Wednesday, 31 August 2011

High Crag Classics- Photos

Kestrel Crack - HVS 5b**

Warrior- E2 5c***
A good day out for Sam, but unfortunately the rain meant that exploration was limited to abseil cleaning and chalking of future new routes to try. This slab in particular looks like it should offer a couple of very thin and bold moves...

Monday, 29 August 2011

Video- Effervescent Pheasant FA- Font 7a***


Danby New Routes- Howl Psyche (E7 6b**) and The Battle For Tripoli (E6 6a*)

Howl Psyche FA (E7 6b**)
Me and Dave were both tired today, with aching tips and general body fatigue. A 'relaxed trip to Danby' was decided on to refine our projects. I'd taped my fingers up a lot to prevent further wear, as climbing was becoming almost impossible. This made The Vulcan arete impossible so we got to work on the Twin Aretes buttress, where two unclimbed lines remained- The direct to the otter wilderness route and The groove to the left, which I had taken a large factor two whipper off a couple of years ago with no gear. Neither routes had any gear, so it was time to get our bold shoes on.

Dave shunted the direct to the otter wilderness route a couple of times and said he felt sorted for the solo. I had had a look at this, but was put off by the crux, which is quite pumpy and relies on a heel hook on a smear- Dave insists this is bomber, but I have my doubts. Long story short, Dave went for the solo and cruised the line. the camera ran out of battery mid-route, but luckily I had Dave's camera as well- quite fortunate as I don't think Dave would have wanted to do it again! Great solo from Dave, the fall is horrific-about 20 metres through some trees and onto rocks and the moves are tricky.
Bad feet
Keen to complete the development of Twin aretes Buttress I had a look at 'The Jungle Groove'. I had taken a massive fall off this at a CMC meet and hadn't got on it again since. It is just to the left of 'Howl Psyche' and traverses into the top of this route at the top of the groove (at about 8 metres). The move onto the sloping shelf on 'Howl Psyche' is really gripping, about as terrified as i've ever been, relying on gastons and smears to get onto blind holds. I opted for the lead as, whilst there is no gear, the bottom moves are quite tricky and a factor two is better than falling all the way down into the caves. I've obviously already soloed the 'Otter wilderness Route' (E5 6b**) and shunted 'Howl Psyche' (E7 6b**), so I knew where the blind holds were and the top intimately. Ground upish, but a true onsight of this would be about the scariest experience in the moors! Alas, I had to choose a belayer instead of a photographer.
Grade, Grades, Grades.... Howl Psyche is harder than 'Fresh Arete' (E7 6b) and The Moors E5s and E6s we've done , so E7 to lead. I certainly wouldn't fancy a lead! Dave suggested it was easy to headpoint, maybe H6, but doing it ground up would be insane. Similarly, Onsighting 'The battle for Tripoli' would be ridiculous- it was bloody scary when I knew where the holds were, but onsight would be out of this world- almost E7 6a!

The day was finished by the discovery of one of the best boulder problems we've ever found- a great arete (Video to Come). These brilliant days are becoming something we expect now... I love the moors! :)

Video- Mane Vision Ground Up FA (E5 6c)

Mane Vision E5 6c, Round Crag. Ground up FA from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

A Wild Day Out- The Ground Up Project Goes With A Fight- Mane Vision E5 6c**

Sam Marks in a 'Wicked Willieesque' position
A truly wild day up at Blakey today with Sam and Dooge. The wind was up and Round Crag was not that pleasant-a-place to be. The line up the centre of lion buttress still looked ominously unticked and despite being determined to climb it, I had some worries about my totally wrecked tips and the inevitable bloody battle that would be required for a successful ascent.

Dave had a go at it, as he was slightly less beaten by it and had a bit more tip thickness to play with. The same high point was reached again and again, each time met with a little more desperation until he finally gave in.

Rocking up to the Micro Crimp
After a brief bouldering interlude, with Sam climbing two fine new problems on the lower boulders, it was my turn to get on the 'Blakey ripper'. Time after time I launched for the final sloping hold and on one occasion I very nearly held it, alas it was not meant to be.

