Friday, 28 August 2015

Crux linked in 2 halves


Very messily, I managed to scrabble through the moves to do the central 6 metres of the route in 2 halves. Maybe that doesn't sound like very much, but, perhaps just behind doing the individual moves for the first time,  those links are probably the most important step on the way to climbing this thing.

And yet, at this very organised and clinical stage of the route, I've been reinvigorated by the beauty of this route. At every level this project is nothing but beautiful. The massive span of sky and moor breaks only for sweeping dale and yet more moor. The crag stands majestic and omniscient, sheltered, taking pride of place in it's little dale. The line needs no description. And then there are the holds...

Sandstone isn't flat. The hold is not a homogenous mass, with a single smooth surface. When you focus in, you see the crystals sometimes standing 3 crystal-widths out. The holds undulate. To learn to do the moves, is to know how to hold the holds. These micro-features are critical.

So how far am I off being able to do it? MILLLEEESSSSS. Well, perhaps not that far. I'm maybe getting on for halfway there, which considering I've only been working it 3 months, is decent progress. At this rate I may be setting out for the solo in 2016, rather than 2017. Let's not get ahead of ourselves anyway, there is some serious work to do...

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Inspiration County

The View Today
I'm settling in nicely to my new Northumberland life. The heather is purple, the wind is breezing and the sun is shining. I'm feeling massively motivated. I'm fairly consistent with my psyche these days, but there's definitely something a little extra at Sandy Crag.

I'm starting to make some headway with the arĂȘte, after throwing more or less everything I have at it. Today, for the first time, I managed to link crux moves together. Considering each of the moves are individually hideously difficult to figure out, I'm beyond pleased with that. It's really well ahead of schedule that this is happening and probably only the result of how much time I've spent up there recently.

One of the things I really like about trad headpointing is that the time you put into it tends to equate to outcomes. It doesn't matter whether you're scouting for new lines, cleaning them, staring at the holds, holding positions, doing moves, training for the moves, getting to know the crag or exploring your mind - it all adds to a sense of intimacy and reciprocal love for and with a route, which ultimately lets you climb it.

There's an excitement now that this thing could actually be linked. That blows my mind - not just because it seemed (and still seems) so hard, but also because it's such a fantastic line. When you look at Sandy, it's the line. It's not only the tallest, it's also pure piercing class. To try and climb such an exquisite line is humbling. Once it's linked, it's only a matter of time before I get to know it well enough to know if I can solo it.  First off though, I have to try and iron-out the transitions between moves.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

The Dawn of the New Moors

All the time I obsessed as a youth on the huge catalogue of Moors moves, poking my nose into sleepy crags dotted all around, I dreamt of a vibrant Moors like the guidebook seemed to suggest the '80s were. When I read the FA notes of routes like Magic in the Air, Desperate Den, Monty's Variant and The West Face Direct at the Wainstones, there seemed to be a bustle and perhaps competition that was unimaginable in 2007/8/9.

When Dave and I first looked at trying to cram in naff variations at worked-out crags, it seemed like we had been unfortunate with our generation and it seemed unimaginable to have a situation where so many crags lay open books to those with a bit of interest in exploring. It was easy to slip into despondency back then and it was perhaps only total isolation in the heart of the North York Moors that forced us to persevere.

Half by luck and half by slight unhingedness, we happened on new eyes in 2009, during the rebirth of Danby Crag. At that time, the memory of Richard Waterton's ascent of Esmerelda (only 4 years after my birth) was starting to seem a long way in the past of the Moors and it had been more than a decade since anything had been done.

The only other soul to have been about in the noughties was Steve Ramsden and I remember feeling really pleased that there was at least one other person getting out and climbing stuff. From 2009-2014 (if not still now) I was perpetually surprised by how much stuff there was still left to do in the Moors. Even this year I've found that Cringle Crag is going to offer a good selection of exceptionally fine lines in the future. Having Steve around in 2009/10 was a big motivation to get out. He was trying different things to me, so we weren't really stepping on each others' toes and the idea that there was now more than a couple of E7s in the Moors was a huge inspiration.

Fast-forward to 2015 and it blows my mind at how much activity there's been. There are getting on for 10 people trying to develop new lines and repeat the most recent creations. 10 doesn't sound very many, but it's likely larger than the scene that we dreamed of all those years ago and the number of routes on the Moors is swelling and swelling.

People ask me "why the Moors?" all the time and it does indeed seem strange to so doggedly pursue one region's development. The Moors mirrors the experience of the human on earth. The quietest corners and the sunniest coasts flicker an impermanence in opposition to

Friday, 21 August 2015

Video: Summer Round-up 2015

Perhaps rather premature - indeed today has seen a surprising 2nd ascent of Elysian Fields (E7 6a/b) - but let's get some of all that activity written about!

2015 has seemed very long. It started early for me, with a lot of cold and pain in pursuit of the Moors' 2nd H10. Since then I've taken a back seat, watching the hoards of people smashing out new routes all over the shop as well as numerous first repeats and rare ascents.

Maybe start with the names? The usual crowd of Dave, Matt, Steve and I has been met with the returning raiders Mark and Neil. These two, supported by Verity here and there, have repeated an unprecedented number of E7s, including Die by the Sword, Fresh Arete, The White Scoop and Collateral. They've also climbed a trio of top-notch new routes. Ripple (highball E5 slab) would be a classic anywhere; similarly the final moves of Dark Star (E7 6c) are absolute beauts. Never been on the 3rd, Flying Squirrel (E6 6c), but I know the wall it climbs and it's an intimidating line that!

This year has finally seen the Hullista James Oakes open his Moors new-routing account. He's long been active on the Moors, but only this year turned his attentions to the stupendous crack of Walrus Buttress at Stoupe to give 'Eyebrow' (E6 6c). That's a stiff E6 and a line a lot of people have been ey(brow)ing.

Some Shit Climbers in the North Yorkshire Moors from Nan on Vimeo.

Steve Ramsden was climbing with Mr. Oakes and has now done almost everything at Stoupe. This includes ascents of the White Scoop (E7 6b), Panda to the Masses (E6 6c) and Wave of Inspiration (E7 6c), but also new routes such as Panda to the Waves, Wave to the Pandas (E6 6c) and Ram-raid.

Ferrier, as always, seems to beaver his way into proceedings. He's repeated most of all the routes mentioned above. Hopefully he can remain uninjured for long enough to actually climb something at his limit (probably pretty mentally hard).

It'a also worth a mention that Tom Randall popped by to climb 'The art of non-conformity' (E7 6c). This is a real steep line at High Crag. Fab route; so well known as a project that it featured in the old guidebook!

The last spot is for Mr. Wizzy, Chris van der Whitehead. With brash confidence, proclaiming he was going to Danby crag, by himself, having never been to the crag before, to climb the suicidal Elysian Fields (E7 6a). He did just that today. Solo. Hopefully lots more to come from him. Next up is the Hypocrisy of Moose apparently..