Archive for August, 2008

Ingleby inclined

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Peter on Chock Crack (VS 4c)The Bank Holiday Monday random weather guess said "best weather in the north" so we headed for the North York Moors, completing a hat trick of three separate areas and rock types over the three day weekend. Peter had suggested Ingleby Incline, a sandstone crag which Simon and Carmen had visited once and gave us advance warning that some of the routes were seriously undergraded. We also had advance warning that the crag catches the wind and can get very cold. Both warnings turned out, unlike the gradings, to be totally accurate. Past access problems mean the crag hasn't had a lot of traffic before, so the usual whinging and griping about unrealistic grades has not taken place – something we did our best to make up for over the course of the day. The gold medal for sandbagging went to "Wall and Groove" a supposed VS4c which we agreed (after top-roping the thing since it was totally unprotected) was probably around E1, but a silver was awarded to its buddy, Crack and Groove, a humorously graded 'severe' which Will had to call for a rescue rope on. Simon has done this route on his previous visit (when he regraded it MVS 4b) and said he used a nut key to dig out a crucial finger crack, however it was now filled to the brim with mud again and Will had neglected to include a shovel in his rack.

Simon getting stuck into Cosy CornerAs usual, Simon and Carmen were the most hyperactive, whizzing through 8 routes including the excitingly thinly protected and delicate Rack and Pinion Variation (VS4c), Humble Beginnings (allegedly HVD, we thought Severe), Easter (M), Twister (VS masquerading as Severe), Back Lash (Diff), Helix Slab (HD) and the already mentioned Wall and Groove. However Simon's finest contribution to the day was a minor epic on the crag classic, the 3 star V Diff Cosy Corner. Not only was his shin-bone connected to his knee-bone and the knee-bone connected to the thigh-bone, the knee-bone was also securely connected to the off-width crack and took ten minutes to release even with the aid of a lowered rope from above and a sling to stand in. Strangely he did not seem interested in Cefyn's helpful offers to lend him a knife for emergency amputation.

Will wedged in Greenhow ChimneyMeanwhile Peter and Will managed six – Humble Beginnings, Easter, Cosy Corner, Chock Crack (VS 4c), Wall and Groove plus Greenhow Chimney, a 2 star Diff chimney.  Both Peter and Will claim this was "actually a great little route, very traditional". Pete added that despite the lack of gear it was utterly safe as it was so narrow "all you had to do was breathe in to be securely wedged" (probably something to do with the pie suppers and curries we ate the previous two evenings).  However none of the rest of us could really comment as we gave it a wide berth on account of the large amounts of luminous green slime coating the bottom, like an accident in a Swarfega factory.

Peri on Humble BeginningsMe and Cef also managed five/six routes in all, including Humble Beginnings, Chock Crack, Rack and Pinion Variation, and Cosy Corner (being careful not to put any fragile body parts near the knee-eating crack ) . Finally, we ran out of steam after catching up with the others at Wall and Groove/Crack and Groove. I then had a Moderate sleep curled up for ten minutes in the bilberries before waking up just long enough to join the queue to top rope Crack and Groove (no-one else was tempted to try leading it) and then Wall and Groove.

Final thoughts on the crag? Some interesting routes, Chock Chimney, Rack and Pinion and Cosy Corner being among the best, but you had to be very careful about the gradings – there were some serious sandbags. Some of the unstarred routes were pretty scrappy and uninspiring – one described as "tree choked" would not have been possible to climb at all as the tree growth filled the entire route.  The crag would be improved by a bit more traffic to get the gradings sorted out, clean some of the routes up a bit and make a few paths between the buttresses. On the other hand there were certainly no problems with polish! Oh, and a ski-lift thingy to carry your gear on the 40 minute uphill walk in would be nice, too.

Some more photos of the day can be found here.

Dries quickly after rain

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Dave leading Central Tower (VD)…and is less green than the other crags hereabouts.

