Archive for the ‘Climbing’ Category

Mad Dogs and Englishwomen go climbing on Red Tarn Face …

Monday, February 5th, 2018

… but we didn't, we went to Brown Cove Crags.
On a stunning Mike (being only slightly ill) & I (Rob being only slightly stupid and being awoken at 6.30 in PJs) responded to Dave W's call to hills and headed over to the Lakes. Parking in the layby we walked through Swirls car park – which is now free (well the machine has been busted for months apparently) and upto the cove in improving weather.

We were not sure what we'd find given the preceding week's weather, the crag certainly looked wintery. In reality, there was a smattering of new soft snow lying on top of waterlogged old snow that in places was great but mostly was only just ok. Some turf was hard but most was rubbish so we kept off the turfy buttresses.

We headed up a lean Central Gully mostly on our feet with an occasional gymnastic move off a hook. Towards the top we headed left across the buttresses which was fun. Nearly all done with 1 axe, Mike didn't bother with cramps. On top the weather was stunning and the views of the rising snowline on Skiddaw group picturesque. Dave and I descended Left Parallel Gully and came back up Right, both easy grade 1 plods with no real interest, but good to get the feel for the snow.

Back on top Mike had built a bollard and we did some skills revision (stompers, NZ stompers, bucket seats, buried axe and boot-axe belays and body belaying – as well as rope coiling to make Mike look like a professional alpinist. I then suggested to Mike we test his bollard by abbing down the gully, I was very suspicious of the size. As Mike weighs next to nought the abbing went ok but when I asked him to jump and pull on the rope it got a little more exciting. It was quite interesting watching the rope cutting through 3/4 of the bollard. Luckily I had him on a separate belay. Enlightening.

After some lunch, we strolled up to Helvellyn summit, observing the faces, lack of cornices etc, to see how the busy Red Tarn face was. We toyed with the idea of descending and doing a route but in the end, just watched the teams coming up and left in a bit of mist.

As we headed back along the ridge, we watched a young woman and mad dog (Duke I think) bounding up the face from the snow bowl. We were amazed at the Duke's performance and the woman looked clearly competent making short work of the snow slope which steepened a bit, no more than Grade 1 territory. We spoke briefly at the top as Duke ran around enthusiastically and we wandered off just as she called down to her male partner to check on him.

A nice stroll back down, observing a helicopter, and we were on the road fairly early and back in York for 7. Only then did we find out about the epic that unfurled behind us.

Apparently, the woman's husband got into difficulties with bendy boots on the headwall and requested help from nearby climbers (Wes). One of them grabbed a couple of axes and in his haste to reach the climber, tripped over his crampons and went head first down the snow bowl for 150m. He was rescued by his mates (while Alan Hinkes sorted the stranded climber out) and walked off the hill for while until feeling bad and calling MR out. A few busted ribs is all the long-term damage.

Quite a day for learning opportunities!

pix from Mike, Daves camera broke, I forgot mine in rush !

A swim up Blea Water Gill

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

On Sat. Peri, Mike, and Rob did the early(ish) start and drive to the Lakes to check out Blea Water. Arriving at the car park about 8.30, the drive being interesting for the last few miles along Mardale. It was a bit warmer than hoped for and the mistier but we were walking by about 9. The large snow deposits had made the hills very pretty but the walking awkward. the snow was soft and deep a but fortunately, there was a trail to follow!

The walk-in should take about an hour to the tarn but was a little longer and once we had sorted out our destination we skirted the left edge of the tarn and arrived at the chimney pitch to be greeted by Yorkie Jim Croft and his son Euan. We thanked them for their hard work trail bashing and chatted about the poor quality of the ice in the chimney. Rob had a look and declared it climable but a long way from good. Jim & Euan were contemplating bailing but we decided as a team to skip around the first pitch and head for the main icefall which looked ok.

When I say skip, what I mean is swim. Snow up to our waists and soft and squishy. Never felt like it would slide off but it wasn't reassuring. After a bit of a battle, we all made it to the buried belay ledge and dug out the boulder.

Mike set off leading up some bulging ice with an awkward step. Peri followed and I went up a little to the side. Jim then led Euan up, who learned the hard way about getting cold hands whilst belaying. The belays are not that great at the top and it took Mike a while to find a decent spike at 50m. Jim on longer ropes found a place to bring up Euan.

After that pitch Jim and Euan decided to head off home, traversing the hillside and back to the tarn. Rob led a pitch with some icy steps and we unroped after that. Stumbling onto the summit ridge we were greeted by a wonderful sunset, and we traipsed off over Mardale Ill Bell and down to Small Water – a lovely wee tarn with a group camping.

We nearly made it back to the car without head torches and the drive back (after pushing a tourist out) got us back to York for 8ish.

Another great day despite poorish ice conditions

pix by Peri, Mike & Rob

Pendulum Gully

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

On Saturday Dave W and I headed to the Lakes to make the most of the wintry conditions before temperatures were set to rise. We decided to head to Scrubby Crag to look at Pendulum Gully, a route we attempted in January but due to poor visibility ended up climbing a nondescript gully and ramp further to the right.

An early start meant we were parked and ready to go in good time. There was already a couple of teams heading off up the valley, we stopped a while to talk to another group planning to climb a route called Scorpion on Greenhow End.

Signs were good lower down the valley with the ground hard and any standing water frozen but as we reached the snow line things started to soften up. I was keen to try Greenhow Gully which can be used as an approach to Scrubby Crag, don't think Dave was quite so keen. A distinct lack of ice or snow and large amounts of running water meant that we made use of the in situ ab tat just below the chockstone and ran away.

Higher up in the main cove the snow was knee deep in most places and waist deep in the gullies. We used some swimming techniques to reach the base of Pendulum Gully and the first steep section, this was just about frozen enough for us make an attempt.

We soloed up this and the easier slope above over an awkward step to below the chockstone where Dave dug out some gear placements and we roped up for the final pitch. We managed to negotiate the chockstone with lots of bridging and a committing move to a good patch of frozen turf out to the right. The final Gully section proved quite tricky with lots of powder snow and nothing for the axes.

 

Decent weather and some great views, not great conditions but at least we climbed the correct gully this time another good day in the lakes.

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 🙂

Yorkshire Sport

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

Mike, Jamie and I headed over to Giggleswick North for a day Sport climbing, with an indifferent forecast it seemed prudent.

I prefer Gig North to South and there are some good routes, with good gear and the rock is mostly sound, and the polish isnt too bad. We started just past the Hollywood bowl behind a tree on some slightly damp routes which were ok. Jamie turned up and warmed up on the 6b (we think) – which has a tough move. Not great but not crap and feeling a little traddy.

We moved along to the next clean buttress and did some excellent routes around 6a/6a+ sort of standard, the grades vary from rockfax/ukc/YMC guide. After an hour or two we continued along the wall and found a few more good routes to play on until about 6 when we headed home. We all have routes to go back for after resting or not getting on them so a return trip is on the cards.

A couple of points, it takes quite along time to get there (circa 2 hours and 60 miles), route identification can be a bit tricky in places, and not all routes are on the YMC update so get a copy of the UKC listing before you go.

pix to follow – maybe…

UKC logbook for Gig North: https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=1344

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