Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Wangledoodle Wall- A ground-upable E9

A servant to the weather as always today. Dry rock seemed unlikely, but a freak dry spell and high winds this afternoon allowed me to get out to Danby Crag. O Danby Crag! What a crazy place. I feel very at home here, with what was once a terrifying and strangely forboding crag seeming fairly pleasant these days.

I know what's there now. Well, mostly at least. Never has a crag been so well designed to offer hard routes. It's all either compact buttresses with only the very occasional iron pocket imperfection, or strong cracklines that split the walls vertically straight down. There are no mid-height breaks offering cams, nor any little fissures offering RPs. The lines are strong and the aretes are bold.

 It is mainly aretes too. The Hypocrisy of Moose,  Howl Psyche... Even the mono wall ends up an arete. I'm not sure what Danby seems like to the outside world- perhaps a strange venue with a couple of decent hard lines? In reality though it's just mind boggling. There are hard lines everywhere. A lot are crap- often a few metres of desperately hard climbing above a certain death fall. This kind of climbing isn't very inspiring.

 There are a good handful of really hard routes that are worth doing though. The kind of difficulty that would mean they are 'lifetime projects'. The Mono Wall is one of these, but even harder than this (although a fair bit safer) is the Impossible arete.

This is what I was on today. I gave up on the impossible arete as it was ludicrously hard and certain death, but I then found out that it was approachable from the left; a sort of line of weakness up the blankest bit of rock in the Moors. You climb up the hairline crack, which is hard- really hard. This then becomes nigh-on impossible and from here you span out to the arete. Reaching out into the impossible with a couple of pegs from the hairline crack I reckon. I'm usually against pegs, but something is just telling me to wack em in on this line. A ground-upable E9 in the moors would just be mega!

So the line is safe. Once you can touch the arete you have to control the barndoor. This is the best move on the route and what I managed to do today. As soon as I felt this move I knew it was special. Its hard to describe, but you sort of totally tense up and then flow under your arm. Right hand on the arete, left foot on the arete really stretched out, clamp the right foot round the arete and flow and then snatch at the left side of the arete- first 7a move done!

Now you're on the impossible arete. What a place to be! There is a small edge by your face now and you have to mantel this. I don't really like this move. It's a bit too conventional - the old 'lob ya foot up and pull on tiny gastons'. A bit boring. Anyway, at Stanage or somewhere I'm sure that would be a classic crux move. Then you're on the edge. Now it's time for some 'leggery' as I like to call it. You basically wack your foot on this perfect nubbin really high. If you slap up and then push straight off this you can jump to the top on a top rope, but you'd have to be a bit labotomised to try that on lead. Far better is this intense intricate sequence where you first move your left foot up a touch, so that you can slap your right hand up the arete, and then gain a terrible crimp with the left hand. The next move is another stonker and you bring your left foot through to stand on it rather clumsily. You end up in a rather daft-looking maneuver,  but from here the top can be reached with some dynamics.

What a route! I mean the crux of the Mono Wall is good, but it's only really 3 moves, with two of those being 6c. I like to have something really hard to top rope, as this keeps me in good nick and really excites me. Even if I can't ever climb this, I've now done all the moves. If someone good came along- perhaps a future Marks or Ferrier; someone who had had that apprenticeship I never had, then maybe this could be climbed. I'm keen to see how close I can get to this; not for the grade,  as it being so safe stops it being any harder than H9, but because it really is the next level.

People have stopped climbing on outcrops. You just don't hear of hard new routes being put up on sub 15 metre walls and that's for a reason. Hard bouldering above dangerous falls. Hard boulder problems one after another- it's just hard! People prefer to just get F9a fitness and then compete against climbers of the '80s who didn't have that fitness. The grades will have to be recalibrated one day and then they will all be coming back to Danby Crag. She sure has plenty of lines and this thing is just excellent.  I really hope I can get to do the wangledoodle.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

New E6 up at Otterhill- Weasel Arete

The Weasel takes the left arete of the buttress
After a week of weirdness, with long walks to kay nest and badger rock, and a productive session on the Mono Wall, it was good to get out 'properly' today with Dave. The day started pretty badly on an attempt to climb a new line right of Time Captain. I got beyond my point last time and it all felt fairly steady, but i was just too unfit and pumped after the start and so jumped off. This will definitely go, but I might have to wait until I've got some route fitness. Dave found that his direct finish to Elise's Eliminate was a bit crap and so we left the crag. It was incredibly windy, so that probably effected our decision as well.

I was pretty fearful that the day was going to be lost. I've only got 2 weeks left in the Moors now and really feel like I haven't done anything yet, so wasted days aren't really acceptable. So I had a kind of negative psyche to do this arete we knew was still left to do.

