Archive for June, 2009

Hawkswick hottie

Monday, June 29th, 2009

For once I was ready on time depriving Debra of her cup of tea and we made the long journey over to Hawkswick Crag in the dales just past Kilnsey. Simon and Carmen knew the way and we were soon at the minuscule parking spot, and heading up the hill.


With forecasts of thunderstorms possible we had a variety of clothes but werent prepared for the flies and midges that greeted us at the top of the 5 min walk up. Hawswick is one of the typical Yorkshire limestone small venues, never getting higher than 9 meters but stretching quite a way with cracked buttresses and shattered lines.

We quickly geared up and prepared for mosi-hell and Debra led up Satisfaction (VD) and Simon battled with Oliver's tree at S. Soon after the sun came out and the midges retreated a bit and we climbed a few more short clean routes including a good value Marley Wall (VS). Ivy was not bad at this far left end, belays are ok, and gear is sound if sometimes a tad spacey.

By now were were starting to overheat so we headed to the right hand end woods for some shade, but the undergrowth is pretty rampant here and we soon fought our way to two small but clean and pleasant routes Idadown (VS 4c) and a delightfully eponymous The Bridge (VD).

Now 5.30 the sun should have been relenting but it wasn't, I fancied the ** HVS – Pinnacle Face for a picture tick, Debra fancied a lie down and Simon went ticking the very short new Diffs on the far left, leaving Carmen to hold the ropes. A somewhat mixed route with a start that seemed off route, a huge reach right and then a romp to the top on jugs. I really enjoyed it once committed – I really didn't want to hit the floor and re-twist my ankle!

Now all thoroughly dehydrated and tired we headed for the pub – Timmy Taylors Best served from a jug – before heading home, arriving 12 hours after leaving.

A good crag probably worth visiting in less sunny and cool conditions and pre nettles


I smell dead things…

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Wednesday saw me, Donal, Dave s, Andy, Clare and Crofty heading out to Brimham. Dave and Andy promptly headed off to boulder, the rest of us headed to Cubic Block where Donal and me both fancied Moss Side (VS).

Arriving at CB, we were greated by a rancid stench. "I smell dead things…"
Sure enough, a quick look around revealed some brain dead moron with an air gun had been murdering jackdaws and left their decomposing corpses littering the ground. The same person appeared to have had a bit of a bowel problem and not seen fit to cover the result. Crofty did the noble deed of removing the cadavers with a long stick.

Stink alleviated, Donal set off up Moss Side. However he was unable to get the tricky top move and after a long and epic siege Retired Pumped. I pulled the rope through and headed up in his place but for some reason chose to obsess over a piece of high gear I couldnt reach and wasted further time and cusswords trying to clip it before sanity returned and I returned to getting on with the route.

Moss Side duly ticked, Crofty and Clare having done about four routes to our one, we headed over to Acme Wall, where C&C had just finished Acme End (VS). Peerless beckoned, a really nice HS with a fun bottom move so Clare and Donal both led this, then we slung a toprope (gasps of outrage from the Pure in Heart) on Acme Wall. The challenge on this turned out to be not finishing but getting off the bloody ground at all. Only Crofty made it to the pocket, the rest of us conceded defeat at various lower points and decided the next route was New Inn (VT)*

*VT=Very Thirsty

Adventure with a capital 'W'

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

It was a glorious sunny evening as a band of three intrepid explorers approached Whitestonecliffe. Abandoned by their more cautious comrades they had the entire crag to themselves, and as they abseiled down the descent gully into the jungle below, thoughts turned to which route to begin with.

Gauche perhaps – an unlikely looking VDiff up a steep wall, one of the best of its grade in the county. Or Frigg, a 2-star HS finishing on a hanging prow? Odin, a fine S 4b which supposedly contains a car jack as in situ protection? The Last Post or Clutcher, a pair of excellent VSs towards the left end of the crag? No, with the whole cliff to choose from, there could only be one choice.

er … Garbage Groove, Diff, described by the guidebook as "a serious undertaking due to loose rock … best avoided … the route’s name says it all". Yes, it was Simon's lead. A bold start led across an unprotected rock bridge above a gaping chasm, and into the bottom of a narrow chimney. The vultures circled overhead as our hero slowly made progress upwards in the full glare of the evening sun. But wait a minute – something was wrong. Where was the garbage? Where was the loose rock? Where was the general all-round grimness? The climbing was not too bad – in fact, it was actually rather good and the situations were remarkable for such a lowly grade.

