Monday, 26 August 2013

Video: Solo Exploration In The North York Moors

Solo Exploration In The North York Moors from Franco Cookson on Vimeo.

A typical day out exploring the Moors by myself.
Routes include:
The Golden Nugget (font 6b) (new venue)
Spawn Of The Hunt (E5 5c) (new route)
Unnamed Prow (font 6b+) (new venue)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

New E5-E7s Flashed at Tranmire

Flashing 'Stuck In The Sky' (E7 6c**)
Hard slabs in the Moors are pretty rare. One of the few places that offers potential for them is Tranmire - a nice crag, with a beautifully-crafted central amphitheatre offering piles of lovely lines between Mod and HVS. What's unusual about the place is the way that pleasant plods are positioned right next to totally blank-looking desperates. It makes for a good venue with a mixed party, which is exactly what we had.

A friend from Sheffield came up for the day and wanted to sample Moors climbing at HVS and below. We had a sunny day for it, which made for a nice time on the classics. In addition to this, a huge amount of new routes got climbed.  Matt Ferrier and Sam Marks were on form, first climbing a new E1 5b* in the central bay, before tackling an oft-eyed arete that went at E3 6a**.  The former is an interesting wall protected by a small thread and cam, demanding a large span, or utterly desperate intricacies.  The latter was a well-protected arete that just seemed to keep going a bit too long. A few falls were had on that.

These all looked like real good fun, but the lads quickly moved onto try a new slab to the left. Sam managed to effectively onsight it, with just a little bit of info on which holds were good (I'd cleaned it). Ferrier got o so close as well, but ended up taking a pretty serious fall down the slab. Unscathed and still keen for another battle! They called it Swift-Tuttle, after the recent meteor activity. I had thought this line would be E6 6a/b, but they seemed happy with the gear.. Interesting one anyway, and substantially harder for the short.
Sam Onsight, On The First Ascent Of  'Swift Tuttle' E5 6b**
Electric Moon (E5 6a*)
In the meantime I had quickly shunted and soloed another bold E5. I should have really tried it ground up, but it had no gear and I wanted to get some other stuff done.  It starts out very pleasantly, before a double layback move leads to some crimps. From here you just move around a bit and get some quite big and negative holds, a high foot and onto the top. Very good climbing, albeit a bit short and serious.
Matt going for the FA of  'Parseids' E3 6a**
Eventually I got on a line I'd cleaned the other day. It makes a tricky move onto a large shelf, before a step up allows some suspect gear to be placed. It's a sideways nut and 00 cam in a less than ideal pocket, but seemed pretty bomber. From here you blast up to a terrible sloping ledge and try and surmount it.  I ended up fully reflexed on a thumb, with my right foot at the same height. The crimp was awful and throwing my left foot up to the same height took everything I had in the sweltering sun. I really thought I was off, but I stuck. I pulled really hard on the awful crimp and managed to just slap into a sidepull undercut. It was all rather balancey, but eventually I managed to pop for a nubbin after this that I knew was alright. There's a big difference between onsight and flash! From here a further sketchy move on a terrible smear gains the top. I think it's about soft E7, depending on how good the gear is. Certainly a very good 6c move to try and onsight, hoping the gear holds...

The day was rounded off by me trying to flash another thing that looked about E7. I backed off. It was solo and revolved around a very large flat undercut, some smeary feet, long reaches and one brilliant two finger nubbin crimp. The wall is quite steep, perhaps overhanging slightly and it feels really exposed. It's one of those lines you almost miss, right in the centre of the amphitheatre, but once you ab down it, it all makes sense. It's actually one of the things in the Moors that is interesting me the most at the moment, just for the quality of the moves. It will have to wait anyway now, I'm officially a Munich resident!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Another Trove Of New Routes - Botton Head Hasn't Fallen Down!

Geared Up
 The Moors are big and in a land so vast, sometimes, things go under the radar. Some such things, like The Smuggler's Terrace, are understandably missed. But when there's a large mass of missed rock, visible from the Wainstones, you do start to wonder just quite how blind we all are. Indeed, someone, long ago, didn't miss it. They recorded 22 routes up to HVS. Later, another chap apparently went for a look and declared the whole place collapsed. We're not quite sure how he came to this conclusions - perhaps he went to the wrong Botton?!
Apparently a nice E1... I'm not even gonna debate this. 2 stars anyway.

