Friday, 25 December 2009

A Wet Day at the Hut- Video

I find it funny.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Cringle Moor Winter Climbing

Just a few shots of Winter climbing on Cringle Moor. Some nice icefalls and the first winter ascent of 'Tell Chris Craggs nout' (V 6). Unfortunately no pictures of the very enjoyable Cringle Ridge (III)Dooge on a little Icefall- Named Humble

Tell Chriss Craggs Nout (V 6 ish). In hindsight it probably just warrants a tech grade of about tech 7 as it's small but hard.

The right hand side of Cringle. There is a lot of width to the cliff, despite it not being tall, meaning it's good practise for technical soloing- almost like winter bouldering. The 1 fall I did have, was fine as I landed in a drift.
Good Ice
A technical, but small pitch. Shallow Torqing to a nick in the top of the buttress. Would be about technical 9 were it not only a boulder problem....

Cringle Ridge (III) is a good turf climb up the obvious 45 metre ridge at the left hand side of Cringle. Sustained turf steps that reach a wall, which you turn on the left via a turfy crack.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

An Epic Weekend In the Lakes

A forecast of cold weather between the 18th and Chrsitmas meant Phone calls and arrangements for a trip to the lakes. Not that much precipitation was predicted, but the mixed routes would surely be in?

I would meet Dooge on the Friday and go and have a look at Lad Crag (the crag to the left of striding edge). We quickly abandon plans to plod up the classic Nethermost Gully (III) in pursuit of a really striking line further left- a series of large corners and the most unbroken part of the crag. After just over 100 metres of easyish mixed steps we arrived at what looked like the technical crux- a corner crack with a roof.

I led up and arranged some good Tricams below the roof and then continued on my first winter lead. It looked hard so I sent down a length of rope to bring up Dave’s technical axes as mine were rubbish walking things. I attacked the crux with a little too much aggression, but got a torque in the crack that seemed to hold and let me swing out to a small patch of turf and then continued in a similar sketchy vain to a brilliant thread belay. Dave followed up and led the next corner of probably around grade IV. We have no real idea what grade the main pitch was, maybe tech 6ish?

Day two saw the arrival of Luke on his motorbike and he persuaded us to go to Bowfell Buttress. A classic route of V 6 that takes almost the same line as the summer route. Dave led us up the first pitch which was just about in and I had the honour of doing the crux pitch, which was quite nice, with good gear. Luke led us up the last pitch which was a beautiful series of moves on good hooks and turf and in really good condition.

The new route at about technical 6 (bold)

After Bowfell I could see he was not content with the classic tick which had gone a little too easily. He pointed out a big corner on the right hand side of the opposite crag. We went for a look. I led the boulder problem start, which I found really hard and belayed Luke, who then cruised up it. He took pitch two, but wisely decided to retreat to the belay as the gear was pretty poor. For some reason I said I’d have a look, even though it was my second day of Winter leading and Luke has done a fair bit on the Ben and in the alps. I soon got to his highpoint and hammered a warthog into a shocking piece of crap (Luke later just pulled it out with his fingers). I made myself have a sneaky look round the next bulge, just to confirm it was blank, but unfortunately I found a hook at the very limit of my reach- a poor sketchy hook, but I had to commit to it now. I matched the hook as I had borrowed Dave’s tools and had leashes on, so couldn’t go double handed and then managed to find a patch of turf a lock-off away. A further cool double-torqing move led to a good belay. I belayed Luke up in the worsening weather and then it got dark. Lowering Luke off, I then rapped off a prussic. Good Day Out!

After the Saturday we were knackered and slept till about 11 on Sunday and then ate loads and used the masses of snow as an excuse. Monday couldn’t be a rest day though and by now Luke had had to go home. Me and Dave kitted up for a big day- We wanted to cruise up the ‘Cold Climbs’ Classic of Chock Gully (V 5) and then descend down Helvelyn to then have a go at Viking Buttress (IV 5). As we got up to Chock Gully it was evident there was a lot of snow around and everything was plastered and big drifts clogging everything.

Spot the Grisedale Demon.

The lead up to the Chock Stone ended up taking nearly 2 hours, due to insane amounts of powder- It was 8 feet Deep before you could get down to anything which could hold your weight and, when the ice got steep enough to repel the powder it was rotten and took an age to get a good placement. Exhausted and scared (not much in the way of gear) I arrived at a peg and clipped it and bashed some Tricams home and sat back on my bomber belay.