I handed over to Dooge and Sam again, who struggled at first, but then Dave got a different look about him- quite confident and balanced. He stood a moment on the crux and repositioned himself. And then the vision of Dooge came forth and suddenly it looked very promising. He managed to get the remnants of the micro-spike, that had smashed last night, as a terrible gaston and he stayed on. There was only a couple of moves left now and he wasn't coming off. Straight up to the big sloping crimp and then a little move out right before the victorious mantel. He'd done it!

Sam Approaching the Crux Micro Crimp
I was pretty happy for dooge, but also felt the pressure now and was slightly upset that my huge leap was seemingly unnecessary. I tentatively stepped up for the lead and quickly got to the gear and clipped it. Up again with my now bleeding tips, I crushed the tiny hold into submission. An off-balance foot movement and I could move into the same sandy gaston. I was on the Edge of the Edge in a truly wild setting. The hold felt bad and my fingers felt worse, but I'd lost too much ego to this route already. I big move out right, all technique lost and I held the sloping hold. YES! A bit of a worrying moment up top, with the exposed mantle and a fair bit of rope out, but I was safe and the beast had finally been tamed.

Video to come...
Battle Scars
o and grade etc. Dave's sequence turned out to not be that hard, like not 7a hard, so we thought E5 6c was bang on. Certainly a big step up from the classic well protected 6bs, like peak E4s and atomic, but not as hard as stuff like Windows of Perception (E6 7a) (almost a shame Dave found this sequence..). A great testpiece none-the-less with some excellent moves and our search for a totally desperate moors testpiece continues. I really enjoyed this, but watch ya shins on the fall!

Bleeding Fingers Or Not...

The 'leaping cougar' is going down today.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

A Quick Evening Of Contest, Ground Up

After a day of rain me and Dooge were keen to take advantage of a brief sunny spell an hour before it got dark. A couple of days of heavy rain had rendered the possibility of dry cragging unlikely, but we reckoned Lion Buttress might go, with its impermeable weathered outer service and its westerly aspect. Hopefully we could try the thing I'd fallen off in the dark the other night; an unclimbed wall with bomber gear at half-height.

We rushed to the crag and found it perfectly dry. RAD. Keen not to be climbing in the dark again and optimistic that it would be nice and easy in the light, I geared up and got the bomber kit in with perfect ease- I love placing gear when you know just how to place it, so satisfying.

With my 'bomb shelter' now in position, I rocked over with that familiar ease, a world away from onsight, but still not quite at home with my position. I got the tiny razor dish with my right and muddled around with my feet in the break, desperately trying to get them into a position that felt comfortable. A vague move to a hold I thought would be quite good was met by horrifying sharpness and I plummeted below.
"Damn, that was harder than I thought it would be."

Up again and this time really feeling the power, determined to just crimp the tiny right-hand hold to dust and statically move to the strange micro-spike. I do just this and it's in the bag. I get the little left hand edge and hold my position, just one final move out right. The move out right is a slap to a larger sloping hold which is pretty poor, but I'm going to get it- this route has had enough of my skin and I can hang it. Then BANG, the micro-spike rips. Shit.

Down at the bottom again and I'm almost laughing at how much of a fight this has become. Secretively I'm quite pleased it's ripped, if it hadn't it would have been done and that would have been my and the route's relationship over and I would have branded this wall 'E5 6c**' and into memory it would have gone. But no, it's not only pushed me off, but it's almost re-written the rule book of our contest. That hold was crucial and it's going to be a silly leap now.

I go up and down a few more times, slapping right; nearly holding the poor hold on one occasion, but most of the time just falling increasingly bigger distances.

The route is still up there- triumphant for the moment, but i will be back and I will have my best jumping shoes on for our next meet.

Friday, 26 August 2011


Sometimes you get so into Moors new routing you forget what you're fighting for. It pays dividends to take a moment and really enjoy those real Yorkshire delights that are our cheese varieties- like good old cheddar.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

New Routing By Night

Classic E1 5c*- Twin Cracks- Round Crag

We had a rather interesting evening at Round Crag- setting off at sevenish.
Kitten- VS 5a* (getting Dark)

Out with Dave and his brother Nick, we had a reet good time on a couple of seldom-climbed classics.
A great time to embark on a new route onsight.....

