Archive for the ‘Crags’ Category

The stars are out at Eastby

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Unknown climber on Nose Climb
On Sunday Dave W, Mike Shaw and myself headed to Eastby. Rather a poor turn out given to gorgeous weather, but this may have had something to do with Dave's email getting caught by most people spam filters.

I arrived a little late to find Mike, having warmed up on Eastby Buttress (VD ***),  heroically retreating off Whaup Edge (VS 4b **) with some pathetic excuse about bold, unprotected moves above a 10m ground fall. We opted instead for Index Variation (VS 5a **), possibly the only time I've bridged up the middle of a slab. Dave followed this up with Knuckle slab (VS 4c **) – more lovely slab wandering – and  I couldn't resist the 3 star classic Nose Climb (S (4a).

Feeling the need to redeem himself, Mike took on the  super thugish Block Buttress (HVS 5a **) which provided much entertainment for climbers and spectators alike.

Mike wrestling with Block Buttress

 

Dave followed up with the very pleasant (soft) VS 4c *** Pillar Rib, which provided a convenient top rope for  Mike and I to play on Pillar Front (E2 5b **). The moves all went OK (though consistently challenging) but would be an extremely serious lead. I finished of the day with Heather Face (MVS 4c *). Not a very appealing line, though some nice moves, particularly the top. By this point (4.30pm), the sun was setting and the temperature dropping so we called it a day and went our separate ways. All-in-all, a cracking days climbing, and I even made it home in time for the fireworks in Reeth.

Not so Long Sally

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

With a good forcast for Sunday Rob and I made plans to head to the peak and Gav would meet us there.

Originally we were going to head to Stanage but after getting parked in the Burbage car park decided to head to Burbage north instead. It was fairly cold start, especially in the wind but the sun was out and the views great on a beautiful autumn day.

We found somewhere sheltered and warmed up on a few easy routes in the Ash Tree Wall area and a fairly technical VS made even harder by a eager collie that wanted to play fetch and an owner that liked his herbal cigarettes 😉

Gav arrived and we bouldered out the start of an unlisted variation route (VS 5b on UKC), before heading off to tackle the excellent Amazon Crack and my tick for the day Long Tall Sally. You dont need to be tall for this one, been short potentially even helps when negotiating the bulge and it's not very long either so not sure where the name comes from.

By now it was getting quite busy so we watched a pair climbing LTS but when they started to make it look easy we moved on quickly.

We finished off the the day by taking turns leading the Knights Move (HVS-), then the collie was back so Rob was on stick duty playing fetch (the dog was fetching, Rob throwing) while Gav repeated the route to recover the gear.

We packed up as the sun dropped below the hills to the south then strolled back along the the top of the edge. By now the temperature was dropping quickly so we bid fairwell to Gav and jumped in the car for the journey back to York.

Grey Scuggy

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

camo-paul

Paul and I headed up around lunchtime for an afternoon bimble at Scuggy. We packed our wellies(always a sound idea for the approach) a couple of mats and flask of coffee. There was one other team at he crag and no big surprise. It was grey, overcast but with a strong wind drying the exposed faces.

We ticked a few routes down the far end, kept out of the puddles, fell off Tippling Wall, a lot, and stuck to the dry rock. Where exposed to the wind the rock was fine but in the shelter very damp and scritty making it uncomfortable and nervy as well as potentially damaging so we avoided those routes. Pingers was Mingers.

Sipping coffee sheleterd from the wind, we watched he light rain south and west of us before a few more routes and making our way home
There's a new cafe in Swainby (closes after 5.30) called Rusty Bike or similar looks good but we thought it'd be closed so drove past.

Aother jolly afternoon avoiding the housework.

Peak perfection

Monday, October 16th, 2017

The change in forecast led Mike and I to abandon our Tower Ridge plans and head to the Peak which has the best weather for the weekend. With the autumn colours and warm sunshine, it was a good call.

Mike chose the crags based on where he hadn't been before so Saturday we went to Millstone, not the greatest of choices early on as the damp can stay there hidden in the bays. But the rock was mostly dry, we climbed some easier routes and some HVSs at the Cioch area before wandering along to a crowded Embankment, stopping at Great Slab to tick the eponymous HS. Mike led Embankment 3, classic jamming crack with tons of gear, but hard on the toes, and we finished with a romp up the Mall in a glorious orange sunset before heading to the CC hut under Frogatt.

The hut is comfy but was rammed and a tad warm and stuffy but we slept well. The morning did not bring the promised wall to wall sunshine, but rather mist and a hint of drizzle. Like a few other teams we walked up the hill to Frogatt edge (10mins) after Mike had let Simon & Carmen and Russ and a few YACers know where we'd be.

