Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Hasty Repeats- Ch-Ching (E6/7 6c), Peel Out (E5 6b)

Trying Alum Hinkes As A Wee Nipper
An interesting day up on Hasty Bank today. We started out at Raven's Scar, which is a brill crag. Our objective was the Monty classic Ch-Ching, which ascends the bottom half of the mega arete to the big ledge. From here you can either finish up Stratagem, which is a bit contrived, or just slink off to the right.

It got repeated by Steve Ramsden when he was active a couple of years ago and I think before that Richard Waterton had headpointed it too. Whether Steve's mate Andy Reeve climbed it ground up I can't remember, but it's only seen a handful of repeats in any case, so getting up it was a pretty exciting prospect.

It's routes like this and Esmerelda at Highcliffe (E7/8 6c) that I like to keep for the ground-up/onsight as there aren't many pre-existing routes at this grade about and even fewer people to climb get them done without headpointing. Steve's video of the route offered a bit of beta, so we set to work with pads. We had a big sea of them and Dave took a few fairly nasty falls off- one scraping down the block to the right, which looked really bad. Badly ripped trousers, a few huge gashes ect. It was fairly grim.

 It's the perfect route for a flash as you can see all the holds from a near-by block and this aided me in my flash. Dave had sorted out an energy-saving start to the line and then I managed to onsight through the section he had fallen off by crafty use of a heel. Watching back Steve's video and it appears he did it rather differently. I reckon the line is pretty good. It's a good boulder problem to a flat hold from which you can escape right fairly easily and then another move after this. Without this escape it would be 3 stars for sure and even with it, it's bloody brilliant. I reckon 2 stars.

The grade is tricky. It's not E7 6c for my money. It could be E6, but with pads these days and the general font 7c strength everyone has, it's going to be too soft even at E6 I think? I don't think there's a 6c move on it, or if there is, then the Parochial Dream and all those other highballs we've been doing recently are also 6c. Respect to Monty and Parker for doing it in the style they did (I imagine without pads) but if this ends up at E6, then a lot of other stuff is going to need re-grading.

After this we got beaten off the west face of the Needle. I know Richard and our chum Sam Dewhurst have done this, which mad us wonder whether the large snapped hold mark is from a good snapped hold. We only had a few goes, but it seemed pretty hard. We'll be back. Psycho Syndicate gave us some doubts too. No one seems to know where it goes. We did the start, which is about english 6c, but then up high the holds seem to run out. There are some utterly abysmal mono crimps, but no feet. Did it go left? I know Ingham was good, but I don't think he was that good- felt like it was going to be a very high-ball english 7a move, but it was very green... How odd moors climbing is.

We did manage Peel Out (E5 6b) though, which was grand.  A bit of a dark horse- looking a bit turd, but actually exceptionally fine climbing. It was effectively 2nd go ground up, but i had some goes on this about 3 years ago or something. It felt like it was going to be nails, but a little nifty foot sequence makes it feel rather steady. We wondered whether it was in fact 6a rather than 6b, but I think that was bordering on the realms of daft sand-bagging. A solid highball, or E4 6b without pads I reckon.

I also slayed an old nemesis too. I had tried to solo the unclimbed direct to Chop Yat Ridge some years ago, but found that it was rather committing. Today me and Dave both soloed it onsight, naming it Alum Hinkes. Named of course after the north east's premiere high-altitude mountaineer and watch-salesman. Alas we returned to find that our glorious HVS 5b was in fact already a route. Climbed last September by the formidable duo of Tony Marr and Mike Tooke. O well, you can't have 'em all. 

oo, and nearly forgot. Went to Garfit Quarry after that. It's really good- well worth a trip over from the Wainstones.  The 'E2' is best approached as a highball. We did everything there apart from a hard wall and it was all good stuff.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Shoulder Manipulation- Re-dislocation

Shoulders have got too big
climbing is all about trade-offs: Strength vs. Endurance; Sport fitness vs. Boldness; Style vs. getting things done etc. etc... One trade-off that I hadn't come across though is flexibility vs. strength. I aint no scientist me- far from it, I'm a bit of a fool when it come to all things-technical, but i reckon it has something to do with tendon elasticity and strength. You'd have to ask one of those new scientific-type chappies.

