Archive for the ‘Climbing’ Category

Summer's arrived? Lower Falcon Crag

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Rob and I headed across to the Lakes to stay at grange, the weather forecast was good (for Saturday at least). The plan was to try some of the other crags in Borrowdale (i.e. not Shepards) and tick off some routes on the 25 best VS/HVS in Borrowdale list. We opted for some stared routes on Lower Falcon Crag. The crag is a short walk from the parking (10 minutes to the base of the routes, maximum) but there is a lot of brambles to be aware. The weather was great, it could have been (and probably was) the summer. We started on Spinup (VS 4c) and Jamie joined us as we finished the first pitch. The whole route is excellent but pitch two has a particularly nice traverse with some interesting down climbing to access it. Due to a bird restriction the descent is by abseil form the centre of the crag, its free hanging in places so don’t forget the prussic and passes Illusion and Usurper, so plenty of opportunity to inspect the harder routes.

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Is that a new tick? No, I think you have to finish the route first Rob.

Next was Hedera Grooves (VS 4b, although I’m not sure it was easier than Spinup), well worth the two stars with nice two dimensional climbing before the traverse on pitch one and challenging start of pitch two through a holly bush. Last route of the day was Illusion (HVS 5a), the crux of which is accessing the 15(ish)m traverse using a large hanging flake, which some of us foot traversed and others hand traversed (interesting choice when trying to get the gear back). The gear is good but spaced, and the climbing technical in a few places. The guidebook mentions this being a loose crag, there were a few loose holds but given this was early in the year after a cold winter its to be expected. Be aware there were quite a few ticks found after we returned home.

Next day was a bit pish so we headed home via Bramcrag Quarry to check out future options. The place is heaving with bolted routes at all grades. It will be well worth a visit on a nicer day.

There's no way this is 4c …. Crookrise

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Having given it s sufficiently long time for the memories of previous visits to Crookrise to fade a few of us headed there (Russ, Carmen, Simon, Peri, Jamie and Paul) to try out luck with an average weather forecast. As it turned out the weather was glorious, warm with lovely blue skies. The routes turned out to be tougher and bolder than remembered, with plenty of them offering little gear until half-height.

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There's no f@£$ing way this is 4c

 

But undeterred we had a go on end slab. the sole, walkers wall, slab and nose, arsenic slab (most of the routes including some top roping on a blank HVS Old Lace) and cats whiskers (to name a few). A great mix of routes from steep lay backing to easy angled slabs punctuated by cries of “there’s no way this is 4c”, which to be fair was probably true. Another great day out on grit. Simon has posted some pictures on facebook.

 

Inspired by Rob and Will ….

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Inspired by the conditions reported by Rob and Will we set off to try and get a last lakeland winter route in at Great End. As it turned out Jamie and I weren’t the only ones inspired, the place was heaving and Window Gully had a cue of at least 3 people, after gearing up this had increased to 6 and counting. As an alternative we headed up South East Gully, neither of us had done this previously and it had the advantage of only one other team in the gully (after some faffing by us at the first belay they were well gone leaving the place pretty much to just the two of us).The snow was ok but a soft top layer made it quite hard going. The first little step in the gully had just enough ice and hooks to go, the ice pitch was excellent, it was a bit undercut at the top made it quite a challenge to exit, definitely grade III conditions. After a chat at the top with some of the other climbers we abbed into window gully and had just enough time to do the upper ice fall. The ice was fat and made for an excellent last pitch. Time the walk back to he car, in the dark, and head into Keswick for fish and chips. IMG_1305-2018-03-12-11-43.jpg

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 day 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.