The Gully bends right out of view.

As Dave arrived on the belay he congratulated me on having led the most full-on winter pitch either of us had seen in the lakes. His praise was soon interrupted by the worsening spindrift, which was now a constant torrent and I encouraged Dooge to have the crux pitch. He got a good nut in and then went at it with total commitment. The mixed crux led back on to the overhang formed by the chockstone and Dooge swung out on some dodgey hooks to bridge onto the other side.

After the First Ice Pitch

The powder was back in Ernest and Dooge was now a terrifyingly long way above his gear, trying to quarry through the deep powder to get something to hold his (considerable ;-)) Weight. He managed to sketch his way up to the easier angled, but hugely unstable ground and to his relief an in-situ Peg. Getting to a point vaguely resembling a belay he clipped in a brought me up.

After some difficulty passing his belay I managed to get to another step, this time with a bit more frozen turf, but also a sketchy bridging move. Some more, almost avalanche prone Powder and Wind Slab led to a Belay on a good Spike. Dave came up and led up the easy slope to the top. We were both Exhausted after a pretty full on day; on an epic Route; in insane conditions. Bon!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Dry Rock Found! - Scale the Dragon E5 6b

Dan Lane Collection- Bouldering at the Roaches- Video Still.

Two dryish days meant that dry rock was a real possibility on the Saturday morning. Me and Dan made plans for a Hobson assault- a quarry that is likely to be dry in all but the worst conditions. We arrived early in the morning with the hill haze still clearing, leaving a beautiful clear, crisp day.

We sluggishly got round to doing some routes; fighting the cold and getting on 'Dragon's Route' (E3 5c). It went well, with the technical difficulties feeling a long way within my ability, which is always good. As I topped out the sun started to come round and warm the frosted quarry and you could sense the evaporation.

Dan Lane Collection- Dan's Woodie.

The sun broke onto the main wall, meaning that you could hang around and not loose the feeling in your fingers. Dan was still cold so I jumped on 'Scale the Dragon' (E5 6b). It looked dry and all the way up to the mid-height break it was. I arranged a tricam and some friends and then downclimbed a little way for a rest. The break didn't dry out and it made the crux moves very difficult as it relies on some micro-crimps which aren't too good when greasy. After a lot of hanging about and pulling a pair of trousers up from the ground to dry the holds I got quite pumped, which made the crux feel tricky.
Dan Lane Collection (vid still)

Fatigued and wet, the crux only just went, with a sketchy chalk up halfway through a sequence that you don't really want to stop on. The easy top was even wetter, but a sneaky peak down to my distant gear kept me on.

After a few E2s in big boots it got dark and we went home. Great to get on some rock, even if we didn't do anything too major!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Strong, Psyched, But No Dry Rock!

I've been psyched for months now, really eager to get out on real cliffs, with real rock, real run outs and real fear. I'm also stronger than i've ever been -flashing the relatively low grade of F7b+ at the wall the other day, which for me is Sharma-strong. Unfortunately the rain is still a-pounding and the crags seeping terribly.
Dan Lane Collection
I managed to get to the Roaches at the weekend, really psyched for Barriers in Time (E6 6b). It looked like a great first E6 onsight, but was totally wet. I then lowered my objective to Wings of Unreason (E4 6a) which was even wetter. Even the bouldering was wet. We eventually found one dry slab where we spent the day trying no hands problems.
Dan Lane Collection
And you wonder why the UK has no good climbers! ;-)

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Indoor Seshes- F8a

Going for a F7c+ at Sunderland Wall
I've always hated indoor walls, but of late I've been getting down to the Manchester Climbing centre a fair bit. It's an OK wall, with a really nice lead wall and a mix of grades up to about 8a.

I've been getting a lit stronger with the indoor steepness and it's quite funny how you can get into really trying your hardest in a non-outdoor setting. Today I managed to link the F8a on lead, which was pretty cool as it's well set and pretty much at my limit (even though it's quite soft).

Some valiant flash attempts were made by Tony Stone and Luke, who both almost did it (Tony touching the last hold!).

The walls getting reset this week so I can start the intense seshes all over again :)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Danby Crag New Routing- A new E3, E8?, E10?