If you're plonking about on english 6b/6c moves, then you don't really need to worry about this. Perhaps you'd have to lift your leg a bit to do the odd move, or even gaston if you're really feeling expressive. A recent thing up at thorgill though needs you to come onto an undercut with a couple of fingers and then spin round on your shoulder. Last year I probably wouldn't have been able to get to the undercut, but I would have had no problem twisting my shoulder out of its socket to match the hold.

When I tried it this week though I just couldn't do it. Too many fibers, too many tendons, just too ripped. O dear... So now I'm training. I've got a wooden broom and am trying to do those weird twisting things that dislocate your shoulder. I'm pretty psyched for this route.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

New Highball Route At Thorgill

The boulder problem start is then followed by a bit of a traverse
 Back up to Thorgill today with Sophie and Dave. Sam Mark's info on the crag came in useful again and we climbed a nice new highball wall at E5 6cish after warming up on some of Mike Adams' excellent bouldering there. Nearly managed a direct on the E5, but that will have to wait.

Thorgill highball from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

Dave working out slightly different beta

The direct revolves around intricate moves matching thumb under-spraggs
We used five pads to pad out the landing, which is not the best- pointy rocks etc. With the 5 pads it became fairly pleasant, with a totally safe technical crux start, then followed by a traverse that was pretty pumpy and on big pockets. I managed to fingure out a reachy sequence across this wall, which added another hard move, but made it a lot less pumpy. After this there is a really high rockover and more delicate climbing above. With the sea of pads it was all protectable apart from that last rockover, which would have been a nasty fall. The holds are big and positive though, so you'd probably not fall off. Without pads it would be serious.

 Grading is tricky as always. I found it fairly steady, but I was conscious I was reaching through a lot of moves that would be hard for shorties. Dave had a lot of trouble with the start move at 5 foot 11', which made it seem 6c, considering there really is nothing to be worried about falling off that move. E5 6b could be right. Without pads it could feel pretty out there, so who knows? Even the font grade is a tricky one, could be anywhere from font 6c to font 7b for the whole sequence. Good long set of boulder moves in any case.

I'm really rather keen to get up the direct. It's close to this line, but the moves are feeling really good, if not a bit agonisingly painful.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Classic New Testpiece Down On The Coast

We've been fairly busy recently; lots of abseiling, walking, top roping and swimming through various types of foliage. My legs are fairly knackered like! Most of the prospecting has returned either stuff that's a bit crap or stuff that's too hard. We bivied over on the coast Sunday evening, which allowed us to get two days solid new routing in.

Me and Dave Teamed up with Sam Marks and Mathew Ferrier to get the development going on Sunday, choosing the largely unclimbed crag of 'The Smuggler's Terrace' for an explore. A good day, lots got done. Sam and Mathew proved to be a formidable duo after a false start on an unclimbed arete that I was sure was only VS, but turned out to be E3. Next they climbed a classy bit of wall to the left of that arete at about HVS 5b, followed by a proud crack line joining Steven Phellp's route 'Aurora Crack' on Aurora Buttresses. This looked good and got a star or two, reaching a fair old height.

And they say there's nowt left worth doing?
 Me and Dave were slightly less productive, but did managed to climb a crack line to the right of Contraband Crack (HVS), which was utterly brilliant! I had a fair old battle onsight, and eventually slumped. This enabled me to clean the crux and after climbing, resting and cleaning the rest of the route I managed to strip and climb the route clean.

Dave Managed an impressive flash on my gear and then also re-lead it placing the gear. It's a fiddly route at the beginning, with small wires and RPs. After a tricky sequence you get into the crux, which is tricky again until you find some sinker nuts. It keeps going and a vague rest higher up lets you get a little back before the final rock over and reach, which would be fairly hard if you'd had to hang about figuring it out. Grades are tricky as usual. The crux is hard, requiring old-school flared hand jams and modern-style thin crimping. It'll be E5.  Utterly no doubt it gets three stars. It's like an E5 Mongol or Regent Street.