So says Western Grit about Dovestones Edge in the Chew Valley, west of Holmfirth.  And thus an intrepid band of 4 (David, Peri, Carmen, and me) set off, after a night of torrential rain, in search of the forecast dry weather near Manchester.  Yes, that's right, dry weather near Manchester.

The rain started just as we arrived at the car park, but after sitting in the car for 10 minutes it died down so we started the stroll up to the crag.  A relaxing 30 minute yomp straight uphill (or so it seemed) led to the crag, where we headed for our intended first route of the day – Answer Crack, the best VDiff in the Peak.  It took a bit of searching, but eventually we found it, hidden under a thick layer of dripping green slime.

Moving swiftly on, we opted instead for a drier-looking area to the left, where I chose Swan Crack (HVD) while David went for Central Tower (VD).  Both looked straightforward from the ground, but turned out to involve tenuous smearing and jamming up slippery wet lichen, followed by a descent down a small stream that was nearly as traumatic.

Carmen in the sun on Ylnosd Rib (VD)Sensing that the better part of valour was in fact cowardice, we decided to run away in search of drier things – specifically, Rob's Rocks, a couple of miles away across the moors, which had the advantage of being south facing and hence, hopefully, cleaner.  After a couple of false turns we found the crag and scrambled to the bottom – I went down the normal descent, while the others found a variety of green dirty alternatives, with Peri winning the gold medal for filthiest pair of trousers.

Once again, the rain arrived shortly after we did, but this time it was light and short-lived, and there was no further excuse not to climb (other than the usual general incompetence of course).  Rob's Rocks is the beginners' crag par excellence– hardly anything above VS, with the majority of the 15 or so routes in the Diff-VDiff range.

Peri shortly before wimping outHighlights of the rest of the day included Dave taking a fall from Nameless One (VS 4b), but struggling manfully on for a while before wimping out pathetically and making way for Peri to wimp out as well.  I still remembered the route from my previous visit when I led it, and so bravely didn't even bother trying – once bitten and all that.  Carmen hid round the corner.

Peri had an extended faff on Snow Crack (Severe) – only 6 metres, but a bit of a fight, and with a choice of bold laybacking or safer arm-barring.  Later on I led the same route, with just as much of a fight, and an even longer faff.  The art of the sandbag is not dead!  Meanwhile, Carmen led all sorts of things, the best probably being Ylnosd Rib (VDiff), perhaps wisely choosing the cop-out right hand start instead of the normal squirm up a stupidly narrow chimney.

They don't teach you that at the climbing wall...Most amusing route of the day though was Cave Crack (HS 4c), which climbs out of the back of the eponymous cave, and involved various gymnastics to get started, with weird back-and-head moves to gain the upper crack.  Great fun, but for some reason Carmen declined to follow…

We eventually left the crag at about 8, a surprisingly long day given that we almost gave in and drove home after a single slimy route.  Occasionally blind optimism gives results!

More photos can be found here.

Grit Escape…….from the rain          Brimham

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

bud ekins escapeWell a few of us were fairly cheesed off and fed up with the British Summer.  It looked like Friday was going to be our best chance of escape to get some climbing, we may even get some decent weather.  So the Internet was alive with Emails and instant messages,  what else is the works internet connection and Email used for ?

So there I was waiting at traffic lights on the Hull Road on my way to meet Rob and Peri.  I was a bit slow of the mark, as a very professional looking lady crossed the road in front of me, it took me a few moments to realise it was Peri. She does look a lot different in her "cragging clothes".

After picking up Rob we arrived at Peri's to find her ready and raring to go ( must be some sort of "Super Hero" to change that quickly ).

Plan A

Do you have the NT membership card ?  Yes it is in my purse ( we are cheap skates and didn't want to pay for parking ). So racing away from York, to try and miss the traffic, Rob had me go up the outside and do the 360 degree trick on the roundabouts. Somewhere along the A59 Peri realised the NT card was actually in the boot of her car, so that led to …….

