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.


Anonymous said...

Humbug is a Paul Smith route. A very talented climber, still somewhere around in the North East, I believe.

Chris Shorter

Franco Cookson said...

I can believe that he is/was talented. Hard route that!

Dave Warburton said...

Partially free'd Quasimodo/Esmerelda too, to E6 6b. Did Richard pull out all the gear before his ascent?

Anonymous said...

Paul got the aid on Quasimodo down to one old bolt on the headwall and he was (rightly) very proud of this. I don't know if Richard removed the bolt to leave a finger hold.

Trad climbing wasn't really Paul's thing though - he did a very early ascent of the Austrian Oak at Malham - but had more problem with Stratagem and even Ali Baba.

He had an extravagant main of long blond hair and raced around the countryside in an old red MG Midget; this thing had a very leaking roof and we would get soaked when caught out in the rain. I don't suppose he has the hair or the car any more!


Franco Cookson said...

Classic! Love stories like that. Esmerelda's still too hard for me. The bottom wall looks like the trad crux (onsight at least), so a fine effort to free that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Franco
Actually I did Humbug the original/proper way not having any great interest in variations out left. In fact I led it placing a Friend to protect the 'interesting' top out onto the slab. The original sidepull was extremely poor and I'm appalled that it's been enlarged. When I first tried the problem I tried jumping up for the break using this sidepull for the left hand (I believe this is the original way it was done by Paul and definitely felt like a 7a move with a nasty landing if you messed it up!). However I quickly found that it was possible to use a flat undercut for the right hand to bypass this move, reaching straight for the break using the sidepull only for balance. I felt this reduced the grade to English 6c or maybe even 6b - it is also a much more controlled way of doing it as it can be completely static and there's less risk of hurting yourself falling backwards onto the boulder behind you.

Anonymous said...

Oh and re Quasimodo/ Esmerelda - I didn't remove any big bolt. The only things I took out were very small - like picture hooks - which were going rusty and making a mess of the wall. I've no idea what these were used for in aid climbing terms, as they certainly didn't look load bearing to me. Nothing that I took out created any new finger hold!

Franco Cookson said...

Excellent! Apologies for getting that wrong. Dave seemed to think that for some reason. Well, at least it's clear that Humbug has been damaged. I was fairly confident that it was easier than when I tried it a few years ago, but I couldn't remember what the hold looked like, so didn't want to declare it had been chipped when it hadn't. Your way sounds fairly powerful, I'll have to try that.

Hope to see you up at highcliffe tonight!

Dave Warburton said...

Interesting. According to Chris Woodall (i think), they were the original aid 'bolts'! Apparently, subsequent ascensionists managed to hammer pegs in, in their place.
According to the old guide, Smith did it with a 'bolt' (hook?) and peg on the lower wall for gear. Did you solo the whole thing up to the break, or can you get hand placed pegs/nails/tricams? into the scars?

Looks scary...!!