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!

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