And on we go through the moors' corridor of classic-searching.
We then moved onto Stoupe Brow for today. I cleaned another incredible-looking crack, which will be a notch harder and shunted and cleaned a few projects. Dave and Sam climbed a new E2 arete, to the left of 'Best of Both' and then repeated Fire Dance on the bolts. I think they seemed to think this was E3 6b/ f6c+ with the bolts. Central crack got a repeat from Sam as well, who agreed with Dave that it was E3 6a. I still think it's alright at E2 5c, but we'll see what the fourth ascentionist thinks!

Friday, 20 July 2012

An Emotional Return To Danby Crag- A New Discovery

The future, or just a dream?
With the recent weather we hadn't risked a trip to Danby. It's north-facing and in trees, so one would think that it was a pretty crap choice when it's raining every day. Today though I was without transport and the sun was making an appearance, so chanced it. I say 'chanced it', but I've actually been at Danby after some atrocious weather and it always seems pretty dry and clena. I really don't understand it, perhaps it's something to do with the way it drains or is exposed to the wind, or perhaps crags actually just dry fairly quickly anyway round here...

Anyway, Luke Hunt was about and after sending me a text "Franco, I want to come repeat/downgrade your routes. Are you about?" I thought a good day was in store. We met above the Mono Wall project after we had walked from different directions. It's just about worth walking there, being about 4 tough miles, but hardly a great idea if you're wanting to climb much towards your limit.

After a quick brush, we warmed up by top roping my long-term project- the Mono Wall. A pretty moronic choice, with the start revolving around a series of poor monos up an overhanging wall. We didn't get injured, but we probably deserved to. After a good finger stretch I felt like I was making some progress. The crux mono feels really good now, and it doesn't seem such a massive move to catch the sloping pocket. Working on my dynoing has definitely helped a lot, along with general strength increases. The idea of linking the crux moves together, or even doing the crux move most of the time is pretty distant I think.

 A key issue with these routes with an extremely fine balance between feeling possible and insane is that they really need to be clean. Chalk is essential in killing off tiny bits of greenery that destroy friction and it takes a while to take effect. I've been mooching about on the Mono wall for about a year now and as a result, the infrequent chalking has really improved the condition of the holds. I really explored the monos today and managed to evict a family of woodlice from the back of the crux hold, which should help matters, but climbing hard routes in the moors is a long and drawn-out process.

After our warm up Luke wanted to get back on the 'Moose'. He had been on it yesterday and sorted a lot of it out. This is another route that is getting in better and better nick. After I led it three years ago, Steve Ramsden and then Dave tried it over the years, along with James Oakes. With Luke's recent efforts as well the route is really in perfect condition. As with the others, Luke raved about the quality, which is obviously really good to hear. He's fairly close I reckon, just needs a bit more time on it. If you fancy the second ascent though, now's the time to try!

Whilst Luke was sorting himself out on the Moose I had an ab down the crack to the left of a project we called 'The Impossible Arete'. I originally wanted to leave the crack for an ground-up project, but it's hairline and has mini ferns all the way up it. It really needed a clean and I wanted 'closure' on whether it was actually a decent line or not. It looked alright, but I soon realised that from a point at about mid-height, it was possible to span and leap to the Impossible arete. This really excited me as I knew from my unsuccessful efforts on the impossible arete that the top of the arete was the easier section.

We threw the top rope down this and got to work trying to figure out a sequence. It starts off with three metres of reasonable crack climbing, followed by a desperate flared finger-crack move of english 6c. From here you come into part of the crack that you can use as a side-pull; opposed with poor feet. This made the lunge possible that I had noticed on ab, before a technical foot sequence and then a horrendous move controlling a barn-door. Some small, solid gear is afforded by the crack, but I'm not quite sure how you'd place it, as you'd be in the middle of a 6c move- perhaps pegs? Once on the arete, you're grapling with more desperate moves that we didn't get round to sorting out. That top bit will be the crux and above a big lob.

