Tuesday, 26 December 2017

An Unbeatable Year

O no! It's that time of year again.. I never know whether December is a good month or not. The weather is definitely always rubbish and even when it's sunny, nothing seems to dry. The sun is low and it's basically dark all of the time. The crispness may offer some good conditions if dry rock is actually found.

I'm definitely sad to see 2017 slip away. It's been an amazing year, where I became the climber I always dreamed of being. I've always been surprised and very pleased at being able to do any of the routes I've done over the years. I remember the first time I looked up at Lion King (HVS 5b**) and wondered in total awe at how anybody could climb it. A few months later and I was topping out on it, in disbelief that I could have been capable of it. A year later, we were climbing scratty new routes that deep down we knew were a bit pointless. It was still great to be doing this - unimaginable, a gap!

When we eventually climbed The Pasketti Alpinist (E5 6a ***), the pervading sense of irreality made the soul start to float. That feeling of disbelief, of dream state, of the creation of a mythical world of magic lines, where you as author encounter these vibrant personalities for the first time, is such a wildly captivating experience, it no wonder takes over everything.

At the end of last year, I felt as though we could be content with our lot. We had achieved our goal of starting to put the NY Moors on the map for hard and superb climbing. We knew at that point that the best lines were still to be done, even if what had been climbed was already pretty good.
Photo: Russel Lovett
The first route of the year was The Boulby Wall (E8 6c**). A new venue, Boulby Cliffs is a huge place that is right at the beginning of a long development process. This route was on bomber rock and uncharacteristically positive and steep. Cool pop move.

The Futuristic Herring Gull Project was a new genre of climbing in the Moors. Hard slab highballing from bottom to top. This one had taken years of effort. E8 7a*** (font 8a?) .

Then came the big one. This wasn't in the Moors and as such was a huge personal step, slightly removed from the collective development of the Moors. Nothing Lasts (H10 7a /E11?) - an actual last great problem from another area, climbed with the Moors' approach to boldness, meditation and flare. It was strange being back on Divine Moments Of Truth later in the year and seeing how Nothing Lasts compared. At the time of the FA of Nothing Lasts, I'd built Divine Moments of Truth up as being of a similar difficulty due to it's boldness. Now this has been made a couple of touches safer, Nothing Lasts is the standout hard line that I've climbed. Some climbing approaching hard above an exciting roller-coaster if you slip!
Photo: R Lovett
In a slightly dazed state, Si and I then developed Coquet View. Two great routes: Umami (E6 6c**) and I Am You (E7 7b**). There was a bit of sadness here, as I felt we didn't quite show this crag the reverence it deserved. We were emotionally shattered from Sandy Crag and these ascents became a chore rather than a passion. The joy we'd had working these routes previously shows the true majesty of this forgotten place.
Photo: Rob Greenwood
Boomerang Wall (E7 6c**) then came at a time when Sandy Crag seemed alive with activity. A decent line that is properly my style of climbing. Loved it.
August saw the birth of a climb that I have coveted over all others. The Aghori (H8 7a ** / E9?) AKA The Landslip Arete, is a superb line, visible from miles around. It had everything that a project should have - historic attempts, prominent positioning, locally known. It was the ultimate in flexible madness; throwing limbs and breaking free. Crazed and exciting. This was it. This climb, along with Fly Agaric, Sky Burial, Divine Moments of Truth and The Futuristic Herring Gull are the climbs that feel most like me. It is as if I was always destined to climb them. They fit my body so well and ooze at every juncture with raw style.
Photo: R Lovett
The cherry on the top was the Magic Scoop at Highcliffe (E8 7a ***/ ~font 7c+?). Another line I'd been trying for ages. It's a fantastic feature and provides great climbing. The way in which that ascent looked so improbable, only to totally chance into existence, is perhaps what is most magical about that grove - and life!
Photo: R Lovett
The future is this.. There are routes in the Moors left to do. There are plenty of starred routes left to be climbed at most grades, but the standout lines are now exceptionally hard. They are without exception well into the font 8s, many with disastrous or likely fatal falls. Some may yield, but many are for the next generation. I'm more than happy with my lot!

My climbing will be split between the The Moors, Northumberland and The Lakes.  I'm even keen for some European stuff this year.. 

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