Monday, 18 February 2013

The Little Finger of Hope

The Majestic Mono Wall
 So, the other day I managed to find an easier way to climb the crux of the Mono Wall (A project right of Valiant). As the monos peter out and blankness prevails on the hanging slab above, a rip-roaring thrust to higher insecurities is largely dependent on hope. The old sequence saw a 3 foot jump off of terrible footholds and a mono that's in an awkward place for the move. I could do it like that a bit, but it was very similar to and more difficult than The Finger at the Wainstones (font 7c) and not the kind of move that would likely ever seem secure.

There's quite a bit of new bouldering to be developed still
I've played around on it a lot and never could find a more agreeable sequence, but last Friday I found that the mono, when taken with the left ring finger, could be used to propel oneself out to the right arete when used in conjunction with a very high right foot on a good edge. This move was ace and after the lonely wander up through the sun-kissed, rabbit-riddled woods, it felt like this move was the pinnacle of any existence there might be. This sequence leads to increased interest on the upper arete, with blind toe hooks to hold the body in as one hangs on for the slabs. There's also a totally different sequence needed for the pre-crux.
Sam standing on the remnants of deceased classics
Where before one plodded through the 10 deg. overhanging monos to a good crimp, then with a single brutal pull and lunge for the crux mono, the disjointed wall attacked, now it's a far more fluid and stable affair. I spent a long time yesterday playing with different fingers in the second-to-last mono; seeing how it could ever be secure and not having to slap for the last mono. I eventually found a way. The monos are ring finger sized, but only up to just past the first joint of the ring finger. What does go all the way in is a little finger- all the way up to the knuckle. I also found that this mono worked well in conjunction with a thumb pinch out left - as a kind of weird pinch. A 'finger-breaker express' it may be, but it feels really natural, as if it was always designed to be used thus. At first I laughed it off and assumed it could not possibly be the best way to use the hold and surely not the easiest way to climb the route, but I think it actually might be. It feels really rather secure.

Out with the old, in with the new: Mega new arĂȘte to be done (circa E7)!

One small set-back over the weekend was smashing the edge off of the only good edge on the route. This is crucial for the new crux move, as one really down-turns the toe as one is yarding on the reflex mono. The crimp smashed - perhaps due to a high moisture content in the rock at the moment. As it broke, I holed my shoe and also managed to wreck my finger in the crux mono - nail snapped off, bleeding finger and really rather orange. Good job the old fingers are made from solid stuff!
Mr Marks exploring the curious holes round and about
So, a bit harder, but probably better. I'm dangerously close to the link now...

Friday, 15 February 2013

Danby Sheds Its Winter Coat

The stile feels a little bit more rotten every time I climb over it to ab down the Mono Wall. When you start to notice that the scenery is changing around your project, you know you've been working it too long. The breakthrough finally came today though.

The walk over from Castleton is always pleasant, if not a bit too long, and the way is always sprinkled with a little hope that the hidden boulders scattered about might just offer something new. No such luck today, but Danby crag has changed. There's been a collapse- and only 10 metres left of the 'Twin Aretes' Buttress that houses the Hypocrisy of Moose, Howl Psyche, The Battle for Tripoli, The Otterwilderness Route and Die By the Sword. The whole of Owl Buttress has gone- far sooner and much more of it than I think anyone thought. The scar on the crag is 10 metres high and 6 metres deep. A huge pile of boulders have smashed through the wood below,  felling trees. The Jungle has been uprooted and the base of the Wangledoodle Wall and the Twin Aretes looks bare- this has only been hightened by the long, cold winter.   Death Arete is the only feature of Owl Buttress that still remains and this has finally become a brilliant and independent line and will offer a gripping photogenic outing of about E7 now. Two dirty cracks await a suitably adventurous party and these too look good.

Back on the Mono Wall, everything has changed. Monos, Monos, Monos- as always, but a new sequence came forth. Where the crux mono was previously taken with the right ring finger, now it looks possible to take it with the left. A high foot, a reflex span and technications. This looks really good.

This is why new routing is hard. I've been trying this for 18 months and the whole time with the wrong sequence. I tried to be open- to see the best way to climb the wall; the way that will be universally adopted- but sometimes you just miss it. Today I found it and when the rock dries out perfectly, I should be able to climb it. It's not actually that dangerous. I think you might be able to roll the fall out- I'm not sure though. I have mixed emotions- Not that hard, but still not ruined by the new line and it has the pottential to be really fun.