Archive for August, 2011


Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Behold - the kraken wakes!


Suntan lotion – check. Ab ropes – check. Ferry tickets – check. Yup, York Alpine Club plus friends are off on our summer holidays to Lundy.





Gannet Buttress

Lundy (norse for puffin) Island is a 2 1/2 by 3/4 mile granite plateau in the middle of the Bristol Channel. It's reached by a two hour ferry crossing, and it's a sea cliff climbers paradise.

We stayed in The Barn, which is like a climbing hut only posher, and sleeps 14 in separate beds – no cramped sleeping platforms here. With a shower and decent kitchen its ideal for self catering – except you are also two minutes away from The Marisco Tavern which does good cheap meals.

Some goats for Debra

Lundy has fantastic wildlife and is also a marine conservation area, so along with the soay sheep, goats, Lundy ponies and sika deer, seals were also a regular presence, popping up to watch our antics and offer beta (I assume thats what the sealy honks and barks were). At one point me and Crofty counted 14 seals below us, basking on the rocks and swimming in conga lines through the clear water.


Rob cruises Satan's Slip, Simon discovers The Shark is not VS!

The quality of the rock and climbs was fantastic, and lots of personal targets were ticked, too many to mention but a particular highlight was Simon C's accidental onsight of an E1 -quote- "I thought it felt a bit hard for VS". Since you managed it cleanly, Simon, we'll be expecting to see a few more logged soon… SWS (shallow water solo) queen was Courtney, who got a soaking three days in a row. Courtney enjoyed the ferry trip so much she did it four times, as she had an interview half way through the week.

Teflon Pete coming round the final corner of Albion

With so much quality climbing on the island, and 14 climbers it would be tedious to list all the routes done, so I won't, but at some point almost everyone made it onto the Devil's Slide, and I think we all went away with just as many new targets on our wish lists as targets we had ticked during our stay.

I suspect we will be going back but be warned – the barn is popular, and gets booked up around two years in advance.

Who went:

  • YAC: Peri, Rob, Simon C, Carmen, Courtney, Cef, Simon F, Debra, Annie, Pete E, Pete B
  • UKC: Teflon Pete
  • York Climbers: Graham Booth, Rachel, Crofty (and family)


  • Travel: six hours from York, then two hours on the M.S. Oldenburg from Ilfracombe (£58 return)
  • Accomodation: The camping barn costs about £1300 in total for a week in August, but sleeps 14 so is pretty good value. There is other, more luxurious, accommodation on the island that is much more expensive, and also a decent campsite which can be booked at quite short notice (cost about £11 per night).
  • Lundy Island website for more details:



Local few days…

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Dodgy forecast and showers and lethargy meant a local w.e for Peri, Dave S and I, climbing at Scuggy with Roy on Sat and Brimham with Rachel and Graeme on Sunday.

Got some good problems done at Scugdale spending some time working with Roy on techniques, so easy to practice with such a variety of quality short climbs and able to repeat and try different methods. General messing about and Roy did a lead with Peri while I spotted Dave on the Shelf.

A beer rounded off an excellent afternoon's chilled fun.

Sunday I found Peri and Dave about to do a repeat ascent of Green Prioress which Dave flew up really really easily, I opted for a rope and glad I did as it wasn't happening at all for me today. We then top roped a fine looking slab E3 5c which was really a bit disappointing as despite appearances the route seems to wander.

Ho hum, good to be out and in the sun while York got a drop or rain or 2.

Peri and I had Monday off work and organised a little trip via with George Wright, we headed to Rivelin,. Rained on the M1, threatened a lot at the crag then got so hot we had to run away and hide in the trees! Rivelin's a fine crag with loads and loads of quality routes at all grades from D to something way too hard for mortals. Many good S, VS and HVS though, and we were alone.

Highlight of the day was our trip to Altar Crack (VS 4c ***), great layback up a fine corner, more gear than you can carry, but – and its a big Nigella sized butt – you won't be able to hang on and place it without getting pumped – so be tactical!

Peri then practised her technique for 'The Nose' with an interesting ascent of Nonsuch (HVS 5b). After Renshaw's Remedy (VD **), a tad dirty but lovely route, we returned to the main area where it was now cooler, and I led Jonad Rib (VS/HVS in diff guides) easy-ish gearless climbing takes you near the top where good medium cams and a sling round the tree finish it off.

Great crag lots on my wishlist still, oh and the car park is free but closes at 7.30 – though you can park outside it!

Good times.


Sunshine at last

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Not much to report this week other than some overdue sunshine. We headed for Wharncliffe, where Carmen and I started with a protracted assault on Tower face (HS 4b ***).

