Tuesday, 15 July 2014

White Hill Arete - New Project Brewing


Not a hold for summer - crux left on Herring Gull
I had a bit of idea that the rest of my summer would be spent mopping up the last few really good routes I know of in the Moors, but I'd forgotten how warm summer is. A lot of the mid-grade stuff left over is hard and safe and really thin. There are things like The Futuristic Herring Gull project at Maiden's that I had dialed and quite fancied spending my free afternoons on, but I've been utterly thwarted in my attempts to even do the individual moves in this heat.
The crux right-hand on Herring Gull

So I was having my relaxed vision disassembled rather quickly before my very eyes. There's a moor full of great lines, their little heads out-poking like mushrooms, and most of them aren't going to go pleasantly. What's a hedonistic afternoon if it can't even be enjoyed?! It was at this point that I tried to think back to what I really want. What is going to make me content and what is really going to make the Moors the most cutting edge area on the planet?

It's strange how different lines come to prominence at different times. In the Moors, there are so many projects and you tend to have little plays on loads of different things at the same time. You end up with a brain full of rock features, moves and relationships with the crags. You're quite often in a state of not really knowing what the next thing to capitulate is going to be and this can lead to droughts and floods of new routes coming into existence, with all the anxiety and ecstasy associated with that. Post-project this only becomes more the case, which is the position I'm in now after The Unhinged at Maiden's.  This heat though has made me really think about what I want to do and I've decided that I should really be following my dreams and not day-to-day pleasures. This dream is a Moors full of hard routes and the number of suitable projects known to me at the moment is limited.

I have limited resources. At the vast majority of moves, I'm distinctly average. I'm weak. Most stuff I've inspected has turned out to be unfeasibly hard for me and some of the stuff that suits my style is either rubbish or too easy. When you're going after a particular window of difficulty, with only a very small selection of tools, you really have to get lucky. It's like trying to fashion a canoe out of a redwood with penknife.

There's only really one thing at the moment that is at about the right standard and that I reckon I could do. This route also has positive holds and is north east facing - ideal for the conditions at the moment. This route is the arete at White Hill (Landslip). We're talking pockets, small ones. The moves are big, full arm-flappers. Heels are high and wrestling with vague ripples. It's a stonking line and the gear is fairly good. I reckon, just maybe, it might be getting to the point of being possible. It'll be a great project for me, as it's going to make me get some strength back.

This route has been in my head for years, longer than the Mono Wall - much longer. I used to see it on my first trips to the Wainstones, in fact it might have been the first rock I saw as a climber. It's in the historic centre of Moors climbing, in my mind holding the whole area together with its pristine line from Hasty top to bottom. It was always talked about as an impossible feature at a terrifying crag. As with most things, the myth isn't real (except in the mind) and White Hill isn't actually that scary-a-place. The arete is fairly inviting and I couldn't see you getting a really serious injury from fluffing the crux up, unless you were unlucky and the gear didn't hold.

One of the main battles with a project is to be motivated. With the Hypocrisy of Moose or Psykovsky's Sequins this was never a problem, as at the time I couldn't believe how hard I was climbing. With the recent The Unhinged, the climbing was alright, so it was only the danger that was keeping you on-task. It would have been sad to die on something that easy, which isn't the kind of thing you want to be thinking. With this White Hill Arete, the line is good enough and the gear bomber enough to not have to worry about either of these aspects of it. I want to climb it.