The last few times I've been to Danby I've been thoroughly disheartened by the danger, difficulty and conditions of the new-routing potential, but today conditions were surprisingly good, and a little progress was made.

I quickly found an easy solution to the unclimbed twin aretes buttress, via a meandering route, which starts up 'the arete' until it is possible to traverse left at about 6a, before being able to finish up the left arete. The hard start is protected by the good tricam on 'The Arete' , But the finish is bolder and easy.

Then I set about the real challenge- the Arete. Conditions were good enough to do all the lower two thirds of the route in one push at sustained 6a/b climbing in a safish situation- E5/6. Just as you get out of reach of the saftey of the tricam, the square-cut arete kicks back and it's awkward, very thin and leaning. The move from here involves a really thin high foot and lunge to a good pocket. Another 6c move which is beyond me on lead at the moment, but is fun to try. Probably E8ish.

The slab to the left is even bolder and harder than the arete.

Next season the moors will be getting some new routes......

Monday, 2 November 2009

Black Knight is Nails

E5 6c in the guide. The obvious, but contrived challenge of the Sphinx's nose was originally climbed with a peg.
A little play on a top rope showed how wild the move really was. If this really was climbed in '86 it was pretty ahead of it's time, with a boulder problem crux of at least V7 and ludicrously wild. Even with a peg, the move is so out there that E5 is a total Sandbag. I'd love to see someone onsight this, probably just about possible under current limits, but way, way harder than E5.

We finished off the day with some bouldering; discovering a couple of problems that were quite nice and tricky and meeting THE other group of moors activists, finally. (their picture above)

Friday, 23 October 2009

Psyched!!! But what for?

It's really strange not having rock on your doorstep, and that's exactly how it is in Manchester. The Wall is pretty good (despite the grumpy staff), so I've ended up not going out for days (almost weeks) on end and just hitting the wall.

The result is i'm stronger than i've ever been, getting better technically by the day (not very hard) and actually doing some work for my course (German). I'm more psyched than i've been for ages as well, dreaming of the Alps, loose Wales and projects back home.
The Raven's scar Arete

Currently, I really want to get back to the moors. There's so much left to do- Kepwick groove, the Danby arete, a look at Magic in the Air ground up. Steve 'the beast' is also apparently nearing the first ascent of the Raven's Scar arete, which will be mega when it goes (E8/9 7aish). I'd love to have a little play on it before it goes (maybe bag an aided ascent before his free one ;-)).

Hopefully I wont have lost my head during the indoor-boshing......

Monday, 12 October 2009


What a place. I've been wanting to get there for so long and this weekend I finnaly managed it. The rock is amazing, the formations spectacular, the position mind blowing and the climbing terrifying.

Mousetrap Zawn was chosen for my first trip and after a bit of retreating the crux pitch of Mousetrap fell to me. Not hard climbing, nor too pumpy, but it's nicely committing and with some really cool moves and a little loose rock.

I sense i'm becoming a Gogarther.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

V4 fourth go- narcissuss (E6 6b)

The Manchester Uni MC meet meant a load of freshers and boulderers descending on Frogatt. A few people decked out, but were ok and a few people bouldered some easy problems- myself included. A large group of us were trying narcissuss and I eventually managed it in bad style and feeling awful after 10 days on the lash. A first E6, but more like a sketchy V4/5/6 with pads. Nice climbing, bit of a shame I was gay and used pads. Good day out though with a wicked pie.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Best Moors Routes List

Unrelated video

I'm getting rather homesick so thought i'd compile a 'top 5 routes at every grade' list.

(guidebook Grade) [actual grade]

1)Highcliffe Crack [HS 4b]
2)Sphinx Traverse [HS 4b]
3)Jordu [Severe]
4)Wings [Severe]
5)Airlift [Severe]

1)Forest Face (HS 4b) [HS 4c]
2)Cosy Corner (HS 4a) [HS 4b]
3)Birdland Direct (MVS 4b) [HS 4b]
4)Moanin' (HS 4b) [HS 4b]
5)Beak Ridge (HS 4b) [HS 4b]

1)The Nightwatch (VS 4b) (the best pitch in the country!) [VS 4b]
2)Frenesi (VS 4c) [HVS 5a]
3)The Leash (VS 4c) [VS 4c]
4)Last Post (VS 4c) [HVS 4c]
5)Groovesology (VS 5a) [VS 5a]

