Redpointing at Harpur Hill

27th September 2014

During a recent trip to the Ariege region of France I had the goal of climbing a 7a, on our last day I found one in the Rockfax and only just managed to get it on my third attempt.  On getting home I found out that this wasn’t a solid 7a and was probably nearer 6c+.  “Fine” I thought, I’ll pick a 7a at home and do that to make up for it.

After sending a few invites around to various people who I thought would be keen to spend a day with the goal of climbing one hard route I waited for someone to get back to me.  Fortunately Craig was keen and the redpoint was on.  Actually quite a big group ended up meeting at the crag and we had a good day all round.

The morning was spent warming up, I climbed with Gaz and we got through the following routes.

Senile Delinquents – 5c – 24m

A nice long warm up with a (new!) tricky finish to reach the belay, wonderful apart from one or two loose rocks to worry about.

Great White – 6a – 16m

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Steve starting up Great White

Some nice delicate moves on this gain the slab, after which it’s a romp to the chain. After this route we scrambled down to The Sanctuary sector.

For Haven’s Sake – 6b – 12m

Quite beefy climbing through the overlaps with a crux at the top.  Really nice.

Downtown – 6b – 12m

A technical groove that got pumpy toward the end, bad footwork made me fall, doh.

Cairn – 7a+ – 16m

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Craig working out the layback

The best route in the quarry, a sweeping “wave” feature with just the right amount of holds, a no hands knee bar rest and some great, technical climbing.

This was the goal of the day, we scrambled back to the lower tier and I found Craig.  I learned a valuable lesson here, take a clip stick for redpointing.  It was a real battle to get the first couple of clips in, fortunately Craig was there to do it otherwise I don’t think the route would have been climbed.  With some aid tactics – standing in a sling – I managed to get the last clip in and thread the chains at the top.

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Using a sling to reach the next bolt

We then spent a good hour working out all the moves, I got nervous when I realised I could do them all and the route might go.  We opted to extend the (high) second clip so it could be clipped  before a hard move, and then pulled the rope through.

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Top rope practice

Craig went first and cruised it up to the last hard move where he fell, my turn next.  I climbed the sequence I had learned on the redpoint and got a really good rest at the no-hands-knee-bar.  Finishing was fairly steady going with the heel-hook beta I figured out to make the move off the flake, the last hard move went with a “watch me” and a grunt, job done on the first RP attempt!

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Leaving the flake

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Last moves!

Craig was psyched and tied back on but unfortunately didn’t make the first reachy move, after this we cleaned up the draws and pulled the rope through.

Feeling confident after climbing Cairn we caught up with the rest of the group back in The Sanctuary and after messing around on a few routes I decided to try the hardest route in the sector.

The Sanctuarian – 6c – 12m

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Aleksandra on Bonny Helena, me on The Sanctuarian

Tricky moves through overlaps to a crux at the very top, I got it on the lead after working it once, my first “-arian”!

All in all a good day had by all, and I’ve now got a taste for sport.

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E3 and Simonside

18th April 2014

Beta warning – lots of beta for Drizzle at Hobson Moor in this post.

Beth and I went to Shaff this year to see the new Wideboys movie (among other things), it was a great day out, but watching the Wideboys giving it hell on their project made me wonder what the hell I’ve been doing since January to not get my ‘project’ finished.

Up to this point I’ve had two shunt sessions on Drizzle at Hobson Moor, on both sessions I fell first go and climbed it clean second go, so I didn’t feel 100% on the moves, but I felt 100% that I can give it a go without any fear.

Saying that, I wasn’t half nervous when we decided to have an afternoon of trad at Hobby.  I did my usual thing of psyching myself up (and almost out) through climbing videos, one of which being the embarrassing ‘Beta’ guide I made during my first shunt sessions – don’t you hate the sound of your own voice?

After playing around on boulder problems for an hour or so and getting through some V4s fairly easily I felt confident enough to get on it.

There are two great cam placements on the easier first half of the route, the second of which I didn’t put anything in because I wanted the cam for the break, so the move to the break felt very bold.  Four cams went in to the break and I spent a minute shaking out before going for the crux.

My solution to the crux involves a layback, which for me was the most insecure move, so I was nervous, but it went well and I topped out grinning.  Time to find a new project!

21st April 2014 – Simonside

On Easter Monday we (Me and Tom) drove up to Rothbury to climb at Simonside on the sandstone.