The others followed. First was Carmen – verdict: "that was good, where was the loose rock?" Peter provided the answer as a crash announced the arrival of a large handhold at the foot of the crag. But that's normal for Peter, who also pronounced himself impressed by the route. Definitely one to do again.

What next? Surely it must be time for The Night Watch, either the best VS in Yorkshire, or the best HS in Yorkshire, depending on your point of view. But no, it was Peter's lead, and he wanted to do something different – he climbs The Night Watch on almost every visit to the Cliffe. So he decided on Confusion – a steep corner crack topped by an overhanging flake, which looked much harder than its published grade of Severe.

But Severe it was, as the holds kept on coming (and most of them stayed attached to the crag). With a short pause for some Epstein-leg, Peter was soon belly flopping into the undergrowth at the top of the route. The others followed, but without the belly flop. Another unsung gem.

By now the sun was low in the sky, but there was still time for another route. Rather than admitting defeat and retreating to the comfort of a familiar classic, Simon headed for Finesse, another never-climbed Severe near to Confusion. The midges were starting to come out now, and they were hungry. Very hungry. So he left the ground as quickly as possible, leaving his companions to fight off the ravenous hoard.

It would be nice to report a hat-trick of unknown high-quality lines, but it was not to be. A hard start was followed up a disintegrating crack line on some truly awful sandy rock, but with a nice bridging finish up an overhanging jamming crack. Peter was next to flee from the midges followed closely by Carmen. Not a bad route but not one to rush back to.

Overall, a tremendous evening. Sometimes ignoring guidebook advice and received wisdom can pay dividends, made all the better by its unexpectedness.

Slippery as a Slippery Thing

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Despite being in the middle of a long dry spell, once again the weather failed co-operate on the club's latest camping trip to the Lakes. It rained on the Friday morning, so our planned sunny evening climbing on the way over turned into a hurried ascent of Quayfoot Buttress (possibly the dirtiest 2-star VDiff in the country) before the rain resumed.

On Saturday everything was wet, and the hills were in cloud, so climbing was off the agenda, and a surprisingly large band of 4 (Debra, Peter, Carmen, and me) opted for my plan of doing Lorton Gully on Grasmoor. A 3 star grade 3 scramble when dry, or a way for climbers to scare themselves when wet. We all expected it to be a bit slippery, but we were all taken by surprise by the complete lack of friction on most of the route. We should probably have been warned off when I started skating on the horizontal slabs at the start, but made of sterner stuff we continued.

I took the first section direct, while the others sensibly went round. I was still just about alive at the end of that bit so they threw caution to the wind and followed up the rest of the gully. We roped up for much of it, which was just as well as there were several falls (though no submissions). The worst bit was when my inadequate belay was shown for what it was, and I was pulled bodily through a juniper bush when Peter came off, luckily the main sling round the sturdy trunk stopped me (and him) before disaster.

Eventually, after some 4 or 5 hours, we reached the end of the gully (only 300 metres or so above the start!), and the route changed to more conventional scrambling up dry and grippy rock on the NW ridge. A series of false summits eventually led to the top, before a fine descent back to Buttermere via Whiteless Pike.

Meanwhile, the others (Margaret, Annie, and Dave D) did a walk from Fleetwith Pike along the High Stile ridge, which sounded like the sort of thing that's enjoyable at the time rather than with a couple of weeks' hindsight.

The next day we reverted to more conventional fare, with a trip to Gillercombe Buttress. Carmen and I managed the eponymous Severe, which was excellent (and much, much easier than Lorton Gully!) until the midges arrived on the last pitch. Debra and Dave retreated after the first pitch of a slippery Diff and went to Bowderstone Crag instead (where they were duly rained off). An Peter went up Grasmoor again with the others, this time by a more conventional route!

More photos can be found here and here.

