Archive for June, 2010

Raven's Scar

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

waterslide left hand

Tuesday's intended crag was Eastby, but the BMC had requested no climbing on the main buttress due to nesting Kestrels. Hence, Simon had suggested Raven's Scar on the NYM instead. There are several nesting Fulmars at Raven's Scar (even mentioned in the guidebook), but presumably the BMC do not regard vomiting shite hawks with the same reverence as majestic falcons and so there were no bird restrictions here.

The evening was perfect weather and so, leaving work later than I would have liked, I nipped up the A19. All very speedy, until roadworks north of Thirsk ended rapid progress and I sat for half an hour in very slow moving traffic. Eventually parking the car at the top of Hasty Bank, I met Dave who had sat in the same traffic, so we marched off to the crag together.

When we got there, Simon and Carmen were already doing battle with Waterslide Left Hand (HS 4b*), which as the name suggests, is best avoided in anything but prolonged dry weather. Despite the green appearance though, Simon declared it 'better than it looks'. Dave and myself opted for Forest Face (HS 4b), a three star route described as a 'severe leader’s dream' (!). Despite this description, the exposed position concentrates the mind and stops you nodding off. With varied climbing and good gear where you need it, it certainly deserves the stars. I sat on top and admired the scenery whilst bringing Dave up. The silence was only occasionally punctuated by Simon’s harsh tones informing Carmen that “No! You can’t come down”.

By now, the sun was almost disappearing (did I mention that we had been delayed in traffic?), so Dave chose to lead the now inappropriately named Sunshine Slab (VD). Although short, this again is varied climbing over jammed blocks, a delicate corner and even a mantleshelf finish – all packed into a mere 10 metres.


We returned to pack our sacks in the impending gloom and met up with Simon, who since our last encounter had done Airlift Variation (S 4a) and Galaxy (VD). In fact, for the last route, the increasing lack of light had presumably impaired their route finding efforts and they had actually climbed Castor (D) by mistake.

Back at the top of the crag, Carmen was nowhere to be seen. Slightly concerned for her welfare, we spent several seconds looking for her before assuming that she must have already headed for the car. We found her a few minutes later at the top of the descent steps, guiltily consuming a late supper which, given her sharp departure from the crag, she clearly had no intention of sharing!

As we returned to the cars, our happiness at another fine evening’s climbing was only slightly dampened by the realisation that the evenings were now drawing in.

Climbing Wall Meets Crag in Yorkshire

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Dave Smith on Waltzing Matlilda at Foredale

A summary of moderate sports climbing venues in Yorkshire.

There are several blog’s for foreign bolt clipping on the YAC site.
However I have seen no mention of any local bolt clipping, while climbers from with similar grade profiles are regularly enjoying local bolted climbing YAC members seem to be missing out on some superb climbing on their own doorstep.

 So here are some local venues for the moderate bolt clipper who is at home leading on an indoor wall & wants to progress to climbing outdoors.

The original easy grade sports venue in Yorkshire, south facing, with over 100 bolted routes from F5 to mid F7’s.Very popular venue & often crowded.

Robin Proctor Scar
Another well established bolt venue. South facing but exposed to westerly winds, routes are longer & better quality than Giggleswick grades from F5 to F6c.
Some of the routes here are very good & well worth a visit.

Panorama Crag
South facing with 30 bolted routes from F5 to F7a, another crag well worth visiting.

Trow Gill
The climbs are in a sheltered gorge, it needs dry conditions. The south facing side has routes from 6a to mid 7’s. Another superb venue for the 6a man, the down side is that it can get midgy.

Trollers Gill
The nearest sport venue to York, well bolted with routes for 5 to 7c, unfortunately most of the easy routes are a waste of time. However there are several well bolted 6a+ routes that should be possible for many if you adopt a red point approach. Well worth a visit for people climbing 6a+ on a wall.

Situated in the middle of Settle, you can’t miss this one its got a flag on top.

Routes from 5 to 7a+, south facing this is a good winter venue & well worth a visit although the best routes are in the 6c & above bracket.

Blue Scar
Another sensational sports venue, unfortunately this north facing crag is bird banned until 31st July & so at best there is a window of 6-8 weeks for climbing. With a lot of high quality routes from 6a to 7b it the weather is good in August/Sept this is a must visit venue for the moderate bolt clipper.

Over 200 routes with more being added all the time, this is a major venue with quality routes from 3 to 7a+. Some routes are as good as the best trad climbs in the UK.
Make no mistake this is a major sports venue.

Up to date details of these crags can be found on the Leeds Wall downloads website & photos/blogs of many local bolted venues can be found on

 Happy clipping

Pick a grade, any grade…

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

As a club we've not had a good success rate in terms of the weather for our recent trips to Northumberland, and perhaps because of this it was a sadly depleted group of 2 who made it to Bellingham last weekend. Either that, or everyone wanted to stay at home and watch the foopball.

For once, the weekend was forecast to be warm and sunny, but form seemed to have reasserted itself when Saturday dawned overcast and windy with occasional drizzle. Not to be deterred by a bit of discomfort, we headed for Selby's Cove, which the guidebook said was sheltered; also it faced west, which we hoped would offer some protection from the cold north wind. Some protection was indeed given, though not quite enough, and we spent most of the day climbing in more clothes than we wore in the depths of winter.

