Friday, 25 October 2013

Weather Beating: Wharncliffe, Bird Flu (7b) & Daytona Wall (E5)

Every day seems to bring a bit more rain. Either a constant drizzle or heavy showers. It's pretty grim. The last three crag visits have been 'bold' outings hoping to find rock dry enough to climb.

Huw and I departed mizzle in Leeds and drove to Wharncliffe, with the forecast for 'proper rain' at 3-4pm. We managed to get a couple of solos, a lead of the classic arete E1 (which was wet at the top providing a harder sequence tip-toeing direct up the arete) and then a lead of Banana Wall (never E4!) and the pretty sweet October Arete E2 5c. I've got a few lines in my mind from there, Into the Air (E5), An E3 through a small roof and October Wall E4 6a all looked well worth returning for - plus Desolation Angel E6, if I get a bit bolder.

Rain that night, with rain forecast for 3pm the following day provided Jacob and I enough stimulus to head for Trollers Gill... It was wet. No seepage just entire crag condensation. We only had ropes and draws and one pad so we decided to run up to Simon's Seat to see what was what. Everything was wet... but there was a breeze. We sat around, talked and ate some food and eventually, after a little bit of dabbing with a tea towel, Hen Arete 7a and Bird Flu 7b at Hen Stones were dry. Jacob onsighted Hen Arete before very quickly dispatching Bird Flu via a strangely powerful move on a slabby arete. I how struggling, I couldn't seem to lean my body far enough away from the rock to get my feet high. I couldn't do anything having got my right foot on the nubbin'. So eventually, started to work on a step through move, which, with some refinement from a now bored Jacob, provided me with a pleasing tick of a tricky arete on a day where I could have done nothing! We had a quick look at The Naked Edge E3, but it was wet, so we walked down and got soaked by a thunderstorm... Heated seats FTW!

The following week saw more of the same. Except, amazingly the Thursday forecast seemed to indicate SUN...all day! Being at Uni, i allowed myself Thursday off to take full advantage knowing full well i will almost certainly end up working weekends in the future. Huw and I raced to the Lancashire/Yorkshire boarder and walked into Cow's Mouth Quarry. A route that had been on my wishlist for years was Daytona Wall E5 6a, but i'd never driven over to look. Huw however lives quite close and said it would be dry and clean. We walked in through wet mist looking at gopping wet walls. I was a tad disheartened. The crag however was dry and I proceeded to flash Daytona Wall after Huw had a quick play and clean of the holds on a rope. Efficient. Huw repeated the trick and I bouldered out the direct start - which is worth doing for an extra 6a move before the 5c/6a move through the overlap. Great route, loved it. Perfect solo. We had a bunch of pads, but I really wouldn't approach the line with a 'highballing' mentality, its a solo.

After eating our weight in donuts, pies and other stuff bought from Morrison's en-route we decided it would be a good idea to drive to Summit Quarry. It was starting to get towards sun set so we raced up, and found the crag. IT was wet. However, the buttress that has recently seen some attention from Nik Jennings and AK Hughes was dry. I didn't know what any of the routes were so, in what felt like fading light, I climbed the left crag of the bay, which climbs nicely via a couple of wire slots to the break. Small fiddly gear and a powerful feeling layback (bit iffy when wet!) leads to the top of what I later found was a E2 5c "First Circle". Probably a tricky one at this grade? but it was all a bit rushed. What this visit did tell me was that I want to go back... Jaggernath E4 6b and its associated routes (E5 6c & E7 6c) look brill, as does Jim's Route E6 6c. The mono-wall of Summit Quarry (E7 6c) also looks attractive, but mono's aren't my thing otherwise i'd love to give it a bash.

dayton wall flash from huw goodall on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Rushing back to form?

I felt like my best climbing days were towards the end of my degree, when I was using the full spectrum of climbing variety, including indoor walls, sport at Malham and Kilnsey and trad trips. Usually, I end up doing just one thing for a set amount of time. Living on the Moors, the nearest wall is a 1hr drive and its 1 1/2hrs to a good one, but you're surrounded by rock, so you can't bring yourself to do it. Leeds on the other hand is far simpler to hit the wall and get pumped - something which is incredibly hard to do upon the Moors...

Anyway, i've started as I mean to go on, climbing regularly at the wall on evenings and taking any free time to head outside and now even more confident to just go and shunt (with the possibility of a solo involved) if there's no partners, i should be back up to fitness in no time?

Anyway, a brief recap of my recent days...

After my solo trips to Halton Heights and Windgate Nick, I returned to my alma mater(?) for gritstone shunt soloing - Hawkcliffe. Perhaps my favourite venue consisting of the fabled gritstone. I went knowing it had the potential to be damp and cold following some rain the day previous. It wasn't.

I stuck a rope down Pigeon E6 6b, a Ben Bransby 'micro-route' with a horrid landing. After a quick scrub to clean some of the upper pockets (certainly would have fucked you up getting the wet mud in the top pocket!) I gave it a shunt. Tricky...
It's a big reach and at full reach off smears I knew it would be a bit 'iffy' on solo. The rest is no harder than 5c but probably E4. Anyway, I decided i'd give it a miss today perhaps a bouldering mat below would provide a bit of encouragement? Well, a spotter anyway.