Plan B

So about 700 metres past the entrance to Brimham rocks there is a small parking area on the right where you can get 3-4 cars.  We dragged the bags out of the trunk, sorry boot, and started walking across the moor into Brimahm rocks. It did not look good, it was very wet and slippery on the path, looked more like bog trotting.

As we hit the main tourist path we were right in front of Castle rock.  Rob said "what's that?"  Jabberwok HS, MVS, VS 4b  ** was the reply,  "hmm never done that".

Rob looking for the good gear after 20 feet

Rob leading Jabberwok or is that Jibberwok !!!

So Rob started up Jabberwok, he decided to lead it the "original way",  start 2 metres left of the obvious crack and head straight up the wall. There is very little solid gear until you get up to the overhang and the holds are not all the friendly.  I am pretty sure that he was a lot more relaxed and comfortable when he got to the following position.

Taking it easy

Rob relaxing in the chimney

Whilst Rob was leading up this route Dave arrived ( unclub ) and he headed off to find Peri over at Duggie's Dilema area. Simon and Carmen also came past, took some photos and then Simon announced that Carmen was going to lead Lancet Crack VS 5A **

So Rob set up a belay on top and I started to follow, I didn't remember the climb being this hard ( I had led it many years ago ). He had a good laugh at the "moves" I had to make removing the gear and thrutching up through the chimney. It was a very interesting belay setup on top. The way down was to scramble off the back of the rock

We packed up an headed over to where Simon and Carmen were climbing. Carmen was having a taxing time on Lancet Crack and she decided to "hang around"

Carmen rests on Lancet Crack VS 5A

Carmen taking a breather on Lancet Crack

So after some advice and barracking, Rob and I had a look in the guide book and moved over to the Cyclops area. We soloed Centre Point Diff, Slab Arete VDiff, I led Cyclops S 4A*. Rob led up Acme Error HVS 5A*, Gordon's Proffer HVS 5A.

We heard some thrashing through the undergrowth and out popped Simon and Carmen. They soloed some of the routes we had and Carmen got her revenge giving me some grief whilst I attempted to get up Gordon's Proffer. If you follow the picture links at the end then you can see my attempts at getting up Gordon's Proffer. The midges soon decided to come out with a vengeance as the light was falling ( the midges were particularly vicious as they has not been fed in the past 36 hours with all the rain around ), S & C were just starting up their last climb for the night. Rob and I decided to call it a night and head off to the New Inn pub. We had a bit of wander to find a path out of the Brimham undergrowth and then a quick route march back to the car.

Team Peri & Dave

Peri led up Duggie's Dilema VS 4c * a bold lead, where the only place to get any gear is 3 feet before the top, a cool head is needed. They then went over to the Druid's Idol area where Dave led up Indian's Arete S 4b a thin hanging arete. The belay on the top is a bit thin and the descent needs some thinking about, here are Peri thoughts on it "The belay at the top is a bit of a bugger though, and you can either abseil off and leave gear, double abseil (always a bit scary) or alternatively, lead from one side, lower down the other and belay the second from there, then lower them off again". She has also told me to say that this route is really worth doing and should see more traffic, I am under the penalty of a severe beating or 2-5 metres of penalty slack if I don't give it a Big Up.

Rob and I arrived just behind Simon and Carmen at the New Inn, as we walked in we found that Dave and Peri had left a bit early to head for the Pub and food. The beer was good And they said the food was great, another place to add to the list of Pubs to visit.

More photos …

Another evening at Almscliff?

Friday, August 15th, 2008

well no, we thought it'd still be raining (Peri who did go said it was, didn't stop her doing a bit of bloddering and cow pat stomping) so Cef, Pete Crosby and I went to Leeds wall. Haven't been since about March so virtually all the routes are new. We had a good workout in a cool, half empty, queue-less wall with upgraded changing rooms.

Another evening at the wall?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

moody looking wall !It was raining outside, with regular thunderstorms alternating with short slightly drier spells. Nobody in their right mind would risk going somewhere like Almscliff, would they, so off to the wall we all went.

