Archive for August, 2009

Southwest trip

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

lundy slideFollowing in Peri's footsteps, Pete and I had a weeks break in the south west last week.

Leaving Pete's place we headed (via Morrsions) for Avon Gorge and Malbogies (HVS 5a, Hard Rock Tick). Remembering our south west trip of two years previous, we took containers and grabbed a load of blackberries that would nearly last the whole week (tad furry and mushy). Two other teams on a sunny sat on a whole cliff ? Maybe it's the polish and slightly odd rock and awkward gear ?

pete on malbogiesMalbogies (a Bonnington route from way back when) follows a groove for pitch, then over an overhang before getting back in the groove. Generally well protected but hard to fathom crux moves low down, lead to a great belay stance. The overhang is just above and talk of a jug was mysterious – it was desperate – I even thought I could be off line (unlikely given the amount of chalk) BETA alert -it's a jug, it's huge, it's a bloody long blind reach, it's a relieve!

From there route finishing through loose-ish unprotected rubbish is awkward but fun. Great views from the top (local youth relieving himself in the bushes!). On the Long drive down toward Baggy – we decided to call in at the Hard Rock Festival and see what was happening. We got a beer, food and a place to put our tent up and a few bands to watch – result.

kinkyBaggy was next day – breakfast in the car park with the surfers, then wander along to the point. Neither of us had climbed there before but I'd been there in the rain. We headed for the slabs of Lost Horizons (VS 5a) and were quickly in place – meeting John who I met on 'Dream…' a few weeks back. Lost Horizons is a great crack line, well protected but awkward climbing. Shangri-La that Pete did was the opposite S 4a, easy climbing not so much gear – or Pete hadn't bothered. At High tide we abbed into the appealing line of Scrattling Crack (VD) a real fun romp – recommended. Saving the best for last we did Kinky Boots with its nuts start- falling across the zawn is easy – summoning the courage less so. With a few spots of rain I did the whole thing in one pitch, not wise cos of rope drag.


We then visited some family friends and got our own house to stay in (beds and shower and cookers) and beer. Next day was Wreckers Slab – a right adventure and highly recommended. Easy climbing, great location, rock is ok (nowhere near as loose as I feared/expected), gear is ok.

We also did this with John (was he following us? ) and had a good natter to the farmers wife (you park at a farm) who was dead chatty and lovely. After a cuppa we went along the coast and visited Vicarage Cliff (beautiful place, easy grades, fun place) and Lower Sharp Nose (long walk in) and took pix as tide was wrong.

lighthouseAfter another night in our comfy house (beer and food and good chats) we were on our way for Ilfracombe and the Lundy Ferry arriving in plenty of time. Parking is easy, the staff friendly – but the boat fills up quick so yo may not get an on-deck seat if you dally. We'd been advised to pack climbing gear in carry on luggage and go climbing on arrival – which we duly did. Feeling a bit queasy we opted for a longish walk – and to get familiar with the place. We approached the slide and there was only on party on it near the top so – we just went for it – and much fun it is, reminded me of Pedriza slabs. We tried to find and do Seal Slab but tide was high so we did a version – but its all about Diff on that slab!

abbingNext day we took my brand new 100m ab rope and threw it off a cliff into the abyss – hoping to find American Beauty (HVS 5a ***) at the bottom. On the way down the seals revealed the name of anoethr route as they called out "Woooooooooo" – Pete wondered what I was on about. The first 4c pitch is awkward but there are many lines possible – maybe I chose poorly. The second pitch (5a) is great and long and great, varied and great, interesting and great, wandering and pretty darn good. The third is juggy and short. The winds picked up and a few spots of rain we headed back to the campsite, where some magic tents had arrived – must be magic as they disappeared overnight in the gales.