I then fancied a ganda at an unclimbed wall on the same buttress, but due to the lack of light donned a headtorch.
Entering the Crux.

I luckily found some good gear, but the tiny dishes and hidden crimps up high pushed me off again and again.

A bit of a fall..

We'll be back in the light. I was pretty close in the end and reckon the final move will be 6b/c and pretty much super safe. A great testpiece and of a style unknown to the moors.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Danby Failings

small, wet, horrible crimp
All has been going so well recently I forgot what a true beating by the crag feels like.

Yesterday we ventured to Danby crag; keen for a go at the first ascent of one of the best unclimbed lines in the moors. I'd already high-balled out the start and worked the last desperate move on a shunt, so was optimistic I could link the two bits together and work out the 'big jump' in between ground up.
Boulder start done
I managed the first bit of boulder problem, which is an agonising reachy pull to a thin edge (currently a bit damp), but then fell off on an easy move higher up. I then couldn't do the start move again and ripped a tip. Balls!
Angered with wrecked tip
I'm not sure whether the ultra-thin, painful, slightly damp nature of this route makes it all the more classic (as you can't work the moves very much and can only try moves ground up a few times), or whether it is just highly irritating and a bit spoilt by the bastard little holds.

Ah well, the line is still there and a long bath to regenerate my tips will see me right, for when the route is properly dried out again. A good bit of failure never hurt anyone!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Honey Arete Onsight E5 6b***

Dave is now a Danby detractor, so we had to be inventive with a limping car and only a few local crags. The crag of choice was no surprise: Round Crag- an easy 6 miles away and packed with moderate testpieces (hard for the moors).

I've been really stoked to try and onsight Honey Arete for a while now, as Steve Ramsden worked it and said it was very good and it's a really nice line. I remembered it looking highball-able and my style of climbing- balancy arete climbing.

Alas we arrived to find a very tall arete that looked like it needed quite a compressiony sequence. I climbed up and down a bit, with rests in between attempts, eventually getting the balls to got for the crux. It was quite tricky, with really high smeary feet and big slopey sidepulls for hands. I got onto the good foothold and chilled out.
Dave had cleaned the route and at this point, (about as high as I could have possibly jumped off) I was pretty happy he had. A swing rightwards around the arete and the top was insight, right after I smeared on some of the scariest footholds of the moors.

I was pretty gripped, a bomber crimp with my right hand the only comfort and the usual exuberant topout yelping was replaced by silence as I calmed myself down and celebrated ascending one of the best routes in the moors in a really fitting style. There's been some chat about this being E6 I think, which I can understand, but perhaps it's just hard E5?

I was most chuffed and the day was topped off by Dave's cool ascent (after a little inspection) and a top rope of 'Scut', the E6 which has become harder since the loss of holds.

Snotterdale Video- Snotterdictomy Onsight FA (E4 6a**)

Snotterbad Little Movie... from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Snotterdale Video- Wizard's Prow (font 6c*), Snotterdictomy (E4 6a**), Sixth Sense (E3 6a*) and Lady Of The Lake (font 6b**)

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Snotterbad Day- A New E4 And Some New Bouldering

The Wizard's Prow Font 6c*
We needed a change of scene- away from Danby and in some new surroundings. Dave also fancied getting on some easier stuff that we could try and onsight, or quickly do after a clean on ab, so off we went to Snotterdale.

The first thing we found was a brilliant little boulder prow that we warmed up on at Font 6c. Some of the nicest rock I've ever climbed on, with brilliant big undercuts and pinches of excellent frictiony rock. This got us in good spirits, so I went about trying to onsight an unclimbed hanging crack on the main crag, which I've been wanting to try for a while.
The Unnamed Hanging Crack E4 6a**
The line was good, with an inaccessible crack above a thin horizontal break offering adequate gear. From here you contort around a bit and get into the thing from the left. Dave offered to clean the line, but I quite liked the idea of the challenge of a dirty route- scraping a kinfeblade peg down the crack to try and find a hold mid-crux is always exciting!

