Archive for September, 2010

"Can I climb too daddy?"

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Quote of the day from Pia (Erin and Daniel were too young to comment). Followed closely by the unique experience of being reminded to moderate our language by Sweary Ian so as not to teach Pia any new words that she has'nt already learnt from her dad.

There has been a mini population boom in the york climbing community over the summer, so its becoming increasingly common for climbing days to include buggies and nappy changes! But with a few people around it all works remarkably well, with people taking turns to keep an eye on the rugrats – in fact some of us were quite happy for the excuse to sit and have a brew and gossip between routes. And Pia seemed very happy padding up her first (very slabby) slabs and trotting round with Ians pink rope like a favourite toy.

Meanwhile, the grownups got some routes done. First of all we all udged our way up Squeeze Crack – we soon discovered why the name, and there was much subdued (and cleaner than usual) cursing as we all discovered we were fatter than we thought. The a similar mass assault on Sculptured Wall, an interesting but oddly protected (you need a megacam and a camalittle!) route with a precarious finish. VS 5a in the book. Team Meredith then headed off for a new route of Helen's involving tea and cakes, while the rest of us moved on to Frensis (a VS of almscliffian thugginess)- I  cunningly persuaded Dave S to lead this, being too chicken myself. Dave also demonstrated the "heroes finish" leaping from the top onto the next pinnacle along. Shedding Team Sweary and Dave S, who had to dissappear, I then convinced Rob to lead Roadside Crack, an off width E1 which is well protected providing you have a dustbin lid sized cam (I do).  Finally, having lured everybody else into leading the hard stuff  (mwa ha ha har) I donned the pink helmet and headed for an easy warm down, Turtleneck Crack (HS 4b) before home.

Stoney Middleton

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Just a brief report, as the trip was 3 months ago so my memory is hazy!

This was a new hut for the club, in the village of Stoney Middleton, just up the road from the famous limestone crag.

On Saturday, Carmen and I decided to make the most of the location, and walked to the local crag. For some strange reason we decided to warm up on Froth, a fine 2-pitch VS. Carmen led the first (4b), which the guidebook led us to believe was a polished horror. It actually turned out to have some fine climbing, with some nice bridging, laybacking, jamming and thrutching, well worth a star or two in its own right. I did the second pitch, a long 4c traverse, which I decided to make harder by faffing as much as possible, and going backward and forward enough time to ensure I was completely pumped before I eventually committed to the crux.

After this, Carmen led Asparagus (VS 4b) – again not as polished as expected, we might have gone off route near the top when we traversed right to avoid an unprotected vegetated crack. And we finished up with Glory Road, another VS 4b. I led the first pitch, a Diff-ish chimney, then Carmen led the steep and slightly shiny second pitch, luckily steep enough that it didn't get too wet when it started to rain.

Meanwhile, the others headed for Froggatt where all sorts of things were climbed, including Sunset Slab, Sunset Crack, Turret Crack, Trapeze, and Allen's Slab.

The next day, it rained.

Carmen and I went for some orienteering near Harborough Rocks, after which we went to explore Rainster Rocks (Brassington). Given the weather we left the climbing kit in the car, though in the event it was dry enough for some easy soloing and we could have done some harder things if we'd brought rock shoes!

The others went for a very wet walk in the Hope Valley, while Debra sensibly went home!

Carmen's and my photos here
Debra's photos here.

A little known corner of the Yorkshire Dales

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

On Sunday 12th September a group of us set out a walk from the village of Leck. With me were Simon C, Carmen and Annie.

Walking on air towards Gragareth

Leck is a small village close to the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales just off the A65, 2 miles south east of Kirby Lonsdale. Leaving the car parked at Leck church village we followed Leck Beck several miles northwards as far as Ease Gill.

The dry stream bed of Ease Gill has some tricky sections. That day the rock was slightly damp making it greasy and slippery. The scrambling starts with an awkward step up to a higher level. Despite a pile of stones put there for a leg up, which I kicked over several times, Simon was the only one of us to make this first move. Walking round this obstacle the rest of us met Simon again and continued up the gill until our progress was again impeded by another difficult step. The technique here was to stand on footholds to bring your shoulder level with a ledge, reach out horizontally to handholds an arms stretch away, pull up and with a bellyflop land in the polished bowl of a ledge, legs flailing. Difficulties were not over, the next section was a greasy chimney, here we had to take our boots off and climb in our socks to get any friction, much easier.

Progress up the gill was now more of a walk and we continued upward until we came to deep hidden pool. Here we left the gill and headed north and west across Casterton Fell towards Bull Pot Farm.

This area is the centre of activities by cavers trying to join up the cave systems of Yorkshire Lancashire and Cumbria.