In the morning the gales continued so we headed for the jumpingquieter east cost (far fewer cliffs) and did Gannet Front HVS 5a **. The first pitch (with puking fulmar) is not so great but does start from the sea and comes with appreciative audience. The second pitch is wacky out there climbing on big holds with good gear. We ticked a couple of routes on Knight Templar Rock (inland buttresses) before heading home to the Marisco Tavern for grub.

Morning brought rain but less wind. We sheltered in the lighthouse for about an hour but the afternoon was brighter but still blowy. Flying Buttress area was our target and we did Diamond Solitaire (VS 4c **) great route in unlikely position. The sea was coming in quite force-fully by now so we headed back for our last supper.

Intending in climbing before getting the ferry we were up early and had packed up in time. Small showers passed through so we wanting to avoid an epi and catch the boat we went for a walk to the top of the island (about 2.5 miles) and back enjoying our last views.
The return boat journey was easy, the sun even came out and burnt my nose as we wasted time waiting for another boat to leave the dock. An uneventful trip back but a great curry at Petes, completed the week trip.

lighthouseLundy is fantastic, tons of great climbing at all grades but a bit adventurous as well. It's not difficult to arrange if you camp (10 quid a night) especially later in Aug and Sept. The camping Barn (posh club hut) is only few quid more (13 pppn if full) and would make a great place but we'll need to book a long way in advance and get 14 people

tons of pictures at

Cats, Dogs, Fags and Midges

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Will on Allan's Crack at BrimhamDriving through the deluge just outside York, Will and I were relieved to discover it was depositing felines and canines in Wetherby as well – good start. Undeterred (well a bit maybe) we headed on and parked up just in time for a mutt to relieve itself on Will's rucsac – day's looking up.

Will had a notion for Allan's Crack so we headed off and found it deserted and basked in warm sunshine and blue skies. I soloed a couple of the easier routes while Will sorted out his rack and psyched himself up. After 15mins psyching up for the first move he got off the ground (technical crux!). There ensued a mighty struggle to climb the next 5 or so metres (dogs much in view). Once established Will raced up the layback complaining of thirst and fatigue and got himself into the rest position on the nose, obviously a bit too comfy as I thought he was going to bivi there! After fiddling in tons of dubious gear he raced to the top to be met by a swarm of midges (also available at ground level at no extra cost).

We ticked Fag Slab Variant before running away – cold and midges our excuses – still dry though.

Simon and Carmen had an eventful time on Indian's Turban West – MVS 4b – yeah right – poor gear and dirty meant some Indian Rope Tricks (HVS 3a) were employed.

Still the beer in the pub was good 🙂

Jim's Australia Trip

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Here is a brief trip report on some of the climbing we did while in Oz. We were planning to go to Point Perp for some sea cliff climbing, but found out the cliff was closed for militiary operations (operation safe haven). So stayed in the Bluies and had a day at The Zig Zag, climbing Bumflute, grade 17 and some unnamed climb to the right about grade 16. The following day, Saturday 8th August, we did a bushwalk out to a place called the Ruined Castle via The Golden Stairs. It was close to where the British backpacker recently went missing for 12 days. We even discovered a goodbye from his father chiselled into a rock out there complete with a red rose.

Climbing Bumflute, a 2 star sports climb at Zig Zag Cliff.

The next day Mike and I decided we had done enough sandstone and took the drive out to Tarana, this is a great place for a change with Granite slab climbing being the order. Mainly bolted, but often very run out. We managed several climbs, but the best were Save the Whale (1 bolt!), grade 19, Spare the Hammer, grade 19 and hard at that, a couple of unnamed climbs that we had not found before at grades 16 and 14 and my best effort on this trip, Bloodbath, grade 20. It follows a water polished slab to a dyke and luckily has enough bolts to make feel OK. Despite the cool temps it still felt very slippy and required every move to be made carefully. We finished the day with a walk along the escarpment finding a couple of new lines to go and do, while bouldering the first moves of a crack there I almost grabbed hold of a small Eastern Brown Snake! I mangaged to leap backwards a couple of metres when I spotted it.

