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

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