Monday, 19 September 2011

Video- 3 New Moors H7s

Footage of:

The fingery 'boulder problem in the sky' Die By The Sword (6c)- A biscuit for the second ascentionist.

The great line and enduro route The White Scoop (6b)

And the wild the Waves of Inspiration (6c?)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Last Day Of The Summer- Two New H7s

On Waves
We were feeling the pressure as we only had 48 hours before I emigrated to Austria and Dooge left for Uni. Because of this we nipped over to Stoupe Brow today, despite the poor forecast, in the hope that we might be able to salvage something of the remaining time we had in god's own land. I had only got to bed at half four after a heavy night in Middlesbrough, so I chilled out by belaying Dave on the old scoop project as I tried to stop myself swaying.
Waves Of Inspiration (H7 6c***)

Dave looked smooth whilst refining a few moves and soon got sorted for the lead. I had another play on a top rope, but I'd forgotten how hard it is when you don't know the sequence and was well and truly beaten. A good warm up for my own cauterised rib project though, so I wasn't too upset at my trouncing.
The White Scoop (E7 6b**)
A fair bit of a Runout
As Dave set out on lead I was way more nervous than he was, which is becoming a common theme. He calmly cruised up to and beyond the gear, making the whole thing look very easy, but on toping out we both realised that our perception of the route as something that was alright to fall off of, with just a big fall, was wrong. The pictures show clear enough the enormous run out on the buttress and despite the moderate level of climbing, (about f7b) it becomes a pretty hard overall proposition. Respect to Dooge, that's his third moors death route safely navigated and I'm happy I didn't have to do it! Class feature.

After an impressive second, considering he's only just got back into climbing, Nick then went off to try and climb a new offwidth he'd just cleaned. There seems to be some strange bonding ritual, involving offwidths, between the Warburton brothers and Nick's ascent was a classic and incredibly bold thrutching outing. Dave Managed to second more elegantly and 'The Best Of Both' (E1 5a*) was born. Top effort, unfortunately the pictures were really blurry.

A bit more of a runout...

Next it was my turn. Normally I'm really nervous before leading dangerous things and I suppose I kind of was today, but I was also really inspired by the line and just wanted to be the first person to climb the feature. It's such an amazing wall, a little short I suppose (about 10 metres at a stretch), but the climbing is really superb, with good footholds and long reaches. I left the ground and got up to the big ledge, getting the cam and tricam in (this gear is pretty good collectively) and then paused a few moments to really get in the zone.
Feeling odd after divine intervention

I then set off from the ledge in a daze and totally missed the good crimp you jump up to. Luckily I just slipped onto it, caught it with a digit and delicately caressed it. I then brought my right foot through so I could get an outside edge smear. This part is so cool, as you really are on the edge; anything could just rip off at any moment; but you are also kind of solid at the same time.

I then got the small crimp and lobbed a foot out left. It kept coming, but it all felt so easy and like it wasn't me who was climbing. It's just such a fabulously smooth and exciting wall, with move after move of exquisite desperation and all the time just feeling so floaty. This is really what I've been searching for this summer and I'm glad I've finally found it. Now just to find something a couple of notches harder next year.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The End Of The Danby Season- New Route Round Up

Jack Metcalfe On 'The Jungle Drum' (E4 6a**)

I feel it wouldn't be right for me to leave for Innsbruck on Tuesday without a few words of thanks to our most beloved Danby Crag. Sitting in my kitchen with thunder and the rain pattering on the velux windows, it really does feel like the end of the Danby season. It feels like we've had a really personal relationship with this crag, partially because it has been disregarded by so many for so long as a bit of an esoteric back-water and also because we have spent so much time there. We have found it the opposite of how most view it, with it perhaps being the provider of some of the best new routes of England in 2011.

