Archive for July, 2014

3 men in a knob

Friday, July 25th, 2014

With bad weather forecast for Saturday, we decided to have that as our travel day for the ferry over to Arran, so friday would be a day on the Cobbler. Karl decided to drive the Knob (named because Rob can't read reg plates) so he could try out the new roof tent.

The days's objective was the CR tick Recess Route which heads up to the obvious fang on the Cobbler. We reached the base of the route at 4pm, and with the wind picking up and a potential for rain we headed on up. Rob slung the first 2 pitches together, P1040097going from open slab to closed chimney complete with chock stones to bypass. I had the next 2 pitches up grooves and chimneys, again more huge chock stones but they can all be skirted round. All in all a very nice climb. There was a potential to continue up the amazing looking face behind, but as the wind had picked up and a few spots of rain had landed, we decided to call it a day and headed back down.

Saturday to Tarbet. After an overnight camp in a layby and the roof tent christened, we headed in to Tarbet for a coffee before getting the ferry. P1040105Every part of this place is a real throwback from the 80s – the buildings, the decoration and music playing in the cafes. A quick shopping trip found Rob looking to upgrade his midge head net for a full midge jacket, but he decided not to buy when they didn't have the trousers to match. Just down the road in the middle of nowhere is a bus shelter with a jetty, which marks the ferry terminal. Karl cooks sausage and eggs.


The weather arrived when we reached Arran, so we cancelled the plan to climb tunP1040111and went to check the place out, and listen to some tunes. First stop was the local beer festival at Blackwater foot. Later in the day we stumbled on great spot to camp by the sea, then headed over for dinner at the pub, with a small choice in whisky afterwards.

P1040120A Sunday early start, with a long walk in for the day of cragging begins with Karl cooking sausage and eggs. The plan for the day was 2 more CR ticks linking Sou'wester Slabs with Labyrinth, which turned out to be a day of 2 halves. Unfortunately Karl was having knee problems (not helped by Rob's poor route choice – ed) on the walk in so headed back early.

Sou'wester is an utter delight. Perfect granite climbing with cracks for P1040132hands and friction for feet. Laybacking up grooves, padding over slabs and crawling under overhangs. It was over way too soon. The link up mod round the hillside is not much to write home about, but it's a quick way to get to Labyrinth.

Think of all the things which make a route enjoyable – nice climbing,P1040154 clean solid rock, good protection, views of the scenery – Labyrinth has none of these. It was mainly a multi-pitch squirm through the bowels of the hillside up wet body-width cracks with the odd boulder chock stone – some of which move. There was one pitch of nice climbing, and to be honest the main chimney was pretty unique though I'm quite pleased I wasn't leading this. The rest was damp and dirty thrutching.

V Diff apparently. Don't be fooled…


P1040155We eventually topped out at 9pm with the setting sun just visible though the clouds, and still a long walk out. As we were now quite late back, Karl had done what any worried friend would have done and found out what time last orders was at the local pub kitchen. He secured us a take-away meal which Elvis would have been proud of – burgers chips and Arran beer, all round. This was kept warm in his sleeping bag until we arrived back at 11pm. Nice one!

P1040177Monday morning rolled in and we had to pack to get the ferry over to the mainland and head home. Karl cooked sausage and eggs. The route back took us on A-roads instead of the motorway, so we could stop off on route at the idyllic Clifton Crag near Dumfries for a few more pitches. The routes here are really nice, but we only had time for 2 – Jeune Ecole(S) & Dirl Chimney(VS) both were interesting climbing and worthy of their stars.

Back in York for 10, and me back in Malvern for 2:30am. Corking weekend..

More of Petes pix.

Two Tuesdays on t'moors and one down South (Yorkshire)

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Raven's scar cont.