It's clearly not possible that I've got worse in the 10 years since I last led it, so some crucial handholds must have gone missing or something. Got there in the end, though need some bridging to the block opposite which is probably cheating.

Not much time for anything else so we finished with Hell Gate Variation (VD **) which follows the normal line to the 2nd ledge, then traverses to the arete for a super-exposed finish. Better than the original, recommended.

Meanwhile Gordon and Dave climbed Puttrell's Progress (S 4a **) and a couple of nearby routes, and finished with one of the Black Slab routes. I don't think anyone else made it, but hard to be sure as it's a big crag!

A large block seems to have fallen off at the start of the classic Himmelswillen (VS 4c) but I don't think it's any harder, it may even be easier. But we can't remember what this bit was like before!

A few photos to follow later.

March winds and April showers

Monday, August 8th, 2011

After a few days of sitting in the office watching the sun out the window, the weekend forecast promised flooding on a Biblical scale. This duly arrived on Saturday, but Sunday sounded slightly less bad, with the chance of some dry weather before the rain returned in the afternoon. So we decided to risk it.

Despite lots of rain down the M1, and some more on the roads as we approached the crag, Agden Rocher was dry when we arrived, and mostly sheltered from the strong winds. As always, we were the only people there (the crag has a reputation for looseness which is only partly deserved).

We started with The Whittler (VS 4c *), which has a hard but well-protected start, giving much opportunity for faffing (which was duly taken). As Carmen passed the initial overhang, it started raining, but she persevered anyway, with some bold climbing up no-more-than-adequately-protected wet rock to a small cave where the rain got heavier so she stopped to belay. By the time I joined her it was dry again so she led the 2nd pitch as well (I've previously led the route). A really good climb, surely worth a couple of stars.

The sky was black again so I went for an easier route, Harlequinade (VDiff). Nobody ever climbs this, and you can see why. It climbs a crack behind a tree, and the crux is getting to the start of the crack, up loose vegetated choss. The crack itself is quite easy and involves battling with another tree. Two other climbers passed by as I was setting off, strange to see anyone else here, let alone in these conditions – shortly afterwards they wandered back again, presumably headed home as the rain started. By the time I reached the top it was raining hard, and there was no cosy cave to belay in, so I got more than a little wet. Just like mountaineering, only with added trees.

We decided to call it a day, but kept the harnesses on just in case we could find a dry route under the trees. We could, and even better it stopped raining and the sun came out, and the wind meant that the crag dried really quickly. So I led Hagg (HS), up a fine corner with some worrying rock but solid enough if you avoid the perched blocks of doom near the top. It finishes with an exciting step right across the void. I later discovered the new guide describes the route as "dangerous", but it's not really (though don't come crying to me if you try it and it falls down on top of you).

Next Carmen led the fine arete of Bianco (VS 4b *), a minor classic that would have queues if on a more popular crag.

To finish, I went for Derision (S). We climbed this on our first visit to the crag some 8 years ago and thought it a good route. The new guidebook reckons it's poor so I thought I'd better have another look to make sure. The first third is indeed fairly poor, with lots of turf and some crumbly rock, but it gets much better after that and the last section is excellent. It was graded VDiff first time round, but I wouldn't argue with HS 4b.

A nice late-Spring day, can't wait until Summer arrives…

easy peasy tuesday

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Yet another late decision as to where to head to avoid the rain, this time we opted for Brimham. As we headed west our hearts rose, there was blue sky, no rain and the roads were definitely dry. We carried on, deciding if the worst came to the worst we'd have to try something hard. But faith was rewarded! even though the road to Brimham was dry, as we turned into the car park the ground turned miraculously wet – it had been raining heavily at Brimham itself.

After wandering around for a bit searching for some dry rock, Carmen picked out Right Hand Crack (VS 4b), scene of many a previous epic, all of which had somehow been forgotten. So she set off anyway, opting to make the route a little more interesting by missing out as many foot holds as possible, but eventually she reached the top (minus most of the skin on the backs of her hands). I followed in fine style (ahem).

By now the sun was out and it had turned into a fine evening. Gordon and Dave K arrived for a rapid ascent of Cracked Corner (HVD), having no doubt already ticked off several other routes, before disappearing into the night.

Peri led Birch Tree Wall (VS 4c) pronouncing it damp but OK, and well protected courtesy of her behemoth cam. While I reacquainted myself with Difficult Crack (VD) – years since I did it, I'd forgotten what a nice little route it is – Roy led President's Progress. We were accompanied by a drum serenade courtesy of a guy from Sheffield whose son was perched precariously on the edge of a big drop, asking us abut how many accidents we'd seen while climbing.