I was very excited about this route as it is two things: 1) possible but hard; and 2) safe. Those two things are fairly rare in the moors, especially the latter. If the top move goes it will mean that four really rather hard moves will be possible to link right after one another. I suppose it's a bit like a safe 'Mono Wall', which is exactly the practice I need for the Mono Wall; a route which just makes me tremble really...

Moors Nuggets- A Few New Discoveries.

Moors Nuggets from Franco Cookson on Vimeo.

I'm back from Poland and have finished uploading this. I spent a while making it, but as usual the software messed up and hence I had to delete a couple of things. The FA of Physical Graffiti is therefore not on it, but there are a few other worth-while things to have a go at.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Ingleby Incline Prospecting- Physical Graffiti (E5 6c)

Mightly Thin Moves On An Unclimbed Line
Well, I'm well an truly done-in after today. Ingleby always promises a beasting and today was no exception. We were weighed down massively with gear and mats and arrived at a slightly damp crag in good, but exhausted spirits.

First off was the unclimbed direct start to Pepsi (HVS 5b). It's an obvious gap and looked like it might be alright, so off we tootled. I got high onsight, surprised by the difficult intricacies' quality and fairly gripped. We had a couple of mats, but the fall was untested and the hillside fairly steep. After the highly fingery start I ended up mid-wall, inching my way up higher on small crimps and poor feet. I popped out right to join Pepsi in its pocket, but it was slopey and damp: I retreated. I told Dave to watch me and then tried an alternative jump out left. The pocket looked the same and I didn't get it right- I was off. Down the hillside and the fall seemed alright, rather miffed to have fallen off what was probably the easier moves though. Dave then stepped forward and after a bit of trouble with the first start moves he was onto the crux. He looked a lot more composed than I felt and calmly repositioned his feet. A crucial foot stab in a pocket and he was reaching his way to glory and a sloping top-out. After quickly repeating Dave's line I turned my attentions to the arete to the left. This was fairly hard and extremely fingery. We didn't manage it. Fairly chuffed with our Pepsi direct though. It actually turned out to be an independent line and hence thought it deserved the name 'Pepsi Max'. It deserves a star, with a pleasant flake and intricacies up to english 6b. E2 we thought for the good landing.

A slab to the left then caught my eye and over we tootled. Dave wanted to save his tips, so I set about ascending first a bulge with a flake and a pocket (about font 6b and good) and then to the left of that an arete 'wonder' on two unique nubbins and some seriously poor feet. Font 6cish and 3 stars for the arete. I really thought that was perfect.

After a ham sandwich and a drink it was time to attack Hunter's Buttress. Home to the classic HVS 'Top Gun', it is also flanked to the left by the intimidating line of 'Love or Confusion' (E4 6b). Dave was keen for this and he quickly set out on lead after I abed and cleaned it. He romped up it with impressive ease (I had struggled with this a while ago) and got to the crux mantle. From here he really looked a bit flummoxed and slinked a metre right to finish. It's a shame this escape right is possible as it basically means the direct finish is slightly contrived. I seconded and managed the direct, with small crimps and a massive heel rockover. I felt the move I did was English 6c, but it could perhaps be properly mantled out at 6b. A big maybe though and the fall would be GRIM. The gear is alright, but it's well under your feet and it would be a scraper. Monty and Parker were strong climbers by all accounts, so I wouldn't be surprised if they did finish direct. Their grade of E4 6b is a bit laughable though if they did.

