bold with only a poor rp slot on the left which i think is both too poor to bother with and also energy wasting you may as well just romp to the top!

Edit: This could actually be E5 6b, the start is probably closer to Font 6b and its not a cracking landing at all... The upper wall is a tad sequency too, we'll see if Franco can do it and decide then!

Round Crag - Honey Badger FA (E5), Heel of Approval (E4) and Tournament of Shadows FA (E4) from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

I looked at a few other bits and pieces but decided to walk the dog to Middle Ridge Crag, a small series of buttresses developed by Ste Phelps. I only really wanted to do the E1 5c* called Moral Highground and i was soon soloing up the centre of the wall. It's an obviously eliminate start, but it's no different to many routes on the Moors or Gritstone. After the short start, comes slabby and juggy ground before a committing pull on a couple of monos leads to a crimpy top out. The route is escapable, but not once you've committed to the top so it's worth a star i reckon. Bring a rack of friends and every move is protectable so probably the safest route around!

A good couple of days, we'll see if Franco can flash the new routes and Sam can join in the FA's and headpunting... A typical couple of days at Round Crag climbing routes that are serious beyond their length!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Bit of Moors action... Cooks Quarry

With an unsettled weather forecast and a shortage of partners in Leeds, i returned home to Castleton in order to chill out and watch the Euros. Rain was a frustration, but i eventually decided to 'go for it' and headed out to Cooks Crags to check out the newly cleaned up 'Cooks Boulder', which had seen the forest around it chopped in the last year or so.

I arrived in light drizzle, but the roads were dry and the ground wasn't sopping so i was hopeful. I decided to park in Gribdale too, to avoid the woodland, plothery walk from Kildale!

I arrived and set up an abseil above Cooks Crag, which contains; 'Cookie' - E1 5b*, 'Sundancer' - E3 5c*, 'Winter Warmers' - E2 5b** and 'The Nose' - E2 5b**. I rapped and cleaned/dried and chalked Sundancer and Winter Warmers. Then wandered down and soloed the lines. Winter Warmers is a more recent addition by Steve Crowe. It climbs a lower, easy wall before making a series of moves to good holds on the nose and finish up the slab. Nice climbing with a bold feel. I then soloed the Nose, which starts up clean, excellent holds before it all gets a bit slopey but not too bad.

Two nice routes down, I jumped on Sundancer. Easy moves lead to an obvious flake, this was still damp and as i rocked over towards a small, snappy-looking crimp i was really having to focus on not sliding off it. I reached the incut, almost juggy crimp but just before applying some force, it smashed. Ooops. It left a smaller, solid crimp which you really have to close on now, before using a left hand pocket, which is good and the move is still 5c. You finish more easily on nice holds. Good route.

I finished up 'Cookie' which looks hard for 5b from below! I climbed up to the flake and ledge on the right. From here, it looks like you have to yard up to a break above. Hmm, it looks a long way. I soloed down and got my brush (i hadn't cleaned the line) and cleaned the large foothold which was scrittly. Back up i placed more weight on my right foot and found the reach was not remotely 'dodgy' anymore, but it's probably not a good first E1 choice!

Happy with the results from Cooks Crag, i wandered down to Cooks Boulder and soloed up 'Nimrod' - E2 6a. I had seen a photo of Lee on Nimrod and i was interested as i didn't realise the boulder had been opened up from the trees and also i remember seeing this route in the guide, long before i knew about cleaning routes and 'big cams' and thought it sounded cool.
Anyway, i soloed up the lower crimpy wall to the green, damp break. I couldn't do anything with it so i had to down solo and wander around to the top, set up a rap and clean the line. It was disappointing how dirty the break was, but every little will help it i'm sure. After this quick clean, i soloed back up to the break where the huge cam would go. This time, the coarse rock provided adequate friction and i pulled up on the incut hold i could now reach just above. I undercut the break, reached a crimp with my left hand and then, pulled to the top! I totally missed two or three other crimps dotted on the wall, which would have made it significantly easier. Nice climbing, looks eliminate not to move left to the ledge, but when you're on it you don't get dragged over that way and you finish on beautiful jugs, so it makes sense to me to climb direct onto the capping block. Climbing is nice, worth a star but maybe more like E1/2 5c* as i didn't notice a 6a move (?), certainly an E-grade without a pad.