We had a great day, after a slow warm up on Trapeze Direct with its tricky move, doing a few VSs and Mike cruising on 3PS when the sun finally showed itself and it got hot, and Sunset Slab as the sun was starting to decline. Simon and Carmen joined us at the crag and pottered along ticking routes they may have done before ! By the end of the day Mike's toe was giving him a lot of grief (he kicked a rock , then i lent on it – oops) and I twisted my ankle en-route so we hobbled back to the hut for a cuppa leaving S&C to enjoy the best part of the day.

Slip Sliding Away

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

A change from last weekends day trip sport climbing Mike and I headed to Slipstones and bombarded Jamie with txts till he turned up (long story). The forecast was ok but with light rain due at 3. On arrival it was spitting so Mike and I chilled away 15 mins trying to decide what sort of tree is at the car park (Ash) using my British Trees App on my phone.

I've never been great fan of Slipstones as I find the bouldering too bloody hard and humbling and remember the trad as being strenuous. We arrived at the far left end after passing 23 walkers out for a bit of solitude. Mike had been here ore than I and pointe out a few routes. We had a good session warming up on the easier lines , S4a on the corner being a tough start and easy finish. We soloed most of the routes. Mike then launched up a VS which turned out to be HVS, good gear but looooooooooog reaches. Seemed to be the theme of all the routes on this wall. Jamie arrived having taken a mere 4 hours or so to navigate the 25 min approach from door to crag. On most routes we dropped the rope and another person led on the gear and one person seconded. I made a complete mess of a VS, sliding off a smear, twice, to my surprise – ho hum.


We did quite a few VS and HVSs around that end in the company of a couple of other teams enjoying some good banter with them. Remarkably 3pm came and went and only a tiny bit drizzle stopped play for while. Mike led an excellent and tricky HVS with a hard start, harder traverse and a butch finish (including lying in a cave) before we headed back along the edge to some short but worthwhile VS routes, and then homeward via the northbound A1.


Must say best visit I've ever had, I really liked the place. A reminder that crags can change their appeal based on picking the right routes on the right days with the right company. Happy to go back 🙂

A quiet August Bank Holiday

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

A combination of family commitments, double bookings, iffy weather forecast, and 6 hour drive, meant that there ended up being just the two of us on this year's August camping meet to Pembroke. And we'd thought about cancelling as well! But were very glad we stuck with it as we had a cracking time, extending the weekend by a couple of days to make the drive worthwhile.

The campsite at Bosherston was heaving when we arrived, but the crags mostly varied between quiet and deserted despite what turned out to be 5 days of good weather.

On the first day we had the crag entirely to ourselves. After a few  routes at Fisherman's Point waiting for the tide to drop (over graded, over starred, but pleasant enough), we then switched to Rusty Point for some top quality slab and corner climbing at HS/VS. An attempt at following the old guidebook description for Sea Tube led to Carmen leading a new route (of the must-have-been-climbed-before variety), before we abbed back down and led the proper route (wriggling up a smooth blowhole, looked outrageous at VDiff but turned out to be soft for the grade). We finished the day with South West Ridge (Severe).

On Sunday we headed for Stennis Head where we expected to meet the crowds. But although we saw a few other climbers, we were mostly on our own again. I led the first pitch of Maelstrom Chimney as an approach pitch to Stennis Arete (HS), which means missing out the lower part of the arete proper, but gives two 3-star pitches – highly recommended! This was followed by Stennis Chimney (S), which isn't really a chimney but is another 3 star pitch.

We then moved to Huntsman's Leap, where we found all the crowds! But they were mostly climbing harder stuff, so we abbed in to Myola (HS), where we had to wait for a while for another pair to climb out – the only queuing of the trip! The initial section to reach the cave is very traditional and quite bold, but the rest is well protected – just as well as it's tough for the grade.

On Monday we headed for Mother Carey's Kitchen, where again we expected crowds, but again found none, just a handful of teams early on. Our first route was approached by abbing down the wrong line after a miscommunication with some guys at the top, followed by an "interesting" (and rapid) boulder hop in between waves. The Cracks was given Severe in our guide, after Carmen had a minor epic leading it we discovered that it's since been upgraded to VS!