1)Central Crack (HVS 5a)- Whitestone [HVS+ 5a]
2)Gehenna (HVS 5a-hahahaha!) [E1 5b]
3)Hari Kiri (HVS 5a) [HVS- 5a]
4)Countdown (HVS 5a) [HVS+ 5a]
5)Top Gun (HVS 5a) [E1 5b]

1)The Skab Direct (E1 5b) [E1 5b]
2)Satchmo (E1 5c) [E2 5c]
3)Accelerator (E1 5b) [given HVS in the guide more like E1+ 5b]
4)Wombat (E1 5b) [E1 5b]
5)Scarecrow Crack (E1 5b) [E1- 5b]

1)Mongol (E2 5c) [E2 5c]
2)Fever Pitch (E2 5b) [E2+ 5c]
3)BBC (E2 5c) [E3 6a or harder- straight over roof]
4)Black Mamba (E2 5c) [E3/4 5c]
5)Blitzkrieg (E2 5c) [E3+ 6a]

1)West Sphinx Direct (E3 5b) [E3+ 5c]
2)Ali Baba (E3 5c) [(given E2)E3- 5c]
3)Bivi (E3 5c) [E3+ 5c/6a]
4)Jurassic Scarp (E3 5b) [E3- 5b]
5)Gym Junkies (E3 6b) [E3- 6a]

1)Stargazer (E4 6a) [Given E3 5c, but mid E4]
2)Terrorist (E4 5c! (more like hard 6a)) [E5 6a]
3)Wedge Route (E4 6a) [E4 6a]
4)Screwed (E4 6b) [E5 6b]
5)Waves Within (E4 6a) or Love or Confusion (E4 6b) [E4+ 6b]

1)Stratagem (E5 6b) [E5+ 6b, given E4 6b]
2)The Arete at Ravensdale (E5 6a) [E5+ 6a]
3)Roseberry Face (E5 6a) [E5- 6a]
4)Stargazer Direct (E5 6a) [E5- 6a, given E4]
5)Moonflower (E5 6b) [E5- 6b]


  1. Original Sin (E6 6c) [E6 6c] - Unchecked
  2. Desperate Den (E5 6c) [E6 6c]
  3. Three Screaming Popes (E6 6c) [E6 6c] - unchecked
  4. Scut di Scun Ai (E6 6b) [E6/7 6b] - Dirty


1)Magic in the Air (E7 6b) [Given E6, no gear]
2)Esmerelda (E7 6c) [ E7+ 6c]
3) Chi Ching (E6 6c) [E7 6c]
4)The Arete- Danby?
5)Black Night (E5 6c) [E7+ 6c- unclimbed without peg]


  1. The groove- Kepwick?
  2. The Arete- Ravenscar?

This list was compiled with the help and comments from around 10 local climbers. I don't agree with all the positioning, but is about right. Interestingly only 24 out of the 51 routes listed here feature in the latest rockfax guide......

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Desperate Den (E6 6c) Onsight Attempt

The epic direct start to Stargazer (E4 6a) is the one of the most impressive and obvious lines at Highcliffe, ascending the blank wall via a couple of imperfections.
I've wanted to get on it for a while and managed to flash the moves to the line of crimps (the crux) then retreated back to the ground. It felt pretty cool figuring a 6c move out ground-up, especially this one; which requires a fair bit of contortion and a massive reach.

Tendons hurt. I will be back with a rope to finish the top moves.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Roseberry Topping FFA -E5 6a **

We managed to climb the centre of the unclimbed face of Roseberry Topping this evening in about 15 minutes, just before it got dark. It's absolutely brilliant climbing on beautiful pockets, with a mono-pulling crux, but somehow quite simple, if not a little bold.

The Pasketti Alpinist E5 6a **

Climb the old aid line, with awful gear, untill an Iron break can be reach. A poor size 1.5 friend protects the harrowing set of moves, past a good 'mono', to gain a large sloping ledge out left. From here make easier moves to good gear and a direct finish. It would be three stars if it wasn't for the snappy footholds shortly after the crux.

FA Early 1960s

FFA Franco Cookson, Dave Warburton, Lewis DaleTopo- Routes from left to right:

Green- Stimulator VS
Blue-Eliminator- E2 5b (much harder due to crack widening)
Green- Pasketti Alpinist E5 6a**
Purple- Transcendor HVS 5b
Black- Accelerator HVS 5b *

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Hypocrisy Of Youth - NY Moors Projects.

