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!