Thursday, 5 July 2012

Blakey Ridge Additions - Brown Hill Quarry and Thor's Axe (E3 5c **) at Thorgill

Franco returned from Austria with my old flatmate Sophie and making use of the good weather in between the forecasted storms, we decided to visit a couple of local venues we'd dismissed/forgotten about in the past.

First up was a quick trip to a small quarry we'd climbed at in the past on Castleton Rigg, but first we decided we'd warm up at Round Crag, by getting on Scut de Scun ai (E7 6b **). I set up a top rope and we both succeeded in linking the problem with little issue...Oh no. I don't want to do it, but its oh so good! Regardless of whether or not I actually get stoked to do it, i was delighted to have linked the route, as i've previously found the climbing to be very difficult. I reckon that this is probs a much harder E7 than Howl Psyche, Fresh Arete, or even  but E7 all the same. BOLD!

We had a little look at my recent addition Tournament of Shadows and decided that this may well be E5 6b actually... The starting move may be more like a tricky font 6b above a poor landing, with an E4 wall above it. I still can't make my mind up about the wire, it might be ok but Franco is right, it's probs not 6a...more like 6b and seeing as i thought it was a hard E4, that probably makes it E5.

With our fingers fully warmed up we decided to try Mike Adams Chasing Rainbows or something, the font 8a slab. After working out the lower wall, Franco slapped to within 2 inch of the top. A fine effort. Definately  one to try again, not in full sun! Neither of us could stride across, like Mike, but Franco worked out some excellent foot beta to make it feasible. I reckon it's a bit morpho like!

Now fully warmed up, we drove to the Brown Hill Quarry. It's about 1.5 miles out of Castleton towards Blakey and contains a central wall of excellent quality, quarried Moors sandstone. The top outs are a bit heathery and blocky at a height of about 7m. A nice little venue, just on the right side of highball.

Franco quickly climbed the direct to the wall, via a obvious central flake. I climbed the weakness on the left of the wall that rises rightwards, across the direct and then added the right hand side of the wall, before figuring out my own beta for the direct. The video shows all! A nice little venue, which we've climbed at before but not recorded anything. Adds a few more easyish but interesting highballs to the already decent Blake Ridge circuit!

'New' routes at a quarry on Castleton Rigg. Brown Hill Quarry/Sammy's Spring Quarry from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

After a day off due to rain, we decided to wander to Thorgill just to check the crag out. En route we checked out Sheriff's Pit, an old Iron-mine from the 19th Century... Unfortunately this plumb vertical shaft has been filled by old plastic farming bags and general rubbish... Makes the water pouring in sound like Niagara!... Anyhow, we figured Thorgill would be wet after all the recent dampness. We were pleasantly surprised; perhaps not by the crag itself as it's not Ravenscar, but it was dry and a nice place to be on a sunny day. We quickly located viable projects and abseiled down. Fortunately for me, mine was the best on the day... A cool sharp arete, just left of the established handcrack route Banjaxed (HVS 5b), put up solo by Pete Whillance. This crack by the way, looks excellent!

Anyhow, i abseiled and cleaned the lower portions of the arete and removed a bit of the loose rock on the unfortunately shattered start. Then, quickly lead the arete starting on the left. Excellent moves, with a slightly bold feel join up some big holds via a crimp and heel or two. Really rather good. The route finishes up Rosedale Buttress Direct (HD), which accesses the upper, low angled arete from the left and really is quite pleasant, finishing at a good tree belay with a beautiful view. Worth a star i think.

Moi on the F.A of Axe Route - E3 5c **
Photo: Sophie 

Franco then repeated the line, starting from the right. We both felt this was a slightly more direct method and is actually better protected. Same grade, around E3 5c ** so it doesn't really matter where you start i don't think, the left side may have an extra move or two, utilising heels and is slightly less powerful, whereas the right/direct pulls on good, positive holds. Couldn't believe how well this climbed, an excellent little line with the enjoyable Rosedale Direct to finish up.

Franco on the technical crux
Photo: Sophie 

Oh, and if any of you were wondering... Thor's Hammer or Mjolnir, was often depicted as an Axe... so don't get too hung up about the name! There's a few more things to do up Thorgill way, so we'll be back...

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