I'd tried to onsight a couple of unclimbed lines at Danby Crag a few weeks back, resulting in humorous ground falls. The first was a poor, gearless scoop, the second was a brilliant arete. It is so unlike Danby to have this piercing fin rising out of the trees, and the climbing on it is ace. It looked from the ground to be about E4/5 6a/b, but luckily I retreated from the onsight and abseiled down it. A clean and feel of the holds and a play around with the gear shows the line for what it really is- doable apart from one move, a really hard (6c?)rockover above a dodgy Brassnut in a flexing flake. E7 6c?

I have to also admit to top roping Black Night (E5 6c, but now missing crucial peg) at the Wainstones- given 6c, but more like 6b, should go at E6.

There is now also a stake above the obvious Claybank arete, which i've had a little abseil down as well. The top move looks possible, but very hard (v8 or something) and the gear is ace- a bomber size 0.5 cam a little distance away and a poor size 0 friend right by the crux. I probably still wouldn't like to fall on them though, due to how intimidating this line really is. Maybe H9 7a?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Skyhooks and Slate and a Dabble in the Peak

Peak conditions were poor, but I managed a quick onsight solo of Impossible Slab (E3 5c ***), failed on Quietus (depressing) and then made myself feel better by soloing everything insight and onsighting the classic Stanage E4 5c ***, Old Friends (tricky friend placement). We hung around in the peak for another day, going to 'Cliffhanger', then left for some proper climbing.

The Lakes met us with bad weather and every morning for 4 days it rained, a lot. Mornings were spent skyhook shopping, whilst the afternoons brightened up and we managed to tick most of the classics on hodge Close main wall- Ten years after, Wicked Willy, The Main Event and Mallice in wonderland sans tree (not deliberately without the tree)(E4 5c, E5 6b, E5+ 6a, E3+ 5c). The car then broke down and we had to come home.

There are some issues with retrobolting at hodge- whoever placed the bolt on the top of ten years after and Wicked Willy seems to have missed bomber natural protection (good skyhooks and friends).

Friday, 10 July 2009

Northumberland- Bowden and Ravenheugh.

A trip to Northumberland was long over-due and Dave was really psyched to try the classic E4s of Bowden and the surrounding areas. Dave drove his spacious Espace round and we filled it with all that we'd need for our 2 day assault on the 'umberland.

Bowden Doors was chosen for the Wednesday and we got on the ultra-classic Poseidon Adventure as our first Northumberland route. It's a route of great contrast, with a very balancy, fingery and dangerous move to a poor cam as the start, and then a really powerful, but straightforward finish, throwing in another cam to protect a wild topout. Me and Dave both led it and agreed it was definitely worth it's three stars, even if it was a little soft for E4 5c***.

We soloed a great, but again very soft E3***, called The Trial a few times and the classic Tigers wall, which was excellent, before I had a bash at an E5 6b*** called The Rajah. I had to do the lower crux as a sort of dynamic rockover to reach some poor cams before the wild lunge over the roof. I didn't really go at it 'all guns blazing' and decided to down-climb; which was pretty tricky.

We wandered over to Back Bowden, which is a really impressive crag, capped by a huge wave, but we were both too tired to get on 'The Tube' so opted for a sketchy solo of On The Verge (E4 5c**) instead. The moves are really easy, but serious and quite gritty. From my limited experience i would say it deserved it's grade to onsight.

Feeling like we'd had a good day we drove down to Ravenheugh to a comfortable bivy and a good night’s sleep, before stuffing ourselves with noodles and ham. The long walk up to the crag was not too bad and Dave suggested we stopped off at Simonside Crag for a quick solo about. I spotted the line of Bee Bumble- a terrible name to a good route. Although technical difficulties get no higher than 5c, due to it's situation it deservedly gets E5 *. The whole route was covered in a fine sand which made the smeary crux move absolutely terrifying (you can see my foot pop off a hold in the video).

Arriving at Ravenheugh in a freezing gale it was tempting just to walk back, but I spotted the eye-catching line of Childhood's End. A E4 6a ***, with one of the most brilliant lines I’ve ever seen. I chose to get on it as I was inspired and it looked like a hard E4 - perfect for consolidation. A hard rockover and big reach enables the hanging crack and gear to be gained. Storming up the flake/crack it soon runs out and a bomber size 0 friend can be placed to protect wild moves across the slab, which I met in a gale. A really cool move off a good sloper allows a lunge into the crack and a good footwedge. Jamming to glory I felt ace and thought the name quite appropriate.

