Monday, 24 March 2014

A weekend on the Moors - Video.

I didn't make it home this weekend, so had to endure the torment of knowing the driest cragging in Britain was being enjoyed to the full by Franco, Neil and Mark. Looks like they had fun!

Escaping The Rains - Into The Moors from Franco Cookson on Vimeo.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Tarn Hole & High Crag

Franco and I walked up to High Crag to check our progress on Australia Crack... It's possible but it'll be mighty hard! I had a project in mind up at Tarn Hole, something highball i'd previously not committed too. The line breaks left through steepness from a junction with A Reach Too Far (E4 6b ***) and probably adds a notch or two to both of those grades with a guess of E5 6c.

E5 6c * - Excellent steep moves

Slopey boldness

The landing isn't great, but we did have a couple of pads. Some great heel-based moves on slopers, crimps and pockets. Not too high but not bouldering really either - or not enjoyable bouldering in any case! The wind was a bit harassing like.

A Reach Too Far - E4 6b ***

Brilliant moves
We finished the day with some bouldering and it's all in the video below... enjoy.

Tripsdale - worthy of a guidebook of its own from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Turbulent Cascade - Thorgill

A project of mine for about a year. I stuck a stake in and shunted the line a while ago but it was a tad damp and I considered it a bit bold to just 'do'. However a windy day suited an East facer and I asked if we could return to polish this 'back of the mind' climb off. Franco was psyched to look at Parochial Direct which i'm also pretty stoked for.

Parochial Master
It didn't take long to remember the sequence and get ready. It was still damp but only on the 'E2 5a' section at the top so I was happy to go for it. It starts on two small crimps, from where a big span out right leads to a good hold. From here smeary feet allow a second big reach and hold match above a landing which doubles the distance you fall due to its steepness. At this point you can get a small cam in, which while not being excellent is certainly OK. An easy step right then gains the arete. This is unfortunate, if the line forged away direct up the wall it would be * or ** but it just doesn't it rocks right and up the easy but bold arete and groove you finish. There is a ferny ledge to the right but it's a 'hollow' ledge! It just sort of bridges the gap in a strange chimney.

I called it Turbulent Cascade, as that's what I envisage if you fluff the crux and fall down the steep gully landing! All in all certainly not the best route i've put up but that's definiately not to say it isn't good! We're just finding some absolute gems at the moment...  it was strange it felt almost old school, a bit like some of the harder solo lines from the previous generations like Moonflower or Peel Out etc etc.

Turbulent Cascade E6 6a - Thorgill from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.


The Basstard & Turbot Charger - More Smugglers Terrace additions

Franco and I escaped the brisk westerly down at the Terrace. It's absolutely perfect this time of year, the bracken is down and its warmer than being out in the wind. Franco had cleaned the central wall of Illusion Buttress - This buttress means a lot to Franco and I as it was this that we first spotted when walking along the cliff top years ago. However, early development focused on the crags to the left.

Illusion Buttress
I'd previously developed a lot of the lower grade stuff with the best route to date being A Plaice Lost in Time E3 5c **. After a quick shunt by Franco, while I soloed a couple of new additions near the walk down at E4 6a and E1 5a. Both of these need properly cleaning as i had to yard on a rope to top out...

Cross bedding

Cross bedding
Anyway, Franco lead the central wall. Easy moves lead past a 6a undercutting move to good gear. From here a 6b sequence on crimps deposits you at a crimpy seam from where, athletic feet raising allow a huge reflexing rock over which allows you to grab a juggy rail! It's a massive move, but you're not going to hit the ground so you can go ground up on it! So I did, and I failed miserably. Disillusioned I tried to TR the line and couldn't touch it, so i worked quickly a traverse right along the seam (which was the line i'd originally envisaged as i presumed the direct would be nails....).

Wave ripples
I got psyched and lead it quite quickly, with only a minor scare coring my feet up on to the arete towards the end. Another fun E5 or so, which is safe with the small cams in the break. I want to get some photos of these two climbs... I'm also going to upload this again at higher res and with better music...

The Basstard & Turbot Charged - Smugglers Terrace Additions from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Maiden's Bluff - Another new venue on the coast!

The coast is a treasure trove for the North York Moors climbing scene... Boulby bouldering, Stoupe Brow, Smugglers Terrace and now near the village of Goldsborough harbours a crag unlike any other on the 'Moors'. A collection of natural sea craglets and just off vertical slabby quarry faces... akin you might say to Pex Hill (but not urban). Matt Ferrier was the first of our group to get reconnaissance on the area and his time spent came up trumps.

Franco has been there a fair bit, just cleaning and shunting stuff. The rock is scrittly, but it soon cleans up and the main quarry wall provides 8m solos on crimps, pockets, nubbins, smears and usually involves 'popping' for a break at the top of the wall - exciting!

Maidens Bluff - Looking slightly more slabby than it is...

