Saturday, 26 July 2008

The Whitestone Traverse- Video!

Enjoy! dodgey quality- some done on camera phone, and if the pics look crap on here, try leaving it for a minute or starting it again; but it gives you an idea of what it's like. If anyone fancies donating a camera......

franco- off to the alps!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Freeing The Whitestone Traverse- Chameleon- E2 5c A1

We felt we had served our apprenticeship with the moors well and now it was time to test ourselves- a bid for graduation amongst the scattered outcrops of the moors to prove we were real climbers.

The largest challenge in the moors and in my mind the only one left for us- The Infamous Whitestone Traverse. Nearly 300 metres of climbing through absolutely brilliant slabs; Gas pipe Belays; overhanging sections where the rock can not even be touched for fear of it falling off and some of the most awe inspiring rock architecture in the country.

Normally such monstrous tests of skill don't interest me too much, but there has been a little race between the parties of myself and Dooge and Luke Hunt and Ian Jackson for the first free ascent. The route is given E2 5c A1, but the Aid section looked Desperate- a loose crack with little else but the crack for holds. All this after over 200 metres of climbing a pendulum abseil and insanely loose rock. This was going to test our route finding abilities as well as our rock assessment skills.

So a fine Thursday was forecast, we packed Dave’s Espace with hammers and pegs, bivying gear, cameras and Lewis Dale (Lewige- the trainee photographer). We made good time and arrived at the Sutton Bank car park early enough to find a lay-by. We walked the short approach for Dave and Lewis's first glimpse at the cliff. We were apprehensive, but confident. Niether of us had climbed more than 3 pitches before and this 18 pitcher was going to test us.

We made good progress across the first walls, passing ‘The Nightwatch’ and ‘The Skab’ in a fine, pumpy pitch, about 4c/5a. Dooge then led an exposed but easy pitch around the corner, with a 'leap of faith' to reach the next belay ledge. I was left with a short scrambley section to belay on a tree and brought Dooge up who then looked at the next line with interest. It was unclear which was the correct line and I led out to find a tricky move, returned and recommended Dave went a different way. Dooge then led, with a massive run out, out to the arĂȘte. He made a hilarious, but terrifying whale/mantle on to a tiny ledge, where he traversed and then belayed. I was impressed with the difficulty- perhaps 5b, and worried that this '4c pitch' was so hard.

We re-cooped and I led across a madly loose wall, above a extremely scary Cassam. With no meaningful gear I reached the bottom of a crack- it looked like soft rock, but better than the rest. Dave Followed over carrying the rucksack and I led again, up the crack. At the top it was hideously precarious, but it was soon dispatched and I moved onto a great slab; bashed the first peg of the day in; clipped a piece of in-situ Gas Pipe; and continued. Dooge dropped a nut and I dropped a belay plate- sweaty hands and a bit tired. After retrieving them (down-climbing 30 metres to a ledge) we carried on. With a little more scrambling we managed to reach the abseil.

We stopped for a drink and realised we'd been on the route for over 6 hours-in the blazing sun, without taking a drink. Dave was starting to talk of packing it in, but I was eager to get to the Aid Section. A mad abseil- involving swinging to a ledge and climbing across whilst still on a prussic gained the start of the '5a pitch'.

I took the lead once again. I was eager to see if i could climb it as I knew Luke had been rescued off it before, so I pushed on, over increasingly poor rock, to a dodgey flake. A mad rock over, with no hand holds (rock too soft) led to the belay (at least 5b), before the Aid Section. Dave said He wasn't too happy seconding this pitch, which gave me the convenient excuse to lower off.

So defeated this Time, but A massive sense of achievement. I feel prepared for the alps (wasn't too tired) and I recon it will fall with some cleaver tactics and perhaps renewed optimism?
The first drink after the 9 hour traverse. Learnt a lot and have a much better chance next time.

We bivvied at Peak Scar that night and the following day I added a direct start to ‘Bivy’- E3 5c with my direct start being soft 6a and very strenuous. Happy Days. See you after the Alps! (hopefully)

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


A long time now I have wanted to visit this place. Today was the day- Truly inspiring.

We warmed up on The Nightwatch. A brilliant 'VS'. This really is one of the best routes in the moors. The Skab Direct (E1)was the next route. I led the first Easy pitch up to the ledge and then we set about the more serious section. Ian led on past a loose block and cruised the rest. A recommended route. We then heard the shouting of another climber- Luke Hunt. He abed down and then climbed up the third end of the rope on the skab. Ian then informed me we were off to the serious end of Whitestone........

Normally abseils are nothing special, but abing past Blitzkrieg was amazing. I got some useful Beta for my future attempt at freeing the traverse though, and we then set about an ascent of Blitzkrieg it's self. E2 in the guide, but much harder. I led up to the cave and then LUke got the sharp end for this dodgey traverse. A fall would have been painful, but not too serious, if the gear held. He was going well and got out to the arete, then his good crimp snapped, this shattered his chances and confidence. He called for the ab rope to be pulled towards him and I abed off to do so.

Ian then went for the lead of Espeekay. He was going for the first free ascent and climbed the crux without Aid. He then panicked and held a runner after he placed it. A traversty really as he later declared he would not dream of trying to repeat the route again, due to it's terrible looseness.

So an eventful trip to Whitestone. How it makes the most confident climber crumble and the likes of me whipper at the sight of it. I hope me and Dave might be off soon to free the travers, but back into that terrible cave I must once more go.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Project- Summer 2008

The project- Many great climbers have failed on this and I no-doubt shall also. I abed down it a couple of weeks ago though and it looked quite do-able. It's the natural and direct finish to an E7 6c and this direct finish would definately be the hardest and the best route in the moors. Pure class. The over-hanging moves at the top scare you on abseil, and after your last OK friend slot you are left with a 12 foot boulder problem of the up-most difficulty. I've been working on my bouldering, but I imagine the crux move is going to be an emense, over-hanging rock with only undercutting the break for holds. A more experienced climber recons E8 7a, but I don't think its more than 6b/c. Still, i'll give it a top rope and we'll see.