Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Otter Hill E6

We've been back to Otter Hill twice since last summer, on both occasions to check out the left arete of the buttress and on both occasions we were heavily rained on. This left a bit of a disgruntled impression of the crag for us and it felt as though we'd never return this summer. However, after an extremely windy half session at Ingleby, with Franco getting a tad further ground up on Time Captain RH, we decided to wander to the more sheltered Otter Hill for another look.

Franco had abseiled the line previously and we had wanted to ground up flash the new line. However, this led to the wasting of time that resulted in major dampening incidents of the past. Today we decided to quickly top rope the line to ensure a quick dispatch. I was pleased we did.

The lower wall leads quickly to some gear at around 3 metres. From here to the top break, each move takes you further into unprotected soloing. A sustained and interesting series of moves lead up the wall to the right of the arete and an enjoyable reach provides a break and gear. From here a pump-inducing top out can be made finishing with a flourish with the aid of lichenous slopers, heather and heels. Great stuff.

The route itself was not how I thought it would be, being quite tricky to suss the moves and being further between holds than it looked from below. No moves are harder than 6a, but the overall sustained feeling and increasing seriousness with the potential for decking off at least one move, possibly two, means a grade of E5+ or E6- seemed prudent. It's a strange one, very easy climbing but not really safe. H4 for the headpoint but hard E5 or even E6 to onsight. It felt a good notch easier than Ginny Greenteeth (E6 6a) but that is unsustained and pretty obvious and also has two no hands rests... So i suppose an easy E6 is a hard E5 and that seems about right...  

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Running down the clock

So far this summer has been a good mix of some easier FA's and some good repeats of existing classics, a balancing act I've enjoyed. However, as the summer begins to cool down we saw a burst of development in late August/September and I expect to see the same this year. Maintaining the balancing act of development against established routes I hope to get a hard copy of my targets down and we'll see how many I get done...

So far we've established some cracking routes and repeated some gems too, the most important being recorded in this list and new routes in bold.

1. Rivers of Sand E4 6a - Roseberry Topping. A pseudo-adventure route on slightly sandy rock with a bold starting groove!
2. Thor's Axe E3 5c ** - Thorgill Crag. A photogenic sharp arete, consisting of a short technical crux. 
3. Love or Confusion E4+ 6b * - Ingleby Incline. An interesting climb, culminating in an undergraded bold finishing mantle. Closer to E5/6? for the onsight. 
4. Ellis' Eliminate E3 5c * - Ingleby Incline. Pete Whillance soloed this... however camming devices protect at halfway on the traverse. Another excellent neglected route.
5. Psychosis E5 6b *** - Smugglers Terrace/Fox Holes Crag. A super crack climb with a hard committing crux protected by RP's.
6. Sea King E1 5b ** - Smugglers Terrace/Fox Holes Crag. A pleasant line of weakness and relatively long route. A good addition from the youths!
7. Time Captain E4 5c ** - Ingleby Incline. A tremendous route, long in nature and pumpy. Not technically demanding and generally well protected, however the route retains an overall feeling of commitment. 
8. The Parochial Dream E5 6b * - Thorgill Crag. A sweet highball following a line of pockets up the barrel shaped wall. Bold in nature but protectable with modern age pads. Still worthy of an E-grade.
9. Peel Out E4 6b* - Wainstones. An excellent highball up a slightly eliminate line. Lovely technical climbing deserves more attention especially in the age of bouldering mats.
10. Stargazer Direct E5 6b ** - Highcliffe. An exciting and technical wall climb, with a high and committing crux. Fiddly gear protects (filed down RP or RP + coin); certainly originally graded (E4) for a rehearsed ascent.
11. Beaver Fever E1 5c * - Round Crag. While only being a short line, this little climb packs a few more moves than might be expected. Well protected and technical this adds a low extreme to the crag and helps to create a more 'rounded' grade skew. Awfully named.
12. Slip and Fly E4 6b * - Esklets. An Ian Dunn route, given E3 6b when the peg was new, is now closer to E4 with a heavily rusted peg. Perhaps it would hold? I'll let you find out. A great route, but you need a fair old span on you!
13. Cold Moor Dynos E2/3 6b ** - Cold Moor North Buttress. Removing the aid and side pull from 'Overhanging Wall' via a dyno and then a FA up the scoop to the right of 'Spine Chill', via a large jump. Excellent one movers!
14. Grand Master Flash E5 6b *** - Scugdale. The amazing Dave Paul extreme. Highball in nature these days, it's still not really a good idea to fall off! Technical throughout, powerful low down and with just enough to get the nerves twanging. Super. 