Industrial climbing?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Beta Crack (severe)My Eastern Grit guide warns me that Wharncliffe has "a bit of a reputation as a grim venue" due to its "slightly industrial" location and "awful landings". This is probably the reason I haven't been before. After one visit I am totally enthused by the place. If your idea of grim and industrial is the presence of a line of electricity pylons then fair enough. Otherwise it's a lovely crag set on a pretty wooded hillside above Deepcar -which makes it possible to get to a Peak Gritstone edge and back on a long summer evening – can't be bad, can it.

It's about a one-and-a-half hour drive then a twenty minute walk in, and you are rewarded with a long line of buttresses. The crag faces the right direction to catch the sun right up until sunset – we arrived to find Dave S lying around sunbathing. The rock itself is really nice, frictiony gritstone, quite positive and edgy compared to a lot of other grit crags – I really liked it. True enough, the landings would be nasty, the base of the crag is mostly a jumble of shattered boulders, on the other hand hopefully with a bit of protection in you won't be hitting the ground anyway. Ironically the only injury that did in fact occur was not caused by contact with the ground but with a slab, when Rob took a flyer from Photo Finish and crocked his ankle badly.

There were about 18 of us in all – some YAC folk, some york.climbers, and a few other assorted yorkies, even so the crag was big enough that once we had split into teams and wandered off it didn't feel crowded. There was such a variety of quality routes at all grades available that I think I could happily have spent the whole evening on a single buttress, I didn't get near any of the climbs I had mentally ticked to do but every route gave me that "what a good route" feeling. Anyway, enough burbling and enthusing, I will certainly be going back to Wharncliffe, didn't even get round to Himmelswillen "the classic of the crag".

Climbers present

  • Daves Kay, Dickinson & Shield
  • and another Dave.
  • Gordon.
  • Me (peri).
  • Luke.
  • SimonAndCarmen.
  • Rob,

  • Pete Mac,
  • Guido
  • Crofty
  • Chris and Clare.
  • Jonathan Booth,
  • Skenders and Kirk.
  • John Byrne and Pete Crosby,

Phew! think that's it.

Routes done by various people (inc multiple ascents):

  • Just a minute (E1 5b)
  • Trapezium (E1 5c)
  • Gavel Neese (E2 5b)
  • Great Buttress Arete (E1 5b)
  • Photo Finish (E1 5b)
  • Alpha Crack (D)
  • Beta Crack (S 4a)
  • Letterbox Buttress (VD)
  • Post Horn (VS 4c)
  • Rook Chimney (D)
  • Letterbox Arete (VD)

  • Mystery Route (VD)
  • Mystery Mirror (HD)
  • Mantelshelf Slab Right (HS 4b)
  • Scarlett's Chimney (D)
  • Teresa's Slab (HVD 4a)
  • Tower Face (HS 4b)
  • Hell Gate Crack (HS 4b)
  • Overhanging Crack (VD)
  • Flake Climb (VS)
  • Leaf Arete (E1 5b) (aka Gold Leaf HVS),
  • Handover Arete (VS 4c)

Another Phew!

An excellent evening and hopefully Rob's ankle will be back in action soon.

Standing Up, Falling Down

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Another sunny weekend, another obscure crag, though this time its one whose obscurity is entirely undeserved and hard to explain. Standing Stones, although dismissed as 'Falling Stones' some 50 years ago (before anyone had actually climbed there), is a short 15 minute walk from the road, faces south so gets all the sunshine going, and boasts many superb routes, mainly in the range Severe to E1, including possibly three of the best VSs in the Peak.

For many years you used to have to phone in advance to ask for permission to climb there. Not an issue, as permission was always granted, but I suppose it may have put people off. Otherwise, the only problem is the lack of belays at the top – they're there, but sometimes need a lot of searching for.

Anyway, after a gap of a few years (during which we tended to keep on walking past the crag, headed for the equally-good but north-facing and often-green Ravenstones), we were back. It was unusually busy when we got there – 4 other people – and there was a team on my intended warm-up route. So instead I led Guillotine, S 4b *, not a bad route though a bit vegetated at the top. Then my route was free, Smiler's Corner HS 4b, but it was Carmen's lead so she got it instead. An excellent line, worth 2 stars.

