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?