So whats left to do?!

Well, Ch-Ching (E6 6c) is high on the list, after I fell off ground up and hurt myself on the nearby rocks. I'll certainly approach this as a highball with pads and treat it differently to an ascent of Stratagem (E5) up which the route finishes and which is also on the to-do list! Psycho Syndicate (E5 6c) is another one, I've not managed a method that involves monos while Franco easily yarded to the top via an undercut mono. I will probs throw a rope down this one and see if I can work out a 'normal' way to do it! If its mono-dependent, i'm not stoked!
What else? Well Steve Crowe put a few bits and bobs around the place when guidebook checking and he gave A Reach Too Far (E4 6b) three stars. It's got to be worth doing! Bit of a hike to the crag just to do this route, so I've kept putting it off. We'll wait til it's windy or not midgey!
Theres a couple more things at Ravenscar I'd like to do, Screwed (E5 6b), Gangrene (E3/4 6b), Three Screaming Popes (E6 6c) and maybe Rock Bottom (E3 going on E5 6b?). Round Crag is still important to me, I'd love to do Scut de Scun Ai, but i'll be waiting til its cooler. Its a bit choppy, I'm not sure I can justify another E7 6b... Pippi the E6 6c however looks excellent but a hard old start. I still need to do Time Out, E3 /4 6a ***! Would be nice to tick the whole block.
Esmerelda E7/8 6c or Original Sin (E7 6c) are Waterton classics and I'd love to do one of them. Can you shunt Es with the overhang? I'm yet to try.

So what about new routes? Theres some good stuff to get into but it's whether we choose ground up or headpointed ascents. Time constraints are the issue for me here. Ingleby, Smugglers, Stoupe Brow, Thorgill, Kay Nest, High Crag, Highcliffe all seem to have hard and superb routes ranging from nasty highballs to long committing routes of the well protected or choppy variety!

The List I would like is;

Ingleby RH - E6 6c    WORTH DOING
Ingleby Direct E5 6a/b    PROBS NOT WORTH DOING
Ellis' Direct E5 6c?        NOT WORTH DOING
Landslip Arete E8/9 6c          HARD START!
No Expectations E5/6 6b         DONE, a cracking little route.
Kraken Arete E7 6b (with 6c start)      DONE, a classy piece of arete climbing
Kraken Wall E5 6a/b (with 6c start)       DONE, a powerful crux.
On Crack E6 6b?                            TRICKY START ON POOR ROCK
Tranmire Slabs (x4) E4 to E7?       WORTH DOING
Kay Nest Wall & Slab E7/8?         NOT SURE

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Grand Master Flash...A Dream With Wings, innit?! Who know's but where did Cannonball Run come from?

A strange 10 days or so for me, with some good ascents but also some failures and poor decisions. It started with some bouldering at Thorgill, where I grounded up an E5 and managed a 7b dyno and 7a+. This suggested I was going well, but still struggled on 'deadpointing' small pops and lacked that couple of inch (or less) required to static these moves. Anyway, a painful fall off Ch-Ching and a total shut down trying to pull on the monos of Psycho Syndicate left me feeling a bit down, however these were balanced by enjoyable ascents of Peel Out, Stargazer Direct, Slip and Fly and i suppose you can throw in the enjoyable dyno-solutions to the North Buttress at Cold Moor there too, as i hate dynos!