Mike following Spare the Hammer. Tarana.

Leading an unnamed grade 18 on Deckout Buttress, Tarana.

After this we drove down to Jervis Bay for 3 days camping and bushwalking and were treated to a full on electric storm and cheeky wildlife, a possum stole our chocolate biscuits and cheese and even had a kangaroo trying to get in the back of our car.

Scores Settled

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Peri's mission to visit Almscliff proved a big success on Saturday. Five climbers attended all with various targets to be dealt with.

Earlybirds Peri and Crofty made the first assault leaving York at 9.30 (OK, not so earlybirds). Arriving a lot later at the cliff, due to stops for provisions, routefinding errors (don't ask), tractors, horses and Uncle Tom Cobbledy etc.

Peri made a start with a gentle warm up on Pinnacle Flake Climb, before running over to her project, the Crack of Dooooom. Well with a minimum of faffing at the start and a well executed reversal from the crux for a good bridging rest below, she finally ticked it. Well done Peri.

Peri atop Crack of Doom and very happy.

I now had to make a decision whether to try Constipation Crack or Eastern Exit, these being the last VS 5a climbs for me to do at Almscliff. Having looked at Constipation Crack from the ground for as long as I can remember, I choose Eastern Exit. This is basically a LH finish to Franklands Green Crack from its final niche. I found it quite thought provoking and very exposed. A tough number, but now ticked.

While we were climbing this, Kirk and Skenders arrived, Kirk sporting his straw trilby replete with jaunty feather in it. A distinguished look it has too. They launched up The Nose, which Peri led after them, but not before she deserted me to second Zig Zag Direct to recover someones gear for them.

I unfortunately had only one climb left at which to try, the climb I had been putting off for years. Constipation Crack takes an offwidth hanging crack, I did not even dare to try to boulder the first move, as the climbing is so precarious. The landing is a jagged pile of boulders. However, once attempting a lead, you can place a large cam at full stretch. This gave me the confidence to pull onto the climb and start locking my legs, knees, shoulders etc into the crack. I was struggling like crazy when I gained a chockstone I had spotted from the ground, to my surprise it was a rattler and had a Carling Black Label lager can jangling  behind it. This took my attention away from the fear of falling and made the situation seem rather comical, so I pressed on, soon reaching the good horizontal at the top of the offwidth.

Buoyed by the relief of reaching here, tired and with a full body pump, I had the chance to get my first good jam and place another runner. All that remained was a rounded flounder to the top. Here I enjoyed the simple pleasure of being able to lie horizontally, panting and nearly having to vomit. Good fun!?

We decided a break was in order, so went round to watch Kirk and Skenders on Crack of Doom, Skenders had also done Long Chimney while we were busy. Peri decided to warm down on Crack and Wall, which she found tricky. Skenders led Bird's Nest Variation and Kirk finally ticked Stomach Traverse. Dave S turned up to amaze us with some hard bouldering and got a bit nearer being able to do Pebble Wall. We were feeling the efforts of the day by now, so beat a retreat to York.

Skenders on Great Chimney.

All in all a good day, Kirk and Skenders probably carried on for ages, they are both going really well at the moment, Dave was going to go round to do the start to Wall of Horrors, so they may be able to post what else they did after we left.

Old Macdonald had a road

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

The turnout for a club climbing night increased two fold when four of us made it to Scugdale on Tuesday (me, Peri, Simon and Carmen). We were rewarded with excellent conditions: warm enough to be in T shirts but cool enough for good climbing and enough wind to keep away the midges. Although all of us have been to Scugdale many times, we all managed to tick routes we hadn't done before.