Trying Physical Graffiti As A Youth
After a quick ab down a more straightforward new route that should be alright, I turned my attentions to a long term project of mine. The 'Physical Graffiti' wall as I named it at the time was always something I couldn't do at all. I had always tried it ground up and had always ended up rolling down the hill. It is effectively a boulder problem up this wall, that just about manages to not be eliminate. It was always the sort of thing I didn't really think I could do as it was just so hard. Today I got Dave to ab and clean it and this obviously (along with vast increases in strength) made all the difference. It still took a fair few goes, but eventually I latched the small finger pocket. From here I was totally onsight and on unclimbed ground. A match, re-arrangement of feet and a span to a sloper then led to a very happy top out. It's the happiest I've been for a while really. No stars of course, but a good set of moves, with a brilliant micro thumb-press on the crux. Just my style and really nice. Grade? E5 6c I reckon, perhaps even E4 6c.  About font 7bish, perhaps harder if you're small.

After another sandwich and finishing off the drink it was on with more fun. Dave wanted to lead Time Captain, but it was a bit damp so he set out on 'Elise's Eliminate' (E3 5c). It was a bit lichenous, so I went on cleaning duty again, using the opportunity to check out a wild unclimbed line through a roof. The hard bit was on the lip of this roof, which seemed another Ingleby razor route with no feet. English 7a for my money, but after breaking a foothold and thence mangling my hands behind the rope I didn't really try it.

Dave lead Elise's and I was happy to second. I missed a crucial hold whilst cleaning, so he ended up using the old Moors lichen strength before romping to the top. I was pretty tired and without chalk at this point and only just scraped the onsight second- fairly happy with that one ;). A few more abs and some speculation about an airy right-hand finish to Time Captain completed a fairly busy day. That last one is going to be a right line!

Videos and Pictures to come.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Camp Hill Project And A New Buttress- Freyr's Nab

The Project Climbs past the wavey wall right and above the fat bit of the lower break.
With rain a-forecast once more, into the safe hand of Camp Hill we bewandered. As a crag we knew exceptionally well, with each crinkled feature intricately explored long ago, we knew the only line left unclimbed is that wall left of Waves Within.

'The Waves' is a classic, put up by Steve Brown and Dave Pall in '79, it tackles the left side of an arch to a sloping blind break. The crux then follows with not much gear before a high rockover. Mine and Dave's objective today was the wall to the left. The expanse is plenty enough for a route, with several poor features between the first two breaks and some slightly larger holds between the 2nd and 3rd breaks.

A relaxed top rope made for a pleasant afternoon, with this style of approach becoming a lazy habit and fairly necessary for maintaining fingertips when climbing all the time. I find starting from the top and looking at all the holds very closely, feeling the positions and seeing how I can get to the hold is vital in not wildly jumping in ignorance and catching something wrong. These little things are what makes a wise activist I reckon...

Anyway.... The route itself is OK. For a brief moment I thought it was going to be really good and also really hard. Unfortunately the first sequence is relatively unnecessary. It's the classic problem with these sort of 'between the cracks' type of routes. There are several possible lines all the way up it. The best would be an almost impossible sequence left of the waves on absolutely minuscule holds. The next best would be an undercut and dyno sequence past a pea-pod, which is hard English 6c and the worst is climbing to the left of that, past a crimp, not so far away from the HVS to the left. The latter would be 6b.

 This starting move is at a height protectable with lots of boulder mats, albeit with a poor landing. This means that the creation of a route with a bit of an eliminate nature is more likely to be accepted. Perhaps there could be a few variations, with the 6c pea-pod one being the more common. The impossible/very hard thing on the right also has the worst fall, so that could be interesting.

We unlocked the central wall with use of a heel toe and a couple of knee bars, before the jump. It's fairly interesting how intricate the sequence became. I think in general our ability to interpret the rock is getting to a new level- it certainly seemed that way up at Roseberry the other day. These little steps and improvements is what is going to make the harder things in the moors possible me thinks- that and incredible amounts of core strength. I'm really looking forward to unleashing this wall on lead, it's going to feel so wild compared to top roping, despite being a little defined.

Once the 2nd (or mid) break is reached it becomes a bit less eliminate, you rock rightwards, pull on a small hold and then layback up a vague and blind flake feature. This is most excellent and English 6b. As a whole the route will end up E5 6c I reckon, with the right-hand thing being E7 7a or something. It's worth doing, especially for locals, but no stars I don't think, despite the super rock and moves.