I had started a blog last week but had not had time to finish. I have deleted most to save repetition.  P1100876

Simon finished off the evening by leading the classic forest face, whilst Will, Rob and Paul attempted the start of Jonah – which has now become an annual challenge for Will & Rob who appear to be making some progress – maybe next visit. There was much shouting of encouragement to help Will's attempts which made for an amusing background noise whilst belaying & seconding Forest face. Justine's services were required (see photo) to retrieve the wire which had seen a fair amount of hanging around on. All in all, an entertaining evening – well worth missing the last England match for.

Peak scar

P1100814The previous weeks climbing had also been on the moors at Peak scar. Just myself, Simon C, Dave D and Donal this time. It has to be said there appears to have been a lack of traffic recently as we had to wade through the vegetation on the path around the bottom of the crag – and some vegetation appears to have cropped up on the routes. Simon wanted to take a look at one of the newer Tony Marr routes, The edge alternative start (VS 4c) at the right hand end of the crag. After taking a visual look he decided that he wasn't feeling that great and didn't fancy the lead. I bravely? volunteered instead – it turned out to be a good route. The start is rather lacking in gear (apart from a low break) and the rock a little crumbly in one area (heart stopping moment as one of my P1170508handholds crumbled). However, once safely on top of the ledge, the rest of the route was solid, with plenty of gear and good climbing (steep wall to start, then traverse, crack, wall, traverse). Description states you can traverse left at the top – which we did which makes for an extremely exposed finish on the nose – on the right hand side of the prow overhanging walkin. Meanwhile Dave and Donal were just around the corner – Donal led Downbeat & then Dave D led Walkin. Simon then led walkin once it was free. Donal sensibly decided to head back at this point. So the rest of us embarked on another route – time for Jordu. I hadn't realised how late it was when I suggested this – no head torches were needed to climb, but it was certainly dark when we were packing up.



After many confused emails Richard, myself, Simon C, Donal, Peter W and Dave D made it to Wharncliffe (whilst Paul & Rob were checking out Shooter's nab). It was a lovely warm evening (people even complaining too hot at times). There was a lot of new graffiti, but the climbing was as good as ever. Richard and I were there first – without a guidebook, so we headed for Beta crack as I was confident I could find that. We had just finished this when Simon arrived. Richard then got to place his shiny gear by leading Romulus – by which time the rest had arrived. Richard & Dave paired off and headed for the classic Putrell's progress. Meanwhile, Simon & I went off to try one of the new lines which was short but quite interesting moves in the bottom half. Simon then led Putrell's progress whilst R&D climbed a couple of routes around the corner. Simon & I finished the evening soloing a couple of routes on black slab. Richard finished by leading one of the routes on black slab and then dropping a piece of kit down one of the gaps which was a challenge for Peter & Simon to try and rescue. Donal & Peter climbed some of the routes around Fly wall and then headed further right to climb Hell crack. They may well have climbed some other stuff as well – but Peter enjoyed his first visit to the crag.  P1170651

Sheperd's Crag

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Donal wanted to get of of Yorkshire to do some longer routes so Rob, Donal and I headed across to Borrowdale to Sheperd’s Crag. This is a crag I’ve never been to but always quite fancied Little Chamonix, the classic 3-star VDiff of the crag.

Waiting at the crus

Waiting to attempt the crux on Little Chamonix (VDiff ***), snippets of advice regarding my reflection in the polished hold I needed stand on in a few moments, the view was magnificent.

It wasn’t an early start, made even less early by a stop at the cafe below the crag for a brew before we started climbing for the day. Brewed up, the first stop was Little Chamonix,it really is a lovely climb, we did it in three pitches but had to wait for the party ahead of us, not the easiest option given I was sitting on a polished slanting block just before the crux (even the banter from Donal and Rob about being able to see my face in the polished holds of the crux, given from their nice flat belay stance didn’t put me off – too much) but as compensation the view down Derwentwater was stunning in the early afternoon sunshine.

Rob completing the picturesque final pitch of Little Chamonix, below him were two solo climbers who just nipped up on their way to another crag!