Finished off with a solo of 'Submariner' Font 6a+**, which climbs the clean side of the boulder via a rightwards traverse up a series of breaks and jams and undercuts. Nice climbing. Also did a sit start up and left which felt about 6a to 6b, i'm not sure bit slopey at the top.

Nice day out, in the odd 'dry-drizzle', which didn't seem to wet anything. Glad i finally got these things done, as they've always been there but i'd never set the time aside, and i never used to clean routes prior to climbing them! Something that is required when the routes see potentially aren't climbed year after year!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Kiln, relaxed trad and Totally Free II...well, nearly!

A rest day at Kilnsey saw me warm up and eventually redpoint, 'Hardy Annual' (7a+/7b) which contains really nice, pretty easy groove climbing which is barred by a disappointingly annoying boulder problem start. I enjoyed the climb though, well worth doing. I then belayed Jacob on 'Ecstacy' (8b) which is just plain wild!

Andy Lawrence seconding the excellent 'Gronff' - E2 5c***
With no partners the following day, i was delighted to receive a text from Billy telling me that he and his dad were heading up to Chevin for a bit of trad. I'd never managed to get there with a belayer in my 2 1/2 years in Leeds, only soloing up the VS's which are excellent. I arrived at the crag to find Billy and Andy had already done 'Chevin Buttress' (VS) and that Billy was on with 'The Waster' (E1). After a valiant attempt at avoiding to jam the starting crux (!), they passed the lead to me as a warm up... This was good, as it was one of the climbs i'd come up to do, having backed off soloing it last year at some time. I enjoyed a safe ascent, with some sustained and tricky climbing. Definitely solid E1 pushing into E2, but its not quite the same level as 'Earl Buttress' (E2) at Earl Crag. Amazed this isn't more polished, it's a terrific climb and only 8 miles from Leeds!

The reach to good crimps

The excellent upper wall
I then quickly lead 'Gronff' (E2), which starts up a groove to a couple of poor-looking but adequate undercuts. From here a big span left to some nice crimps leads into a bold pull and some gear at about 6 metres. Lovely climbing on good holds leads to the top. Another climb well worthy of it's 3 stars. Billy repeated the climb on my gear (not that it matters as it's all about the unprotected start!). They finished up with 'Vampire Ledges' (VS) a route i soloed and thought was excellent a while back and then it got midgy. A fortuitous day out for me, pretty thankful Billy gave me a heads up!

Rain was forecast for Tuesday so Jacob, Luke and I travelled to Malham. We drove over passing large, wooden cut outs of safari animals leading towards the 'Malham Safari'. Odd. Arriving, the place was rammed but the crag wasn't bad at all and after a warm up utilising an insitu top rope on Consenting (7a), we turned our attention to 'Hartley Hare' (7a+) after a recommendation by Dan, James and Chris. Luke climbed first and was quickly pulling through the bulge and lowered off. He spoke favourably of the climbing and i was soon flashing the climbing too, which i was happy about. I'd never seen anyone on it, but it's an excellent little climb on perfect rock.

Jacob decided today was the day for redpointing 'The Groove' (8a+) so as he got that sorted myself and Luke watched James quickly dispatch 'New Dawn' (F7c). Luke then had a go flashing the line, but unfortunately fell off the boulder problem start. He cruised the upper wall which is a real shame. I was interested in having a look at the line but was worried about how much the climb looked my anti-style! Still, i didn't have to get all the way up as Luke would go again. After a tough, technical boulder problem start i dogged my way up to the steepness and worked out a pretty decent sequence i think. I failed to commit to the ledge move, after getting a bit pumped thinking what i was going to do and not finding a good hold. A fall into space away from the line, i decided i'd hand the initiative back to Luke, who quickly redpointed the line first go.

While cleaning the route, we realised that Jacob was at the top of 'The Groove' - was it a successful redpoint? Jacobs really interested in doing 'Totally Free II' (8b), Steve Crowes mega route up the height of Malham, and Jacob had already redpointed, a while back, 'Free and Easy' (7c) into 'Breach of the Peace' (7c?) which together is around 8a? After realising he was stoked to keep going Luke and James ran around to the higher terrace and traversed out to tie him into a second rope. He then made progress up Free and Easy commenting how he couldn't remember any of it and was almost a retro-flash! A short, wild roof lay between him and top. He pulled on and made huge moves on good? holds to the lip. A slightly faulter, but he kept it together, 'go on Jacob'... but no, he was off! Gutting! Massive effort though; i can only dream of what it must be like to link 8a+ into 7c into a huge roof. Must be outrageous!