What has been special about our experience is the solitude Me, Dave, Sam, Jack, Nick and Twig have enjoyed at the crag over various days; the varying weather; the cows and the brilliant moves that we have found behind the generally thin (sometimes rather thick) veil of lichen, dirt, dust and snappy rock.
Hypocrisy Of Moose (H8 6c***)

The difficulty of many of the routes has supplied us with real entertainment, a challenge and also training, but in the grand scheme of things it is the great quality of these unclimbed lines that is the lasting memory I have from this whole experience. I hope in time many of these routes will be repeated and this quality realised and indeed the yet unclimbed quality climbing taken advantage of.

I will be away for a year, so the rest of the routes will have to wait and I kind of hope they remain unclimbed! The remaining projects are mainly harder routes of H7 and above- the two main ones being the Arete to the left of Vulcan (which I was upset at not managing to get done) and the 'mono wall', which will be utterly fantastic when it is completed. There's a great day out at this crag at any grade except for E1&E2, so come and explore one of the most generous crags in the North York Moors!
Dave On 'The Polish Diplomat' (E5 6b*)
'The Chocolate Moose' (E4 6b**)
Dave On 'Howl Psyche' (E7 6b**)

The story of Danby over the last couple of years:

The crag originally had nothing above HVS, which instantly raised mine and Dave's suspicions as to whether there was any potential for new routing at the crag. Development began with two massive onsight lead falls off of what were to become 'The Battle For Tripoli' (E6 6a**) and 'The Hypocrisy of Moose' (H8 6c***). This led to a headpointing tactic being deployed and the creation of 'The Otter Wilderness Route' (E5 6b**) and the Hypocrisy Of Moose- Both on a buttress that had not previously been Climbed. This was the first headpointing we had ever done and we soon realised that there was a lot here that was possible that may not have been onsight.
Dave On The Offwidth 'Stalin' (E3 5b**)
'Die By The (Pork) Sword' (H7 6c**)
Dave On An Established Route- 'Roosevelt' (VS 4c**)
The Future of Danby- The Mono Wall (H9 7aish)

We then abandoned the Crag for a year (loosing our way with alpine flirtations, slate climbing and tintwistle death routes), until I returned and rediscovered the endless potential of high quality new routes.

It became almost like a 9-5 job, turning up at the crag every dry day to abseil dozens of unclimbed lines and clean new boulder problems. The easiest routes were quickly headpointed or climbed ground up, whilst knowledge of gear and moves were collected on the harder projects.

We realised that the routes between E3 and E7 we managed were pretty decent, but not as good as the Hypocrisy of Moose, whilst a couple of the really hard things were going to be truly fantastic. Perhaps the limit of comprehension at the moment is the 'Mono Wall', which is only just within that limit. Its climbing is highly dynamic, unprotected and thin- a definite candidate for the first route in 'the new wave' of Moors desperates. Beyond this is the 'Impossible arete', which is a 10 metre square cut arete with multiple outragous layback moves and also totally unprotected; an exciting glipse into the future of moors climbing to be sure.

The unclimbed lines we managed over the last two summers were fairly numerous:

The Otter Wilderness Route (E5 6b**)
The Hypocrisy of Moose (H8 6c***)
The Jungle Drum (E4 6a**)
The Polish Diplomat (E5 6b*)
The Chocolate Moose (E4 6b*)
Howl Psyche (E7 6b**)
The Battle For Tripoli (E6 6a**)
Die By The Sword (H7 6c**)
Stalin (E3 5b**)
Roosevelt Eliminate (HVS 5a)

Vulcan Bloc Arete (font 6b+**)
Marine Band Traverse (font 7a*)
The Effervescent Pheasant (font 7a***)
Palma Ham (font 6c*)

Sam On The Classic Valiant (HVS 5a***)
Gutted to not get this done- The arete left of Vulcan (E7/8 6c)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Stoupe Brow Exploration

Lunar Landscape
A few photos of some projects at Stoupe Brow today. There's some extraordinary climbing to be done here and I was very pleased to find out that a blunt arete that I had assumed was impossible actually yielded to a reasonable series of moves, albeit sustained and difficult.
The Right Walls
Dooge trying some of the moves on the Blunt rib- will be about E7 7a.
Nice moves with high feet

The rib starts off with an easy pre-amble to get stood on a ledge. From here you lean over and place a small tricam and a blue camalot in the large pocket on the left. These are both pretty good. You get the big pocket with your left hand and step up near it with your left foot. A big rockover allows you to lunge for a nice crimp with your right hand and you end up in quite an unbalanced situation. You then pop up with your left hand to an ok crimp and step through with the outside edge of your right foot on a smeary thing near the pocket.