It's not a bad little crag, but judging by the vegetation, not climbed on that much. The main routes were clean enough though. We started with The Corner (Severe ***), Carmen kindly offering me the lead when she saw how steep it was. An excellent route, which would be top end HS anywhere other than Northumberland. Next Carmen led The Arete, a nice Diff (more like boldish VDiff), then it was my turn again with Lichen Wall, allegedly VDiff. This turned out to involve about 5m of unprotected climbing up a slightly overhanging wall on ever-shrinking holds, and by the line described in the book would be at least VS 4b, probably harder. I took a line slightly further left, which was less steep, with bigger holds, and allowed some side runners to be placed, but still felt VS 4b. Finally, I led Holly Tree Wall (Severe *), which would be a good route (with a hard jamming start, maybe S 4c) if it weren't for the fact that the ledge at the top had been recently vacated by nesting ravens, so the rock was mainly white and smelly.

The only remaining routes were a 3 pitch Severe traverse (which we didn't fancy as the 'best' pitch led through the deepest section of guano), or were VS and above, which given the harsh grading we didn't fancy risking. But by now the sun was out, so we stopped off at Simonside North on the walk back. Carmen led Innominate Crack (VDiff **) a nice route and amazingly the grade was right. After I'd spent an age repeatedly failing to work out the crux move of Flake Corner (MVS 4c*) before retreating ignominiously, we finished with a quick ascent of Great Chimney, a brilliant 3-star Diff.

Sunday's weather was much better – bright sun with just enough breeze to keep the midges off, so we headed for Crag Lough, a fine crag on the Whin Sill buttresses immediately below Hadrian's Wall. Despite the weather, the fantastic views, and the large number of multi-starred routes at VS and below, we had the entire crag to ourselves until about 5pm when 2 other pairs arrived. We'd hopped to have a look at the classic HS's of Main Wall and Great Chimney, but a nesting kestrel made it clear that our presence wasn't welcome, so we stayed well clear of that part of the cliff!

Once again the guidebook grades bore little resemblance to the actual difficulty. Routes climbed:
– Spuggie's Gully (VDiff **). A fine lead by Carmen up steeper-than-they-looked cracks, passing nesting jackdaws (sorry) on the way.
– Raven's Tower (MVS 4b ***). My lead, that rarest of beasts an overgraded Northumbrian route. It deserved all of its stars though.
– Tarzan's Mate (VDiff **). Carmen again, and a return to reliable Northumberland sandbaggery. Probably (H)S 4b, but at least the gear was good.
– Hadrian's Buttress (Severe ***). This one took a while! I spent ages working out how to leave the ground, and then higher up I met another impasse that took another aeon to solve. A classic route, but definitely VS 4c!

Finally we wandered along to Peel Crag, a continuation of Crag Lough, where I led Sunset (MS ***). I'd already done this on our previous visit (7 years ago!), and it was just as good as I remembered it – thoroughly recommended to anyone, whatever grade you climb at (unless it's Mild Severe or below, as this one is really a tricky severe, especially the start).

A fantastic weekend – for those who stayed at home, I hope the England match was half as good!

More photos here.

Fancy some Whitestone Gromit?

Friday, June 4th, 2010

As Tuesday had been excessively damp, Gordon, Dave D, Luke and myself paid a visit on Wednesday evening to Rob’s randomly chosen crag of the week, Whitestonecliffe. With the consistency of mature Wensleydale, many of the routes here are best left to the cheese connoisseur.  However, you shouldn’t dismiss the whole crag for this reason, as there are some superb lines on (relatively) solid rock.

After a quick roped decent of the approach gully, Gordon and Dave scuttled off to do Gauche (VD). However, my guidebook showed that it was 13 years since I last climbed The Night Watch (VS, 4b), so I decided that it was well overdue for a re-ascent.

Standing at the bottom, the route looks quite daunting, following a steep, wide crack vertically upwards for nearly 40m to the top. That’s not a typo and indeed, routes here are some of the longest in the north of England, bar the Lake District. I started the route by partly wedging myself in the crack, which gives a perceived sense of security.  However, for most of the climb, it’s better to use holds on the outside of the crack and there are even occasions when you need to swing boldly out onto the face. This gives a real sense of exposure that you certainly won’t find at Brimham. In fact, with the foot of the crag standing atop a steep wooded bank a good 100m above Goremire lake, the feeling of scale and exposure is more reminiscent of the Dolomites than genteel North Yorkshire. Throughout, the climbing is technically sustained at it’s grade, but nowhere too difficult and gear is generally very good. Persevere, and you eventually reach the top. If you have the fine weather that we enjoyed, you can then bask in the sun, enjoying the glorious views as you bring your second up. The route has three stars and is generally regarded as one of the best VS’s in Yorkshire – a must if you’ve never done it!

We returned to the bottom to do Gauche on Gordon and Dave’s recommendation. This is another excellent route up a pillar to a large cave, followed by an airy traverse leftwards under the cave roof. The traditional finish is up a vegetated and unpleasant corner and not recommended.  However, a much better finish is to take a rising traverse up the slab to the left at a slightly harder grade. Again, a good tree belay at the top provides a comfortable stance from which to gaze at the view.

Soon after Luke set off, the ropes suddenly twanged tight. He had apparently got in a bit of a pickle with the cheese, when a ‘positive’ hand hold snapped off without warning. After several seconds staring up at his feet, he managed to regain an upright stance and was soon at the top without further incident. We were reunited with Gordon and Dave as they emerged from the vegetation at the top of another vintage route to the right. With the sun now disappearing below the horizon, we declared an end to a fine evening’s climbing.