It then absolutely down-poured, so we went crag hunting. There's been a lot of talk of a buttress on the opposite side of the tabletop hill Danby Crag inhabits for some time. It was most recently mentioned to us by John Price at the CMC meet last Tuesday and we thought it was about time we actually went.

We parked up and found a path, Dave reckoned there was no point taking rock boots, so we just wandered up. At first it looked like Park Nab and we got rather excited, but it then became clear it was a highball venue. What highballs though! We soloed a wall we reckoned to be about HVS 5b on the left, which was fun in wellies and then went about having a look at the other things.  A couple will need rock shoes and probably some pads, in particular an arete that will be a classic for certain- A sort of picturesque and independent Lion King on nicer rock. The rock generally was tip-top and it would be nice to return with a few people to develop the stuff. There are about 5 lines that will be V Diff- VS and a couple of other things.

 It's not a major find, but certainly worth visiting and it's only about 5 mins to walk in. I could see it becoming very popular for an evening solo.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Roseberry Topping Bouldering And A New E4 6a

Great Moves
The chance of finding something dry looked fairly remote yesterday, so we went for the most wind-swept sun trap in the moors- Roseberry. The hill of Odinsberg also gets minimal seepage, so it's a fair shout if one is cursed by wet weather. It turned out to be a fair choice, even though it was a totally still day.

The Wall font 7b+
Shelf one-handed
With Sam Marks joining me, Dave and Soph today, we got to work on some of Mike Adams' additions to the boulders bellow the face- repeating a pleasant font 7a+ arete, the sit to something we had done before and the wall to the right of the shelf that gets font7b+.  The sun then came out, which was surprising and conditions then deteriorated very quickly. This meant it was time to do some routes.

Dave Leading his unnamed route
We got to work cleaning a wall which we had had our eye on for a while. After some inspection and a lot of choss-removal we got it into a decent state for the lead. A highball wall then leads to a move not really at a highball height. Gear then follows in poor rock, before a traverse right on pockets, better gear and a high rock-overing topout. We all thought it was well worth doing, but fairly serious. The slightly snappy sections of rock stop it getting any stars, but could be a pleasant top rope for anyone fancying a testing outing in safety.

A pleasant day and I was impressed by the quality of the harder problems at Roseberry. Someone has been brushing the Mike's problems viscously though. If you go to repeat these lines, please only use nylon brushes and don't brush too hard- some of the problems are permanently damaged.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Thor's Axe E3 5c**

The Piercing Thorgill Arete- the Direct Start. - Photo: Sophie R
In the land of rain, it was back to shower dodging today. The showers were intermittent (as always) and the odd blast from the sun, when clouds a-parted, made for odd conditions. Sam Marks had done a fine job of sending us some pictures of Thorgill when he went to check out the place last month, with some of the pictures hinting at a real bag of potential.

So it was with excitement that we tootled along along the railway from blakey: full pace and accompanied by Miss Sophie from Germany.

Poorly dressed for the occasion, with flip-flops and no stick, we soon cursed having parked so far away, but the walk was still pleasant.

After passing an impressive hole (a 19th century iron mine apparently), we happened upon the crag. A bit tired, we feasted upon a sandwich before marveling at the wonders of Thorgill. I had previously slagged off the place, which makes me wonder if I had indeed been to the correct bit of crag. Who knows? But it looked quite nice anyway.

With surprising dryness, we had free choice of all the crag's outings. There were a large number of obvious new routes, with one axe-shaped arete looking extremely promising. Dave got to work cleaning that, whilst I fought with a holly bush to try and find a belay above a hard-looking wall. After first abing off Dave, then climbing a gully of reeds, I eventually managed to half-abseil down the line. It looked alright, but I couldn't really shunt it- even with some daft aid tactics.

Dave leading his left-hand start- more sustained and serious. Photo: Sophie R
So I retreated and looked at a wall to the right. That looked like it would offer a just-about highballable route of about E2 5c/6a- E5 6b if you ignore the arete on the right. With ignoring the arete it would have a real great final move. All rather eliminate and average though.