Simonside is fantastic, some great, weird and wonderful, ripply buttressed perched atop a forest.  Unfortunately the north face is a north face and doesn’t get much sun, but there are good routes there so there we went.

Tom’s crash course in half-rope belaying started with:

‘A’ Buttress Direct – Vdiff – 18m

A pretty gearless first pitch leads to a stance next to a ‘pepperpot’ block.  Pitch two climbs a short crack and squeezes up a green chimney.  Very ‘traditional’ and thrutchy good fun.

Delicatessen Direct Start – HS 4b – 10m

It seems odd for a direct start to be easier than the indirect, but there you go.  This one took some figuring out to get going and reach the upper layback crack, but it was worth it, the finish is fantastic and everybody else climbed it too.

A picture of Delicatessen that I pinched from Google

Flake Corner Direct Finish – HVS 5a – 10m?

The flake is awesome, I mean just look at it.  It is however the easy bit, the crux is at the end of the flake when you mantle on to it.  Ian pulled off a great lead on Flake Corner which allowed me to try the direct finish on second.  Just before the rain kicked in I ran up and led it.

Despite having just seconded the route, I had a wobble and thought twice before committing (I’ve climbed E1s that feel as bold as this), fortunately Nicole reminded me of where the next hold was and it all went well.

We finished the day in The Angler’s Arms which was spot on.  Pics from this day to follow.

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Finishing up Drizzle – E3 6a

Dow Crag – Eliminate A

30th March 2014

The clocks went forwards overnight on Saturday, which cost us an hour on our big day out.  Nevertheless, Beth and I drove to the Walna Scar Road and started the trek in to Dow Crag.The guidebook said it would take about an hour to walk in, it took us over two hours because we went a bit wrong at the end.  As you can see in the picture, the way we went (Red) first of all took us to the wrong crag (!) and then over a 30 minute scree slope traverse.  The green line shows the way we should have gone, which would have saved us about 45 minutes of messing around.

Dow Approach

To our despair, on arrival at the crag there were a couple of parties in a queue.  Thankfully though they were queueing for Giant’s Crawl, a classic D line up B Buttress.  We scrambled to the belay for pitch one and got set up.

Pitch 1 – 4b – 13m – Jim

A rising line out right into an exposed position over the gully, good protection with one or two bold steps that lead to good holds, the belay is quite far left on the ledge, although I belayed up more toward the right underneath a flake.

Pitch 2 – 4b – 23m – Beth

The guidebook describes a line to the left that starts with a mantleshelf into a few moves through grooves to reach a ledge 6m up to the right.  There is an obvious flake line to the right that Beth started up but downclimbed and went for the route described by our book. After reaching the ledge 6m up you bridge up a groove and make a tricky move out left to gain a slab at the ‘Raven’s Nest’ recess.  Beth pitched up here although newer guidebooks suggest continuing to the ledge above via either a tricky traverse right, or a technical groove straight up.

Pitch 2.5 – 4b – 5m – Jim

This ‘pitch’ is really just to get established on the big sloping ledge under the roof.  I decided to traverse right rather than climb straight up above Beth’s head.  Building a belay took me a while because we had been lazy with transferring gear for such a short pitch.  I had the next lead so Beth followed me up and we ran the ropes through.

Pitch 3 – The Rocher Perchés Pitch – 4c – Jim

From the sloping ledge a bold step on the wall to the left gains a big flat jug and a tricky move left to a thread, a clever upside nut placement in the thread was good enough protection to get around the corner and into the big cave where I set up a belay on a big spike.  My guidebook mentioned a peg on this pitch that was nowhere to be seen, although I think my guide is from the 70’s.

Pitch 4 – 4a – Beth

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The traverse continues with this pitch to the left, although technically only 4a the pitch has poor protection (unless you have brought a C6), the pitch culminates in a bridge out left over 150ft of exposure and a grovel to a ledge and a perched block to belay from.

Pitch 5 – 4c – Jim

Apparently this pitch is the technical crux, I think it has the most technically interesting moves.  You step down to the right and traverse right beneath a small overhang.  This traverse has massive exposure, is well protected and involves a bit of smearing and thought.  Then you romp up to the ledge on good holds. I’m still not 100% but I’m fairly sure I built my belay 5m too early.  Beth followed up and we pulled the ropes through (they were getting a bit tangled here and it was getting darker and colder).

