Sunday, 9 September 2012

For Me The Moors Season Is At An End

This summer has been somewhat of a brief flirtation between myself and the moors. I had so many things earmarked for a look, but found little time to do any of it. A more logical being would be saddened at the apparent failing in completing any of the 'objectives' that I had set myself for the summer, but to luck logic curses not my every move. Far more important than achieving whatever hollow targets I had set myself, was to explore the moors and understand those climbers who have climbed here over the years.

This summer I climbed many great lines, of mixed origins and in a mixture of styles. Dave Paul featured as many of the FAs. I have great respect for this man. He evisiged and first-trod that line of utter beauty Moonflower and went on to dance through some of the hardest rock on the moors. Ingham was another; his lines are legendary, his legacy is that of his style- balance and fingers cast from the strongest steel. Then those others- Dixon and Ian Dunn. Dunn is the only one I have met, although at the time I did not know who he was. His vibrant locks still shine brightly from Slip and Fly, whilst his peg whithers.

Another peg was dispensed from No Expectations- a noble line in need of repeats up at Landslip. Then there are Monty, brown and Parker, with lines that always impress; a whole host of spirits that still fly around the moors. The future looks just as good- the young guns are still improving at a rapid rate and me (now in my elder state)still delude myself that new increments of improvement can be made. The new routes this year are good; nothing hard, but many great lines. The arete at the Smuggler's Terrace in particular seems to dominate with exquision.

September is the end of the Moors' calender and last year saw the beginning of training. Next year promises far more training, pain and realised vision. After all, without delusion we only sink.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Dynamo- Park Nab- HVS 7a?

Park Nab was always the nearest popular crag to us in Castleton and I see it as a sort of local venue. It was always the place where I broke through new barriers- the first 'Severe', the first 5c etc.. I worked my way through the short routes and testing problems one by one, but there was always one problem that stared at me and looked totally impossible- that of Dynamo.

It was climbed back in the 1960s by Johnny Adams and was way ahead of its time, offering a '6a/b' move after a 'charge' at the wall. In the 50ish years since it was put up, Park Nab has apparently seen a lot of ground erosion and this wall has therefore become much harder. The old line of the ground can still be seen by the perfect change in types of oxidation on the crag surface. There's now a good few feet of new climbing. This all sounds fairly petty, but the result is that the upper wall can no longer be gained by a 'charge', but an utterly desperate move has to be negotiated. Well we popped up the other night to try a few things, also managing some of the Steve Brown highballs on the left of the crag, and actually managed to get up this.

I wasn't having much luck until Matt Ferrier found some incredibly natural beta that allowed a lot of height to be gained before a throw to a small edge. It had become dark and I had already narrowly missed injuring myself on a rock, but this wall meant a lot, so I went for it. I just about scraped through the move and scarily jumped my way further into the dark.

I think it was likely unclimbed in its current state, which is really cool as it's effectively a new route at Park Nab. I'd like to go back in the light and repeat it to be sure, but judging by the other day it seemed like one of the hardest moves in the moors. It would be really nice if there was an english 7a at Park Nab.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Tormented Sole- A New Three Star Classic

The Tormented Sole takes the stonking central arete up the pensive face.
Well after promising myself that I wasn't going to do any bold and steady routes this summer I found myself on just that today. At the Smuggler's Terrace with Dave Warbs belaying and Dan Lane taking some snaps. The line is that of the Kraken- a jutting fin of rock about 50 feet high, with a rounded and steep lower arete capped by a monsterous and elegant sweep of perfect moors sandstone.

When we first inspected this undocumented crag, this was the line that stuck out. It's enormous, sweeping, outrageous and beautiful. A brilliant line and it had to be climbed.

Mike Adams did a boulder problem climbing the lower arete from sit until the arete. This can be climbed to the cave, or instead the wall on the right can be taken. Either way there's a good bit of highball interest to get established. From here you're on the left wall of the arete, and some gear can be placed here along with a knife-blade peg to protect the next 8 metres of climbing.

The traverse rightwards from the gear is good- intricate gastons and sloping crimps with good feet take you onto a good smear on the arete. The tech crux now pops in an appearance with a crucial lowering of body weight enabling a pop into a poorish sidepull and a reach to a decent sidepull.

 From here another move that could perhaps be cruxy for those who can't smear too well. A lot of weight is taken on the arms so that an improbable foothold can be utilised to get a very high left foot. Another glorious reach to a big hold then follows. After this a bit of a foot throw out right to an ok undercut and a rearrange of the left hand to an arete layback. A rearrange of feet and some arete slapping lead to a spectacular position.

You're now high on the arete, with the finish not far off and on some beautiful rock. You become completely dependent on the arete for hands before a very small foothold allows a reach of faith out to a good crimp. Another poor left foot up and in balance; you're ready for the top. Staring you in the face, you just have to grab it. At this point the world rushed back, in that fabled climbing state, and I really enjoyed it.

It's the first headpoint I've really enjoyed. It was tense before, but I did everything right. I didn't rush it, I got it sorted in my head and didn't make any mistakes. I've not done a tricky route of this length before and it felt good, really good; even more so because of the line. There's a lot more pressure when you have to remember hundreds, rather than tens of body movements. Chuffed though and I'm sure this will get repeats when Dan's photos of it get out. It's a bit of a mammoth pitch and truly exquisite.