Peri and special guest star David Epstein began with the bright green route in the corner. One of the oldest routes there (surely overdue for resetting?), despite some rather dirty holds (much to Peri's delight) they both made it to the top.

Will and Rob started on the featured wall, with a wildly unbalanced route up a big 'nose', followed by much easier climbing above. Will tested the first bolt on this a few times before handing over the lead to Rob. A bit of a silly route, you'd never get anything like this on a real crag, perhaps the route setter was new.

Meanwhile, Carmen and I did a nice little line on the right hand wall, up the sand-coloured holds. It felt a bit bold at half height, could have done with an extra bolt, and near the top they must have run out of the right colour holds as it all turned a deep shade green, but good fun nevertheless.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time for anything else, as the wall closed early for cleaning. There must have been signs at the door warning of this, but none of us spotted them, and we were still inside when the hoses were turned on. We were absolutely soaked, especially Will and Rob who were still climbing at the time.

So we retired to the pub for fishcakes, chips, and beer.

Things we did on a Blustery day…….

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Climbers on High NebAfter a load of Emails were sent whizzing around the internet the High Neb area of Stanage was finally decreed. So I set off with Kate, Debbie and Liz and from the other side of York Rob, Peri, Carmen and Simon were also getting mobile.

Driving down in the car I informed the Ladies that their first job of the day would be to guide us all to the Crow Chin area (I had provided four different guides that covered Stanage). After some debate… "where are we going ?…. is it in this book?……where are we parking?…… I can't read in the car…..", Debbie, Kate and Liz were fairly confident that they could find the place.

The weather did look a bit grey and cloudy as we drove across the Strines moor and up past Bamford edge. NB taking the short cut up past Bamford edge was a good idea as a local cycling club were on a training ride/race and the peleton was blocking traffic from overtaking.

On the walk in I texted Peri to find they were in Outside, Rob was trying to change the rope he had ordered from them (he didn't like the colour, you know that shade of pastel is so last year….). Following my "guides" we walked in on the bottom path and the top path, over shot slightly but we got there in the end.

The weather looked like it could drown us any minute so I decided to start on something nice and easy Kelly's Crack VDiff ** and just as I started up some small drops of rain started falling. As the crack was fairly sheltered it was very dry. Half way up the route Peri and Rob arrived grumbling about the walk in and the weather, they hid in the cave and had a coffee and waited for the rain to end. It didn't last long and it was the only small shower of the day. So now with three leaders available a major assault was launched on the cliff, of course we had to work around the other two small teams of climbers who were there but everyone was very friendly, even when Rob was dropping abseil ropes on people.

The weather did play pretty nicely, we had moments of bright sunshine and no wind but most of the time it was cloudy and very windy. People topping out on climbs were almost lifted over the edge.

Debbie on her first out door lead, Peri climbing the HS

Debbie on her first "trad" lead, Peri on October Slab HS **

We gently cajoled Liz, then Kate and Debbie into leading their first "outdoor trad" route on pre-placed gear that the more experienced members of the group had placed. We also oversaw them setting up solid belays at the end of the route so they could safely bring up the second

Of course Rob had a plan that he had not mentioned to the rest of us, he was up for soloing or leading everything under E4 at the crag (HVS 5B then a massive jump to a single E4). Have a look at Rob's climbs for the full list.

meanwhile elsewhere on Stanage the other YAC team were playing …

Declaring "bah humbug" to Crow chin both had their hit list of climbs for the day.

Carmen attacked Cosmic Crack (VS 4c **), X-Ray (HS 4b *), Cave Buttress (S 4b **), most of the things on her list. She also led Heather Crack (HVD *) and Overhanging Chimney (S **). Simon didn't get to anything on his hit list as they couldn't be bothered walking that far! He led Electron (VS 5a *), Typhoon (VS 4c **), Inaccessible Crack (VS 4c ***) and Straight Crack (HS 4b *).