So what to do. I was at a crag, perfect conditions, no partners and two routes i'm desperate to do. Blood On The Shamrock E6 6a *** and Driveby E6 6b ***. I decided to abandon my pretty ropey ethics these days (which was that I was saving BOTS for the flash) and shunt the beautiful and terrifying looking arete. I flashed it. Just. Happy with that, I refined a sequence which actually felt pretty secure with a crafty heel, to allow a breather before the smear of doom. A trouser shitting move to get your feet on the ledge follows and you're standing there 15m? off the deck. It's an absolute gem of a route. Short and sharp but set way up above the branches. I'm sure its safe with gear?! Regardless, full on as a solo even if it was a headpoint. AMAZING.

Sunday was nice; sunny & breezy so I teamed up with Yorkshire Waters eloquent junior employee Will and headed to Simon's Seat. I was looking forward to returning to the most perfect rock in the Pennines south of Healheugh and I wasn't disappointed.

Arriving at 'I'll Bet She Does' we found a team already plundering most of the excellent highballs and bouldering in the vicinity. Making full use of some additional pads Will quickly warmed up on the left arete "And She Was" E3 6a (font 6B+) despatching it with ease in the chilly breeze. I too warmed up on the highball wall, with a couple of false start getting off the ground on the central line of 'I'll Bet She Does' E3 6a (font 6C?), I was soon climbing this brilliant but somewhat eliminate feeling(?) direct up the wall. Great holds at the top and after totally missing the good holds, a bit of sloper-fest at the top. Good stuff.

Will repeated Galaxy font 7A and I tried it as its something I'll do in the future but my finger tip skin cried a little which was worrying for the second route of the day so i sacked it off. To Hen Stones!

A short session on the gloriously situated buttress with about 6 or 7 immaculate problems. I finished up with Hen Arete font 7A and the crack line font 5, while Will repeated Hen Pecked font 6C+, Hen Arete and made progress with Bird Flu Font 7B. I'll be back for this one also, as after initially wanting to get it done, I decided to save my rapidly deteriorating right fingers for The Naked Edge E3 6a.

With the afternoon drawing in, and the temperatures just dropping slightly we called it a day and wandered back toward the car, via The Naked Edge. I re warmed up, had a good look at the line and then set off. About 1/3 of the way up I felt like i'd made a mistake, I was starting to sweat up the only hand hold available at that height. I didn't want to lose the onsight of this one. Fortunately a bit of clear thinking allowed an arete side swap and a continuation to the top. Which isn't at all as scary as the guidebook made it sound, finishing on good holds. Got me fairly psyched to try Dino-Mania E5 6b to the right as well. I felt fairly comfortable at that height so if i'm there with a glutton of pads or a mere towel i might give that a go. Great crag, can't wait to get there bouldering this winter - though by the events of today, perhaps my tips can?  

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Halton Heights - Runt (E5 6a) & Greenham Cruisers (E4/5 6b)

A crag i'd often eyed, just beyond the scrappy-looking Eastby Crag, while driving towards the Limestone or such like, but I never thought i'd go. However, a new route online at E5 6a called Runt along side a couple of E1's and E2's made me think i'd give it a bash.

I got a bit of a shock.

I didn't really look at the crag heights in the guide, with most buttresses being 10 - 15m very much in the trad rather than boulder/soloing height range. I sort of thought it would be an extension to the Eastby Craglets. The routes looked to mostly be well supplied with gear though were mainly very heathery now; it was clearly was popular at some point in the past due to the abundance of stakes. The old quarry workings providing the usual square cut corners, aretes and slabs reminiscent of some of the Lancashire Quarries.

Anyhow, I warmed up soloing the "HVS 5b" which climbs the arete straight on whereas 'Runt' E5 6a climbs on its left side above a 8m fall zone into rocks. I found the HVS interesting, i backed off twice, before committing and upon doing so thought I might have done the E5! Necky route! HVS going on E3 i'd say, felt as hard as Veteran at Rylstone for example or at least how I remember it anyway. Perhaps I missed something, but it seemed pretty thin. Good slab climbers back in the day I suppose...?

I set up a top rope and tried Runt. I didn't like it. Up the dual arete, then swapping onto the left arete only dropping your weight over the abyss below. Foot smearing, bump the right up a tad to allow a final reach to a crimpy jug. I really didn't like it. Felt like, dare i say it, the hand holds needed a 'stiff brushing' to bring them into any sort of condition, and it also felt like I was chasing a grade not a route. I have to admit if it was E6 I might have thought again. I decided i'd leave it and come back after searching for another climb which i could stay warm on in the chilly breeze.

I found an E4 6b arete which i'd totally missed in the guide before setting off, so I was pretty happy about that. I rapped down, hoping to flash the line, but it looked a bit blank at around the 6m mark and I was padless. I noticed some old bolt holes too, so wondered if the line was lead using them originally?

I soloed up and down but the lower section is tricky to up and down and the higher section looked too blank to suss out for me. So i stuck a shunt down it. I read the move high up correctly, however I didn't flash the section so i suppose i made the right decision. The lower section is awkward 5c climbing up to an obvious rock scar which provides a good crimping ledge. Utilising this and some small crimps on the headwall one rocks over the overlap and up under the roof. Easy jug pulling leads to the top. E5 6b? There is a small pocket which might take a nut but i'm not sure how good it would be? I checked the guide, Derek Hargreaves soloed the FA along with several other routes - onsight? Nice one regardless!

I can see a return with some pads and chums to help keep this line clean, I liked it.