After a couple of days getting more samples for my ongoing university work, I dropped in on sunny afternoon to meet up with Franco. It faces East, so it doesn't get the sun during the day, but this means the conditions were grand. The easiest line on the wall climbs up a series of pockets on the left hand side. A tricky start deposits you at some juggy pockets. A lovely set of moves jugging between these pockets allows a scary rock over on a crimp and mono to be made and thus the top to be gained. There is gear, though its in a slightly hollow pocket. We both elected to solo the line which is excellent and weighs in somewhere around the E5 6b mark - quite tricky but hopefully it will clean up nicely with time and repeats! It was an absolute joy to climb this route!

The tech. 6c/7a routes are all wicked. I shunted a couple which I reckon i'll be able to solo at some point but may have to become long term projects. It's not all going to be in the mid to high E grades either, some easier lines could be achieved, plucked from the cliffs high above the North Sea. 

Birk Crag - Harrogate: A chance to repeat some new additions

I like to repeat peoples new climbs, whether they are bouldering or trad, if it's in my 'grade' range!! The weather was beautiful, I only had half a day and had been at Bridestones the day-previous and was aching somewhat. I decided i'd drop into Birk Crag, near the garden centre in Harrogate. I must admit, I am a tad odd when it comes to climbing - i'm just as happy ticking at pretty esoteric crags or Kilnsey/Malham etc. I chose this venue as it was only me and i'm feeling a bit skint at the moment so the 15min drive was good - only 2 minutes past Almscliffe.

I wandered down with a single pad and a shunt rope. However, I arrived to a pleasant looking wall with the grade E6 6b **. I lobbed my pad down, did some pull ups on the sloper and then set to looking at the holds, giving the ones I could reach a good chalking. It looked like a cool rock over, a Moors sort of move. Swing low, right heel and sit with big left flag. Pop up twice on sidepulls and I was soon at mono pockets... Sweet. A quick solo up the top wall, with a drop knee finish and I was done pulling through the roof at the top. The clean rock leads up the main wall, though the right arete is totally in reach tho it's wet through and green as fuck - perhaps it's always like that? Anyhow, E4 6b for my money as even without a pad I think from the tricky moves the flat landing would be 'ok'. The start felt like a tricky, excellent font 6c+, however the previous day i'd been bouldering with Will Hunt who is a sand-bag personified! So perhaps my opinion was skewed!

I couldn't look at the other E6 as it was wet, though it's a tad eliminate at the top where the crux is, but it looks like a bold move. I'd certainly recommend 'Centre Stage' as either a boulder problem or as a slightly defined highball donning blinkers and ignoring the arete to the right. Good stuff.    

Two weekends in a row on Kebs Road

I returned to Bridestones (W. Yorks) after an absence of many years. My first visit in first year at Uni was unfortunately a claggy, misty day when nothing was climbed - we just sat around waiting for it to clear. This however early March blue skys brought a lovely day of relaxed climbing. I warmed up along side Andy Hobson on Cleopatra 7a, which after a couple of false starts I ended up flashing it much to my pleasure - a lovely boulder problem and really 'my style'. Andy finished the job quickly too and we re-convened under Horror Arete 6c. This area classic is a stonking line and high enough to add some spice. Still not actually warm, I watched Andy and James climb up to the arete before bailing. I really wanted to flash Horror Arete, i'm not sure why though, I mean it's not sentimental to me it must just have an aura. Anyway, I was fortunate and I was soon getting my feet high on the arete and slapping to the ledge - My arms actually felt a tad dead topping out - presumably because it was only my second bit of climbing for the day - however the jump off quickly got the heart racing to get everything warm.

I tried the roof crack/pocket and ledge 7a+ problem on the otherside of Horror Arete boulder. A great move but that ledge is pure sand! Never mind.

We moved back over and quickly, maybe 4 or 5 go's saw us climb the brilliant, devious Out of Sight 7a. Another cracking problem. And a short, sweet day was complete.

The following weekend, Will Hunt, Billy Lawrence and I ventured just down the road to Hugencroft AKA Hawks Stones. We had a task of wading through the myriad of boulders, craglets and highballs trying to suss out the bouldering - which was clearly going to be excellent. After a dog shit start to the day, with high winds and clag (we went down near Todmorden for a cuppa and some 'sick' good food - as proclaimed by a local delinquent) the weather soon turned and we were afforded a few hours to get stuck in. As we suspected some brilliant bouldering and highballs on only slightly scrittly rock - which makes it all the more interesting!
The highlights for me was the centre of the far left wall at about 6b, the area we dubbed 'undermined by rabbits' which is home to an easy font 5 slab / twin aretes climb, a pillar with a pocket in the middle which provides a perfect rockover/mantle and the left arete 6c+ of this which is gritstone wizardry at its finest (at a moderate grade) with finally a hanging groove at around font 6c providing the icing on the cake... Oh wait, there;s also two perfect 6b/6c aretes on the far right side past Rams Head Slab. Great stuff.

Flounder - 6c 
I'll be back to look at the trad I reckon, there's two lines which i'm not convinced have been done previously, but the rest of it looks well worth another pop across from Leeds - maybe just with a shunt to kick start a bit of life into the venue.

Vive le Tour! - 6c *

Which leg is which...?