Monday, 27 January 2014

Is Gardening Skill As Important As Boulder Skill?

January. I'm back in the Moors and it's chilly! I've been pretty active over the last three days, with a night up at Ingleby Incline in a snow storm, getting some early-season chalk on the direct finish to Time Captain. Snow stopped play when we woke up on the Sunday morning and we very nearly didn't get back to Castleton at all. The overhang of the A2 'Dropout' is flanked by two lines - this direct and then a lip traverse on the right-hand side out of Cosy Corner. Both routes look good and English 7a. Hopefully Time Bandits Direct will go ground up and then I'll probably lob a rope down the lip.

After a wild weekend I ventured back to the best crag in the Esk Valley. The Hypocrisy of Moose, Psykovsky's sequins - they've all had a party this christmas and look pretty hungover. The unclimbed lines are all soaked, but I managed to get some good digging in to free up the top outs and spotted a new line that looks good. A lot of work, but hopefully the projects will stay dry now. Next step is to brush the clay off when they dry out a bit.

It's lonely up here, but it's exciting. I'm loving being outside. Concerns on building some boulder strength have taken a back burner, as I work to make sure the lines are clean enough to even get on. The Moors season really hasn't begun yet and it's tough getting out on these really rather wild days. A bit of bouldering up at Westerdale View Quarry tonight offered a little respite and the last project there is looking like it might go soon.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Monday, 6 January 2014

Living The Dream: A Whole Year Of The Moors

Sketching Out Early On
To many, the "climbing dream" is tramping around spain and france getting on thousands of sport routes. My dream on the other hand has always been to live in the Moors for an extended period.
Luke had a fairly unorthodox way of "showing us the ropes"
I started climbing when I was about 15, soloing with my mate Dave at local quarries. Luke Hunt (17 at the time) took me out a couple of times with ropes. This eventually lead to me and Dave buying our own rope and a couple of nuts; then trying "proper climbing".
Our first ropes nice and shinny and about
to be used on the North Crag of Castle Rock
Whilst 15 seems quite young now, it was only a couple of years before I was to leave the North York Moors for uni. Despite fast progress in our climbing (due to climbing most of the time we should have been studying), by the time we left we were nowhere near climbing at the level we needed to really get the most out of the Moors. This means that I've never actually been in the Moors for any length of time whilst having the ability to do the things I wanted. All the routes I've done over the past 4 1/2 years have been done in quick hits of a month or less.

Now this is all planned to change. I'm going to be living in the North York Moors again! Words cannot express how excited I am to be there: In the wind and rain on the bad days, out hanging from cruxes on the dry ones. Probably from the end of January until June - a good wodge of time.

It's going to be lonely: most of the Moors scene isn't there anymore. The bouldering contingent from Hull has started to focus on other places since the completion of the bouldering guide, Dave and Matt Ferrier are at Leeds and Sheffield Uni respectively, and Sam Marx seems to be in the gallivanting stage - putting climbing on the back-burner. But I have the rocks and I have myself. It's almost a form of meditation being on the Moors and being there by yourself can really help one focus.

So alone on the Moors? I want to bivy lots: spends days out, covering large distances, reccing crags and getting psyched. Dave has built some indoor climbing centre in a barn that may become the final missing piece required to bring the Moors into the modern age.

Thursday, 2 January 2014


For me the highlight of 2013 was a day at Tranmire. Out with good friends, in the sun, climbing new lines, onsight and scraping on through; it really doesn't get any better than that. The whole year had a good feeling to it however, with all those many months away from the Moors being filled with dreaming, reliving great moments and being there in absentia.

Having the ability to be in a place mentally, that physically you're hundreds of miles away from is a great skill. With distance comes perspective and a break of stagnation; new ways of percieving things. You actually only need to be phyiscally there about 10% of the time, with the mental game being a much bigger part. In hindsight, the breakthrough on the Mono Wall came in May-July. Accepting what the experience might be and the risks; far more important than how many little finger pullups you can do.

The big question is of course: Was that enough? Is that a big enough route to call an end to my climbing? Of course it isn't! haha. I'm really excited to try and do something harder.

This year is probably going to involve me trying to climb some of the other 'magic lines' left in the Moors. There are some real gems in the H8-H10 range that really need climbing and I think a little consolidation at this would be not only good for the Moors, but also good for me. The obvious ambition after this is to do something harder than Psykovsky's Sequins. There are things in the Moors that may fit that bill, but whether they are possible and (more importantly!) possible for me, is another question. I'm fairly sure I'd struggle on anything compressiony even at E7, nevermind at the lofty grades, so the style of the routes I find are going to have to fit my strengths.

Maybe this will be two or three years down the line, but I think there may come a point where I have to decide between the Moors and progression in my climbing.
2014 is about the first steps on this next voyage then. It's looking like I'm finally going to get back into the UK around February time. This could be for just a few weeks, or a good few months!