I rounded off the day with cool solo of Grease E4 6a *. This was the perfect slab, although quite soft if you’re good at slabs and not massively dangerous. Northumberland is really a great area and I’d love to get back, but we'd maybe need to fill the car up to make it a bit more economic.......

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Moors Ground-up And New Projects

Onsight Soloing The Criminally Bolted Three Star classic 6a Arete (E5+)

The fall of Whitestonecliffe left a bit of a void in my life, but the void was quickly filled.

After a ground up ascent of Lemming slab (onsight really) we decided to swing a top rope down Black Night E5 6c (crucial peg now missing). One would imagine a 6c move, protected with a (now) lone poor cam would be at least E7, but a quick top rope sesh proved to show that the move is probably 6b or very low 6c, and could actually be climbed by a mortal like myself.

Then there's Roseberry Face, which is just plain scary.

Friday, 3 July 2009

New Routing- Filey and Ravensdale

Me and Dave had been very keen to get to filey as it looked like everything we were bad at- pumpy powerful roofs. Ariving early in the morning in almost perfect conditions we racked up and soon failed on the classic of the crag 'Watkin's Ale'. Dave tried it first and was complaining of a slimy substance on the holds and when it came to my turn I was surprised to find a layer of thick lard. It was rank, so we retreated. I managed The Girlie Button f6c+ which was quite nice, and then we tried the 'unclimbed project F7b'. The line was poor, the rock was worse and covered in a boulderclay substance. I managed it second go to claim my first sport FA at F7b?! In all honesty it was about hard english 6a for one move, so not 7b, but it's irrelevent anyway as it's complete choss.

Pinning our hopes on ravensdale we left Filey, following the coast road up towards Robinhoods Bay. We had heard of a massive Boulder (about the size of the bowderstone) and were not disappointed. It's huge! we pottered about for a while on various traverses and cracklines untill our attentions were turned to the upper-crag. The climbonline website talks of only 'routes poor' which have been recorded on the upper quarry, which baffeled both me and Dave. The most obvious line is a 12 metre arete, which is sustained at 6a and has no natural protection and goes at about E5 6a *** on solo, although it has five bolts and a lower-off which tames an ace line. Who ever thought it was acceptable to bolt Sandstone in the Moors has lessened a brilliant line.
There are plenty more lines in the qaurry that look good, but we only had time to do a two star crackline to the left, that looked about VS and turned out to be about E2 5c, very well protected with cams and nuts and is a little bit taller than the arete and again sustained. If anyone's climbed any of these routes get in touch, they were all quite free from green, although with the odd fern. :)

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Whitestone Traverse Description

48. The Whitestone Traverse 309m HXS 6a/6b *** 8-12 Hours
A brilliant and serious route, weaving a line of weakness through spectacular rock architecture; with most pitches being as dangerous to second as lead. This is a girdle traverse of the main cliff. It can be climbed right to left, although the best situations are gained by climbing from left to right. The pitches in and out of the black mamba cave can be climbed with aid to give an E3 5b A1, but you won’t be free from the traverse until you climb it without. The spectacular crux pitch will not only test your nerve, but also your agility; with technical moves on loose rock.