Rob completing the picturesque final pitch of Little Chamonix, below him were two solo climbers who just nipped up on their way to another crag!

Once the route cleared we finished the upper pitches, the route has varied climbing styles and definitely deserves its reputation. Next stop Fishers Folly (VS 4c,4b), this was supposed to be 2 pitches but I strung it together into one. Good technical climbing up to the first belay stance followed by an airy traverse. Two options are described in the guide book for the finish, either straight through the overhang on good hold or to its right with additional traversing to boot. I tried for the overhang but failed, after several attempts, to find the good holds promised by the guide book, instead opting for the additional traverse around the overhang. A three star route on UKC but only one in the guide book, this time I think UKC has the edge. As we’d climbed two routes it must have been time for a cup of tea and some food, so we headed back to the cafe, sojourn over we headed for Donkeys Ears (S 4a), it was fun, but the route felt like more of a scramble, I think we messed up on the top pitch an ended up the VDiff finish but other than the hand traverse at the beginning of pitch two the climbing never really materialised. As the midges we now incoming we headed home, nearly, due to some poor diversion signs, via Gateshead!

Shooter's Nab'd

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
Paul under the Rostrum in evening light

Paul under the Rostrum in evening light, YellowCake UFO is the slab in front of him

A new crag for us, not far off the M62 about 75mins and 55 miles from York, Paul and I got an early start and headed west. The new BMC guide (Over the Moors) has details about how not to get shot and how to get there (we messed up on the way – make sure you leave the M62 at Junc 24). The friendly guy from the shooting club greeted us and we exchanged some banter before heading off on the 15 min stroll up the hill. It's an obvious crag, an ex-quarry in a fantastic setting, with easy block belays on top (at least for the routes we did).

The crag has lots of clean rock but also quite a bit of lichen growth and a lot of grass at the moment. Being a moorland crag it takes drainage and hence mud flows into the cracks and then sprouts! Paul did a sterling job cleaning 'Dont Panic' a S 4a with some nice moves and gear (once dug out).

I jumped onto did Ricochet Wall HVS 5b- the route of the crag, technical at the bottom, easy jamming at the top and all the cams you can carry (I placed 0, .5, 1, 1.5,2,2.5,3,3.5 and some wires !) so it's very safe, the top out is good and clean. Wonderful route well worth doing.

We finished on Yellowcake UFO VS 4c, a really good series of ledges on a slab, trending up a crack to finish, which Paul cleared of grass. Possible to make it easier by straying right to the arete, or way harder on the left (E2 5c!). Excellent small wires and cams protect the slab, and in the evening light it was fab.

The midges turned up as the sun was setting (it faces n.west ish) so we left. We will return, with more tools (take nylon brush and a nutkey at least) to clean the other good looking routes, climb some more of the interesting routes.

Raven's Scar

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Paul on Harlot's Goove

Harlot's Goove

Last week with dry weather we've had we headed for Raven's Scar on the NYM. Paul,Justine, Carmen and I arrived first, Simon was wandering around the hillside and Will turned up a little later. Paul and Carmen both had eyes on Harlot's Groove (VS) a long line through some steep grooves, and Paul was first up.

Will on Via Anna

Will on Via Anna

When Will arrived we had a go at Via Anna, a lovely short clean VS with good wires. By the time we had both finished it Paul had stopped fannying about and done the crux on HG. Simon and Carmen disappeared to check out a newish route off the right hand end (short, clean and good was the report).

Paul still fannying about

Next to Via Anna is a slab with some good breaks but awkward start off a ledge, after clearing out the mud from the crack (there was lots of veg. growth all over the crag) I slotted in a pair of excellent small wires and went for it. A very tricky 5b move with potential to catch ankles if you slipped off, gave way to very much easier climbing. Worth doing. Will, Paul and Justine followed while S&C didn't climb Moby Dick but did eventually jump on Forest Face.

Will, Paul, Justine and I went for our annual flail on Jonah. we have nearly worked it out 🙂