Memorable incidents include Carmen almost blown over as she topped out on Cosmic Crack. Simon spending over an hour repeatedly climbing up to, down climbing from the crux of Electron, before eventually climbing to the ground, taping up his bleeding hands, eating some lunch, and then leading straight to the top! Carmen could possibly have exchanged some good Anglo Saxon expletives with Peri when she found out that she could not reach the crucial holds on the crux of Typhoon.

We had a great time at Crow chin, the ladies and I left at about 6:15. This allowed Rob and Peri to go and find Simon and Carmen for their lift home. Finding them at High Neb area Peri made short work of the classic High Neb Buttress VS 4c *** with just a little wibble, before heading home at 8.15

More photos …

Almscliff Round two

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Peri dispatches The Traditional ClimbAfter thursday's  debacle I think we were all a bit wary of another cragward dash in defiance of the weather forecast. But as the afternoon went on  with no sign of cloud a last minute decision got more and more tempting. Simon and Carmen headed off to Scugdale, while my pals Dave and Roman summoned me to Almscliff. A quick email round the club also scooped up Rob so off we headed. Managed to arrive still in good weather – surely this was too good to be true. We consulted on goals and decided that Rob would tick Pigotts Stride (VS 4c) then I would have another bash at The Traditional Climb (VS 4c).  Rob got up the stride in fine style, no problems at all, although he did whinge a bit about having to jam up Whiskey Crack to finish.  

Then I headed off for my Traditional Humiliation at the hands of Traditional Climb .  Must have been a good day because it all went smoothly and I finally got to tick it.  So far so good, and  its Robs turn to lead the last route of the day. "Your choice, Rob". What does he pick? Pothole direct VS 5a. Oh deep joy.  Up he shimmies, and I prepare to follow, but can I do it this time? Can I hell. half a dozen  tries, twenty minutes, and a set of bleeding knuckles later I concede "OK, you'll have to haul" and  ascend with all the dignity of a sack of potatoes hanging on the rope.  As we prepared to go (me muttering darkly about the swollen lumps on my wrists) Dave and Roman finally appeared to finish off their bouldering session so we hung around in the deepening twilight (by 9.30pm! oh no!) to heckle before dragging them off for a pint.

You win some…

Friday, August 8th, 2008

A shower passes by across the valley, obscuring Caley from view.

Frankland's Green Crack. A route with history, steep, intimidating, green.

Layaway, smear, jam. Gear under the roof, step delicately right to a poor rest. Another shower, closer than before.

Layaway, smear, jam. A cam in the wide crack, tricky step up, look for the next jam, too wide, off, back to the poor rest.

The rain starts.

Step up, layaway, hidden hold!, keep going, jam to a good rest. More gear.

Overhanging, exposed, wet. Water runs off the small, useless, bridging holds. Deep breath, contortions, foot jam, made it.

Horizontal rain. Carmen climbs regardless, dry beneath the overhangs.

Time to go home.

Rain Rain Rain Rain …

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

… meant a YAC night at a quiet York wall. Will, Peri, Cef, Carmen, myself, Sally, Debbie (and pal Liz ) plus a few non Yacers playing on some of the new routes put up today and some old favs and the realisation that climbing outside is no preparation for the wall 🙂 A fun evening. Route setting continues Tuesday mornings and the last Sat evening in Aug.

Ancient anglo-saxon for climbers

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Trapeze direct, place lots of gear at the cruxAfter a successful day at Stanage me and Cef headed for Froggatt (Alan having deserted us for his beloved limestone).  We got there quite late due to a need to spend money at Outside …mmm, shiny new double ropes….[Cef Comment Peri even had some money left over to splash out on some fresh croissants and butter as she was passing the Outside cafe, recommended place to go for tea and cakes]

Our blind optimism in the weather was justified – the day got better and better as it went on and we had sunshine for most of the day. Cef started off strongly on North Climb (HVD) [Cef Comment how many #5 cams can you put in a climb?] and Sunset Crack (HS 4c), I started the day climbing like a wazzock, wallowing around at the start of  Sunset Crack while Cef struggled to keep a straight face.

searching for the \When my turn to lead came I decided to start on the easier stuff, Allen's Slab sounded like a good bet. However when we arrived a uni group was on the route – or should I say gathered round it for a social meeting while someone sat up top minding the belay. OK – plenty of other good routes, that one over to the right looked enticing – one hard move on it. Trapeze Direct, HS 4c.

