Archive for September, 2009

RAB Mountain Marathon 2009

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

The RAB Mountain Marathon this year was in the Howgills, probably my favourite area for running – steep-sided grass-covered hills, long flat valleys, and runnable almost everywhere. Since I'm now officially an old git, Carmen and I were in the Mixed Veterans class for the first time; Alan K has been an old git for several years, and was in the Male Veterans class again, running solo.

The event format is the same for all classes – you have a fixed time (6 hours on day 1, 5 on day 2 – the Elite have an extra hour each day) to accumulate as many points as possible, with controls worth between 5 and 40 points depending on difficulty and distance.

Saturday's weather was glorious. Mist in the valley bottoms to start the day, and clear blue skies above, sunny and warm but not too hot. Carmen and I spent a while working out a route, and decided to miss out a few low scorers near the start, to maximise the chances of having enough time to get to some of the more distant controls. And for once, it worked out well, and we managed to get one of the two 40-point controls and a couple of 30s, with enough spare time for a detour near the end to pick up an extra 15. We even managed to run for much of the day, normally we end up walking most of the time.

We finished the day with 7.5 minutes to spare, and 235 points – 3rd place in our class! (out of 27 starters). Only 5 points behind 2nd place, and another 5 behind 1st, and with a cushion of only 15 points above 4th, so it was all to play for. Alan meanwhile was 41st out of 83, much better than he'd expected.

The Saturday night camp was in a beautiful location, by the Cross Keys Temperance Inn near Cautley Spout. Those without scruples who'd brought some money with them queued for burger and chips at the inn, while those of us without scruples but less money made do with ice creams and/or coke before cracking open the pot noodles.

The next day also started with mist in the valleys, unfortunately we were in the valley, so it was chilly and damp. It soon cleared to give another dry day, but much cloudier than Saturday.

We tried to put the other teams out of our minds, and concentrated on finding another good route. We chose a high-risk option, heading away from the finish for the first couple of hours to collect a few high scorers, and hoping we'd be quick enough to get back within the 5 hours allowed. The outcome was still in doubt as we turned back south towards Sedbergh, and remained in doubt almost to the end, it was not until we left the penultimate control that we knew we'd finish in time and could start to relax. In the end, we had 12.5 minutes to spare.

190 points for the day, 425 overall. There followed a nervous wait for the final results…

And we'd finally done it! The overnight 1-2-3-4 had stayed the same, with 1 and 2 scoring 200, and 4 scoring 180 – our first (and probably last) mountain marathon podium finish! I'd like to thank my parents, Carmen's parents, my brother, his wife, their cats, the fishmonger in Wetherby <bursts into tears>…

Alan also had a good day, despite finishing 9 minutes late, and much to his surprise moved up to 35th, a good result.

Vital statistics:
Day 1. 33.5km, 1350m ascent, 5 hours 52 minutes 14 seconds
Day 2. 28km, 1100m ascent, 4 hours 47 minutes 31 seconds

More Photos

Saturday's route
Sunday's route

Saturday splits
Sunday splits

Planetfear report

Run away!

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Most people have apparently developed an aversion to daylight and are now restricting their evening climbing to indoor walls. This, combined with an outbreak of the lurgy among those who still prefer fresh air, meant that once again there were just two of us last night.

The destination was Spofforth for some low-grade bouldering. It didn't take long to decide that it was all a bit too highball for us, with most of the cruxes being at the top, above back-breaking ledges, so most of the evening was spent backing off problems and/or climbing unlisted lines on bits of rock barely above head height. But it was all good fun anyway, on a cloudy but warm and dry evening.

After a couple of hours, darkness was approaching, so we packed up and headed off. The crux of the evening followed – negotiating a field full of cows with their young calves without getting trampled.

Problems successfully retreated from:
Hang Up (4c)
Jamline (4c)
Green Wall (4c)
Exclusive ("4a" sandbag)
Lime Hole (4a – got as far as the finishing holds but couldn't face the final mantelshelf onto the grassy gravel-strewn summit)

Problems with failed retreats (accidentally completed):
Birds Lavatory (4a)
The Arete (too easy to grade)
South Face (too easy to grade)
North West Arete (4a)
Pot Scoop (too easy to grade – surprisingly good despite starting in a gorse bush)
Pedestal Arete ("4c" closer to 4a, maybe the grades of this and the adjacent Exclusive got swapped)

Lost (series 7).

Monday, September 7th, 2009

This blog might also of been called Peri and Jim keep misplacing things at the crag. I arrived before Peri, as she had been doing a run in York. There was also The Great North Run in Sheffield, creating a few tailbacks. Lost a bit of time there.
On arrival, I decided to amble along the edge picking off some easy routes, so did about 7 routes, one not listed in guidebook. Some proved a bit stiff for the grade, so I ended up doing a roped solo of one, after I lost my bottle.
About teatime Peri rocks up and we decide to have lunch. I suggest that I should lead Blizzard Ridge, being more bold than strenuous and it would serve as a warm up for Peri.

Unknown climber doing Blizzard Ridge.

Afterwards Peri decides to get really warmed up on Jonathan's Chimney, a strenuous corner climb.
Peri realises that her fleece has gone awol, so we hunt around the bushes and crevices, but cannot find it. So I lead Jonad's Rib, which turns out to be quite runout. Peri then goes further afield on her mission to find her fleece and comes back happy. It was way down the crag and we can only think someone had picked it up by mistake.
Finally, the time had arrived for Peri to jump on Croton Oil. She had been thinking about leading this for some time and was now ready. We hung around for a while, as there was a guy leading the E3 around left, that links in to the upper part of Croton Oil.

Peri on the upper part of Croton Oil.

Peri finishes her climb, without too much faffing on the perfect faff ledge and I panic that I have put my camera down and can't see it. Only after a full unpack of rucsack, do I find it.
Then Peri can't find her waterproof, it turns up later in her ropebag.
We then lose the sunny weather, yes it was actually nice for once! So head off to the Norfolk Arms, but lose out there too, as it is undergoing major renovations.
I decide to drive on and visit the 'Strines Inn', which turns out to be as good as ever, well the Marston's Pedigree was.
The final incident of the day is when the bargirl comes into the room and asks if anyone owns a silver grey Skoda. Peri replies 'yes, I do'. Bargirl says 'Oh, it's rolled down the slope and is completely blocking the traffic!! Could of been a lost car too.

Routes done.
The Crevice. VD.
Chips and Peas. VS 4b.
Kellog Corner. S 4a.
Renshaw's Remedy. VD.
Left Holly Pillar Crack. S 4a.
Right Holly Pillar Crack. HS 4b.
Blizzard Ridge. HVS 5a.
Jonathan's Chimney. VS 4c.