Me and Peri warmed up on The Mantelshelf (HS 4b) before going back and repeating Pingers (VS 5a) (just to check it wasn't a fluke last time). Simon and Carmen arrived and decided having 3 bouldering mats was going to be their best ever shot at doing Pingers so also had a go. In the end, both decided to use it as a warm-up exercise by hanging from very small holds for a very long time before eventually jumping off, saving it for another day. Simon then got majorly sandbagged on Pluto (HS 4b) while me and Peri threw ourselves at Pingers left hand (VS 5a or 5b). Peri eventually getting up while I ripped a nice circle of skin from my finger.

Me and Peri had a good squirm up Plumb Line (S 4a) while Carmen led Pet's Corner (HS 4b). Lots of other routes done on the night, culminating with me losing my bottle one move from the top of Corner Direct – left (S 4a). As I contemplated my impending fall onto an uncomfortable looking boulder, Peri coaxed me into reaching for the top where, as promised, there was an uber jug. With adrenaline supplies running low, we decided to call it a night.

On the drive home, someone seemed to have transferred all their livestock onto the lane to Swainby. First we came across a calf which we herded for about half a mile before it scarpered off up a track. Next were two sheep standing nonchalantly in the road eating the hedge. Finally, we waited while a hedgehog very slowly crossed the road in front of us.

No pictures unfortunately.

Agden Rocher – I'm a lumberjack (and I'm not ok)

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Curiosity dragged me out to Agden Rocher with Simon C, Carmen and Dave S.

As peak crags go its certainly different, tucked away in pretty oakwoods ten minutes from the road. The rock type is blocky sandstone rather than grit, of variable quality. Whilst it is true that most of the loose stuff is obvious, it tends to occur in bands part way up a route so there is not much you can do to about it other than mutter, grumble and take care. It is definately not a novice crag. However the majority is decent rock, with routes a bit longer than the average gritstone route – about 18 metres seemed to be normal. Tops do tend to be loose and rubbly – "crazy paving" was carmen's description at one point – but there are good belay stakes on most routes. Care needs to be taken not to brain your second though! And a pinch of salt applied to the grades…

The crag doesnt get a lot of visits – this is great if you like solitude but means routes can be earthy and vegetated. In fact one of the more interesting characteristics of the crag is the number of ancient and contorted oaks growing horizontally out of the cliff. One of these forms the crux of the crag's only two star VS – Oak Tree Walk. You climb up a wall to the tree, sling on to a good root, then climb to the top of the tree and teeter out on to a slender and bendy branch in order to move back on to thin holds on the wall. (this gets the rockfax "fluttery heart" symbol). It is possible to sling further up the tree, but the upper part is so hollow that I had no faith in it at all and after a long faff and numerous initial forays scarpered to a top rope with my tail between my legs. Apart from the blow to my pride, my main problem is now that I dont know if I backed off a rock climb or a tree climb ;-D.
Sandstone formations at Agden Rocher

Other routes done included:
Bianco (VS) carmen's lead
Bradfield Arete (S) simon's lead
Double declutch (VS 4c) daves lead
Numenorean (HVS) Dave's lead
Grey Wall (VS) simon's lead
Jericho Wall(VS) my lead
Martini (VS) simon's lead – a bold start marginally protected by micro cams
Scarred Climb (HS) carmen's lead
White Rose Flake (VS) my lead