It was nice to get a little gripped again and whilst topping out with a perfect big camalot, I was surprised how similar the climbing was to 'Gym Junkies' (E3 6a ***) at Ingleby Incline. Although the move getting into the crack was harder and the gear a little more suspect, it is of a really similar height and climbing style. I'm determined not to be soft in my grading anymore, so I think 6a is fair and E4 accurate. It's Certainly not E5, but it seems harder than the Jungle Drum or 'Sixth Sense', the E3 6a* to the left.

Dave had cleaned Sixth Sense and he went about effectively onsighting it. It looked scary and good, so I had a go at flashing it. I'm glad I had the confidence from Dave just doing it, as the top moves are really quite balancy and it's a solo! A typical Moors E3 6a- bold and with a crux at the top... It did feel E3, maybe it could be E4 to onsight rather than flash, but it must be soft 5c rather than 6a, or it would have felt E5 above that fall. Another hidden gem though- well good.
The Lady of The Lake Font 6b **
We then warmed down on a new boulder arete that was a right monster route and about font 6b. Alas the Midges came...

Monday, 15 August 2011

Palma Ham- Font 6c/ E2 6b- New Problem

A new slab- cleaned by Dave.... Once it drys out, it'll be another classic!

Danby Video

Another Danby day out, with Franco, Dave and Jack from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

The Finger V11- The Video


Sunday, 14 August 2011

Metcalfe Destroys Danby!

I invited my chum Jack Metcalfe up from Manchester to come and try our new routes and problems and get a tastes of Moors' new routing. We took him to Danby, keen for our recent new routes to be repeated, armed with four pads.

He cooly warmed up by onsighting The Jungle Drum, the classy arete that has now settled at E4 6a**, confirming both it's grade and quality- suggesting if it was a bit longer it could be 3 stars. Me and Dooge were happy, so we pointed him at the very new 'Chocolate Moose', which I had given E5 6c**. Thankfully he fell off, saving the few strands of my Ego that remained, but after a couple more falls on to the ocean of mats he got up to the glorious jug with impressive ease. Dooge then repeated the line and they both suggested that a grade of E4 6b*** would be more appropriate.
I doubted their suggestion, until I then also cruised the line with considerably more ease and less panic than the other day and conceded that my testpiece was actually a path.
We finished the day, attacked by midges up at Stormy Hall, where perhaps the most impressive feat of the day occurred- Jack's flash of Body Torque Font 7a+/7b+. A final sit start to the angry woodlouse finished a great day and perhaps we might have a new Moors convert.

It was interesting to have his perspective, which has helped us sort out our new routes and get an outside perspective on how routes in the area settle in terms of difficulty. It's very odd how something that originally feels E6 can turn out to be E4 and how the deploying of pads can actually make a line into a superb highball, rather than a mediocre route.

Progress was also made on the arete to the left of Vulcan, with only another session of cleaning and working the top needed before a lead attempt me thinks.

Video- The Finger V11

Unfortunatley my editing software went mental. It still has the footage of my successful ascent, but cut out 5 minutes of other video. It also says '1st go' when I do it, but that shouldn't be on the video.... I need to sort it out- a proper video will be up soon.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Finger- Steve McClure's V11 7a

My padless attempt the other day
With another disappointingly drizzly day, me and dooge got out to the Wainstones. Our psyche was low whilst walking up in warm, clammy rain and arriving at the crag to find the whole place rather uninspiring.

I was stoked though, fueled by ego and excited at the prospect of ticking my first V11. I'm a pretty poor boulderer and the illusive 'font 8a' was always the part of the '8s challenge' I thought I'd find hardest.

I'd had a feel of Steve's 'the Finger' the other day without mats and it seemed like it would go, so I tricked Dave into coming back with two pads. I got spat off it at first as I hadn't warmed up, but after a couple of pull ups and some creative thinking from Dave in regard to launching for an undercut rather than the top I got it. I was pretty happy.

It was always the problem that was never really feasible and although it is most likely soft for the grade, it always looked impossible and getting up the impossible is what really excites me. A happy day for me to walk in the footsteps of Steve McClure, with the unclimbed sit start looking appetising...