Anyway, I went for a mammoth exploratory walk the other day. I started off in Westerdale and had a look at the rocks at the top of the head. I had been to a rockface up here on the way back from Kay Nest once and fancied a boulder about on this. With time being a bit of an issue I quickly climbed the best-looking line there, a fine arete from sit, that was basically a Severe with a font 6b sit start to it. Brilliant rock, I called it 'The Golden Nugget'.
Not a bad line like!
I was now in the heat of exploration, psyched off my face and listening to some very fast psychedelic trance.  I blasted over the moor, enjoying the blazing sun in my skimpy shorts and taking in the spectacular views down Farndale, Bransdale, Tripsdale and Billsdale.
The Moorenjura (E2 6b *)
Next up was Tranmire, home to a load of poorly protected unclimbed slab climbs. I had only taken a 30 metre rope unfortunately and the stake we put in demanded a little more. I tied everything I had together so that it just reached half way down the cliff. I inspected the top bit of the slab and then went for the solo. 1 o'clock, new E5 5c ascended. I was now keen to try the main event  - a brill looking slab to the left, but my rope really wasn't going to stretch that far. I was still psyched and tried to tie off a terrible fence post at a very jaunty angle to the route, but this didn't really work. I spoke to a dessicated stoat for a while and then left.

Pot Of Gold...
Now Medd crag - crap, move on. I now looked at my map, I had a couple of hours left till I needed to return. I'd brought a midge net for Kay Nest, keen to have a top rope of the unfreed aidline there, but I'd already been there and it's not the greatest of lines. It was now that Botton Head started staring from the sheet.  A huge expanse of mapped rock, thought to be lost, but surely not?

More trance and more pace, blasting over the Moor. The wind was up and the Ronhills were on, onto the highest point of the Moors. I stood a moment in thought, figured out the best approach and then gently walked down. It looked good! Three bays, with a range of different types of climbing - 12 metre jutting aretes, with a lot of exposure and big holds; 8 metre super-highball slappy E6/7 6cs on jutting prows; 6 metre technical walls and grooves.

About as psyched as a Herring
After a little more bouldering I walked back to Blakey to meet Dave. We returned yesterday to climb a few things in the low to mid E-grades. Pleasant venue, with much more to do.
Moors Light!
I think Dave needs a pad sponsor

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Video: Panda To The Masses (E6 6c) - A New Route Ground Up

Why Moors new-routing is so fun: Go to the crag, rap and clean a line, lie around in the sun, try and boulder it out for ages, declare it too hard for you, manage to do the bottom boulder problem, freak out on the top and take a fun jump, get too tired to climb any more, still manage to scrape up it before you get eaten by midges.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Mono Wall Is Climbed!

The Wall - I'm indebted to Jake for these photos.

I can now die a happy man. 5 years of Moors development finally came to a head today, as I set out on the Mono Wall, with only a pair of shorts, a helmet, chalk and some shoes.  Conditions were terrible, with the heat evaporating the last 2 days' worth of rain and sun beaming right down upon us, but it was Yorkshire day and we were all there.  Matt and Jake got some shots and Sam boldly stood below the wall, with some strange intention of trying to spot.  Mania swept forth and the excitement bubbled around. Today could be the day we climb this wall....
Enjoying the sun
Ferrier getting some pads in
A nice comfy landing
In a zone, not quite sure which one

Starting out

And as you set out on the wall, it waves up and looks like it's about to break right upon you. Psy mon says you're about to die. A slippidy sloppidy smear, through overhanging fear. When the foul foot slips, then off your finger rips - for tis but a pinky, deep and wedged in a hole! When the pinkies remain, then all you gain is more death. Stood, no hanging on a bulge, not made for mortal man.
Fighting hard on the lower wall

Glad I lost all that weight to hang on little fingers!
The well-trained clasp knows every intricacy, but still you look at real death. Twisted, crumpled, battered and brambled - a corpse would look a right marmalade mess. All that stands in the way is one pad of one finger and a foot so high it ceases to be a part of you. Into the corridor we go, hanging in a thought experiment. Hedonistic indulgence has no place in the unhinged world of the Megatrad. But now the unhinged had really become as blank as the mind and the smooth cheek scarce brought friction to the bastion of toppling terror that was the mono wall.
Team Success

The sun got hot. I was there, terrified, above the scythe of Danby, sweating. Here is the total risk, free from the fluffy calculated deception of the well-staged poster. A new world has begun. A world of Moors.