From Casterton Fell we began a long trudge over tussocky grass uphill to a lunch stop on Crag Hill. Here we had views over to Morecambe bay and the Lake District. Once on top we headed over to Great Coum, the northern most point of the walk. Next we headed south west along a long ridge with Ease Gill on one side and Kingsdale on the other.

On the ridge we passed the county stone where the ancient county borders of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Westmorland meet. Also on route were the slight rises Green Hill and Gragareth and more views. We could see all three peaks, Whernside, Penyghent and Ingleborough in one vista. There were particularly good views of Ingleborough.


Eventually we descended the tip of the ridge and headed for Masongill, Ireby and hence the end of the walk, Leck Church where we had parked the car.

The walk was 16 miles and took us 7 ½ hours including stops and scrambling. Although we did see some people on the hills the area is generally a lot quieter than other parts of the dales and it is well worth exploring.

Check these links;

Peter Evans

An undiscovered classic crag

Monday, September 13th, 2010

As part of route-checking for the new gritstone guidebook, a few of us nobly sacrificed the chances of a quality day's climbing and made the journey across the M62 to Darby Delph. After ten minutes standing around getting wet, the next hour or so was spent in the pub drinking tea and coffee while waiting for the heaviest rain to subside. Some might say that this was the best part of the day, but that would be unfair – any climbing is better than no climbing!

It was dry when we got back to the crag. Or rather, it wasn't raining – the crag itself proved the guidebook wrong ('quick drying') and stayed resolutely wet all day. A couple of sections managed to almost dry out, but the crag takes a lot of drainage and most of it remained dripping (or pouring) with water. Therefore our climbing was restricted to the section to the right of Booth Dean Arete. These routes are all pretty similar, being a series of small steps up a poorly protected steepening wall, with the cruxes at the top (partly because it's steepest there, but mainly on the day due to wet rock / sand / earth / grass). At the left of this section there is also the hazard of some sandy suspect rock.

Rob and Peri climbed Booth Dean Arete (HVDifff), or rather they meant to, but actually took a line a metre or so to the right called Organe (VDiff). I've done them both, and they're pretty identical in terms of difficulty and quality, even though the arete is allegedly a 2-star route! Rob and I both led Rogane, just to the right – poorly protected with some very worrying rock near the top. Most people did varying permutations of the three routes to the right again, all of them basically the same climbing with varying amounts of gear.

Ian bravely/foolishly led Half Done (VDiff), which comprised easy (Diff-ish) climbing up rock, followed by a VS exit up steep grass – Peter was almost as traumatised by it when seconding. Then I brought matters to an end by even more foolishly leading Little One (VD) – unprotected climbing to a cave / sandpit / waterfall, followed by exposed moves left which might have been well protected, but all the gear-cracks were lined with half an inch of wet sand and so were rather more worrying than they might have been.

Then we went home, with the classic crag remaining undiscovered.

There is some reasonable climbing here, but it's all unremarkable and rather characterless, most of the routes being pretty much the same. It's possibly that the sections I've not climbed on yet are better, but I'm not putting money on it.

Some more photos here, which somehow manage to make the crag look better than it is.

Froggatt soft touch day

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

As discussed with Peri Yesterday here is the Froggatt Soft touch circuit.

Ian warming up on Chequers Buttress

Froggatt is a strange crag you can go there do 9 routes, pick up 11 E points & still have an easy day or if you pick the wrong routes you can get your ass kicked.

This is how I do my regular little circuit.

Chequers Buttress at Hvs 5a, a real soft touch & a good warm up, well worth its 3***’s, it has superb gear even a overhead placement on the crucial step up to the main arête.
You need one set of wires 1-10, one no 2 friend & 2 slings to belay.

Browns Eliminate E2 5b, this route is a little run out but the crucial moves are protected by a no 3 friend & 3 Rock plus you can get a larger nut in Green Gut before you start the traverse. If in doubt top this one first as people have been hurt on it but its well worth adding to your repertoire.

3 pebble slab E1 5b, Another soft touch protection in the pocket is no 2 friend (some say 1.75 but I ain’t got one) & small Rock 2/3 ish.
It’s a bit run out on the slab but what do you expect for the grade.

2 sided Triangle E1 5b, Crux here is well protected by a large Rock on the left, the hard move is starting the slab & soon over.
You can speed things up on these 2 routes getting the first man up to set up a lower off on a convenient tree above both routes.

Motorcade E1 5b, a superb slab climb, easy to start put a couple of mid size rocks in upper crack of Tody’s wall, then climb the slab to the right, the guidebook says its 5a but I think its worth 5b. Using this method it’s still quite run out but you would not hit the deck.
Get your second to leave the runners in for the next route.

