Sunday, 17 February 2008

Half Term- Pavey Ark, Scugdale, Round Crag, Wainstones, Ingleby Incline

An invitation from Ian Jackson to the lakes was not refused. We hitched a lift with Ian Moore and arrived in the ClevelandMC Hut for tea and a late night drink. We were woken early by the, what could poetically be described as pattering, but was in practise the thumping of tiny feet. It was the third weekend of the month- Youngsters weekend, when members bring their children to the hut. It was good as it got us up early and we drove to Borrowdale.

On arrival at Langstrath we realised it was freezing and it wasn't going to get any sun. So off we trotted back to the car and an eco-friendly trip to Langdale was made. Pavey Ark was sighted with a brutal twenty minute walk from the bottom and we were climbing on 'Astra' by tenish. We retreated as we witnessed the fall and death of what we believed to be a person. A huge bang, obviously a body- too loud for a rucksack and too dull-a-thud for a rock bounced down the rock and then plummeted the final 200ft down the entire length of Pavey. As it ceased it's movement at the bottom it exploded narrowly missing walkers and showering them with blood and body parts. I looked in horror at Dave as we tried to understand what had happened. It was some distance away and before it landed we had caught a glimpse of red- a rucksack?

Cries of 'Jesus' and 'Shit', as people thought of what to do next were quickly brought to an end by the announcement of those showered, that it was a sheep. This impacted on me and Dave strongly as we realised what a fall might mean to a Human. It was made even worse later when on the down-climb we passed the empty corpse with body parts 50 metres apart and then sighted two lamb embryos. I had always thought that the horror of a fall would have been quickly ended by a smashed skull, infact this was far more brutal. Dave refused to butcher it for meat though, so it went to waste. We travelled back after a few 800ft solos and an HVS and after some food returned to the Moors.

On the Sunday we went to Scugdale once more to 'finish it off'. We planned to finish New Dimensions and then work Grand Master Flash. This didn't really come to anything as Dave tired us out by making me climb Finger Jam and Elimination- E2 6a/6b respectively. They were good routes and I nearly finished 'New Dimensions'- getting the hold above where I have my hand in the Picture. I couldn't quite finish it off though and am determined to completely focus on it next time.

A trip to Round Crag proved 'un-fruitful. An attempt at an onsight of Telescopic resulted in failure. We retreated off time out as well. We blamed it on sore fingers and general fatigue and resided to bouldering for the remained of the afternoon. A few F.As of easier routes were made.

On the Tuesday of half-term we ventured to the Wainstones. We had alot on our tick list, but were intending on focusing on West Sphinx Direct. I took the lead and scrambled up to the first crux of it. I managed to place a good tricam that I then returned to the bottom to weight. Dave insisted on me also placing some wires, so I agreed. All this took some time and as I was ready to go for the crux move a hoard of imbecilic 10 year olds entered the popular picnic area below. I went on regardless and attempted this difficult route with the jeers of 'I dare you to commit suicide' echoing from the camp below- helpful. I snapped and found myself swearing at the wee snipes. I completely lost my concentration and also realised the move was pretty tricky. We retreated and I then attempted and failed Sesame. Me and Dooge then went round to the north crag to clean and climb Psycho Syndicate. I abseiled down and brushed the crud and lichen off. We then bouldered around on the first move and now have the start to the E4 6b wired. Another poor-quality trip with little achieved, but alot of experience gained.

It was all rounded off by an awful trip to Highcliffe. I wished to have a go at Moonflower. I walked the eight or so miles only to find it sodden. I returned damp and angry. An unexpected opportunity at Scugdale was swiftly taken and a fine ascent of The Shelf was made. Dooge took the normal route, whilst I played around on a slight variation which was 6bish. I tried over and over again, until I finally hung the top crimp. By this time an audience had formed and my sense of achievement was enhanced. A great day, despite the wind and rain.

(The Needle at the wainstone, via an HVS solo)

Monday, 11 February 2008

Grit- Stanage, Burbage and Lawrencefeild- A first E3 and E4

I had been persuaded by Ian to venture away from Woden's own rock and to sample some heathen grit. I had seen pictures of these fine outcrops and liked the idea of hard, featureless slabs- my style of climbing.

On arrival at Stanage I was amazed at how steep it was. Any extreme seemed to have a roof on it and be a crack. Me and Dooge trotted down to the plantation end and left the two Ians (Jackson and Moore) and the droves of city folk who, like vermin (not the bouldering grade system), nested upon the most impressive outcrop I had seen. We found some slabs and I lead my first grit route- Hybrid. It was good although unprotected and over graded. We moved further left and I spotted my dream route. The red circle in the Rockfax guide indicated it was an extreme I scrambled through the disorganised pages to find it was an E2 5c. 'Keep Pedalling' it was called. A really good solo and my favourite grit route so far. We then proceeded to climb a few more E1s and then lead an over graded E4 5c. It was exposed 5b/5c climbing, but I don't think it warranted E4. 'Don't Fluff It'rose up a crack via a difficult move to a slab and then some slopey delicate moves lead to a top at 15 metres- It was a scary route, but a good one.

We bivyed at Burbage car park. After a visit to the pub and stocking up on jelly supplies we settled. I hadn’t brought a sleeping bag as I assumed it would be quite warm- being on a near tropical latitude and all. It was a mistake. The boiling hot days were contrasted by freezing nights and Ian and dooge’s sleeping bags were coated with ice.

At morning I went for a quick jog and then trotted down to Burbage north. Me and Dooge were trying E2s, as although we are bearly E1 leaders, I facilitated the idea that if we tied E2s/E3s we’ll consolidate E1 as a by-product, plus have experience of harder climbs. This sort-of worked at Stanage, although Burbage was a different matter. We failed on all the routes and the morning was only saved by a very thin ascent of ‘Artificial Stimulant’. A Glorious E2 5c that ascends a featureless slab. Gear was sparse and, after a retreat from the under-graded route, a side runner was used for the successful ascent. It was amazingly thin, unbelievably polished and using some microscopic holds, Dooge even struggled on the second. So I was 'chuffed'.

After a trot back to the car we sped off to Lawrencefield (next to Millstone). I tired my self out seconding Ian up a crazy E2 5c (Suspense), which seemed stiff for me, although it was very hot and I had no chalk and was knackered- resulting in a fall. After this I tried to restore my pride by soloing ‘Meringue' It went well, and after a bit of thinking, the top section was worked out (with a 40ft drop to help focus the mind). Ian then attempted another E2. Something happened that resulted in a 30ft fall head first. He was ‘reet’ though, and claimed it was a ‘rest’ not a fall. It then started to get dark, but then came Ian’s entourage of abuse about how I couldn’t jam and I’m not a Yorkshireman if I can’t jam. This challenge caused me to be assessing the prospect of a night Solo of ‘Great Harry'. I soloed up, rather effortlessly (for me jamming). When I got to the ledge it was getting seriously dark. I decided to stay on the ledge for a bit and then escape off the VDiff. Good route and would like to do it in the light.

This concluded a fine trip- even though it was on grit.
The weather in the south is truly amazing and look forward to more voyages.

Sunday, 3 February 2008


With the bad weather I've elected for an indoor wall. -25 crimps screwed into my kitchen beams. It's good, but gets in the way a bit. I've taken on a new diet aswell.