While belaying Beth up I felt really great on the ledge.  It was quiet apart from the wind and the sound of gear clinking, looking down at Beth climbing above 150ft of air.  Hanging off that ledge felt really peaceful, until the ropes got tangled, that was shit.

Pitch 6 – ??? – Jim

I went completely off route here, probably owing to stopping the last pitch early, the guidebook described a “slightly leftward” direction, whereas I traversed horizontally left for about 15m to a big ledge and pitched up.  The rope drag was horrific and the wind was up so communication was difficult, by the time we were both on the ledge we both were thinking “I hope we’re near the top!”

Pitch 7 – 16m – Scramble – Beth

Beth scrambled leftward around the arete and up a grassy gully to a spike belay.  I followed and continued.

Pitch 8 – 30m – Scramble – Jim

I managed to scramble about 30m worth before getting too far out of earshot, so I stuck a nut in and brought Beth up.

Pitch 9 – 13m – Scramble – Beth

Beth scrambled up through a couple more easy steps to a big ledge and brought me in, from here we were pretty much back on track, I continued ahead and saw we were at the top, we took coils and walked off.  Six hours in total.

In Summary

All in all the route was excellent, the exposure was high and it was a grand day out.  We just need to speed things up.  I reckon a fast team could get up this in 2 hours safely. A few areas of improvement I can think of are:

  • Plan the approach as meticulously as the climbing, take a map and factor in the slow progress on the windy roads.  With the clock change and getting lost we probably started 3 hours later than we should have.
  • Building belays – get snappy with identifying your anchor points, and know how to quickly equalise them with a big sling.  It probably takes us 10 minutes to build a belay if it’s not obvious, this should be more like 2 minutes.  If block leading, build belays that you can easily clip in and out of
  • Follow the guidebook – we lost time on pitch two by trying to climb the obvious flake rather than the grooves described by the book.  So follow the route description to save down climbing
  • Move quickly and confidently – we probably lost most time due to this.  Climbing 15m of VS shouldn’t really take 30 minutes!  Although we did well as this is our first VS multipitch and our first serious route of the year.

Tips from our experience

I’m sure some will read this because they’re googling ‘Dow Crag Eliminate A’ after hearing about how good the route is.  So here are some route-specific lessons learned

  • If approaching from the Walna Scar Road, when you reach the crest of the hill turn left at the path crossroads and continue climbing to reach the top of the crag, don’t go straight over.  Give yourself a good 90 minutes to get to the base of the climb from the car.
  • The scramble to the first belay was a bit dicey for us, so be careful
  • Belay up after pitch one to the left underneath the mantleshelf start of pitch 2, rather than under the big flake
  • If you have enough gear left then climb pitch 2 all the way to the sloping ledge under the roof, pitching this up probably cost us about 30-40 minutes with all my faffing building a belay
  • Take a C6 or some big balls for pitch 4
  • On pitch 5 after the crux, don’t stop at the first small ledge, continue up for a few more meters.  The traverse left from the first small ledge isn’t the traverse of pitch 6 described by the guide (at least this is my best theory on where we went wrong).

Physio – stage 1

My friend is going to run across Africa. Follow it here

Head over Heels 2014

So, along with my new theories on my training (inc cross training etc), I am also visiting my incredible physiotherapist regularly, and actually doing what she tells me! She nursed me through the tendonitis that I had in my knee on the lead up to my Freedom Run.  She is absolutely amazing, very thorough, very understanding and extremely strong.

I went to see her yesterday. I was pummelled, poked, prodded and caused some unpleasant pain, but it was all worth it.  Being a typical runner, all my muscles are tight. I do stretch every time I run but probably not enough, and definitely not enough to run a few thousand miles without getting injured.  I have been given a set of exercises that I need to do everyday. I am not very good at sticking to things like this so I thought I’d write a quick blog to show everyone…

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Christmas Injury and January 2014

I woke up one morning early December unable to lift my right arm above my head, after visiting the physio I learned I probably had a shoulder impingement, basically this is an inflammation of parts of your rotator cuff that cause various bits of your shoulder to ‘pinch’ each other, making some movement painful and difficult.  Common in ‘arms overhead’ sports (e.g. tennis, climbing) the best thing is to take preventative measures to stop it reoccurring (I sat up straight as I typed that).  What this really means is ‘sort out your terrible posture’.  So I spent December sitting up straight, taking ibuprofen and not climbing… well, maybe one or two naughty sessions at the bouldering wall.