He was delighted with his effort and he and Luke both had goes repeating The Groove while i had a few laps on Consenting, after losing the onsight on the last tricky move of 'Apatite' (7a+), which was frustrating. A good day at Malham, really really stoked to go back but i'm heading home for the rest of the week as partners looking thin on the ground and weather looks a bit shit (though probs excellent for Malham!).

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Dib Scar - E3's, F7a and F7b

I have always been tempted by Dib Scar and finally today i got to go. I was mostly stoked to get on 'Central Wall' E3 5c A0***, but there were a few other things that looked nice too. After dropping mates off at Kilnsey, we walked up the pleasant approach to the crag in the cool, brisk breeze.
Arriving at the crag, the trees adorning the tops and sides were swaying around but the sheltered bowl that is Dib Scar was totally calm and warm. Excellent crag choice for the day!

Climbing as a three i was stoked to get on with it early, with no faffing around so i jumped on 'Mettle Nettle' E3 5c* and made steady progress up the 'non-line'. The grey wall, littered with flakes and small cracks climbs really well, with small wires making it feel E2. Passing two, pretty unnecessary pegs i arrived at the belay and lowered down to let Huw and Harry second it.

Harry and Huw then climbed a F6c, which had a bouldery start before tackling some nice looking ground above. I declined the lead and instead racked up for Central Wall. Utilising Conors clipstick, i clipped the insitu aid thread and dogged up to the starting jugs, before making the hard pull to get established.

Aid Sling - Bring a clipstick!
'starting' groove.
After this lovely, groove based moves up the corner, with more gear than you can shake a stick at leads to a glue-in bolt. I was half-tempted not to clip the bolt, seeing as i had a good wire a foot below and could see good cams in the roof, but 'sensible dave' prevailed. If it had been 'offline', even slightly, i'd have not clipped it but it was perfected placed to prevent drag and right in front of my face.

Cool groove/corner moves

Tricky undercuts
After this a tricky step up on undercuts leads to juggy undercut jams in the roof. A couple of powerful moves with less than helpful feet lead around the roof. Excellent position but slightly weird, butch manouvres which are all over too quickly.

Powerful crux - easy if you're a thug?
A tree belay was where i'd spend the next half an our or so of my life, while i brought up Huw and Harry on second.
Harry on second
Huw then got stoked to try a short, bouldery F7b called 'Rock Around the Bloc' and after making some progress unlocking the sequence it was my choice again. I was tempted by Cauliflower - E4 6a** but the lower crack was vegetated and dirty. I should have rapped down to clean it, but i decided to take the 'easy' option and got on 'Passion and Warfare' F7a** after advice by another crag user. After racking up, i pulled on and climbed up the thin crackline and up via a difficult (cos i did it wrong!) undercut to a large sidepull. I headed up towards the arete and the bolts seemed to head right, as did I, swinging onto a large flat hold before powering up a thin flake to the top. As it turned out the '7a/7a+' which is climbed to the left used the arete but as i'd not checked the guide i didn't know or think there was a route there. The bolt above the bulge is hidden so i just presumed the line went right. Felt 6c+/7a so i don't think it made a huge difference. Really nice climbing, on good holds and rock. There are a few creaky bits though, so this might change after a few more ascents... Harry then flashed the left arete direct at 7a and we returned to 'Rock Around the Bloc'.

I wasn't that interested in the climb, but with little else i wanted to do, i pulled on. I was soon latching the grassy jug at the end of the climbing after dogging the sequence so lowered down and pulled the rope. I started up again. Right hand in a crozzly pocket, a nice move left to a side pull and then left hand again to a great, incut crimp. Sort feet higher and then 'pex stack' a small edge/hole. These moves actually felt really cool and i was enjoying the bouldery nature of the climbing. A high left foot onto a small nubbin and a double pop into, first a crimp and then a crack, leads to a slightly unbalanced move to a crimpy sidepull and a 'fall' into the grassy jug. Excellent bit of climbing, if you like bouldery yarding on thin crimps and stuff. The route then finishes up the 6c, which has some really nice climbing which is not over til it's over.

Huw had a toprope burn up the 7a and we marched back to Kilnsey to pick up a cold Sam and Bojan. Cool day out, great crag and avoided the 'showers' the weather predicted. Good stuff...