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.......

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