The sister route of 'Otterhill Eliminate' (E2 5a)
It's a good line and we've tried to climb it twice before. Both times we've been rained off it, so today we took no chances and lobbed a top rope down it to get it quickly done.  It was fairly tricky to figure out and had a little bit of sandy rock at the bottom, so it was probably a good plan to give it a really good clean and check all the holds were bomber. There aren't any moves harder than english 6a I don't think, but the gear is not great and pretty spaced. E5? E6? Something like that. Pretty similar to No Expectations in a way, but would certainly be hard to onsight- or dangerous at least. Great line and good climbing, but the unreliability in the first 3 metres limit it to one star for me. 
New line in red, otterhill eliminate in blue

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Sphinx's Insane Brother

This is going to be a bit of a classic I think. It starts up a three star Font 7a+ boulder problem, to a lie-down break. Poor tricams can be placed here to protect you for one steady move to a couple of pegs and another poor tricam and poor cam. From here you blast off up the arete on the technical crux ( hard to figure out 6b) and undercut the 'eye' of the long-faced man whilst placing a crap RP. It then gets even better with wildly committing slaps up the upper arete on balance moves. Seems to be fairly delicate up top- you're facing a 14 metre ground-scraping whipper if it goes wrong!

Rather excited, it's like the Sphinx on acid.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Landslip- Classic Bequeathed

Many a weighed-down climber hath gazed up from the Wainstones track to that curious precipice, named rather ominously 'Landslip'. The name alone is enough to scare off the majority of folk and the lethal slides of Moss caressing its flanks kill those who remain. Or so the imagination would have us think. In reality though this crag aint half-bad. Perhaps it was indeed formed by some Landslide long ago, but now 40 or 50 feet of good Sandstone perch and poke out with audacious confidence. This confidence, bordering on arrogance, mirrors my climbing quite well. So it's no surprise that me and Landslip get on most capitally.

Scrappy bits and bobs adorn the flanks, with some decent crack lines to be had (A fair few have been climbed by Chris Woodall and Dave Richards over the years as winter climbs in fact), but the main event is the massive central Arete.

As with most of the Moors, it's unclimbed, but it's definitely possible. One of the best lines around for sure and it looks fairly interesting. Ian Dunn visited in 1982 and climbed a stonking-looking pitch to the left of the arete at E3 5c*. He then returned with Nick Dixon, who climbed No Expectations. This is as close to climbing up this impressive arete as you can get, without having to actually climb the arete- it's about 5/10 metres further right than it and follows a strong blind flake up the wall. It's down in the guide as E4 6b with 2 pegs that 'may or may not be there'. Well, that basically meant we knew they wouldn't be there and as we reckoned there wasn't much else for gear on it- just from our casual looks over from the Cleveland Way- we thought it might well be hovering around E6 now.

Well as I shunted the arete, Dooge had a look at No Expectations on a shunt. He was making a fair few grunts, suggesting it was really quite hard and kept laughing. I had to have a look, so we rigged up a top rope. With not being on shunt we managed to find a better way to climb it that wasn't quite as desperate as Dave thought it was going to be. We also found a cluster of gear that isn't great, but could hold a fall perhaps. It's sustained though, maybe F7a+ and really excellent.

It was fairly dirty before Dave abed down it and he did a good job of cleaning it, which is perhaps why it hasn't seen many repeats, but it definitely deserves them.  The line is top draw; galloping up a plumb-vertical wall, with every move being 6a or 6b. It's really ace, certainly one of the better routes in the area and far better than Stargazer Super Direct, which was surprisingly given 3 stars also by Dixon- It's strange what floats different peoples' boats. Anyway, a 2/3 star E6 6b I reckon- just need to clean the top out. God knows how good the E3 must be if they reckoned it better than No Expectations!

The arete looks like a whole different ball-game though- an all together less comfortable outing. Very similar gear to Dixon and Dunn's Groove, with lots of shallow cams that could hold, but no single piece that makes you very happy. It's extremely thin and it took me a while to find a sensible sequence. I'm still very much in the early stages, but I managed to do the crux 4 times in a row which is promising. The crux is (as always) the last move, which involves a very thin setup  on an arete and an utterly turd eighth-pad two finger pocket, before jumping for the juggy end ledge. It looked nigh-on impossible at the start, but some unlikely smears make it feasible. A fairly long series of moves above and around the jutting arete above the gear- it should end up also being up there with two stars I think- perhaps even three.

So it's the first time I've been really excited for a while. The arete is the perfect project for me at the moment- looking like it will be a real step up from the Moose and Die By The Sword, but actually quickly headpointable or at least plausible, and No Expectations looks like it's going to be another brilliant route to add to the moors, at that very rare Moors Grade of E6 most likely. Finding out that these fairly road-side crags offer very worth-while climbing is always really nice.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Grand Master Flash, Humbug and Monty's Leap

Grand Master Flash
The air is changing in the moors today- the closeness of early august is leaving and for the first time this summer a wee nugual of breeze wafts through my window. This is exciting.

Alas yesterday was not so fresh- extremely warm up at Scugdale in fact. We ventured out with our sights firmly set on Grand Master Flash. As with all moors routes, a certain air of mystery surrounds this Dave Paul E5 6b. It had an onsight ascent from Steve Ramsden when he was active in the area a couple of years ago, but there's not that much info on it kicking about. I think Ben Heason said he'd done it about 10 years ago too?

