Archive for June, 2008

Wainstones in Downpour Shock

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Another dry day forecast, and so it proved – until shortly after we arrived at the crag, when it rained, quite heavily.  Luckily, not before Carmen had led Sphinx Nose Traverse (S) – she'd always backed off before, but this time was confident enough that she led out to the end of the traverse without placing any gear!

We sat it out for 10 minutes, after which it dried out enough to keep climbing, with the odd shower, until 10.  I took the opportunity to fill in some gaps and climb a few lower grade routes I'd not done before.  Pick of the bunch were Ling Corner (HS 4a) and Cantilever (Diff, or VDiff in Rockfax).  Lofty's Ease (HD, or S 4a in Rockfax!) was unprotected so I may as well have soloed it – HS 4a, or 5a for Carmen who couldn't reach the jug (the clue is in the route name).

As we left the crag, it started raining persistently.  Not the best of evenings, but at least we got stuff done.

problems inserting photos into you blogs?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

i was having a frustrating time doing this – it kept just hanging with a blank white screen, so I had a look around tinternet. Turns out a lot of people uding WordPress are having trouble with this at the moment, the solution that worked for me was:

1) use firefox not IE (some people say there is a specific issue with IE )

2) only have one tab to the blog pages open at a time

3) ignore the message you get telling you the picture failed an upload test – if you can see the image in the screen, its there.

once I did this i had no further problems

"gales and storms forecast, lets go camping!"

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

"Rare summer gales lash Britain" Yup, with superb timing we chose this weekend to go and camp in the wilds of Northumberland. By the time we heard the grim forecasts we were already psyched up for the weekend so in a triumph of wild optimism over common sense off we went. Well, the forecasts had been wrong every day of the week so far…

Simon announced plans to get up at 5.30 am in order to make the most of the day before the forecast rain. Coincidentally I actually did wake at 5.15 am and briefly considered giving him his alarm call, but decided against it on the grounds that I couldnt climb with broken bones.

Some hours later we all arrived at Great Wanney Crag, an imposing cliff either 20 minutes walk from the road, or well over an hour if you were naive enough to follow the guidebook directions, which is why me and Rob arrived at the crag over an hour after Simon, Carmen and Peter. We started off cautiously, having read dire warnings about undergraded Northumbrian routes, but soon decided the grading wasn't bad, and mighty deeds were done, Simon Carmen and Rob draped in fetching midge nets (the little $%^^ers were fierce).


Rob led Great Wall, HVS 5b, and Simon and Carmen led Idiot's Delight, HS 4c, which they liked so much that they both took turns to lead it. Boundary Corner (VD), Great Chimney (VD), Main Wall (MS) and Squeezy Bill (Diff) were also done and then Annie arrived so she and Peter went round the corner to do some routes. Then the monsoon arrived and we spent the rest of the day on cafe/snooze/pub.

Two notes about the pub:

1) It turns out not one of us can play pool

2) Whenever Annie managed to pot a ball her whoop could be heard over a greater distance than the eruption of Krakatoa.

The end of the monsoon and start of a howling gale was announced by two huge claps of thunder in the very early morning. We dismantled out tents with difficulty, except for Annie who had spent the night sleeping under the parcel shelf in her car, then Peter and Annie headed off for a walk while me Rob Carmen and Simon headed for East Woodburn, a small but south facing sandstone crag we hoped might be dry. We all really liked this crag – a five minute walk in, lovely rock with loads of friction, fine flutings and lots of interesting flakes, knobs and pockety holds. Rob did a fine lead of Capstone Wall, E1 5b which me Simon and Carmen then tried to follow. Carmen and Simon managed in fine style, I failed miserably to get past the lower moves out of the cave without anti gravity from my belayer. Other ascents included ooh, lots, we got a good day's climbing in despite it blowing a hooley on the crag tops. I onsighted Foxey VS 4c cleanly after encouragement by Rob, which I was very pleased about as my last efforts at Ilkley were a complete debacle, and Simon had a fine epic on it due to missing a crucial handhold but eventually topped out. Then the poxy rain returned and we legged it back to our homes and dry clothes.

Simons pics at

Ilkley Quarry in Sunshine Shock

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Will on Josephine SuperdirectYes, despite the dark grey clouds threatening rain for most of the day, not only did we stay dry, but we were also treated to some evening sunshine.  Sometimes it pays to be optimistic!

I was climbing well for once, and onsighted two VSs, Blucher and Walewska.  The difficulties on Blucher were short and well protected, it would make a good first VS;  the difficulties on Walewska were not so short!  This was followed by Demolition Derby (HS 4a) which climbs what is left of Wellington Chimney (destroyed by the local council a few years ago in a misguided attempt to remove loose rock).  This has the potential to be a reasonable route, if it weren't for the deep layer of pigeon poo on all the ledges, which made the whole experience deeply unpleasant!

Other highlights of the evening included a fine onsight lead of Josephine Superdirect (MVS 4b) by Will;  and Peri, er, well Peri was there too…

What to do on a dull Tuesday morning in York…..

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Go route setting at the Oaklands wall

So I drove over to the York wall just after 8:00 am,  they hadn't even switched the lights on.

Anyway Jonathan and I started striping some of the old routes down and putting up some new ones.  At around 10:15 the late shift arrived ( Rob el presidente ), so he did get a bit of a ribbing for being late….

Any way the changes

The purple/purple with white tags 5/6A on the slab has been replaced with another purple 5/5+.  Rob wants to start playing with tape and set another eliminate route on this.  So watch out for some coloured tape arriving on some of the holds.

Jonathan replaced the light blue 6A+ on the vertical red wall with a light blue 6A.  The use of the right side wall and corner is on, if you do it without the corner and wall it is slightly harder, possibly 6A+.

Once Rob got his rope up an all his ascending gear together he stripped the green 6A/6A+ from the right side of the small/baby overhang wall.  There wasn't enought time to replace this route.

The next Saturday night route setting will be on the 5th July.  It is open to climbers of all standards and full training is given to people who have not set any routes before.  If you want to come along please let me know so that I can forward a list of names of the wall.

Have fun and be safe


Another good w/e the lakes …

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

World Juggling Day celebrates juggling and Ambleside the local venue — but bugger that there's climbing to be done ! Hooking up with YAC prospective, known to some from Leeds Wall and Brimham, Paul Cookson (Cookie), I had a top w/e in Langdale. Pavey Ark on Sat. and Gimmer on Sunday both avoiding the showers (just) and even seeing some sun.

Pavey yielded Arcturus (HVS+), Golden Slipper (HVS-) and Capella (E1-)- all good and very different routes well worth doing. Middle pitch of GS is total stunner 4c, good wires and only just HVS (Almscliff VS), as good as any anywhere – get it done.

Sunday more overcast and warm for the long slog up to Gimmer (leaving all 3 guidebooks in the campsite!)  – but cool and windy when we arrived. Kipling Groove is one of Cookies dream routes (the other being Dream…) so we did it, I didn't realise that the hard pitch was for me! Having done it 15 or more years ago I only remember vague bits of it and its harder than I remembered, maybe the hardest we did all w/e, but probably for sustained and wild situations not technical reasons.
Cookie also led Ash Tree Corner, a well protected VS with some interesting awkward but safe moves and never strenuous.

Great routes on virtually empty crags – no queues and good company.

The things we do for fun…

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

A gazillion hungry midges, hundreds of bloodthirsty ticks, blisters on top of blisters, aching legs, sore feet, and a night spent with 2 people squeezed into a 1 person tent, woken at 5am by a bagpiper wearing a midge net.

Yes, it's the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon, and great fun it was too, in a retrospective sort of way.  YAC was represented by Carmen and me doing the B class, and Simon F & Debra (on her first mountain marathon) doing D.

This year it was based at Glenfinnan, to the west of Fort William, and headed northwards towards Knoydart, with the mid-camp in Glen Dessarry.

Saturday started with an attack of the midges, followed by a coach ride about 10 miles west to the far end of Loch Eilt.  Here we unwisely removed midge nets, only for the wretched things to descend again as we were marking up the maps;  luckily they disappeared as we set off, probably due to the unbroken blue skies and associated hot sunshine.

The first 4 controls were quite straightforward, with easy navigation (given the good visibility) and no major route choice.  The next leg was a long one though (took us just over 3 hours), going round and/or over a couple fo substantial hills.  There were three main route choices – the planner's recommended one, the one taken by the winners, and the one we took!  Hard work but worth it, with beautiful scenery round Loch Morar (and a fine looking bothy, now on the list for a future visit).

After that, the route choice was again limited, and the controls easy to find, before a final fight through a forestry commission plantation brought us to the mid-camp.

Our target for a good time was 8 hours, we took 8 hours 5 minutes and 10 seconds, which we were very pleased with.  Still only managed 45th out of 74 though – the course very much favoured the runners rather than the navigators (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!).

The overnight camp was on the only flat land for miles around – a microlight landing strip!  Luckily there was a slight breeze which kept the worst of the midges away, so we were able to lie around soaking up the sun for a few hours before bed.

It rained a little overnight, and when woken by the piper at stupid o'clock the hills were still hidden by clag, and there were occasional spells of drizzle to remind us we were still in Scotland.  We set off shortly before 8, this time heading further east, towards Gulvain.  I managed to find a good quick line up the first hill, and then proceeded to throw away any advantage this might have given us by looking for the control in the wrong place and wasting 10 minutes finding it.  After that though, everything went quite smoothly, and better still, the sun came out and the midges went to bed.