Next was Fairy Nuff (VS 4c ***), a contender for the best VS in the Peak. It didn't look too hard, but looks can be deceptive! Up to a roof, traverse left to the arete, up to a niche, big exposed step back right to a hanging arete, then up a crack in the arete to the top. Each section felt like the crux, but each was followed by another that was just as hard. Super stuff, took me ages, I was relieved when Carmen also had trouble with some of it (though of course breezed the bit that I found hardest).

Next it was Carmen's turn, Twin Crack Corner (VS 4b ***), given the 'top 50' accolade in the latest Rockfax guide. Excellent protection and sustained quality climbing, should be on every HS/VS leader's to-do list.

Now, after 4 fine routes on excellent quality rock, it was about time for some choss. So we wandered down the left end of the crag, where nobody ever goes. The intended route was covered with bits of rubble from a rockfall earlier this year, and a big rock seemed to be balanced precariously at the top. So instead, I went for Boo, a VDiff farther left, in an area which is omitted entirely from the Rockfax book. I wonder why. I'd actually intended climbing around here anyway at some point, due entirely for the fine selection of route names: Ning, Nang, Nong, Bong, and Boo.

Anyway, the bottom half of the route was vegetated rubbish. The top half turned out to be rather good, a constricted chimney pitch starting with a technical move out to a ledge on the arete, followed by either a safe tight squirm (my method on lead) or bold unprotected bridging up the outside (Carmen's method on the safe end of the rope!). Unfortunately, as I carefully avoided a large bit of rubble from the rockfall (so much for being out of the firing line) and topped out, it became clear that the pinnacle on which the route finished was in imminent danger of total collapse, the ground behind it being full of holes and ditches as the earth is gradually washed down the gully to the side. Mind you, it has been like this for at least 5 years – but it was still a little worrying and I'm not sure I'd recommend the route to anyone else!

The sun was now off the crag, and the gentle breeze dropped – result = midges. So we left.

More photos here.

Ran a LAMM A ding dong

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

This year's Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon took place last weekend in Kintail. Several YAC members were there: Simon (jetlagged as usual) and Debra changed their minds after last year's "never again" and did the D course; Rob and Pete B tried the newly-introduced Score; James (on his first MM) with non-YACcer Chris went for C; while Carmen and I decided to put an end to 3 years of mid-table finishes on the B course, by aiming to finish 2nd-to-last in A.

Long range weather forecasts mid-week were talking about snow and gales by day, ground frosts by night, so it was with some trepidation we made our way north. Fresh snow on the Pennines by the A66 didn't bode well, nor did the torrential rain as we drove through Glencoe. But as we drew near, the clouds cleared, and we arrived in Morvich (near Shiel Bridge) on a fine evening, but cold enough to keep the midges away.

Next morning, expecting the worst, we rejected the planned shorts and T-shirts in favour of long trousers and thermal tops, but as start times approached it was still stubbornly dry. Everyone started from different places – Score from the event centre, C and D from the Cluanie Inn a few miles east, and the A from a minor road to the west.

The Elite and B classes also started to the east, so the A course was the only one to use the north and west of the map on Saturday. This meant that once the initial line of people had been spread out by different route choices and levels of fitness, we saw very few people all day, and most of those we did see were off in the distance. Our course took us over the hill and down to the end of the public road in Glen Elchaig, then a few miles up the glen before striking up the hill to the remote Corbett of Faochaig.

The next leg gave the option of a second Corbett, but we opted for the contouring option instead. The going was grassier and less steep than expected. "I thought we'd have loads of loose crags to negotiate," I said, no prizes for guessing what was round the next corner. We made it to the control fairly directly, a couple of other teams had descended 200m too far and were looking in the wrong place. So, feeling smug as we passed them slogging up the hill as we headed down, we made our way to the next control – down to the valley, over a small col, then an unnecessary wade over the river, crossing back again over a large bridge, working out we were in the wrong place, and getting to the control at the same time as the folk we'd sped past earlier. Oops.

Carmen was having problems at this point and couldn't go very fast. Or so she said, until we got to the last control when she did her normal trick of disappearing into the distance, sprinting to the finish and aiming (successfully) to overtake everyone in sight.