This post is an update to cover January’s activities, so it’s more of a series of short entries.

January 5th 2014

Today was to be Beth’s ‘E1 Day’, after failing to get an E1 done before Christmas due to the cold weather we popped out to our local crag (Hobson Moor) and I got to practice my SPA skills by sticking a top rope on Tighe’s Arete – E1 5a.  Beth top roped the route a number of time before racking up the two pieces of gear and getting on the lead, which went very well indeed.  We documented it in the video below:

This was my first route of 2014, very pleased to kick things off with an E1!

January 11th 2014 – Burbage North

The following weekend we headed to Burbage for a spot of bouldering, Beth forgot her shoes (doh) so she went for a walk while I climbed a few routes above pads with a stranger, this included a couple of scary VS routes and the classic Banana Finger at a solid V3.  I also looked at The Chant Direct Finish which is really an E2 6a route, I couldn’t commit to the top moves but it’s now a project to return to armed with a couple of cams.

January 17th 2014 – E3!

After work on the Friday of this week I ran over to Hobson Moor to look at Drizzle as a potential project, it was also interesting to try self belaying.  The method I used was to fix two lines over the route and attach myself to each using a Petzl ascender and a Shunt for backup, it worked OK but it was a bit awkward nudging them up the ropes above my head, more thinking needed.

The route itself went well, after I beat my cold fingers into submission I climbed the route clean, despite being wet, and despite having to control my ascender and shunt, so I’m confident now to give my first (soft) E3 a go… just waiting on some good weather nearly a month on!

January 19th 2014 – Walkies

We were in charge of walking the dog today, so we collected her from the kennels and drove back to Hathersage Moor, after a lovely walk around Burbage and Higgar Tor we got a couple of boulders in at Burbage Bridge, the highlight for me being Wobble Block Direct at V4 6b.

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February 1st – 2nd 2014 – Birthday Bouldering

A great couple of days at Higgar Tor, Burbage West and The Roaches, lots of different people came along and we climbed some great problems.  To mark the occasion we made a daft video on the Saturday:

The final problem was quite a breakthrough for me being my first font 7a boulder, although I’m adamant it must be soft!

The Sunday was spent at the upper tier of The Roaches, we had a good long session, climbed some classics and tried some harder problems that didn’t go so well.

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February 8th 2014 – Windy bouldering

Gaz and I trekked up to Dovestone Tor today in search of ‘the best grade 5 problem in the Peak District’ – Perfect Porthole Problem.  It was good but I’m not sure it’s worth the 2 hour walk in gale force winds!  Maybe on a nicer day.  As well as this we sampled some very rough grit at The Wheelstones, enjoying the sloping top outs and sharp pebbles maybe a little too much.  Suffice to say it was a bit choppy!

"Jim - you might want to come down"

“Jim – you might want to come down”

Aiguille du Tour

Not much climbing is happening recently due to a shoulder tweak that I’m hoping isn’t serious, so here is a write up of our ascent of Aiguille du Tour.

August 2nd 2013

The East Flank route

I suppose this was our first alpine summit, so we chose a friendly one, the East Flank route is graded F (easy) and has a well equipped hut half way up.  The plan was to climb to the hut in the afternoon on day 1 which meant a welcomed late start, by 16:30 we were leaving the Tour-Charamillon cable car and on our way to the Albert Premier refuge.

Getting started

The walk was stunning and fairly easy going, with awesome views of the Tour glacier.  It steepens toward the end and heads directly up what I assume is a moraine.  During the last kilometre or so we watched a helicopter pretty spectacularly delivering building materials to the hut which was being extended. The flying bucket

At the refuge we almost straight away sat down to a three course meal of broth, rabbit + rice, and a sponge cakey thing.  Beth went to sort out the beds while I walked on to check out the start of the route in the daylight which took about 30 minutes.  Here is the picture Itook for us to study.

Awesome sunset over the Aiguilles Rouges Moody glacier

August 3rd 2013

We planned to wake up at 4AM, at midnight I realised I wasn’t going to get any sleep so I slipped outside with my new camera and took some pictures of the night sky

Night sky above the refuge

At 4AM we were gearing up to head out in the night and cross the glacier up to the Col Superior du Tour.