Start at the far left hand side of the cliff, where a grassy ramp leads down the last buttress. Pitches are given a 1-5 loose rating, 5 being most loose.
1. 25m 4b
Gain the ledge in the middle of the face and follow this to a tree belay (3)
2. 25m 4c
Climb the crack above, past a threaded wooden chock to a difficult mantel. From here scramble onto the grass ledge and traverse across to an airy belay (Loose Belay) by a good peg. (4)
3. 35m 5a
Climb down the spectacular 'Pygmalion' via a series of ledges, with good gear. Follow the grassy rake across to a thorn bush, where it is possible to down-climb for 4 metres (Last Post) until a difficult traverse rightwards into the crack of Clutcher is possible. Hanging Belay in the Crack (4)
4. 20m 6a
A bold hand traverse across an obvious line of good holds leads to a small ledge right of the arête. Place very poor nuts in blitzkrieg and thread the peg out right with the strongest wire you can fit in (maybe possible to thread with a sling if you take a nut key). From here make a series of smeary moves down to a good edge to the right. A wild lunge on to the belay rounds off a brilliant pitch. (2)
5. 12m 6a/6b
Place a high runner in Black Mamba, before swinging out right on to a good hold and ancient pegs, from here make a massive move to a sloper on the arête and mantel onto the spectacular belay. (3)
6. 20m 5b
A series of harrowing moves allows the impressive white wall to be followed along a series of ledges. Trend downwards towards the Detached block to belay. Poorly protected with pegs, which are relics of a bygone era . Sport Climbing on a Moors crag! (4)
7. 15m 5a
A difficult move down allows the thorny groove to be reached, follow this until it is possible to break right across the Ivy wall and up the Arete to a tree belay. (2)
8. 25m 4c
A move up and right leads to the Great Slab, which is followed to a peg belay, with excellent views. (2)
9. 13m 4c
Climb the crack below (which gets more solid further down) to a tree belay. (3)
10. 12m 5a
Climb up and right to a sandy crack, with a long reach to better holds and a belay in Garbage Groove. (3)
11. 15m 4b
Climb easily round the ledge system through a tree to a good belay. (1)
12. 17m 5a
Descend some easier grass ledges to pleasant, but difficult moves along a band of ‘Doggers’ to belay in Gauche. (2)
13. 25m 5a
A brilliant and tiring pitch climbing through all the classic Whitestone HVSs, either belaying in The Nightwatch, or risking the ropedrag to follow the break around the corner to a poor belay on Jurrasic Scarp. (1)
14. 20m 5b
Climb the top pitch of Jurassic Scarp. A spectacular finish to the longest route in Yorkshire. (3)

FA Chris Woodall, Ernie Shield..1963.(Climbed from left to right, in stages over several weekends)
First single day Ascent- Chris Woodall, Malcolm Farrow 1965
FFA Luke Hunt, Franco Cookson (aid pitch freed third go) 30th June 2009 (7.5 hours)

Freeing The Whitestone Traverse HXS 6b

A cliff that crept into our peaceful dreams to morph them into our worst nightmares, with visions of blocks falling, crimps crumbling and belays collapsing; the mesmerising pure white cliffs held the line of the encapsulating and infamous Whitestone Traverse.

The eternal torment drew us before this climb for one last effort, where we had failed so many times before. The sight of what lay before us should have induced that deep trembling that this route had caused on all those previous occasions- A thousand feet of loose climbing, with a threat of serious injury for the entire guidebook time of 8-12 hours. But we had ‘our plan’, along with good form and perhaps most crucially the boldness of youth.

The description and history of Chameleon (The Aided Whitestone Traverse) runs for an entire guidebook page, with tales of bad weather and pegs popping on the various attempts to; first cross the cliff; and then to reduce the aid used to do so. A determined effort in 1989 from the Alpinists Chris Woodall and Mike Mortimer managed to free ‘most of the Blitzkrieg pitch’, but still left the entire previous pitch dependant on aid.

So we racked up, we opted to go light- taking a set of nuts, a few friends, a hex, a handful of biscuits and a litre of water. Our plan was to do the route in reverse- climbing from left to right, so that we would gain the harder pitches earlier on and therefore have more to throw at them. This worked quite well, with four of the most horribly loose pitches in Yorkshire falling in a couple of hours, perhaps giving the first E2 4c, with massive flakes departing from the cliff and half my belay collapsing into the trees.

Luke set up a hanging belay in Clutcher and belayed me across a reasonably sketchy slopy traverse. From here I could see ‘my pitch’; a blind traverse around the corner that eventually led to a tiny ledge on an arête, where I could thread a poor insitu peg with an RP. Perched on my little ledge, I looked across the rest of this pitch that had been ‘mostly freed’ from the other direction. A crimp crumbled under my meagre weight, which drove me to loose all fear and push on into the black Mamba Cave, down-climbing a 6a move along the way. Luke soon joined me and we looked up at ‘The Aid Pitch’.