A great day out, mostly sunny with a few light rain showers, which fell as snow on Simon and Debra but not on us :). And a superb campsite at the end, totally midge-free, we even found a flat grassy area to pitch the tent on. All the other YACcers also reached the end several hours before dark, Rob and Pete even embarrassed themselves by lying 17th out of 90 (we were 29/36 in our class).

Reveille the next morning was at 5.15am courtesy of the traditional LAMM bagpiper, but for once it was neither pouring with rain nor alive with midges, so we could take our time over breakfast, sitting outside and enjoying the views.

We set off at 7, and on picking up our control sheet found that today was going to be two thirds the length of Saturday, but with almost as much ascent. The route as far as the 2nd control was fairly straightforward. The next control was on the far side of Sgurr nan Ceathreanhnan, a Munro, and most people followed the ridge up all the way. We took a lower route, following a couple of streams up to a corrie below the ridge, which turned out to be quite a good choice as it followed an old stalker's path for much of the way. At one point I jumped out of my skin as there was a piercing screech from a few feet below me. It was Peri a young fawn, which made itself scarce as fast as it could – I didn't realise they could make that much noise!

The summit of the Munro was in cloud, but we weren't going quite that high – instead we contoured below a subsidiary top, some 50m lower than the main summit – fortunately we'd already bagged it on a previous trip so were spared the choice between Munro-tick and speed!. We now got a good view of the next leg – right down to the valley bottom, then 650m up a ridge on the other side to the summit of Beinn Fhada. It seemed to go on forever, but only actually lasted an hour. A real Munro tick this time, but again, one we'd done already.

The next control was on a col low down on the NE ridge. Everyone else stayed high, following a scrambly ridge, before descending to the checkpoint. But we opted to descend immediately, following the normal walkers' route, and then contour round to the control. Based on other teams, I think our route was slightly quicker, but there wasn't a lot in it. It might have been a different matter if it was raining as the summit ridge of Beinn Fhada is notoriously slippery in the wet, but it was wall-to-wall sunshine for most of the day.

From here it was a quick descent down vertical bracken, then a run for a couple of miles along a track and a road to the finish. Unusually, we did better on the second day than the first, finishing 21st on the day, and 23rd overall so we were rather pleased. The other YACcers all did well too, though Rob and Pete failed in their bid to drop to 50th place.

A fantastic area, with perfect weather, and excellent courses. It was even fun at the time, not just in retrospect as it often is! The only thing wrong with it was the weather forecast, which (luckily) was well wide of the mark – though it was provided by David Braine of the BBC so maybe we shouldn't be too surprised 😉

Event details here, and photos here.

The Far North West

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Prior to the club meet in Glencoe over the Bank Holiday weekend, Carmen and I took a week off to explore the far north of Scotland.

It was pouring with horizontal rain for most of the journey, getting gradually worse the closer we got to our destination. So we decided we couldn't face camping, and stopped at the Craske Inn, a small hotel/pub/hill farm in the middle of nowhere. It's a great place, just 3 rooms, and bags of atmosphere, highly recommended. And the landlord/farmer, despite having been up there for 40 years, turns out to have been brought up in Malton!

Next day it was cloudy but expected to improve, so we went for Ben Klibreck (a Munro). The normal route seemed to have little to commend it, apart from being short, so we did a longer route from Altnaharra to the north. Altnaharra may be familiar from the weather forecasts in the middle of winter when it is often the coldest place in the UK. The sun did indeed arrive, and we had a great day with excellent views, loads of lapwings, and even more baby baa lambs. We took a detour to the east ridge where there was a surprisingly large monument to two airmen killed in a flying accident in the 1950s. Despite being a sunny Sunday we only met 3 people all day, all of them on the 'tourist route'.

