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.

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