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.