After a very nice night camped by the road (the sort of road with grass up the middle), the next day we went for the other Munro in the area, Ben Hope. Again, this is usually climbed as a quick there-and-back from the road, and is often done in the same day as Klibreck, with a short drive in between. Again though we wanted to make a full day of it, so contoured round the hill to reach the north ridge. Once we'd left the tourist route behind, there was little sign that anyone else had ever been there, despite this being the finest way up the hill. A little easy scrambling and a deer-path up the fine grassy ridge was followed just below the summit by the 'bad step' , and easy-ish (about Diff) but dirty and extremely exposed 10m section. On my last visit, I was on my own, and bottled this bit in favour of a dirty gully off to the left. But this time we had a scrambling rope and a bit of gear, so were successful. Passing a handful of people on the summit we set off to the south-east (the tourist path goes south west), heading for the south ridge, but soon abandoned this plan as heavy rain arrived and sent us running down the normal route to the car.

We set up camp in the site at Durness, on the top of the cliffs overlooking sandy beaches, idyllic. Next day was forecast to be wet, so we took the ferry across to the bird sanctuary of Handa Island, where we wandered round taking photos of puffins. Not surprisingly, it was the sunniest day of the week, so when back on the mainland we took the opportunity to do a few climbs on roadside outcrops. Mostly fairly ordinary climbing in a stunning setting, but one in particular was superb, Updraught (Severe **) on Creag an Dubh Loch, overlooking Handa and the tiny port of Tarbet. There was no sign that anybody had ever been there before, let alone climbed the route.

After the usual dithering, we decided to have another mountain day after this, and went for Foinaven. This narrowly escaped being promoted to Munro status recently, but fortunately turned out to be a couple of metres too short, and so nobody ever goes there. A controversial new landrover track up the glen made for a quick if blemished approach, but it was still a couple of hours until we left the track and took to open country to approach the top of A' Ch'eir Ghorm. This is largely composed of scree, but has a series of relatively solid buttresses on one side, and our intended route was up one of these.

The guidebook offers three routes, at Mod, Diff, and VDiff, and the total description given is that there is a cairn at the foot of each route. We meant to do either the Diff or the Mod and so had left rock shoes behind in favour of climbing in walking boots. It took forever to cross the loose scree slope to reach the rock, and by this time, the increasingly threatening weather had unleashed some heavy showers, so the rock was dripping wet. We found what might have been the remains of one cairn, but there was no sign of any others – as it was probably several years since anyone else had been daft enough to come up here, they have probably merged into the scree by now. As we debated whether to head up into the unknown, another heavy shower intervened, and we headed back along the scree, where we opted for the easy-but-tortuous way up, a 300m 45-degree scree slope.

After admiring some spectacular rainbows, we headed along the shattered ridge, mostly bypassing some rather fragile pinnacles, and up into the cloud, where we stayed. We had to imagine the fine views, with steep scree falling either side of the ridge and even the vague hints of a path, as there was nowhere else to go. From the summit, we decided to miss the final top (the inside of one cloud being much the same as the inside of another), and headed down the seldom-visited NE ridge of Ganu Mor. I picked up a discarded sweet wrapper on the way, with a best before date of 25th December 2005.

After picking our way slowly down the craggy hillside to the Skye-like corrie of Glass-Choire Granda, we contoured to the next bealach before cutting across open lochan-studded moorland back to the car. A fine day on a fine hill, and plenty of failed plans to return for!

The next day we took things a bit easier, broke camp, and drove to Sheigra (near Sandwood Bay) for some sea-cliff climbing. A seriously good crag, with dozens on 3 and even 4-star routes at all grades from Diff to E-silly, but despite unbroken sunshine all day, there were no other climbers to be seen, just a handful of people walking their dogs. The need for abseil approaches limited us to just 4 routes.
Tall Paul *** Severe – fantastically exposed with huge holds
Flamingo *** Severe – a superb line up a pink ramp. Carmen led, and I narrowly missed being submerged by the incoming tide.
Shark Crack *** Hard Severe – unfeasibly overhanging for HS but with climbing-wall-sized holds in strange black crystalline rock
Blackjack ** Diff – a bit of a sandbag at the start, but a jugfest above.