From here you lob a left foot out to an ok foot hold and then pull like mad on the crimps to jump into a nice finger-locky pocket. You could go direct from here, but I pop out left again with my left hand to a big side pull and lob my right hand into the pocket hold. You can then swing your right foot upto where your right hand just was and then rock over to another good pocket. The climbing gets a little easier now, but somewhat insecure. If you're tall you can rock up with the aid of some not very good holds to get the good crimps and a scary move up to the big top flattys, or if you're small a few more moves out right are needed to gain the same holds.

It's difficult to say where the crux is, but it's safe to say it's hardish climbing from the ledge upto the good crimpy pockets. Perhaps not quite the 'nails testpiece' I've been looking for, but it's a step in the right direction and proper class!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Pictures- Stalin Crack FA (E3 5b**)

I'm way too tired to write very much about anything after today and I need to get some rest and food for tonights wildness in Yarm.... Here's some photos of Dave and Nick climbing Roosevelt (VS 4c**) and a new offwidth addition 'Stalin' (E3 5b**). Hopefully we'll get to Stoupe Brow Tomorrow to get the Scoop Led.

Die By The Sword (H7 6c**)

I set out on the wall right of the 'Moose' on lead today. I was apprehensive, really feeling the mental scars left by Tintwistle and it took a fair bit of mental power to overcome the feeling that I was very much unnecessarily taking myself into a position of danger. The low gear (effectively a belay at the bottom of the route) is good, which meant that there was scarcely any danger of death, but a fair danger of a bad fall into spikes and cracks. I had briefed Nick (Dave's Brother) on the necessary course of action in the event of a fall- up until the crux, just hold the fall; from the crux until the top, run like hell and jump off the lower cliff.

Nick was in the right spirit and before I knew it I was reaching out of the very bottom of Bastile (HS) and traversing up towards the sloping shelf. From here you can shake out and get ready for the crux, check your feet are clean and precariously place the left on a good smear and the right in a blind and tiny pocket. You can now reach a very positive and very small crimp with the right and pop into a left pinch, hoping that your feet stick and you don't fly backwards onto the rocks and ledges.

Once stable you then launch your feet onto the ledge with the 'woodlouse attack move'. It's such a funny move and you end up all bunched up in the middle of this wall facing a massive fall. Now you can turn the pinch into an undercut and span for dear life to the good crimps and a few more scary moves lead to safety. Short and sweet!
I had originally thought this was going to be H8, but I realised I was kidding myself by not using the crack which you climb out of at the start for very low gear and a running belayer. Due to the steepness of the ground I reckon a fall from the first hard move would only result in a nasty swing into the wall of the Hypocrisy Of Moose (H8 6c), so not worthy of H8 despite its hard moves. One of the best set of moves I've ever done though, with lots of popping for small crimps, wild foot throws and a big undercut reach to the top.
Celebratory Helmet Conversion.
This route means that the Twin Arete's butress is now home to 33 Egrades and 11 stars! Stage one of the Danby development is complete.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Nick Dixon- "What Will Be, Will Be"

A gusty day out at Round Crag today, finally ticking off Mr Crowe's Round Crag beauty 'Farndale Fayer'. I'm pretty divided about my opinion on this route, as part of me thinks it's just a blind highball above an atrocious landing and another part of me thinks it's a great testpiece which is brilliantly brutal and short. Either way it is a serious route and the moves are superb.

It is very typical of Round Crag, with what appears a pitifully small route offering a great sequence of moves that leave a lasting impression. The crag is littered with these desperates, which can often be most pleasant to lead after inspection or top rope practice, but are in another world to onsight lead or solo.

