Archive for October, 2014

Tooling around

Monday, October 27th, 2014

IMAG1372Karl and I headed over to the Leeds Wall on Sunday to play on the dry tooling wall/tower. It's been there a while but i've never been and K had his shiny axes to scratch up. We took big boots to make it feel more real and arrived midday ish at a pretty empty wall (but full car park – kids club I think).

There are bunch of routes mostly graded M3..M5, we could't tell much difference between them but were glad it's top rope only. Kitted out in helmets, goggles, boots, gloves and pointy axes we thrashed our way up and down, falling off liberally and generally have a right giggle. In our early struggles i felt there was little subtlety in our style, mostly being of the flail and wild pull type of move. We reckon the grading must be for wearing rock boots, but we didn't care much.

IMAG1376Tea and lunch (chips and bacon butty) later we finished up most of the easier routes (there are 2 desperate looking things) including a really good interesting blue M4 with lots of lateral movement and another go at the wooden beams (with slots for torquing – excellent wheeze). Karl decided to finish off by slicing his finger open, luckily the gloves protected him – so only a small flesh wound. Unluckily (for me) they were my gloves he was filling up with blood !

A good fun shoulder busting workout, and a great change from H/Gate or York.

RAB Mountain Marathon 2014

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

The start in CrookdaleThis year's RAB was based just off the A6 a few miles south of Shap. As usual in this event we were doing Short Score – 6 hours on day 1 and 5 on day 2 to score as many points as possible.

Our preparation was sub-optimal, as I went down with a stomach bug a week before, but it would take more than that to prevent me at least starting!

The start was a short walk up the road at the foot of Crookdale. The competition area stretched as far as Kentmere in the west and the southern slopes of High Street in the north. A quick glance at the map showed the greatest concentration of high scoring controls was in the north and west, so that's where we decided to head.

Near Wren GillMost people seemed to be starting up Crookdale to pick up a few controls on the hills to the north, but we went south west to Borrowdale (not the famous one!) and Bannisdale, planning to descend into Long Sleddale before following paths west to Kentmere and the start of the high scorers. It wasn't long before the scale of our over-optimism became apparent! By the time we reached the head of Bannisdale we'd already curtailed our plans drastically, abandoning the trek west in favour of a circuit of Long Sleddale. So we traversed the head of Crookdale to pick up another 15-pointer before the descent into the valley, where we ran past the mid camp before a steep 300m ascent up the side of the valley.

Unfortunately it was now clear that our revised route had been miscalculated as well. We were going to descend almost to Kentmere and back (with some 300m of reascent) for a 25 pointer – but there wasn't going to be time. And having decided to miss this out, there weren't any other controls to add in before we finished. We might have had time to get to Lingmell End and back for another 20, but that would have been touch and go, and with lateness penalties this year becoming draconian after only 5 minutes we decided not to risk it. So we got back with some 40 minutes spare (ie wasted).

At the top of Long Sleddale140 points put us in 53rd place, one behind Alan K who had planned his day much better, finishing just a few seconds late with 144. Peter had been doing well, amassing 125 points, but unfortunately a knee injury slowed him dramatically and he was 45 minutes late back, losing all his points in the process.

The mid camp in Long Sleddale was the same one we'd used for the Saunders in 2010, in a superb location beneath the crags of Buckbarrow. The weather (low cloud and clag with a chilly wind on the summits) wasn't quite as good as the unbroken sunshine of that event, but at least it stayed dry and mild. And on the Saunders, the Sunday's weather was foul, with persistent rain and wind – this year, it was just more of the same, cloudy and dry, though a little too warm with no wind.

Sunday's map gave us two main options – either east to the hills above Borrowdale and Crookdale, or south towards Sleddale Forest. We opted for the latter as there was a group of closely spaced controls, and it also seemed to give more scope for adding/subtracting controls depending on progress.

Ascending Brunt KnottThings went pretty much according to plan at first. A few controls in tricky terrain were followed by a descent to the valley near Hall Beck and a stiff climb back up to the summit of Brunt Knott (despite its trig point and fine views this apparently doesn't feature on any tick lists of summits, Charles please note!), then a there-and-back trip to pick up a 30-pointer, helped by an unmapped track. In order to find a way around the out-of-bounds areas, we now had to descend into Long Sleddale and go a mile in the wrong direction before picking up a lung-bustingly steep track back up onto the fell for 15 more points.

The original idea from here had been to descend to Borrowdale and go up the other side to pick up between 1 and 3 10-pointers. But time was running out, so we had to miss these out and take footpaths round the foot of the fell instead. Carmen led the way and I struggled to follow! Just over 4 minutes late, a total of 135 points – 34th on the day, 42nd overall.

Alan arrived shortly afterwards, having opted for the Borrowdale and Crookdale circuit, picking up all controls bar one to arrive a few seconds early with 130 points – just 1 point behind us (woo hoo!). Peter meanwhile had decided not to drop out, but instead limped over the hills collecting 70 points on the way.

The icing on the cake – at the prize giving we discovered we were 2nd mixed veterans in the short score and won a prize!

This was the first time that Ourea Events had organised the RAB, taking it over after several successful years from Dark & White. They had a hard act to follow, but managed to pull it off. Looking forward to more of the same next year, but first we've got the 2014 Dark Mountains to contend with…

Our routes: Saturday here Sunday here

Results here

More details about the event here