On a previous attempt Luke had described this pitch as ‘absolute cheese and about fifteen degrees overhanging’. This assessment was not wrong. He gingerly climbed up to clip the archaic pegs and even more tentatively give them a two-finger tug,

“Bomber” I shouted up, my voice breaking- showing my psychological encouragement for what it was. After a couple of attempts he managed to cross the sandy rail, which soon ran out and he was forced to leap for the slopy arête; cutting loose briefly as he swung onto a poor foothold against the backdrop of the Jurassic landscape below. The poor foothold promptly broke and he was once again hanging from the lifeline that was the sloper. He smeared round and managed to gain the ledge with expletives mixed with shouts of joy. The pitch had gone free!

I joined Luke on the airy belay ledge to a telling smile as we knew we’d done it. The sun was now beating down onto the cliff which reflected a blinding white with immense heat. There were still a lot of loose and tricky pitches left, not least the next ‘5a pitch’- an epic descending traverse to the Detached block at a stiff, runout 5b. We managed it without too much difficulty and then simul-climbed the remaining pitches to The Nightwatch.

Leading the two pitches either side of the aid pitch and carrying the bag had taken it’s toll on me and I wanted to escape up the classic finish of The Nitghwatch, but luke, eager for more and wanting training for his coming dolomites trip insisted on continuing and finishing up the crux pitch of Jurassic Scarp (E3 5b) at the far right hand end of the cliff. It was nearly a steep wall too far for me, but I managed to pull over and collapse, basking in the baking sun, with thoughts of release from my tormentor- The Whitestone Traverse..

Terrorist- Wainstones Ground Up 'E4 5c'????

I've been after terrorist for a while and managed to get a bomber (ish) tricam in the slot in the groove. I slumped on it first go and it held, so I retreated, pulled the ropes and got it second go, bloody hard for E4 5c. Hard 6a best describes it although maybe still E4/5, due to it's tricam protection. One or Two stars me thinks, possible first ground up ascent?

A cool no hands problem on the 'crack boulder' /B boulder?

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Whitestone Traverse Goes Free! HXS 6b

Just a quick post, before a proper write-up and lots of pics.

Me, Luke Hunt and Dave Warburton got on the traverse today, climbing left to right in a single push in an onsight style. The first four pitches weren't without interest with some seriously cheesy rock. I led the 5c/6a Blitzkrieg pitch (with a lovely peg threaded with an RP) and luke then managed to free the aid pitch, with a massive reach and cut loose on to a sloper. It went at around 6b, with a cruicial foothold snapping off and flying into the abis on his successful attempt- making my second even harder. After I led the relatively straight-froward, but loose '5a pitch' (5b+) we then simul climbed to glory and mini-eggs. I wanted to escape off at nightwatch, but Luke (still fresh) insisted on finishing up Jurrassic Scarp, an ace finish to an amazing route. A brilliant end to over a years-worth of torment; with many tales to be told (and slightly exaggerated upon) down at the pub. ACE!

Videos of falling blocks to come!

Friday, 26 June 2009

A Sunny Week in the Lakes

A week off meant a drive over to the lakes. We managed to get an ascent of Triermain eliminate (E2) in before it got dark on the Monday night and met up with Luke, Miles and Tom at the CMC hut. From here we planned Tuesday’s assault- Dow.
Dooge chose Pink Panther (E2) to warm up on, but got a bit lost and i ended up taking over. Following his line felt like hard 5c with a huge run out you'd be lucky to stay off the ground with- later we found we'd combined various routes and added our own little traverse as well. Luke was psyched for The Shining Path (A safe but very hard E5 6b). It was massively sustained and fingery and Luke managed to get up it with one short rest, no doubt fatigued from his attempt at Bucket City at Dove the day before.

Day three was Reecastle Crag, which is a nice big lump of barrel-shaped Ryolite. I had a little tootle up 'White Noise' (E3) which was nicely sustained and then we turned our attention to Penal Servitude (E5 6b). It was disappointingly bouldery, but Luke managed it after a little trouble. Good lead. Then I dragged everyone to Black crag for an en-mass barefoot solo of Troutdale and a look at the soft, but epic Prana (E3 5c). I was climbing well and cruised up singing 'The Vengabus', Ace!Thursday meant the departure of the Manchester Trio and me and Dooge chose to have a nice day at the Slate quarries, both leading Darklands and An Alabuse and I had a plod up Rim Fisher, with an interesting crux. It's either about 6b straight up the crack or a crap move left. I did a sort of combination. Darklands is about E1 and needs some bolts chopping, would be ace sans all but 1 bolt. Epic week, beautiful weather, no really hard routes climbed, but definitely solid at E3. :)