Failing to learn from this we abbed back down for Threadneedle Stret, another "Severe" that's now VS. A giggle of a route, up a slightly overhanging wet chimney at the back of the cave (finishing with some don't-think-about-it bridging up mud conglomerate). Pitch two then takes an outrageously exposed traverse, thankfully on massive flake holds. The final pitch is supposed to climb a crack further right of The Cracks, but after finding 4c moves to reach the bottom of it and seeing no gear for the next offwidth, I traversed back to finish up The Cracks. Still get the tick though as that's the line described by Rockfax 🙂

The next day started with light drizzle, so we opted for a non-climbing day, with a nice walk round the local lily ponds and were rewarded with not one but two sightings of a kingfisher. After lunch it cleared up, so we headed for Mowing Word and the classic Diedre Sud, which had been on my to-do list since our only previous visit to Pembroke some 16 years earlier. Well worth the wait, even if it was overgraded at HS. We briefly considered another route as there was time, but opted for the pub instead.

The sunshine returned for our final day, so we headed for Giltar Slabs as it was on our way home. And again, we found it deserted. Some lovely slab climbing, mostly of the relaxing type, but with one VDiff turning out to be VS 4c (has since been upgraded)!

We enjoyed ourselves so much that when we got back we invested in a new set of guidebooks – so we're not waiting another 16 years before our next visit 🙂

A load more photos here

Roaches – wet and dry

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

For the July meet YAC returned to the Don Whillans Memorial Hut located at the foot of the Roaches. I was pretty keen to go and experience staying in this historic hut which is partly built into to the rock…..

The forecast for the weekend didn't look great and it rained heavily Friday night, even with the improves to the hut we had water running from the ceiling and had to deploy a few pots and pans.
We awoke Saturday morning to find the rain had stopped and the sun was out.

Carmen and Simon were out first as usual and head for the upper tier along with Annie who headed of for a walk followed by myself Russ and Danny. Many of the routes were still damp from the nights rain so we chose a route that looked dryish, Crack and Corner a 3 star HS. This turned out to be a really nice route and a popular one, after doing a few routes on the lower tier Jamie, Pete B, Peri and Dave D headed up have a go at the same route and show us where we should have gone on the second pitch – whoops.

Next up, Black and Tans, a top 50 severe then Saul’s Crack a Joe Brown route and another great climb. Jamie and Pete tackled Rotunda Buttress VS followed by Damascus Crack a route I would recommend, while Russ made an accent of Bachelors Buttress witch has a fairly bold start.
We finished off with an accent of The Sloth, a route first ascended by Willans himself, and one I’d heard lots about. Seen as the rock had dried throughout the day I had no excuses a fitting end to a great first day.

Surprisingly after Jamiie got a bit carried away with the chillies in the evening meal there seemed to be no lasting affects and Sunday was much the same rain during the night meant a damp start but the sun came out and dried things out.

Simon Carmen and Annie headed for Roaches Skyline followed by Jamie Dave and Pete while after a bit of wandering myself Peri Danny and Russ stayed on Upper Tier, this time climbing on the Simpkins Overhang and Wombat areas. Routes ticked on the Sunday included Wallaby Direct, Inverted Staircase, Contrary Mary, Runner Route and Light House.

My first trip to the Roaches and a really good weekend with some classics climbed and some to go back for ie Valkyrie.

No naked ladies in sight

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Rylstone is a wonderful crag, set high above the village famous for its calendar girls, on the edge of Barden moors, the 30+ min walk from the car seem to put off many people, which is fine by me. Although it catches all the afternoon sun, it can be a tad damp in the morning. Mind you, when have we ever got to a crag early in the morning ?

Paul, Mike, Russ, Jamie and I made the trip and despite having the whole crag to ourselves, choose to climb a pair of routes next to each other and only just in the sun ! Of note was Paul's ascent, descent, re-ascent, decent, re-ascent, descent, re-ascent, descent, re-ascent and final ascent (I did lose count, and the will to live, so maybe underplaying it a bit here) of the crux on Sundowner HVS5a.

Throughout the day we did some great routes, repeating the easy classics, soloing some low grade slabs and always admiring the view. What a great place with great routes, especially in the lower grades, well worth a trip out.

Miles from anywhere

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

I've fancied a trip to the Rugby MC hut at Cwm Eigiau ever since walking past it more years ago than I care to mention. And at last I had a chance, as the club had booked what is essentially a locked bothy for the weekend.

For once, the weather gods were on our side, and the recent hot sunny weather lasted through to the weekend. We even had a north-facing crag to climb on and avoid the worst of the heat!

The approach is by a 45 minute walk along a good track (which we still managed to take a wrong turning on). Most of us walked up, but Donal and Mike cycled. And Karl cycled up later on his new bike looking like he'd thoroughly enjoyed it and in no way swearing like a trooper. Luckily he was too tired to throw the bike back down the hill.