Dave was ready for his lead now anyway. He racked up and set off, placing a thread round a suspect block. The upper arete is plagued by a choss band at the bottom. It's not proper choss, but this sort of band of square sandstone blocks that look like they could fall off. Most seemed pretty solid, but the odd one did break off. This will get better with a bit of traffic, but it's not a massive deal anyway, with only the first move being affected and very easy anyway.
Third Crux
Dave hadn't practiced the moves and seemed to have a bit of a battle with the crux, looking rather confused on the topout. With that done, it was on with the right-hand start. I'd had a look across at it when seconding Dave, feeling the holds that I thought I'd use, but on lead I ended up just reaching straight into Dave's line and onto the arete.

This was better-protected than Dave's left-hand start, but perhaps with less pleasant climbing. Very similar lines anyway, with mine being easier because you get better gear earlier on. I fear that the Left-hand will one day become obsolete, with a serious move in from the left that is seemingly unnecessary. I tried to persuade Dave that it would be better to have two separate routes, so the interesting start sequence on his was not lost into the dark depths of forgotten variations. He rightfully said it was all hog-wash and they were both the same route. Fair enough like... So there we have it- one fine line with variation possible at the start- have a look at Dave's too if you go to do it, they're both nice.
We thought it better even that the Jungle Drum, with a long pitch and two or three sequences of difficult climbing- depending on which line you choose. My grading is well out at the moment, with the moves feeling very easy, but getting utterly terrified. Dave seems a lot more steady and happy leading above dubious threads, so his grade of E3 5c might be about right. He's on good form though. Certainly 2 stars though, only the poor band at the start detracting. If you turn up with a positive attitude and experience-enough to not be put off by the start, it will feel utterly brilliant. Certainly worth the long drive from the north for anyone in the area. There'll be a few more things here soon too me thinks.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Back In The Moors

'New' routes at a quarry on Castleton Rigg. Brown Hill Quarry/Sammy's Spring Quarry from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

I'm finally back in the UK and the Moors! I've been really looking forward to getting back for months now and I've got so many plans and ambitions it's hard to know where to start. It was odd stepping off the plane in Manchester to be greeted by 15 deg. rain instead of 35 deg. sun, but it was a welcome change and Manchester was amazing.

There was certainly a focus on the Moors though in my mind and after a few hours back I made my way home.  First passing the guarding cliffs of Whitestone; then past Beacon Scar; and then Highcliffe Nab. I was getting really excited. It's such a great place to come home to- wild weather, bleak landscapes and all that. Most pleasant.

The weather has remained pretty bad the past couple of days, managing to just about stay OK on Tuesday for the Cleveland MC meet and a bit of new route prospecting early morning. We climbed 3 new routes at a new venue just east of Castleton Rigg quarry.

The walls don't offer that much. There are a couple of V diff type things on the right, which are clean and interesting and a couple of slightly more tricky cracks on the extreme left. The main event is the central wall though which, whilst not reaching a colossal height, does offer some very good highballs. The top is pretty chossy, which is a bit sad as there are three variations up the main wall which are alright.

I particularly enjoyed the central wall direct, which is about E3 6b and requires a good bit of technique and strength. It's sequences like this that make me happy I've made a few strength gains, with a lot of very strong body position holds. I'm not even going to guess at a grade as I haven't climbed anything for so long. A strong-at-the-moment Dooge suggested font 6c, which it could be. I'd expect to be getting a font 6c 1st, rather than 3rd go at the moment, but perhaps I need some readjusting to the sandstone?

It's all very un-rushed at the moment, getting used to the rock again and checking out what's left to do. Grades are going to remain very approximate I think, with rejigging at the end of the summer and all that. My technique is all over the place though and I'm getting pumped and terrified after 5 metres- need to work on this...

The forecast does not look good for the coming week. We'll get somewhere though. The unclimbed Camp Hill main wall dries quicker than a shaking badger. So that's always worth a bash if all else fails.