Gearing up

This didn’t take too long although the glacier was wet so care had to be taken over the steeper section.  Thankfully the early start worked in our favour and progress was fast on fairly solid snow.  Scrambling over the rocky section of the col we got our first view of the sun.

Sunrise over

Not long after the col we crossed the bergschrund which had a fairly easy path, although slightly exposed, dumped our bags, axes and crampons at the foot of the last climb and scrambled to the top where we bumped into two friendly gents called Didier and Dominique, we took some snaps and ploughed our way back down to the refuge, and eventually arrived in the baking hot valley at lunch time.

On our way down Delicious snow

All in all the conditions were good, solid snow before sunrise and a bit softer and more dangerous on the way down, the path was well trodden and following footsteps sufficed, the weather got threatening around dawn but soon cleared up.

Jim and Beth Souvenir d'une rencontre sympathique au sommet de l'Aiguille du Tour

Souvenir d’une rencontre sympathique au sommet de l’Aiguille du Tour

Robin Hood’s Stride – November 2013

November 30th 2013

Today we absolutely stuffed my car full of bouldering mats and sandwiches and drove to Robin Hood’s Stride in Derbyshire for a spot of bouldering in the pristine weather (cold, dry and sunny).  Beth, Gaz and I were here in August where my intention was to try Razor Roof – f6C/V5, it didn’t go very well (I think I slept like this that night), so I was keen to return and get it sent.

A good day out

Not wasting any time we jumped on the first boulders we got to which happened to be called Dorsal Fin, problems we climbed included Vandals – V1 5b, JT & JT Crack – V0- 4b and Dorsal Arete – f3.  All nice problems and fairly easy going.  Myself and Robin looked at Flipper Arete – f6A/V2, this should have been OK but the landing is fair too horrific and it was early in the day so none of us had any luck finishing it off.

We took some beautiful pictures at these first boulders on my camera which didn’t have an SD card in, which is a shame!

It was around this point we lost Robin to The Cave Problem, so while he worked on that we pootled over to The Lower Boulders around the other side of the rocks for some slab action.

Steve on Joy Of Noledge With Ledges

The highlight of this area for me was a problem called Joy of Noledge, we climbed a variation that involved getting established on a ledge (see pic above), then making a foot traverse across the face of the rock to grab the left arete and run to the top.  With the landing iffy this proved to be a real test of faith in friction, immensely satisfying for a V1.

Beth beckoning Gaz back to earth

The adjacent slab contains 3 lines (I’d say independent lines but that’s a push) that are all good fun and offer some interesting moves.  Pictured is Gaz on T Slab – V0 5a.  We climbed all the lines and packed up to head over toward Cratcliffe and Razor Roof.

The boulders surrounding Razor Roof, The Middle Boulders, have a handful of nice problems to go at, including a couple of V0-V1 slab lines and a couple of steeper V1-V2 lines, all of which are good independent problems, the best being Cave Wall at 5c.

Razor Roof itself is a classic problem that basically comes down to two hand holds (pretty good crimps but in a very difficult position), and the moves to and from them.  Luckily I made the blind moves to the crimps and finished up second go.  Robin breezed it and Beth, despite having a foot less of reach made it to the crux, next time!

The Spine Left Hand

We ended the day playing on The Square Block which contains a number of very good slab problems, the highlights for me being The Spine – V1 5b and The Spine Left Hand – f6B / V3, both of which being excellent quality problems requiring determination and care.  Next time I’m coming back for Spinal Slab.

Gaz on The Spine

It would be wrong to be so close to Birchover and not pop in to The Druid Inn for a packet of crisps and a pint, so that’s just what we did.

Sunset over Birchover

Bouldering On Grit – November 2013

 November 23rd 2013

A bit of a joint excursion with the KMC and Beth’s friends at Women Climb, we headed around the ring road and north to Brownstones in Lancashire.  Brownstones is a grit quarry that is absolutely full of boulder problems, a lot of which are quite high (micro routes, really).  Coincidence brought us all together at the Ash Pits Slabs area where we said hello and got down to business.

Ash Pit Slab

This gorgeous slab has a handful of problems on it, we started up Ash Pit Slab which gets the weird grade of f3 VDiff, that is – it’s easy and protectionless, but delightful and gives you a quick practice of topping out at a worrying height.  The other easy problem here is Ash Pit Slab Direct which gets a more interesting grade of V0-.

