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! ;-)