The dyno unlocking the left side of 'Impossible Wall', which we named Footless Crowe. Named after the first developer of the buttress, Steve Crowe and the fact its a dyno, as well as the obvious reference!

Franco on Psycho Syndicate

Anyway, Grand Master Flash has always been the scalp I wanted at Scugdale, for me it's the centerpiece of the crag (even though it's off to one side) and, although I don't feel at my strongest (or fittest anymore) the cloudy day seemed right to have a highball on the The Master. In reference to the title, this route has been claimed as several different routes by Dave Paul, Monty (maybe?) and most recently Richard Davies. Oddly, a Dave Paul traverse (Cannonball Run) suddenly appeared on climbonline, which i'll have a look at next time I think.

Originally headpointed, it has seen repeats in this style as well as at least one onsight. I was stoked to onsight or ground it up. However, arriving at Scugdale it was sunny so Franco quickly utilised the newly chipped hold on Humbug, which was in the shade, to climb this bit of wall. Obviously the original Humbug has been awfully damaged by this chiselling-moron, but the move that remains is an interesting spring from the sidepull to the top. The Shelf has also been chipped, by the same person. Certainly a case of someone bringing it to their level, as they haven't created buckets, they've just improved pre-existing holds, with two finger edges. The person in question must have about Font 7A strength though, if they even managed to do 'Humbug'?

After swanning around in the sun, we made are way to Grand Master Flash, which was thankfully just in the shade. Still very warm, we had a look at the buttress from the ground and it looked sandy. Franco rapped and cleaned the holds quickly and I set off ground up. A few powerful moves low down, that are pretty easy to read from the ground, leads to a couple of poorer crimps. I made a move up but i couldn't yard on the left most crimp and i was soon plummetting to the ground. It's high! Fortunately, my usually debilitating left knee has a mind of it's own at the moment and didn't seem to hurt, so spurred on I went again. I reached the same point and 'manked' off it, blaming sweating fingers. Franco flashed the line, enjoying the warm rock of the head wall in slightly scared fashion! Disillusioned by the the events, I elected to abseil down the line and check the crux. I cleaned the crimps and felt the hold above. I found a different crimp which when combined with the original meant didn't have to pull on the sloping number - great! Back to the floor, i powered on up the steep wall for a 3rd time and quickly found myself on the scary headwall. Great route and moves!

I was slightly disappointed by the fact I had lost my ground up, trading it for a far less satisfying 'inspection of route' but theres too much to do and what feels like too little time. A great problem and one I feel is deserving of its E5 6b grade, perhaps feeling E4-ish with pads. Interestingly, I don't think it's 6a, as touted by Ram Man (at about the same time as he did a two finger one armer off the starting hold of New Dimensions!), but the crux feels like it should be a hard pull on a crimp, when in actuality, it ends up being much less powerful...but does involve finding said crimp! Oh well, I'm sure most folk are better at hold finding than I am.

Great route, protectable these days with pads though perhaps not really a good idea to go 'Gung Ho' on as the crux is quite high. Certainly comparable to The Parochial Dream, in terms of feel, perhaps being a tad easier, but more crimpy and harder to read?

No pictures or videos for a while, as my camera got drenched last week by a massive thunderstorm :-(

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Stargazer Direct

A terrific route. Not eliminate in my opinion, infact I think this is better than Super Direct? Good moves and pro upto the break, then more small gear and further tricky moves. A small slot, which currently cointains a euro which Jas Wood used to protect the route and apparently a filed down RP was used on the FA. Certainly a tricky onsight! Which is why i would suggest this is hard E5, not E4 as currently suggested! This is added to the fact that the top move is reachy, tricky and amazing. Stargazer and Stargazer Direct are excellent routes on an excellent wall. The super direct appears to be a bit eliminate to me, as you just sort of climb the pits ignoring the large holds of Stargazer. Heck, whatever really some good routes here but perhaps graded in the past for headpoints and that top important hold is somewhat sandy, so perhaps still best approached in that manner? It's up to you... Certainly as good or better than any of the hardish stuff I played on Yorkshire Grit. Well worth doing.