Ratbag E2 5b another superb mirror image of the last route & very similar grade if you use the nuts in Todys Wall. Once again quite run out but crucially you would not hit the deck if you came off.

CMC Slab Hvs 5a but easily as hard as its neighbours the given grade allows for 2 side runners.

Brightside E2 5b, another classic, starting up a HS chimney I find this the hardest bit, you then place a couple of really good 1,2 rocks and when you step out of the chimney onto the face you come into balance.
Place ½ friend & 1 friend, step up on good holds, mid sized friends then move up steep ground on good holds to ledge. Western roll type finish that is well protected by no3 & 3.5 friend.
Great climbing never E2 in a million years.

Sundowner E2 5b, you need a 1.5, 2 friend on the first section then move across & put a small wire in the bottom of Sunset Crack, the guide says the top section is 5a but I think its 5b for a couple of moves. Once again if you came off you would swing but should not hit the ground.

If you want a much tougher day try some of these.

Chequers Crack Hvs 5c
Big Crack E1 5c
Synopsis E2 5c.
Valkyrie Hvs 5a,5a
Strapiombante E1 5b

One important factor to remember is that Froggatt gets very busy at weekends & it helps if you have neat feet.

Some recent gritstone classics

Easy day at Froggatt

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Peri and I headed down south as the forecast said it would stay better there.

Neither of us were full of gung-ho so we had a fairly chilled day at the crag enjoying the hot sunshine and surprising lack of crowds. Peri decided on Allen's Slab (surely wrong crag!) as her warm up but there was a queue so we did Congestion Crack a short HS 4b over to the left. Then the the aforementioned slab which was as nice as ever complete with self extracting gear. According to my guide i hadn't done recess crack direct (not that my guidebook is accurate) so we did that while there.

Next we wandered left about 20m and I soloed the Vdiff of Sickle butress, now a S but not that hard apart from one move at 2m. Peri had spied Broken crack (HVS or VS you choose) that she thought looked easy – i thought it looked steep at the top, but i wasnt going to let that spoil my fun. Refusing the suggested layback she udged her way up the lower section using all the large cams she had taken, and got established higher up. With a small but good hex she attacked the final crack, a few times it must be said, then with an almighty effort she was up, and off and flying. A couple more attempts and rests and eventually susssed out the one awkward move and easily got past her high point and topped out. I followed, laybacking the bottom (would be bold!) until some opposing nuts
Peri had accidentally placed. A good 5 mins of effort eventually i removed them all and finished the route.

Sickle Buttress Direct just next door is a nice VS 4c with a bold feeling but protected top move, over all nice climbing. I then led Green Gut – something I'd seconded a few times but can't recall ever leading and Peri followed then soloed after spying the moves on the adjacent crack for next time she is fresh.

We headed back to the car to look for Tegness Pinnacle, but instead had a nice walk in the woods! God knows where it is – so we went for a pint instead.


Monday, September 6th, 2010

Last week we found another obscure crag for the collection, a good one when the nights are drawing in. The Went Valley Craglets are hidden away in the back of the Yorkshire Limestone guide, and are a few miles south of the A1/M62 junction, only 45 minutes' drive from York. There are a few small crags dotted around, but only one has any recorded routes – Long Crag. It's in a very scenic location, lots of farmland and a nice wooded valley. Parking is in a nature reserve car-park, though on the day we went it was partly filled with a burnt-out car courtesy of the local joy riders!

It's very steep (vertical to overhanging), with little in the way of protection – so the guidebook advises soloing or top-roping. Since everything is VS or above and up to 13m high, soloing was not an option for us! Unfortunately, the belay bolts/stakes that used to be at the top have all been removed – but with the help of 2 ropes, we managed to set up good anchors on fence posts and a tree on either side of the crag. The descent down the near end of the crag crosses a farmer's fields (no trespassing), but the far end is easily accessed down a steep wooded slope.

We managed 3 routes. We started with Main Overhang Left-Hand, HVS 5a, but actually the easiest we did. Then Original Route (VS 4c *), the 'classic of the crag'. Very overhanging, but with big bucket holds, a bit like a climbing wall. Finally, Problem Wall (VS 5a), which gave us a few problems! The start is supposed to be the crux, but it finishes over a roof, and it was this that caused us most trouble. I went first, and avoided the issue by turning it on the right. Then Carmen, who needed a short rest ion the rope, but then despatched it with relative ease. Will showed how it should be done, with a lengthy dogging session involving much swearing before an eventual retreat to my cop-out variation. And finally, I gave the roof another go – a couple of rests needed, and a bit of a tight rope, but got there in the end – the holds are there, it's just a question of finding them before your strength gives out!

Some more photos here.