Simon C, Dave S
Peri, Carmen

crookrise giggles and cursing

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Sunday 2nd August, me, simon C, Kirk, Skenders, Ewan and Dave P all headed off to the delights of Crookrise. After some initial skirmishes on End Slab we all went our seperate ways, meeting up every now and again on our favourites. Best entertainment was had by all on Buster, a mere Severe which requires the skills of a contortionist and then sneaks in a traditional gritstone sloper of a finish. Me and Simon also had a giggle on Slingsby Chimney, a three star HVD. I could see the light in simon's eyes as soon as he spotted this so didnt dare pass it by, sure enough the thing was a true off-width offwidth, too wide to be a squeeze chimney, too narrow to back and foot. So the traditional giggling, squirming, cursing experience it was, good value indeed. Simon to be fair had already paid his dues on Flake Wall, an alleged severe which turned out to be a thinly protected VS. Another sandbag was found with Simon's lead of Face Arete and Wall Climb – allegedly VD, but felt very thin indeed, unless we were off route. Meanwhile Skenders and Kirk tried the cats whiskers, somehow managing to miss out the crux, and Crookrise Crack, a two star VS, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed The Long Climb, a straightforward and enjoyable VS. Then yet more cursing ensued as I sandbagged myself onto The Forager. VS 4c, how hard could it be? I found out as I swore sweated and gasped my way through the crux traverse, to the amusement of all. Lots of other routes done, wont list them all, but a very enjoyable and fun day despite some occasionaly wacky grades.

froggatt fun

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Will on Sunset Crack HS 4cDespite having suggested Peak Scar (still not made it this year) I persuaded Will to abandon ship and head south for relentless sunshine in the Peak. I haven't been to Frogatt since last century so was keen just to remind myself what was what. Peri made up the the three and we arrived about 2.45 (I was late, we had to go shopping, got lost on the walk in, etc etc etc)

I have a tick list as long as a guidebook for Frogatt but clearly that wasn't going to happen with three so we chilled and took it in turns, Will starting on Heather Wall (excellent HVD ish). I then did Sunset Slab (HVS 4b) taking a low line, great if worrying route, not quite as positive as one would like given the exposure. Will then grunted up the start of Sunset Crack (HS 4c) and we all bathed in the warm sun and tremendous views and relative lack of crowds ….. apart from on Green Gut which was Peri's target 🙁

Instead she chose Jankers Groove (VS4c) and despite the presence of a two-children climbing family on the next route swore her way up as Will and I gave much useless information and omitted to point out the massive ledges she was missing. Folding herself into the top groove was a feat a contortionist would have been proud of. That was all we had time for and we followed the path back to the road and back in York before 9pm.

Great place reminded me of all the routes I need to do on a midweek empty day.

Pix at

Missing out

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Once again most people apparently had better things to do. And for a while it seemed that they were all right, as we sat in the car at the top of the crag watching the rain bounce off the windscreen, while listening to the man on Radio 4 tell us that northern England was currently bright and sunny.

But we wandered down anyway, and found the crag itself remarkably dry, sheltered from the rain. Donal and Luke were already there, gearing up at the foot of Sidewinder, the best of the routes at the seldom-climbed-on left end of the crag. Everyone else was conspicuous by their absence!

I thought I'd try White Wall, an obscure Severe just to the left. Got a few metres up, retreated onto the Mod on the right to gain height to inspect what was coming up. Noted the complete lack of gear and holds on the overhanging wall, pencilled it in as a sandbag to be top-roped sometime, and wandered off to find another route now the rain had stopped and the evening brightened.

Due to a rope miscalculation (only a 45m half rope, when the shortest route is 22m and the belays mainly some way back – oops), Donal and Luke called it a day. So we climbed by ourselves in the evening sun (the rain stopped quickly), a glorious end to the day.

Photos courtesy of Donal!

Routes climbed:
Sidewinder – VDiff *
Wings – Severe **
Birdland Direct – MVS 4b *

And then there were two

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Most people were on holiday or working this week, so Carmen and I were the only two who managed to get to Wharncliffe yesterday for some evening climbing. For the first time in a few weeks, we enjoyed warm sunshine, with just about enough breeze to keep the midges in check.

Carmen started off with Himmelswillen (VS), an excellent route, and worth the drive on its own. Next I tackled Sidewinder (HS), a steep wall with small holds and not much protection. And finally, Carmen led YMCA Crack, a VDiff variation on Teufelsweg (and superior to the original).

The last route was climbed in near-darkness, and the walk back was only lit by the full moon where it managed to penetrate through the trees. As usual there was hardly anyone else at the crag – though there were a couple of teams still climbing when we walked out!