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I had a look at Fraud but didn’t fancy trusting my feet so high up on such a humid day (I chickened out).  A safer option for a laugh is the Ash Pit Traverse, V0+ which is a great foot traverse of the entire section, lots of fun with everyone pointing at all the footholds you can’t see and grovelling around the final bulge to finish.  Beneath this is Ash Pit Traverse Low (which gets font 6B (or V3 (or british 5c))), this took some working out and the entire group had a lot of fun working each section, individually they didn’t feel like 6B, but linking the whole thing did, it offers a great mixture of smeary core movements, technical footwork and a bit of a battle with some slopers.  Other problems on this face we played on were Hopper, Corn Mantel and Analogue.  

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Around the corner is the wonderful Nexus, a V0- problem (good in itself) with a lot of eliminates and variations, I decided to try the Nexus Dyno which my guide said was V4, many attempts and I eventually stuck it, now I know it’s font 6C/V5 I’m a very happy chappy.  

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The Pool Area lived up to it’s name and we had a go on Verdi Corner, Two Step Left Hand and Chockerblock Corner with the assistance of a boat. DSC03015 DSC03025

November 24th 2013

There was actually a good weather forecast today, this got us out of bed and in the car to check out the bouldering at Roaches Skyline, in particular we went to the Very, Very Far Skyline boulders.  After wading through heather for 20 minutes we managed to find the rocks, which were damp, just as the mist set in to drench everything.  

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Nevertheless we got on a few problems and actually did some climbing before retreating to the Roaches Tea Rooms for a coffee and a cake.

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Problems climbed were Rounded Arete, VB, which I think is closer to V1 if you stick to the right and start direct.  Open Groove, V0+ which felt closer to V2 in the damp.  Two Pocket Slab, V0+, more smearing practice and a high-ish top out, I believe V0+ if you’re my height, V1 or V2 if you can’t reach the good pocket from the good foothold.  Crack, font 3 (can’t find this on UKC) which was a good easy grovelling, jamming problem.  And finally Inner Tube which is a font 6a+, 3 move problem that is worth a go.  

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For the record I had carrot cake at the tea rooms and it was life changing.

Return to Birchen – November 2013

November 10th 2013

Perfect weather provided a great opportunity to get out and have a day on the grit.  Having enjoyed Birchen Edge last time we decided to go back and have a look at some sections that we didn’t get to see.  There is also an E2 there that I was pretty psyched to have a go on.  We parked by the Robin Hood Inn and wandered up the now muddy path.

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Through chance we dumped our bags in the vicinity of Nelson’s Slab and opened up the guidebook to look for an easy warm up, for some reason we picked Telescope Tunnel as the first route of the day.

Telescope Tunnel – M – 14m

Did not finish, this isn’t a climb, it’s caving! Didn’t fancy squeezing through the hideously claustrophobic fissure.

Backing off a mod didn’t give me high hopes for the day, but the glorious weather didn’t let that feeling last.  This area was lacking in easy solos so we just racked up and got on some proper climbs.

Kiss Me Hardy – S (VD on UKC) – 12m

Beth’s lead, a slightly traversing route that starts with a hop off a block to gain a ledge, then a fairly awkward finish up either a narrow chimney or a slightly more exposed arete.  I opted for the arete due to second’s confidence.  Worthwhile, just about.

The Crow’s Nest – VS 4c ** – 14m

My first lead of the day, a thrutchy looking crack was easily climbed using features around the crack, the route then traverses rightwards to the base of a hanging slab, steady movements between sloping breaks lead to the surprising top out.  A good contrasting route that requires some consideration regarding rope work.

Emma’s Delight – HS 4b * – 14m

One of the “Emma set”, steady 4b climbing with a couple of interesting moves, quite enjoyable though it feels like an eliminate.

At this point we headed back over to the familiar Sail Buttress/Orpheus Wall area, the E2 I was interested in lives on Sail Buttress, Midshipman/Plain Sailing just looks awesome, pumpy, well protected and with what looks like a bit of a dyno to finish. Unfortunately the route looked very green today, although the lower holds felt good and dry, I decided it best to leave the E2 6a flash attempt until a less relaxed day when the route looks a little bit more reassuring.