Video to come

Friday, 12 August 2011

Ramsden's Font 7b+s

I've recently done a couple of Ram man's moors problems- For Lichtenstein and Body Torque. Both good fun and fine problems. I also had a single look at Ste mac's V11 at the Wainstones 'the finger', which I reckon I could do if I get back with pads in the light.Body Torque- I found this quite hard
The Finger- I will be back

This weather is kind of irritating, but Danby will dry- here's dooge on the Otter wilderness direct today- abandoned due to possible damage in the wet...

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

FA- Chocolate Moose E5 6c ** and a Cat!

I was getting some serious withdrawal symptoms after being away from Danby crag for over two weeks- the Triassic jungle, the beautiful white cliffs and abundance of wildlife (lit by a sun disrupted by ancient oaks).

Me and rex fancied a quick hit, to get the 'E5 6c' arete done. Great conditions, so I had another ab down and cleared some dangerous roots away and went for the solo.
There's a sharp hold just on the crux that hurts a fair bit, but apart from that it's a real joy to climb. The top few moves are really good- big 'boshy' stretches on perfect holds.
The grade is a tricky one. It might be 6c- it's like a 6b move, but with a really insecure fingery bit in the middle. It's also quite safe- you could break an ankle perhaps as the ground is steep and a bit rocky, but with enough pads, spotters and rolling it could be a cool Font 7a? problem. My knackered old mat could certainly have been better placed. Top draw of its genre anyway.
We also found a cat...
Rebecca called him Chocolate Moose- hence the name....

Friday, 5 August 2011

Voyage de Anguish- Grand Capucin

The Grand Cap- Copyright Jon Griffith
(Spot the people on the snow approach)

Luke proposed a plan that seemed irresistible- go out to Chamonix and try all the hardest classic rock routes we were yet to do. So we arrived at the end of July in a world of rain and Snow, with Luke also being destroyed from driving without rest from the UK, avoiding the motorways... A rest day was needed.

After being beaten off by some sketchy snow slopes on the approach to the American Beauty, a very steep route with apparently 'the best F7c crack in chamonix', we sat down and decided what we were really psyched for. The same old routes were circled around and around, finally deciding that for our main objective we needed some acclimatisation and a bit of a warm up on the Grand Capucin.

The route of choice was obvious- Voyage de Gulliver (or Gulliver's Travels). This was the rock route to try and free climb in the chamonix area, with tales of the sponsored hero Tim Emmett failing to free it. So after missing the last lift; having to break into luke's car; a crap sleep and then a long walk across the Valle Blanche, we had our reservations when we looked up at the impressively steep wall of the Grand cap.

Our route was not that obvious and our topo was terrible. After some very composed and impressive climbing from luke, with moves of UAII VII+ protected by terrible slings over zenoliths a long way away, we got back on route and Luke 'graciously' gave me the 'nice E1 pitch' as I was feeling pretty knackered.

The fine undercutting crack was viable up and around the corner; with padding feet in a great exposed position. This would have been the best E1/2 in the peak, were it in a less extreme location and led to a bolt below a blank wall. From here I looked about and couldn't see any way through the blank surroundings, certainly not at E1 anyway. I was getting quite pumped now, without the best of feet and the last holds of the cracks remaining my island of security for a couple of minutes. I could see a crack out left and a bolt above this. So off I went.

The great thing I love about alpine climbing is how there is so little time- you are often in a wild position, you are gripped and you can't see how to do the moves ahead. Despite this you continue, where normally you may downclimb or slump on the rope, this failure will not achieve anything in the grand scheme of getting to the top of the grand cap. So this forces you to keep moving, often surprising yourself by getting further than you think you ever could do.
The Swiss Route- Copyright Oscar Lopez

I burst out left, feet on poor holds and fingers on crimps that definitely would not feel usable, were it not for the recent Danby crag training. O, how I miss Danby crag as I swing out of control into this wild crack; 500 metres above the glacier and 3,700 metres above pure air. A real fight with every cam being a battle to place in this flared monstrosity. I continue for another 20 metres on easier cracks, but I'm so pumped I nearly come off again and again. Composition and mind control. I get to a bolted belay with a happy Spanish chap attached and shout 50 metres down to Luke that I'm safe. The Spaniard abs off and Luke congratulates me on freeing the crux pitch and linking it with the two pitches either side.
"Typical Luke !" I thought- failing to mention that the logical extension of your 'easy crack pitch' was a high altitude finger searing battle into the unknown.