With the warm weather we realised it was going to be very grim trying something fairly long like Grand Master, so we bouldered out Humbug. It gets E4 7a in the guide, which is a funny grade, but it's a grade that explains it quite well. Dave swears blind that it has been chipped since we last went, but I can't remember for the life of me what the hold looked like before. It definitely looks very square and chiseled and it felt easier than doing it the undercut way, so I wouldn't be surprised.

The route/problem is good. It's a nice move and can be done with a mooch over to the left arete at font 7aish I think- i think I'm correct in saying that this is the way Richard Waterton did it?  I'm not sure what grade the direct/original is as the conditions were so bad today. It felt font 7a+/b, but I reckon it might feel more like font 6c+ if conditions were really good. Worth doing certainly and a good highball- the top's quite interesting! I can understand why the chap gave it english 7a when he did the FA if he undercutted it- that's really quite hard and just one move basically.
Trying Humbug as a youth

After this it cooled just a tad and we went over to a very warm Grand Master Flash.  I abed it to get that o-so-common scugdale dust off the holds and because I reckoned I needed a bit of an advantage in all this heat. The crucial crimp was rather sandy, so I was pretty chuffed that I did. Respect to Steve Ramsden for soloing it onsight after it hadn't been done for years.

Dave went first and looked like he was going to onsight it, but unfortunately slipped off fairly high up.  He then fell off the same point again and decided to ab down it to check the hold he was going for. Just after this I managed to flash it, which was pretty goey.

A nice picture of Cosy Corner at Ingleby I've just found
It starts off on a very steep wall on good holds. Technical sequences go through this to a crimpy rail. From here you enter the technical crux which is on a vertical wall, but your feet are still below the lip- so very much on your arms. You can get a bit sideways here and that allows you to reach through and get an OK hold. I fumbled my way through all that and was conscious of how high I was. Really rather scary. I managed to get through though and got to this sloping break. It's now quite slabby, but in the baking heat and now in the no-fall zone I got very gripped indeed. I'd definitely wait for a cool day if you want to go and do it, that wasn't fun. So I actually found the reach off the break the trad crux and it felt very much like E5 6b. I know RamMan thought it might be E4 6a, but I think he's just very strong (or it really was too hot). Three stars without a shadow of a doubt.

Dave then romped up the line once he had the same confidence in the holds that I had and we then warmed down on Monty's Leap, which is a really good eliminate.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Psycho Syndicate Ground Up

Top Move of Psycho (Betaguides)
I'd been up to the Wainstones last week with Dave to have a bash at a few things, one of which was Psycho Syndicate. Psycho is a rather hard line and I've had a fair few goes on it over the years. What I've never had though is a go at it when it's been clean. It's a sustained line and cleaning on route is rather hard. I abed off Dave today though and gave it a proper clean, which it really needed. It made such a difference that I did it first go today, which was excellent.
It's amazing what a difference a bit of a clean makes. Moves that I was wondering whether they were even possible felt fairly steady after a clean and it was actually enjoyable. I got some beta on my last blog post which I must thank Martin Parker and Richard Waterton for. Unfortunately it didn't seem to work for me, but I managed to get the mono undercut with my right and then get a good right foot up underneath me, so that I could layback off this and then build my left foot up and reach the small crimp below the top. I'm fairly confident this is the best sequence as it means that you don't have to pull on the horrible one finger thing. Perhaps I was just weary of doing that though as I'd ripped a tip at Danby a few days before? Who knows?
Footless Crowe E3 6b** (Betaguides)
Having a look at the main Overhang- will be pretty hard. (Lee R)
Great route and really quite knacky. I reckon it deserves a star or two and agree that it's about E5 6c. It should become a popular highball, it's really rather excellent. After this me, Lee and Dave went over and did some new routes above pads on Cold Moor/Mt. Vittoria North Buttress.

First up was a Tony Marr route that relied on some aid. Steve Crowe had already freed it with a sidepull in the adjacent route, but we reckoned it was worth doing without that. It offered a decent sharp dyno that was good. E2 6b?  Nice move. The E3 6b was almost identical, but a notch harder and its own line bridging up a scoop. A few boulder problems on the right were also good. If you turn up with 4 or more pads at Cold Moor North you can have a really good time at font 6b+-font 7a.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Magical Scoop Project At Highcliffe

Pretty Scoop
A big problem with moors climbing is how nice the rocks are. There's lots I want to do, but I always end up just manically cleaning things instead of actually climbing anything as all the unclimbed stuff looks so foreign and interesting- it sort of makes a good rest day activity anyway.

I was up at Highcliffe today and got back on the scoop near flange crack. It's fairly magical and a bit of an enigma. Brilliant climbing once you're stood up on the bottom of it, but getting there is either a desperate boulder problem into it or a desperate traverse onto it.  Hopefully this will get worked out, but it might end up being quite hard. There's plenty of chalk on it improving the conditions anyway now, so hopefully this could be one of the first routes in the new wave. Pretty exciting if it's possible.