I had a quick play on Cardiac Arrest, hard climbing pulling through the low roof, upper is thin but steadier, i.e less reachy. I noticed that the FA climbed to the ledge on the left than pulled to the good sidepull. If I do it, i'll do it like that, it's eliminate not to in my opinion and depending on where the side runners are I can see it being E4/5 6b? Looks full E6/7 6b to me to climb side-runner-less certainly on a par to Scut de scun ai. Bold. Not sure it's worth it, i certainly won't be investing any time.


Esklets - Slip and Fly & Vinaig Arete

We returned for a couple of hours of guidebook checking at Esklets. We quickly climbed the 'E4 5c' arete I didn't fancy on the last visit in the full sun and found that un/fortunately, the route was actually much easier at around E2 5b. The moves are lovely, on good quality rock in an exposed setting. I enjoyed it, a pleasant outing.

I then lead, after a couple of false starts getting up to the flake, Slip and Fly E3/4 6b. I have previously had a quick look at the reach on this climb, which is pretty massive if your average height, it would seem! I utilised two very poor smears for feet and reached, half powerfully, half delicately towards the break. Latched, i sprinted the finish and encouraged franco to fl-onsight it. He did, with ease, reaching the break with his feet on the lower break! Massive.

A previous attempt at Vinaig Arete - E2 5b
I reckon if your sub 5' 11 or something, it's going to feel around E4 6b with it perhaps being E3 6a for the taller individual. It probably deserved E3 6b when the peg was new, but it's pretty rusty. It might hold, but i'll leave you to find out! Great route, loved the moves even if it was right at the edge of my reach. Will be interesting when the peg goes, I suspect top end E4 or E5 really, as the fall will be potentially nasty in the roofs? I dunno, we'll see.

Ch-Ching, Peel Out and others. A Hasty highball session

A strange use of time recently, with short trips to crags usually in pretty poor conditions. Warm weather with strange localised showers meant we wanted to stay local but visit the north facers... with a hope they didn't retain any dampness.

Ravenscar was up first and after managing to figure out a starting sequence to Ch-Ching (E6/7 6c), i made the moves up and tried to slap to the hole. Unfortunately i went with my left and grabbed it momentarily, but was soon flipping off slapping down the rocks. A painful elbow and a few cuts, I was a little shaken but not too badly damaged. I was off put trying again though. Franco however, impressively flashed the climbing and it's still on my to do list as a first E6 ground up.

We journied to Wainstones and highballed very quickly, the lovely Peel Out E4 6b which felt pretty steady after a false start or two. West Face Direct E5 6c however felt a wee bit harder. One to try on a cloudy or colder day i reckon. Psycho Syndicate E5 6c was a good little tester, I had never really managed to get started on this, but after a fair few false starts, we found ourselves on the headwall. Tiny monos and very green rock quickly left us defeated. A return and perhaps an abseil to clean/look at holds might be a prudent use of time for this classic test piece. We soloed a direct to Chop Yat Ridge (VD) which was around HVS, a route we had thought about doing years before and never managed. It was easy today, but a boldish solo which affords adequate gear. Tony Marr climbed this apparently ** line a year previously, so alas, our 'project' was already done!

We warmed down at Garfit Quarry, quickly climbing the E2? 5c crackline, which is a tricky little number, probs E1 6a with poor feet. Crampon scratches and broken footholds suggests some chump has been trying to create as much damage at the crag as possible - I mean, they obviously weren't trying to climb anything, just scrape there feet on the rock! Fortunately, its only the first foot or so. Even so, good quality rock with techincal rock routes isn't really 'on', in regards to Moors sandstone. There are nearby chossy cliffs and shale banks that will afford much better outings. Botton Head, Cringle Moor, Landslip, Carlton Shale to name but a few.