Grade.. tech 6b is the easy bit. Fairly sure of that- It's very sequencey but I don't think there's any 6c.  Danger? well I don't know. Number one question is "would the gear hold?". I think it probably would. Number two question is "Would you hit the deck with the gear where it is?". I think you'd probably just miss it from 14 metres with a good belayer. If the answers to either of those questions were that you'd deck then it would be E8, if both were certain then it's E6. I'd punt at H7 6b for the headpoint, pointing out that the line isn't even obvious onsight, never mind how to do the moves. I know Jordan Buys has been in the area around the Smuggler's Terrace though, so maybe he could have a good burn on it. Itdefinitely would be excellent to see someone onsight or flash one of these routes.

The right-hand start still waits, which will be bolder and will offer a lot of new climbing. This was the way that I originally invisiged the line, but once I found the gear on the left of the arete I reckoned a sort of 'traverse and go' line of weakness seemed like the most fun. There's loads more to do at the Smugglers at every grade (apart from E9+ I think..), but we've had our fill I think. Other people are already taking an interest, so that's good.  These moors days are ace!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

No Expectations (E5/6 6b**) and Wainstones Highballing

Dan Lane is up getting some shots of the Moors at the moment and the weather has been superb. The weather is always pretty good up here, but at the moment it's really something super. As a result everyone's been out- Sam, Matt, Me, Dave, Dan, Lee, Steve- even some chap called Craig turned up today. So we boshed up to the Wainstones to get a couple of shots as it was really too hot to climb.  Despite this I had a bash at the West Face of the Needle.

The West Face gets E4 6b, which puts it in the 'Wainstones E4 club'- a strange club full of total sandbags! Peel out is perhaps the easiest of the trio- and perhaps even E4 6b- but the other two, Psycho Sindicate and The West Face are abominable.

It's been a long-held ambition of mine to climb all of these lines, but it was always a bit of a dream as I knew how hard they were. I knew Richard Waterton had done all of them, but he was the only person who I knew had climbed them.

I managed the west face today, but only just. I'm really blown away by the skill of Dave Paul climbing this back in 1980 without any pads. I had a couple of pads today and I was still absolutely bricking it. Admittedly I was onsight and he probably inspected it, but nonetheless, the move getting off the ground is really rather hard. It's certainly made me respect these climbers of the late '70s and early '80s a lot more, even if a couple of holds have snapped off.

As for the details of the route... Well, I've heard the boulder grade of font 7b brandished around and It's not too far off I don't think. I do think if you're climbing it ground up that a trad grade is more appropriate. Like I say, I was terrified- a lot more so than on Psycho, that is more or less totally safe, albeit with a big fall. I'd say E5 6c** is about right. Without pads and onsight this would be even harder and a bit bonkers, even for the starting crux moves, which are really slippable.  A grand old line though, I think 2 stars is correct for an objective guide, but for my experience I'd give it 4!

After a gentle reacquaintance with West Sphinx Direct, we blasted over to Landslip to try the now peg-less Nick Dixon and Ian Dunn Route of No Expectations. We'd had a chilled out top rope session with sam, Phlepps and Richard Waterton the other week, but I don't think either of us felt particularly in the zone that day. Today was far more productive- a quick rehearse and off we went. Dave Cruised it and that I believe, is the first ascent without the pegs. It's a great route, wonderful, sustained climbing and Dave even managed to top it out. Rad!

The young Sam Marks is on splendid form at the moment, having climbed Moonflower, Stargazer, Scarecrow, Mongol, Gehenna, Feverpitch, Ali Baba and Dangle, along with a handful of Park Nab solos, in the last three days. Best three days possible perchance? Great form in any case. I'm sure he'll be giving us a run for our money in no time!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Yet Another New Route Down On Yon Coast.

Down on the Smuggler's Terrace today, to celebrate the young squire dooge's birthday. Well, the Smuggler's Terrace is quite far for us, so we reckoned that we're just going to do another couple of lines like. Just the best pierces ya know...

Well Dooge did find his line fairly amenable I'd say. Needed but a moment o' cleanin' before he was ready for the lead. E5 6a* was the verdict and 'Billet The Kid' he were christened. A fine line of 14 metres, good rock and fine climbing. Fairly cruxy and with the weeest slither of boldness- I wouldn't like to chance a fall, I wouldn't.

To put the icing on the cake, or the badger in the taxidermy collection, was to climb the line to the right. That stonking arete aforementioned in my post-previous. Well I gave it a toppers and it felt dead amenable like. But fancy it on lead I did not. Another sesh, no rush I thought.

One stonker a day, keeps the Billets at bay.

Tranmire Highballs

The Age Of Obsession (E4 6a?*)
We got thoroughly rained on up at Tranmire today. The crag seeps a fair bit, so we got to work on trying to improve the drainage situation a bit before managing to climb three new routes on a dryish bit of wall.

We climbed above pads and managed a wall that I had jumped off the other day without them. Not sure how hard they were, but sort of english 6a/6b type stuff. They could end up feeling a lot better in dry conditions and with a little more concentration I reckon. There could also be some gear in the top break, but it doesn't really matter? They're up there and they're worth-while additions.

The one I jumped off turned out to be tarnished a little by the arete on the right, whereas the one in the picture was actually pretty good. It maintained interest that one- with a tricky bit of footwork getting into the break just out of shot.

Unfortunately the 4 slab routes we had our eye on were dripping. We'll be back for them after our drainage has taken effect. Some good bouldering below the crag too, as myself, Lee and Phleppy found out.