Now maybe the fact that most of it looked like a ladder but it still got 4C , and also that the guide said "place lots of runners at the crux" should have been a hint – but it wasn't one I noticed.  Up I pottered to the bulging crux, placed a couple of runners, teetered up to the chock and reached over for the jug – which wasn't a jug, oh dear. come down. Try another method. come down.  Eventually I decided to discard guile and technique in favour of brute force and ignorance, which worked pretty well and up I went.  Was pleased to see the next leader perform a similar little shimmy. [Cef Comment in the old guides it was graded VS 4c, it is a stiff pullover the bulge and I did get a little bit of help from the rope…..]

Next route was Cef's – Allen's Slab Severe 4A, a very cool lead on the exposed traverse, the last steep  move on smears was quite Out There for severe I thought. [Cef Comment it has some really nice moves and generally good gear but you do need to keep a cool head]

Lovely knots in those new ropesBrand new ropes on their fourth climbNow where are the holds ?

My lead again – Slab Recess Direct, another HS 4c. The guide said the lower hold were 'unhelpul and slippery', but the finger jams were out of this world, and the gear was so good I was giving little coos of delight. Very nice route.  Cef then took another trip on the Trapeze (VD) just to complete the set.

Well, my early jitters seemed to have settled so I looked for a VS to finish off. Against Cef's advice I decided on a route called something like Hawk Crack – supposedly awkward, but a three star route. So off we headed, passing Tody's Wall HVS 5A. Or almost passing….I couldn't help loitering, it really didn't look so bad, and I'd seconded it before. The devil on my shoulder whispered 'do know you want to'. So we decided to give it a crack.  Up to the block went fine, then the wibbles set in. That 'positive' layback suddenly looked horribly rounded, and the lip very high.
Realised the size cam i needed to protect the crux had already been used lower down, I sent  the traditional loop for Cef to supply another. Put two cams in. decided my cams were now blocking a vital handhold. moved the cams. Sat back on the block for a rest (I got to like that block). Took another peek,  faffed some more,  parked my ass on the block again then smeared and hauled like a basta'rd and went for the heelhook. And after much grunting and heaving I was over, and if I could have grinned any wider the top of my head would have fallen off. Peri got a bit giddy with delight after making the move and did a little danceCef was most impressed by my grasp of ancient anglo-saxon, which I shouted to the four winds. [Cef Comment It was not the ancient english/celtic blaspheming I was worried about, it was the little jig of joy that Peri was dancing up on the ledge. I thought she might trip over the edge and test the gear!!!! ] Okay, I've seconded the route before so it was far from being an onsight,  but it was still my first  HVS lead ever.

All the gear and beautiful ropes on Tody\'s wall

Final gear and the beautiful new ropes on Tody's wall HVS 5A

[ Cef comment Of course after Peri had led it I had to follow it !!! well I eventually worked out a way to get onto the block/pedestal. This involved some thin smearing, a toe scum under the crack at the back of the top of the pedestal and a LOOOOOONG reach for the upper break. I fell off once doing this and it hurt my foot. Anyway by the time I was standing on the pedestal I was cream crackered. So I removed the gear and Peri lowered me back to the ground. I walked around to the right and traversed into the upper slab to recover all the gear. Very nice finish and lovely jamming crack. So I can now say that I have climbed 7/8ths of the route. Peri says she is willing to let people know the beta on the size and number of pieces required for the route on payment of a large quantity of beer tokens.]


Job done, we headed home as the first drops of rain finally started.