|Trying Alum Hinkes As A Wee Nipper|
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.