Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Barry The Boulder

The best boulder in the Moors without a doubt, Barry is massive. The back arete and wall offer a fine font 7a+ and the neo-classic font 8a requiem. The near left arete is font 8b and the right arete E4. Continuing around the boulder on the right there are some really cool font 7 problems. The main challenge though is, of course, that massive face.

Stoupe Brow has been a bit of a bouldering destination for a while now, but it didn't appear in any guides until 2009. Around this time a lot of the problems were written down and a few routes were climbed on the quarry walls. These routes are pretty cool and mostly follow strong features. Ever since we first ventured into the quarry, there was one challenge that stood out more than all others - that of the face. To finally ab down the thing today, 5 1/2 years later, feels like an accomplishment in itself.

The climbing is great - top fun. The whole thing is very physical and a bit 3D, following a sweeping and fading groove line to a precarious shield of rock. There are very few footholds and it's a technical challenge as a result. Luckily the soft rock to the right doesn't affect this climb, as that would be a real dampener. It's a funny old thing, which feels bold even to shunt and takes a fair bit of setting up.

You could break it down into three main sections. First there is a tricky and sandy boulder problem start that is actually some of the easiest climbing on the route. This leads to a large undercut. From here the technical crux revolves around some very small pockets and aggressive foot stabbing. This is really quite hard and requires a committing pop at a serious height for the big layaway. I could imagine at this point you'd be quite drained of energy and the next sequence is physical and pretty bloody scary! It's also probably the best bit though and after this there is just some necky 6b/c stuff to the top.

What a climb though!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Holy Grail Wall - Kay Nest

The start of February is always a hard time in Moors climbing. January is pure rank, but the madness of being out in the quag is enough to keep you psyched. As the nights lengthen, the temperature warms, but the experience remains manky it's hard to keep keen.

For the last few weeks I've had a few short and productive night sessions on my latest project - the kay nest aid wall. I'm feeling good at the moment and it's feeling nice and hard. I've been trying to lose muscle and be nice and slight - the crux of the new route is a matchstick-pulling span on a slab, so you don't need anything apart from ridiculously strong fingers. The crux move is just class, brutally thin and wonderful.

So, psyched off my box, I ran the hour long walk-in over the moor to find my project absolutely soaked, dirty and minging. After my recent concerted effort to keep the south-facing wall in good nick prior to the summer, it looked like no one had ever been on it. Disappointing to say the least - I can only put it down to melt water.

Perhaps by destiny, or desperation, I ended up back on the Holy Grail wall. Even this had big hanging drops of water all over it, but it was dry enough to chalk up and hold some positions. After discounting this as way too hard for me, I feel as if I've unlocked the crux on this now. It's a strange one, it's incredibly reachy, but also not easy if you're tall. I can reach through the crux on my tip toes more or less every time, but I end up just stuck - hugging the arete floating between one finger and one toe. From here I just can't move. To get round this I had a look at some ridiculous undercuts. Luckily the feet are quite good, so you can move your feet into a more advantageous position by using a four finger fingernail undercut with the right and a 1.5 finger 12th pad nubbin with the left. It makes the crux pop harder, but at least you can actually move off the hold when you get it.

So this, the route we dubbed "the holy grail of Moors unclimbed lines" due to the perfection of the line, is looking like it's going to be possible. I think it might end up getting a boulder grade or safe and hard trad grade - I think the danger is minimal, it's just ridiculously hard.  H8 7b? font 8something?

The Moors has changed in my mind in the last year. There are very few things that I feel like I really NEED to do, but this is one of them. Call it legacy, prophecy or destiny - I dunno, but I want to climb this, the Aid Wall, the Magic Scoop at Highcliffe, the Futuristic Herring Gull project, the Landslip Arete and the Tormented Sole Direct. That's where the Moors is going - o and the Wangledoodle would be pretty cool too.