Of the ten or so routes at round crag above the grade of E5, there are a mere two runners that would be likely to hold a fall from the crux of a route; which tells you everything you need to know about the style of climbing here- apart from that once on a route, they are often so steep that there is scarcely enough resting opportunities to chalk-up, never-mind consider rescue or retreat.

So after our interest on Steve Crowe's fine line, I turned my attentions to one of only four routes I am left to do at the crag- Scut de Scun ai (Japanese for 'what will be will be'), which has not been led since its FA in 2002 and the subsequent loss of holds. I've felt the moves before and quickly linked them today on a shunt. It is often stated by climbers trying unrepeated routes or others' testpieces that they "have linked the moves and just need to get it wired for the solo", but I'd like to stress that a route like Scut de Scun ai is hardly your average route in terms of protection and I feel being able to do the moves is a long way from being able to climb it.

Its shallow scoop offers zero protection and maximum exposure, with the slabby-looking wall actually pushing you right out above perhaps the worst fall imaginable. A crucial hold was broken off by Steve Ramsden last year, which now means that the entire second half of the route must be climbed by what I imagine is a way harder sequence. This wasn't the fault of Steve Ramsden, but rather the nature of the rock, which halted Steve Crowe in his original efforts to make the first ascent- handing his 'unjustifiably snappy project' over to Nick Dixon. Since then the rock has calmed down and is now as solid as the rest of the routes at the crag, but at the time Dixon had already climbed the Indian Face on Cloggy and his approach to dangerous routes was made obvious once again in the christening of Crowe's death project "What will be will be".

To be on that scoop (notice the choice of 'on' rather than in), with a now harder sequence than that encountered by Dixon coming up and all the history of the FA of this line would be a real dream for me. But for now I feel I must leave it, with my Erasmus year in Innsbruck fast approaching and too many projects in the local area already to complete. Great route though.

And here's a little video of the Web (E5 6a**) and a strange variation of the English 6c traverse 'Flower Power' without the use of carved holds. The font grades given are a load of tosh from Dave- it is a plain floating English 6c/7a.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Highcliffe Testpieces And A New E4

Curious Intrigue FA E4 5c*

Dooge's birthday today, so for his birthday treat we went up to highcliffe nab. Excellent place, which is currently being cleaned by locals after the felling of all the trees up there that ruined the north end of the crag.

We started out with a mooch up 'Ping' (E1 5c*), which we both thought was excellent and deserving of more stars. I suggested to Dooge that in a clean state (which it's in after our cleaning) it might actually be HVS 5b, but we were unsure. Dave then got on the route he really had his eye on- Magic In The Air (E7 6b***). He abed down and placed the pre-clipped side runners which reduce the grade to E5 and got up it in impressive style. Dooge is going quite well at the moment. I was trying not to look too much and didn't want a go with side runners attempting to save my attempt for the coveted first onsight solo ascent of the line! I reckon this will have to wait a good few years like... it looks terrifying!
Ping HVS 5b**
After this I abed down a desperate looking slab that was pretty dirty. I cleaned off the dirt and found that it really was desperate- too desperate! My annoyance was interrupted by Dave informing me that the left arete of the wall hadn't been climbed, so I turned my attentions to this. A quick clean and a sequence became apparent. An uneventful solo was actually quite enjoyable and 'The Curious Intrigue' (E4 5c*) was born. No idea about the grade or staring. Often you spend so long abing or shunting something that the moves just seem to appear and the concept of onsight difficulties or quality just fade away; fade to grey... I loved it though, with cool layback, a couple of very high feet and some brilliant smearing. Hopefully it will get repeated before it turns back to nature.

The Day was finished off by trying to put up a line to the right of Desperate Den (E6 6c***) above pads. Den himself is pretty desperate (unsurprisingly), but the attempted line tackles the blanker wall to the right above the memorial inscription to Ian. I think he'd like the idea of his wall being home to a future 7a desperate. All but the last move figured out at the moment, but I will need more skin. It's a real testpiece like, quite eliminate.