We continue now, with mania suppressed by exhaustion, climbing the final three UIAA VIII pitches with panting breath. We then encountered the final two VS/HVS pitches, which are wet and unappetising. We're not that fussed as we have climbed some of the best pitches of our lives and a wet mooch to the top seems like a poor way to finish a day, which has been such a great success. So we abseil off. We have a good belay and Luke leads the way, off to find the next belay about 55 metres down.

Small pieces of ice have fallen down the face all day, with the odd little piece stinging your hand and keeping you slick. Then something all together larger comes down.
"ICE!!!" I shout, but panic is in control- these things always miss.
Luke has swung out right and there is a small bulge between me and him. I see the volley of ice fly at terminal velocity to his exact position behind the bulge.... A massive bang as some ice hits the rock and some ice hits something else. A slight pause before an unconscious figure swings out into space below me. FUCK!

Time seems to evapourate in this panic-stricken and red sun-baken environment, but Luke eventually begins to rouse. His murmurs are less consoling than if he had remained unconcious. Thoughts of prussicing down on the tight rope to him are replaced with the possibility of him getting himself out of a a position where he is at risk of suspension trauma. I shout to him, trying to be clear, but still not clear enough. In the mean time some people on another route have seen the incident and have phoned 112, calling across that a helicopter is coming.

By some luck, Luke had swung back to an old bolt and he clipped himself in. I abseil the 50 metres faster than I have ever abseiled and arrive at a horrific scene. There is blood everywhere and Luke is evidently in a lot of pain. A crap cam is the only back up for this old bolt and I really dont want to abseil off with both of us swinging from it. I set up a rope to lower him off, but in my haste don't pull the ab ropes properly and one gets stuck. Now with one 60 metre rope I try again and again in vein to get him to put his weight onto me, but the ice fall has justifiably terrified him in his concussed state and he, like me to a large extent, wants to just curl up in the corner and feel safe.

A helicopter comes, but the cliff is guarded by overhangs and a helicopter has been lost here before. I have to get Luke down, but the only way is to ab with him attached to me dangling above the vertical face. I set up my thirty metres of rope and tie a knott in the end. I push Luke off and he screams in agony. It's been a while since he got hit now and the adrenaline is wearing off. The belay is bad and alone on the rope I would have been scared. We reach the knott and twenty stone is suddenly on the bolt. I then have to swing us left, desperately clawing on sidepulls to get to the corner of the Swiss route. A better ledge is reached, but the helicopter comes and goes again, each time freezing us with updraft in the now setting sun.

I'm scared now. I'm scared that Luke is acting so oddly and that a glacier won't be passable in Katanas with a seriously injured person. The clouds are rolling in too, risking an end to rescue attempts. I keep abseiling, each time Luke's weight making swinging very difficult. Finally after a few hours, a helicopter manages to get close enough to signal that one more abseil should put us in a rescuable position.

Luke then swings around the prussic loop and the last abseil is a test of finger strength- desperately crimping the prussic loop down the rope and just wanting the whole experience to be over. The ledge is reached with wrecked tendons and the chopper comes back, eventually swinging a gendarmerie guy onto our ledge. He prepares Luke and they swing him out across the Valle Blanche. I am relieved to just have myself to think about now and thoughts of worry for him are put to the back of my mind as I begin the rest of the abseiling as he is flown to intensive care.

With worries of walking across the Valle Blanche in rock shoes growing with the cloud cover, I am pleased when a gap opened in the mist, allowing a chopper to get in and give me one of the best trips available in Chamonix, but only after retrieving most of our gear. I'm very impressed by the madness and professionalism of the Gendarmerie and the Resilience of Luke's body- already out of hospital and walking about on Tramadol, psyched for moors new routing, some CT scans and a new helmet.