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...

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