Friday was our last day before the long drive south to Glencoe, and on the strength of an excellent forecast, planned on climbing the triple-Corbett mountain of Quinag. Sadly it was not to be, the rain was heavy and the cloud down to road level, but as we drove south conditions improved, and we stopped off to bag the Munro of Ben Wyvis. A newly built path was more like a staircase and took us quickly to 800m, from where a nice grassy ridge led to the summit. Everyone else we met just turned round at this point and retrace their steps, but we continued over a subsidiary top and down a pathless ridge before picking up a forestry track, and back to the car 4 hours after setting off.

We arrived at the hut half an hour before Nigel, and an hour before Margaret, in glorious sunshine – almost the last we saw until the drive home, 3 days later…

Lots more photos here

busy buzzing brimham

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

A good turn out braved the forecast and physical evidence and made to to Brimham last night. Peri, Donal,Clare, Luke and I arrived just as Crofty (Jim) was leaving after hosting an antipodean raiding party. Simon & Carmen arrived soon and we were later to find Guido and a few other YorkClimbers about.

Hobbling from the LAMM, Simon, Carmen and I were after a gentle session so Peri and Donal were led to Bilberry Grove [HS] (it's a groove with bilberries in it!) and Clare was to lead Luke up Castle Corner [D] while I hovered about talking through belay set-up. We headed off to Black Tower as S&C had finished and found Guido and crew bouldering some tough routes on Kangeroo Wall. Clare made a fine lead of NW Arete [VD] which is an ok route with ok gear, poor description and a very entertaining ab descent.

We then hobbled over to, and I led, a midgy Lancet Crack [VS] a short powerful well protected climb with a very interesting descent – by the end of which it was time to leave. We now met Gordon T and Dave D who had shunned all this new fangled stuff and gone to Cracked Buttress to find old friends.

In the car park we met S&C back from exploring various short esoterica [VDs] and Yorkies John Byne and Pete Crosby who had heard but not seen Peri …. speaking of which it was now 10.25 and the warden was locking up so we drove the car out and waited. Peri and Donal had managed Maloja [VS], Acme End [VS] and Cubic Corner [HS] since their start – pretty good evening.

Quick pint in New Inn and I fell asleep as a defence mechanism on the journey home.

Kinder Lingers

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

A belay with a viewI've been meaning to climb at the Kinder Downfall area ever since I saw the photo of Zig Zag in On Peak Rock some 15 years ago. other than a quick scramble up the downfall itself, circumstances (normally in the form of rain) have always conspired to thwart my plans, until last weekend when we finally made the 90 minute walk from Snake Pass.

It was hot and sunny with a gentle breeze gale to keep the midges away as we eventually reached the crag. Zig Zag (VDiff ***) was out of the sun and in the wind, so extra layers were donned and Carmen quickly reached the top – the route has more jugs per metre than any other route I've done! Somehow it was both shorter and less exposed than it appears in the photos, but the climbing is all superb.

The Mermaid's Ridge pitch 2As we descended we noticed we were no longer alone – some-one was abbing down near our intended next route, Great Chimney (HS 4b ***). Bloody top-roping punters, they get everywhere, trust our luck to have to queue at a crag nobody ever goes to. It soon became clear that this particular top-roping punter was Sam Whittaker cleaning a death-on-a-stick Last Great Problem, so we had our route to ourselves. A tricky route (ie I made a fist of it) but got to the top successfully in the end, muttering about sandbags. Briefly watched the LGP (quick progress was being made, I half expected to read the UKC headlines that evening reporting a successful lead, but nothing yet) before wandering off to the next buttress.

Here we did The Mermaid's Ridge, a 2-pitch HS (or VS in Rockfax) 4b, 4c *** – I led both pitches, and each was worth 3 stars in its own right. Worth the long walk just for this one route.

Final destination in our brief tour was Kinder Upper Western Buttress. Carmen led South Wall (VDiff **), likened in the guidebook to Heaven Crack at Stanage – a very pleasant route but a bit short. It was getting late by now so I abandoned thoughts of Extinguisher Chimney (VS 4c ***) and decided to have a quick look at Spike Chimney (Diff **). But as we approached, a peregrine appeared noisily from the adjacent chimney and flew round screeching wildly.

Sensing that perhaps we weren't welcome, we packed up and after a quick solo of another Diff out of harm's way, went home.

A great place to go, I'll try to arrange a club trip over the summer.

More photos here