Ratline – HVS 5b *** – 14m

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Probably my favourite grade at the moment, apparently this route used to get E1, I could believe it, but I could more easily believe HVS.  I opted for the more difficult start up the leaning crack on the right that leads to a break.  Shuffling left got me onto a ledge below the crux where I got a good cam and a naff microcam in, both of which go out of sight as you commit to the crux move off the flake.  I yo-yo’d a little before committing and finding a rugosity (always wanted to use that word) that enabled a satisfying mantle onto the final easy slab.  Very nice route and correctly graded 1 grade easier than Oprheus Wall.

Topsail – VS 4c *** – 12m

A great route that Beth was wanting to lead, she got up it no problem using the undercling to gain the flake, I seconded it smoothly and felt compelled to solo it which I did later on.  On starting the solo I rushed and actually slipped, catching myself with one hand on a convenient jug, this shook me and meant I wasn’t nearly as solid as I should have felt going over the crux, soloing this was a bit of a big deal for me and although I’m pleased to have done it I’m not happy with how the experience panned out!

Monument Gully Buttress – HVS 5b – 8m

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Surely this deserves one star!  It’s an obvious line with a great knee bar no hands rest followed by a technical mantle and a nice little slab to finish, a very nice quick HVS tick.

Hobson Moor Quicky

The day before we popped over to Hobson Moor, we managed to repeat Sunshine Superman and Beth ran up Grain Of Sand to a soundtrack of rolling thunder, topping out to see a black wall of pure storm heading our way we had just enough time for me to retrieve the gear from the base of the route before getting completely annihilated by hailstones.

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Beth took it more positively than Jim.

E2 – Hobson Moor Quarry – October 2013

October 25th 2013

My goal for this year was to lead E2, I guess.  This already happened back in August on Sundowner at Froggatt Edge.  Sundowner is an easy, virtually unprotected slab, about 12m of padding with one 5a move at ~8m when your gear is too low to stop you hitting the deck.

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Unknown climber on Sundowner

I headpointed Sundowner, and I have no ethical problem headpointing more E2s as I feel like this is the way to push your grade when you don’t often climb with mid to high grade climbers, I wouldn’t touch E grades for quite some time, and almost every E1 we’ve done so far as been a case of “Well that wasn’t so bad” (Apart from The Tippler), this seems to be true for E2 so far too, which makes me want to try harder E2s and E3 – why not?

Before 2013 is up I want to have some E2 5c routes under my belt, aspirations include Commander Energy, Black Hawk Bastion and Quietus, having only lead E2 5a the logical step is to get on E2 5b – back to Hobson Moor.

I checked this route out on top rope one day when it was a bit damp and miserable, it went easily with the top rope, it went easily with a slack top rope, it went easily with a bag on when I went up to pack up the anchor.  If it was dry and the rock was solid I would probably have just ran up it solo there and then, but it wasn’t dry, and the rock isn’t solid.

Beta warning – if any of you are super keen to on sight this unremarkable, eliminate, graffitied, dangerously loose route then don’t read on

The route follows a flake for a few meters to a break, getting this far includes a couple of lay back moves and a bit of palming, I wasn’t very pleased to find that the grass I had removed from some key foot holds had grown back in time for the lead, but the moves aren’t too taxing and the handholds are big, so no problem there.

At the horizontal break I managed to awkwardly place a pretty bomber Size 2 Dragon cam.  A mantle move into the break gets you to another balancey stance where you can fiddle in a couple of rubbish micro wires (worthless placements).  So, good cam at your feet there is a 5b sequence of 4-5 hand movements that gets you to a large flake.  The flake is a very good hold that really does move when you load it, it’s definitely coming off if this route sees more traffic.

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The flake is the chalked up hold in the middle

Underneath the flake is a pretty good microcam placement, I found a Metolius Mastercam size 0 went in nicely.  Without pulling the flake off and killing your belayer, make use of a high right foot and do the last reachy, bouldery move to gain a good ledge, one more easy (but run out) mantle and you’re done, just a few meters of easy ledge scrambling to the top.

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Sunshine Superman – E2 5b

There does seem to be some confusion about the exact line this route takes, I followed the line from the latest Western Grit guide, the left had side of the wall seems pretty tough!  You’d have to track down the FA (Phil Booth) to find out for sure.

It’s Autumn now so the temperatures are getting good for grit, it’s just a shame about the persistent torrential rain and gale force winds.

Ho hum.