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!

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