Posts Tagged ‘sandbag’

A Windy Weekend

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Lunch time at KinderWith westerly gales forecast we decided to head for something east facing, and after much reading of guidebooks decided on the northern edges of Kinder – specifically, Chinese Wall. A beautiful walk in up the valley led to the crag. Unfortunately, although it was out of the worst of the wind, some of it was channelled round the sides of the crag, so it wasn't quite the sheltered spot we'd hoped for.

Still, we'd come this far, so stuck it out! I started with Communist Route (VD), Carmen followed with Nationalist Route (S 4b – nails for the grade, I've done easier VSs), and I then led Mandarin Arete (S 4b, VD in the old guide, I thought more like VS 4b – maybe we were having an off day!).

G.P. AreteAfter this we fancied something easier, so headed towards Misty Wall on the other side of the valley. This is a classic VS 4c, so not easier at all, but we've done it before so had an excuse to walk on by. We finally settled on G.P. Arete, an obscure HVD. This turned out to be a great little route, and at last one that wasn't undergraded!

Then, with a pathetic 4 routes done, we headed home. A great location though, we'll be back when it's warmer! We'd probably have done better heading somewhere lower, and joining the others at Rivelin.

White WallOn Sunday, the one requirement was for a crag without any jamming, as the rough moorland grit had left its painful mark on our hands. So we decided on a complete change, and went to Oxenber, a limestone crag in the Yorkshire Dales. We'd been there once before, but that was 10 years ago so we'd forgot all the routes.

The forecast was for strongish winds at first, easing through the day. The first bit was right, but it actually got stronger in the afternoon, before finally dying down by the evening. At least it was west facing so got plenty of sun!

IngleboroughCarmen started with Crossroads Buttress (HS 4b), which turned out to be the sandbag of the crag! Comments on UKC suggest VS 5a may be closer to the mark. After battling for a while, she admitted defeat. I did the same without even trying. Another pair (the only other climbers we saw all weekend) tried it later, they both thought better of it as well.

After this things were more successful, and we climbed Twin Cracks (HS 4a, more like HS 4b); White Wall (S); Grandad (S, a great route); Coker (VD but with a polished 4b crux); Little Gidding (VD); Salvages (VD); and Nice (a Severe that lived up to its name).

All in all a cracking weekend.

A few more photos here

Hadrian's Wall

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Hadrian's ButtressThis summer's (sic) first camping meet was to Once Brewed, by Hadrian's Wall. Despite the lack of anything particularly summery, a great time was had by all.

On Saturday, