Archive for July, 2008

Hambleton Herbert

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

A group of miscreants calling themselves The Flying Herberts go for a mountain bike every Saturday. The Flying Herberts is made up of members of York Alpine Club, Hashers, ex Hashers and various others of no fixed abode. Ride venues are usually decided a week in advance and advertised by email. However by last Thursday nothing had been sent out about a ride for the following Saturday so I thought I would post something out about a ride from Sutton Bank.

In response to the post came a wide variety of excuses ranging from Pagan Weddings and road riding to bad backs. Nobody apart from myself was at Sutton Bank at the appointed time, 9.30am so I decided to drive a bit further north and go exploring. I parked at the top of Sneck Yate Bank above Boltby. Starting from here the ride took me on a mixture of forest rides through Boltby Forest and quality single track before emerging from the shade of the trees into the scorching sun and the Cleveland Way overlooking the Vale of York. From here I cycled over Black Hambleton to Chequers Farm above Osmotherly and catastrophe the café was closed, I had got there earlier than expected because being on my own there was nobody to taking up time sharing lewd anecdotes with or discussing the iniquities of the civil service, what usually happens on a Herberts ride

Having composed myself I set of back retracing my tyre tracks over Black Hambleton and along the Cleveland Way until I got to Arden Great Moor, here I turned East on single track which descends steeply down into Thorodale, including a section too precipitous to ride. Once down in the deep valley I rode through woods to Arden Hall and from then on to Hawnby and a tea stop at the village shop and cafe.

The shop/café needs supporting having recently lost its post office, asking for a pot of tea I got enough for 5 cups with my bacon sandwich. Starting again I retraced my steps as far as the Church, from here I turned left to circle Coomb Hill. Cycling and route finding here were both difficult, the terrain was soft and the signage unclear. This is shooting country and there were pheasants everywhere. Back at Arden Hall an unmade road climbs steeply on up to the Cleveland Way. Before the moor top I turned south to bike across superb grassy tracks to High Paradise Farm and the Hambleton Drove Road. From here it was a 1km downhill blast to Sneck Yate Bank where I had parked the car 4 ½ hours earlier.

Peter E

All quiet on the Stanage Front

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Wierder and wierder. It was a perfect sunday morning on the first really hot weekend of the year, Cefyn, Debbie, her friend Katie and me were at Stanage Popular end, but where was everyone else? Discounting theories about mass zombie attacks wiping out most of the nation while we drove down (well, you have to consider all the possibilities) we decided that most of the locals had decided it was far too hot for gritstone. So instead of the queuefest we had anticipated, we had our pick of routes – except for Black Hawk Hell Crack, which was already occupied by Andy and James – the sick puppies had got up before 7am on a sunday in order to be early on the crag. I desperately wanted to do BHHC, partly because it is a two star route, but mostly because it has a really cool name and sounds like you've done something dead hard even though its only Severe. So, like an obsessive ticker, I queued to finally lead the thing.

Shortly afterwards Jon from the york wall arrived, giving us the opportunity to split up into smaller teams. I teamed up with Jon, who led Z Crack (VS 4c), a one move wonder with a puzzlingly awkward start – totally intimidating till you find the good hidden holds – and also Leaning Buttress Direct – HVS 5b, with one of the main puzzlers being how the hell you ever get off the ground, followed by a difficult move off a ledge and then an almost completely unprotected top half. Rather him than me… I stuck to easier stuff – Gargoyle Flake, VS 4b, a nice route with an enjoyable hand traverse.

Meanwhile James and Andy were busy knocking off the ticks – Crack and Corner, HVD 4b, Sociology (S), Castle Crack and Christmas Crack, both HS, and Right Hand Trinity (severe). Cefyn Debbie and Katie did Flying Buttress(HVD) among others. I dont know which others as Cefyn doesnt do a UKC log for me to sneak a peak at.

Well, our original plan had been to stay till late if the weather held, but some folk are never satisfied, it was just too hot and sticky. Never mind complicated arguments about sticky rubber and friction, our hands were slick with sweat, the rock felt greasy and our energy levels were falling faster than a dropped cam. Andy and Jon were first to decamp, Jon muttering something about needing to drive up to the lakes to meet Rob, Andy on tea cooking duty. The rest of us announced intentions to do one more route each, these mutated into "follow James up Holly Bush Crack" – a bit of a demon slaying exercise for James as last time he was at Stanage he witnessed a bad accident on this route. As we reconvened at the top a consensus emerged – it was beer o'clock. We headed back into the outskirts of Sheffield and the 'Hammer and Pincers' and sank ice cold beers before heading home

Basted, Broiled & Roasted……..

Monday, July 28th, 2008

WainstonesSo early Saturday morning I was just heading into the shower and I get a call from Debbie "so what is the plan for today".  I didn't know I was waiting for a phone call from Rob…….

So I was talked out of my shower ( have one when you get back…. ). We all met at Rob's at 10 o'clock, jumped in my car and headed off to the North York Moors.  We hadn't yet decided where to go but it was a wonderful drive, beautiful scenery, great weather and little traffic until we got to Helmsley ( but we skirted around the back streets ). As Debbie had not climbed in the NY Moors before we decided to go to Wainstones, lots of nice shorter routes and great views across the moors.

We parked at Clay bank and walked along the lower Cleveland way bridle path past Raven's Scar to Wainstones.  There was the final short sharp walk up to the crag and we had the place to ourselves.

I started off leading the classic Sphinx traverse, it was very hot and sweaty, move hand or foot wipe the sweat away, move hand or foot wipe the sweat away, move hand or foot wipe the sweat away,………., repeat until end of climb.  Rob came up second and decide to hang out at the end of the traverse ( I did tie him off safely ) so he could take pictures of Debbie as she came across the traverse.

Now where is my belayer ?

Rob then led the Bulge direct VS 4b/4c, thin gear and one hard move to get onto the upper slab.  I then led wall and ledge 2* Vdiff, which I packed with gear so that Debbie could get more practise seconding trad routes.  Rob had left his rigging rope at the top of the slab ( for me to rig a bottom rope, his excuse was that I needed the practise for my assessment ) o we could try the protection less Central route and Slab climb.

Rob then pointed me at Christopher VS 4b/HS 4b, something that he had looked at but backed off from soloing. Well I started up the gully placed some gear, moved across placed some gear, came back for a think/rest, moved across placed some gear, came back for a think/rest, moved across placed some gear, came back for a think/rest,….. this must have happened 5 or 6 times before I went for the balancy delicate move. I definitely felt much better standing on the upper slab with another solid wire in.  It was only when I got back to the ground that I found out it had a rockfax fluttery heart symbol.

Rob then had a look at leading Concave Wall HVS 5b, he got up to the break and placed some gear but the move was very precarious and delicate and he eventually backed off this and finished up Ridge Route right hand HVS 5a.

We then packed up and started walking back along the upper walker path,  we had only seen three other scramblers/soloists all day.

We speedily headed back to York as Rob had a dinner date with Julie & her friends in Leeds. Debbie and I needed to get to the York wall for some route setting.

I finally arrived back home and had my shower at 10:40 pm, the end of a brilliant day, now set the alarm to get up at 7:30am for Stanage……..

Like the number 11 bus…

Monday, July 28th, 2008

…we've spent all summer waiting for a day of hot sunny weather, then three come along at once.

Carmen on Chevin ButtressFriday evening.  After a last minute decision to throw the climbing kit in the car, and a quick escape from work, we headed for The Chevin, near Otley.  A quick warm up on Central Route (Severe) turned out not to be so quick, as it was hard and intimidating, and the belay at the top was gradually being colonised by flying ants.  But not to be put off, I continued with the route that was the main reason for being there, one which I've wanted to lead ever since I first read about it some 15 year ago – Chevin Buttress (VS).  And it actually went rather well, less steep and with better holds than first appeared, and I was soon belaying in the middle of what had become a dense swarm of ants.  Nice.  A quick wander round the Quarry confirmed that there was nothing there that we wanted to climb, so we went home.

Saturday.  Carmen has been planning for ages on leading either Frenesi or Dat Der, the two classic VSs at Peak Scar.  So as the day was going to be a hot one, we took the opportunity to find some shade and get a tick for Carmen at the same time.  A bit of dithering (surely not) about which route to do, and Carmen set off up Frenesi.  Carmen leading Dat DerAnd apart from a brief hesitation at the crux at the top, it all went quite smoothly.  VS, and high in the grade according to the guidebook.  After some more dithering, I decided to go for Shades of Grey, another starred VS nearby.  After 2 attempts to work out where the route was supposed to go (the book being singularly unhelpful), I gave in and retreated onto Gone (HS) instead.  The wedged blocks at the crux seem to be less securely wedged every time I climb the route, it's not going to take much for them to come out I think (so I managed to get past without pulling on them at all, just in case).  After a quick ascent of Jonas (HVD) at the far left of the crag (I've never done this before as there are owls nesting there between about March and early July every year), we headed towards Carmen's annual ascent of Jordu.  Which starts right next to Dat Der.  Which was the other VS on Carmen's tick list.  So that's what she did instead 🙂  The start was too much for me, though I've led it before, and after a few attempts I took the cheat's option by traversing in from the side.

Unknown climbers on Wedgewood CrackSunday.  Yet more sun, so it was time for a visit to The Ravenstones, a north-facing crag in the Chew Valley.  It's a half hour walk in, almost all downhill apart from the last 50m of steep up.  A neglected crag, due to both its aspect and relatively long approach, it is home to well over 100 routes, mostly at amenable grades, though with a handful of test pieces in the high E grades.  Despite the perfect weather, we only had to share the crag with 3 other pairs of climbers.  A feature of the crag seems to be that the rock is pretty featureless, so the crack climbs have mostly good gear, and the slabs and aretes are very run out.  We did a selection of each type, from the bold slab of Green Wall (HS), to the filthy-looking but actually fairly clean Nils Desperandum (S), via the classic Wedgewood Crack (VS) which incorporated a wild hand traverse, a bold arete, and a (thankfully easier than it looked) wide crack to finish.  An excellent day, nicely shaded from the baking sun (except at the top), and with a light easterly breeze (mostly) keeping the midges at bay.  All that remained was the walk out, which took rather longer than on the way in, with a pathless 200m climb over peat moorland, in the still-strong evening sun.

Mirroir Mirroir on the Wall

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Great slide show last week, the good bits were very good but the bad bits brought back nightmare's of my own alpine experiences sitting out lousy weather in grotty tents for days on end Ughh.

A local Via Ferratta

Several years ago a chance meeting with top guide Pat Littlejohn (Director of the International school of mountaineering in Leysin) changed my thinking on Alpine tactics forever. Over the years I have had little opportunity to put these ideas into practice until 2008.

The gist is to assume the weather is going to be NAFF, base yourself in a comfortable 5***** chalet with access to Interenet or TV weather forecasts with a big pile of guidebooks, you need good road communications so you can get to Chamonix, Grindlewald, Matterhorn, Geneva airport within say 2 hrs & you also need to have a train station & supermarket plus superb walking & climbing, on your doorstep.

As Pat say's that's why the ISM is where it is.

So this year we did it, well we did it twice, once skiing & once climbing.

In Feb we went skiing to 7 different resorts in 7 days including Zermatt & Cham in perfect weather conditions & in summer in generally poor conditions we managed to get out climbing every day.

Night view of Dent Blanche from chalet

The cost of both trips was food & getting there Plus a hire car for the ski trip, thanks to our lovely hostess Gill the 5***** chalet was virtually free, but we did have to do a few DIY jobs round the chalet-big thanks Gill.

Here is a report of one of the climbing days on the Mirroir d'Argentine Sunday 27th July 2008

The route on the Mirroir

Our hostess Gill had been a little vague about the best way to approach the resort first saying its quicker to take a back road then changing her mind and advising to take the main road.
lower pitches

Well mistake no 1 was taking the back road, we got lost.
We had set off from thew chalet around 06.00 am and by the time we had walked the hour long approach we started the rout at approx 09.00 hrs we should have been there much earlier.

So we started up the easy intro pitch's somehow finding adifficult but well bolted & polished variation, today we were 2 ropes of 2.
The second rope on the upper slab
The next mistake was definitely mine I took the wrong line 2 pitch's from the top & found myself on some very slippy & unprotected ground, we all had to reverse the best part of a pitch to extract ourselves.
By now the weather was changing and cloud rolled in adding a sense of urgency to it all. We topped out & I set off along the summit ridge to find the descent path, but I got talked out of this route & we descended to what looked like a good path but turned out to be a red Herring & dumped us in no mans land.

The mist was in & the situation was getting serious, it was getting late & darkness beckoned, I managed to find a route north across some very rough brocken ground & eventually found the decent path.
With big relief all round we followed the very awkward descent path back to Solalex-A long day and a brill effort by everyone.
Route details A big major rock route topping out at 2500 metres it has 13 pitches the hardest pitch being 5b free but this can be aided.

A shot from the Ski trip in Feb 2008

seconds out, round 2 …

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Cef cruising Pedestal Wal(S 4a) Caley
… back at Caley 9 days after getting lost and failing I was back on the ledge with Cef holding the ropes while Peri was gadding about with Dave and Roman in the ferns, 'nuff said. As a warm up Cef had made a fine, no fuss lead of Pedestal Wall (S 4a). This time armed with the right gear (until I dropped a quickdraw!) it all went ok and even felt quite easy, surprising what being fresh and knowing the moves does – Noonday Ridge (E1 5b – HVS with the extended nut runner).

We packed up and wandered back to the car, Cef going as far as to fall over and twist his ankle just to avoid carrying the rope. We found Peri and co bloddering about at the Adrenaline Rush area, but it was beer o'clock and they seemed more interested in the next tinny than the next problem. Some brief finger tip mashing attempts and we headed down hill, over the wall and home.

Rumble in the jungle …

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Scugdale was last night's venue so naturally I dragged Will off to Beacon Scar – a crag in the woods close by. The plan was to nip up to the crag, tick the 3 star HVS and wander up to Scugdale to finish the evening off in the sunshine. So far so good, geared up after a slightly boggy approach I was soon in the niche – no sign of the wobbly block. Great cams protect what should be a superb exercise in controlled jamming. After testing the lower cams (unintentionally) and demonstrating some very poor technique and quite excellent swearing, I eventually fought my way to the top – more than a tad warm and sweaty.

It really is a fight, I'd love to see a jamming master (no not Bob Marley) demonstrate it. More trips to Almscliff for me to get some practice in. Will made a valiant and impressive effort on the lower section before declaring a tendency to fatigue and taking a rest or two.

Suitably pumped we headed back along the Cleveland Way to the car and followed an appalling driver down to Swainby at 18 mph eventually arriving at the crag just before 9.  Simon, Carmen, Dave & Gordon were busy messing about with ropes. Will and I just set about the easier climbs solo.

A truly gorgeous sunset and warm evening with a light breeze was just the confidence builder I needed after receiving such a kicking at the hands of Gehenna (HVS 5a ***)

Do all sixteen dances……..

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

B52s Keith, Kate and Cindy
Do the Shu-ga-Loo , Do the Shy Tuna, Do the Camel Walk, Do the Hip-o-crit, Do the Coo-ca-Choo, Do the Aqua-Velva, Do the Dirty Dog, Do the Escalator and don't forget the hippy hippy forward hippy hippy hippy hippy hippy shake….

So it was time to put on some glad rags, ok for me it was a clean shirt and tidy jeans, and it was off to Manchester  with Peri to see the B52s the best dance and party band ever……  ( well I know a lot of people who think this is correct and I would agree with them ).

The audience was definitely more mature than some concerts I have been to recently but there was a number of younger fans who were certainly enjoying themselves.  The B52's played a great set, it was a mixture of songs from the new album and a number of old classics like Love Shack, Roam, Planet Claire and Rock Lobster. They were on stage for 85-90 minutes, a lot longer than some younger bands.

I even went to Birmingham the next night to see them again,  TIP Manchester Academy is a much nicer venue than Birmingham Academy for seeing bands, better parking and even air conditioning.

Leap of faith

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

wintours leap viewWye valley. Day 2. Wintour’s Leap…

All three parties arrive at the crag at different times and/or park in different places but end up  meeting at the foot of the same route – Zelda – a 3 pitch 3 star classic. Carmen has nearly finished the first pitch when we  arrive, so we decide to jump on the route too as there's no real queue. Dave & Peri arrive to join the queue slightly  later, which pretty much wards off any other interested parties. The route goes well, with me forgetting I was on a trad  route due to all the in situ pegs. We'd made the mistake of hauling a load of gear down the crag, so we'd brought half of  it up the route with us to dump back in the car. With this done, and a couple of pies eaten, we head back down for the last route of the day.
Simon's feet while leading pitch 2 of Zelda HS 4b ***

Arrive to find Dave & Peri are still on Zelda, having had a wobbler each on the first pitch (their words). After a stern  talking to herself, Peri had another go at getting round the initial nose and was well into the first pitch when we arrive.  After a hunt around the foot of the crag, we finally spot out route, Cheetah. Rob leads up the first pitch and after a bit  of a wander about to get some more crag swag, he arrives at the belay. I follow on up.

I hesitantly set off leading the second pitch. Initial faffing with the gear to avoid rope drag gets me onto the route  proper. I needn’t have worried about being a bit rusty with placing gear, because that was pretty much it as far a gear  went on that pitch! The pitch meanders around a bit, and with very little polish on the rock, route finding is not that  easy. After a few extra meanders of my own I get up to a tree and nice reassuring sling gets slung around it. Almost half  way. The promise of a peg leads onto the wall above, so I head on. After a few meters of climbing, there's no sight of this  peg, or any other gear for that matter, so it's not really that obvious where I'm heading.

For psychological reassurance, I put a friend sticking out of the only bit of a borehole that'd take it, knowing full well  that it won't hold a fall, and carry on climbing. After a few meters more, a mantel onto a ledge, with the rope trying its  best to stop me, leads to the elusive peg, and the first solid bit of gear in 10 meters. Phew! The rest of the pitch goes  in a similar vain the first half – nice climbing with no gear (I wish I hadn't used that micro wire earlier on). The route  goes past (through) a hawthorn bush on the left, and even though it'll add some more rope drag, I have that as my final bit  of gear. A couple of big pulls as the guide describes and I arrive at the belay somewhat relieved.

My guide had it as VS, but the new guide has it as HVS 5a, so I'll claim that as a new trad high point…

meanwhile … Pete and John E went climbing at Shorn Cliff and it was overcrowded , so they went for another MTB ride around Symonds Yat, where John did the decent thing and took the fall on behalf of Pete. Lithos

More Pictures ….

  • peri's :
  • rob's pix at :
  • simon c 's pix :

We'll call him Shorn…cliff

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

dave retreiving gear After arriving at the campsite late, and finally getting to the pub via a random walk in the dark, the weekend begins…

The YAC June meet to the Wye valley was based around the Beeches farm campsite, 1 mile drive down a footpath and sited  pretty much on top of Shorncliff. A basic campsite with nice views across the valley – one of those sites that you hope doesn't become more popular than it currently is. campsite inaction

After a night of heavy rain as the BBC had predicted, I woke to the usual campsite sounds of people preparing breakfast.  The sound of a stove being put together but this time accompanied by sounds of puzzlement, the occasions "hmm?", and  "erm?", a large amount of hissing and eventually a large 'wooff' followed by all manner of expletives as Peri tried to  remove her eyebrows. As this sounded quite close and not fully in control, I thought I'd better get up… quickly.

Once the fireball was put out, and I got dressed properly, it was pottering around as normal for a few hours as people  waited for the weather to settle. The bikers eventually headed off in the right direction. Simon & Carmen, shortly followed  by Dave & Peri, headed for Shorncliff, and Rob and I had another brew. Rob then realises all his kit is locked in Dave's  car, so we head off to the crag to get the keys. Following our nose, we get there to find the others mid-routes, get the  keys and head back. 2 brews, 2 pies and a few (rain) showers later, and we're off the crag for the 2nd time.

pete leading Accoustic VDiffAs a re-introduction to trad climbing after a long break, I headed up a nice severe, Gargoyle, to start the day off. It was  slightly off-putting having local scrotes hurling rocks down the crag just along from us, but luckily nothing came down the  route. Ab down and onto the next one – Rob's lead on the Wye valley classic (apparently), Tiger's Don't Cry, retrieving left gear and crag swag in the process. I follow on making a dogs dinner of the last move to top-out. By this time Rob's warmed up, and I'm tired out, but it's my lead. A V Diff, Acoustic, does the trick.

A quick wander along the crag to find other routesRob starting the excellent \'The Bone\' E1 5b reveals the source of the nasty wif we'd been getting all day – a dead  deer just below the footpath. The decision is made to head back to the same sector for Rob to bag some E1's. The first, The  Bone, is a really nice route (from a second's perspective),the second, Pooh Sticks, is ok (once again I cocked up the top  moves on the latter).

Throughout the day we'd been catching site of the others and by the sound of it, a good day was had be all. Dave and Peri  alternating leads on Acoustic, Inconclusive Victory (HS), Gargoyle and finishing off on Wolf Whistle (HS). There was talk  of finishing off Dirty Harry, but I guess that was already taken. Simon and Carmen had a good days bagging stared HVS &  VS's, finishing off by hoovering up a few routes in our sector and a swing on the rope we'd left on The Bone. A late finish  to head back and fry up all the food we had, followed by a quick jog downhill to the pub to meet the others.

Note to self – get some non-grey clothes so I don't blend into the rock.

More Pictures ….

  • peri's :
  • rob's pix at :
  • simon c 's pix :