On Saturday, while Karl and Charles went walking on the Carneddau, most of us headed for Craig yr Ysfa. Carmen and I toyed briefly with trying Mur y Niwl (VS recently upgraded to HVS) but wimped out using the heat as an excuse. So we did a terrifying scramble/climb up a wet vegetated groove to reach the ledge at the foot of Pinnacle Wall instead – a fine Severe involving a long descending traverse along a quartz pavement followed by a long crack to finish.

Next we turned to the classic VDiff Amphitheatre Buttress. I'd done this many years ago and hadn't been impressed, but Carmen hadn't so we followed Dave and Donal up. Much better than I remembered – I must have been in a bad mood last time! And we bumped into Rich P who though not on the club trip was staying on the opposite side of the hill at Capel Curig.

Jamie Russ and Paul took advantage of the dry weather to make an ascent of Great Gully, a very (very) traditional VDiff. At least they thought they were taking advantage of the weather – instead they found the route wet and dirty, character building stuff.

On Sunday Karl headed home, Donal went biking, and Paul went for a run, while the rest of us returned to Craig yr Ysfa. Jamie and Dave went up Amphitheatre Buttress, Dave must have enjoyed it the day before!

Carmen and I opted for Nether Climb – a 1-star Severe in the old guidebook, but without any logbook ticks on UKC. As this suggests, the route was a bit on the dirty side!

Pitch 1 was broken and vegetated. Pitch 2 was better, though bold and tricky given the lichen, closer to VS 4b. Pitch 3 I've no idea about, as I went entirely the wrong way! The way I went was hard (VS 4b ish) and led nowhere, so I took a rope-drag-tastic line up some broken grooves and back left to regain the arete. As luck would have it, this brought us almost exactly to the top of the correct pitch. So far so bad, but pitch 4 was superb, almost worth the trauma of getting there! And the final pitch was also pretty good.

All that remained now was to get back down, which was a minor epic in its own right, descending a steep and extremely exposed rake, well worth roping up for.

That was quite enough for both of us so we returned to the hut, met the others, and headed off.

A really good weekend, and a good though basic hut in a fantastic location. We'll undoubtedly go back, though it might be a bit grim in bad weather.

More photos here

Dodging the rain in Northumberland

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

With a mixed forecast and coming so soon after the Skye meet, numbers were predictably down for the late May Bank Holiday, and in the end only four of us made the trip north.

We camped at Greencarts Farm, a nice enough site but they didn't make any attempt to keep the party goers quiet and they continued their merry making late into the night, every night.

On Saturday, Carmen and I made an early start to beat the expected rain and headed for Crag Lough.

We started with a few obscure but good routes around West Corner at the far right of the crag, before heading left for Jezebel Direct, a great VS 4b lead by Carmen – no stars in the guide, whereas the disappointing and vegetated indirect gets 3 – perhaps they got them the wrong way round! It started drizzling so we started to head back, but it dried off so we finished with 3 routes at Peel Crag near the car park. I backed off leading a VDiff, but I'm not going to mentioned that.

10 minutes after we drove off, the heavens opened and we had a cracking thunderstorm for 45 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, Ann and Peter did a circular mountain bike ride starting from the campsite and getting as far north as Bellingham, The route crossed Simonburn Moor, where they had major mechanicals and both Peter's pedals collapsed! After this the track cut into Kielder Forest at Stonehaugh and then headed for Bellingham where they had a tea stop at the Rocky Road Cafe. The way back took them on the Sandstone Way, a marked route. Signposting at Shitlington Hall was hard to follow and they ended up at Esp Mill where the house owner plied themwith elderflower cordial (!) before directing them back on route.

Shortly after they were caught in and drenched by a ferocious thunderstorm at Gofton Burn. At this point they decided to cut the route short and and after a long downhill stopped at Simonburn for (yet more) tea and cake and to dry out. Two miles later they were back at Greencarts.

Sunday started damp and very windy, so we went for a run along Hadrian's Wall for a couple of hours until things improved. Then we headed back to Crag Lough where we repeated a couple of routes we last did a decade or more ago, and I finally got round to leading Hadrian's Chimney – a great route of its type, better and harder than it looks.

Ann & Peter did an 8 mile bumble from Belsay taking in Bolam Country Park, Salters Nick, Shaftoe Crags and Shortflatt Peel Tower, great views from the Devils Punchbowl. Refreshments after at Belsay village shop.

Bank Holiday Monday lived down to the stereotype, and rained. So we all went home.

A few more photos here