I finished with President's Progress while Peri scooted up Lichen Slab, with a large piece of tree stuck down her shirt (your guess is as good as mine). The midges were starting to arrive, so we fled to the car, leaving Roy and Peri practising abseiling down the slab.

another easy peasy monday

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

the easy peasy monday sessions continued this week with another Brimham sesh. As we headed west our hearts sank, there was a big black cloud, light rain and the roads were definitely wet. We carried on, deciding if the worst came to the worst we would just top rope. But faith was rewarded! even though the road to brimham was wet, as we turned into the car park the ground turned miraculously dry – not a drop had fallen at Brimham itself. Result! We had two teams Team1: Courtney, Cef and Cef's friend Steve; Team 2: Peri and Roy. This evening Courtney led Pig Traverse (HS) partly on preplaced gear, and Roy led Grit Corner, a V diff which was a little harder than sometimes as the start was quite damp and greasy. Other routes done were fag slab, fag end, fag slab variant – in fact looking at that list of route names I think we should all have lung cancer by now. No abseil practice this evening – we ran out of time, the sun had set and the midgies were getting hungry.

If the weather continues to play ball there will be another easy rock session next Monday – a good chance for people to do stuff on easier routes, whether it's starting to lead, getting a bit of abseil practice, or just having an easy relaxed evening.


Monday, August 1st, 2011

crag Carmen had gone to do battle with the trains on a trip home and Julie is busy building stuff in her garden so Simon and I had planned a w/e trip somewhere. Friday am we decided on Lakes, by about tea time we had decided on Dow so we drove over and camped on the Walna Scar road. Up early (not Guido early) we were first to the crag, beating those camped at the tarn, it's only 30mins to the tarn and another 15 or so to the base of the crag. It's east facing and qute high with a reputation for being cold, hmm we were in full morning sun being burnt!

I had walked up three times before with my eyes on Eliminate A (*** VS 4c) – surprisingly not a Classic Rock route but highly praised, only to be met with a rope from bottom to top – not this time. 6 pitches are described with two crux 4c sections P3 & P5 which I got. Starting off quite boldly there is good spaced gear and steady climbing to the huge ledge belay. Climbing continues up a groove with better gear to the excellent pedestal below the roof and it's easy to combine these into one, as most people do including the two teams behind us.

It was rather a hare and tortoise affair, they would rush along then wait for ages to be joined by team 3 – as we pitched it all and worked out the way but I wasn't going to let them through! The next pitch is a slightly wild but well protected traverse left and up onto a ledge and cave and Simon leads through the excellent continuation traverse. The team behind's suggestions that these two pitches can be combined are politely ignored 🙂

pitch 5Next is the allegedly bold second crux, a traverse right above the overhangs. It says unprotected, unless you have a rock 4 and a friends 1 and 1/2 and another medium sized rock! Plenty enough gear and good incut holds lead across a great little pitch and up a groove to another huge ledge. Simon takes the last pitch, be hard to combine these and we faff trying to find a decent descent route — seems now everyone goes to the top before descending a chossy gully that had seen a number of ascents during the day.

chimneySeeing as we are over that side of the crag, Simon suggests the three star Arete, Chimney and Crack (*** S) and dispatches P1 up the quartzy arete – nice. I scramble up the next 2 pitches in one to the common belay ledge and Simon gets P4s excellent chimney.
Another route shares P2 & P3 so we ab back down to the ledge and I lead Gordon and Craigs (** S) top 2 pitches together including a wild traverse giants crawl pulling on some dubious looking blocks. Back at the bottom we opt for P1 of that route to get the full tick, but it's not great. Abbing off the huge flakes brings us back to base, with just time for a romp up the huge quartz slab of Giants Crawl (*** D/VD).

We wander back to the car/tent, cook, drink some wine and chill out, chat to a few folks. Forecast is low cloud and we ponder what to do. A lazy start the cloud is quite low so having had a great day we decided to head far from the madding crowds – Trowbarrow – where hardly anyone else is (quite normal Simon tells me).

It's warm and sticky and I nearly grease off Jean Jeanie (*** VS 4c) a few times while fighting to get the gear sorted – jammed hexes, cam wires messed up, nut stuck but not safe – you know the sort of thing. The climbing is steep, straightforward on good holds (a bit like Peak scar but better) with one harder wider section.
We both felt a bit wasted after that and we messed about (slept in the baking sun) for a while before doing Ramp Ant(* S and cleaner than it looks), Coral Sea (** VS 4c) and Jomo (*** VD) with no gear at all for the first 15m!

We call it a day and leaving at 5 we were back in York at 7 – long way around via the M62 but quick! Great weekend and injuries not playing up too much – result.

Simon's pictures.
Rob's pictures