After control 3, everyone else went up and over the NE ridge of Gulvain.  This would have involved an extra 250m ascent, so we decided to traverse round the ridge instead – quite risky as there were crags marked, which could have involved lots of faffing to avoid.  As it turned out, a series of terraces meant we made quite fast progress, and we arrived at the next control at about the same time as a couple of faster teams who'd taken the short-but-steep route.  Result!

From there onwards it was fairly straightforward, with a bit of traversing, a bit of ascending, and a lot of descent, before lashings of stew and cake at Wilf's rounded off the weekend nicely.  34th on the day, and 39th overall, about the same as usual – even though we're not improving, at least we're not getting much worse!

Having had a week to recover (and forget the worst bits), I'm now at the stage when I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It gave us a chance to re-visit some places we've been before, but also to see areas that most people never go – not only were most of the hills not Munros, some of them weren't even Corbetts!

You can find our photos here, and more details of the event here – where you can sign up on their mailing list to be informed when entries open for next years event.  Go on, you know you want to…


Dodging the rain at Almscliff

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Monday 2nd june. After several days dodgy weather, Will put out an email suggesting a monday dash over to almscliff before the next forecast band of rain.  This sounded like a fine idea, so ignoring the ominously lowering cloudbase we both set off.

Wills first target was Square Chimney/Whisky Crack(VS), as his previous stab at this was thwarted due to an accident on the Matterhorn Boulder just behind him. We did the route as alt leads – surely a first for a route under 15 metres long – Will knocking off Square Chimney ,  while I thrutched up Whiskey Crack on Swear Power.

After that I showed Will my favourite route on the crag – Zig Zag Direct,  which has a satisfyingly dynamic but non-strenuous overhang move – easy once you know the sequence!

Finally, both knackered but well pleased, we finished up on Cup and Saucer.  Will bridged the gap between the weirdly contorted wall and capping boulder  stylishly but I decided my stumpy little legs wouldnt do that so wiggled up the inside of the crack iguana stylee.  As we drove off the heavens finally opened and the rain lashed down – perfect timing.

Peak Scar

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

A good turn out at Peak Scar last night saw ascents of several routes in varying styles. 

Carmen leading SolitudePeter E made short work of Odds On Variant (HS 4b), a route he'd long had his eye on, though managed to make the crux out of the part shared with the VDiff next door – he's not the first one to do this and won't be the last!

Will finally ticked off Wings (Severe), which had also been on his tick list for some time – steady for the grade but with some nicely exposed climbing and plenty of scope (duly realised) for horrendous rope drag.

At the other end of the spectrum, Peri made a complete fist of Birdland Direct (MVS 4b), slumping onto gear at the crux due to faffing around trying to place too much protection.

But that was nothing compared with my performance on Womble (VS 4b).  This was my second attempt (last time, a few years back, I down-climbed and traversed onto the horrible Diff next door).  This time, I led smoothly to the crux overhang, placed some gear, started to move through, moved the gear, climbed back down, climbed back up, moved the gear again, repeat ad infinitum, rested on gear, ran out of energy, lowered off, and sent Carmen up to throw me down a top rope.  Hmph.  A nice route though, should get a star, and probably VS 4c.

Other more successful ascents included Solitude (S), Walkin (S), Downbeat (VD), and the underrated Evasion (S).

Next week – Ilkley (unless it rains).

Training Weekend in the Peak

Monday, June 9th, 2008

So there I was, up early, driving down to Hathersage Saturday morning to help out on a climbing course to get some log book time in.  Would I recongnise anyone….  Would I remember all the stuff from the training course…..

I met Abbi ( course leader ) in the car park behind Outside at 9:15 ( It was amazing to see the number of "instructors" milling about and organising things at that time of the morning,  must have been about 15-20 instructors ).  We had a quick chat about what we should do with the clients during Saturday and Sunday.  We got everyone together and set off in 2 cars up to Burbage North.

The weather looked like it may have started to rain but we only had a few sprinkles all day.  We ended up setting up 9 top/bottom ropes for the group throughout the day. They needed to stop by 3:30 as they were all feeling tired.  Hooray we had worn them out…phew.

The plan for Sunday was to meet at the car par just past the Strines Inn and walk in to Dovestone Tor.  It is a 45-55 minute walk in all uphill. It was a good choice as the place was deserted and we got some top/bottom roping done then after lunch we introduced them to lead belaying and seconding routes/removing gear.  Some of the group had to leave by 4 o'clock to head back to London.  It was a beautiful Sunday in the Peak and the Tor got a lot busier after lunch but, I guess, nowhere near as busy as Stanage or other popular Peak destinations.

Hard work, physically and mentally tiring but it was good to see peoples reaction when they got the "idea" or did something they thought they couldnt do.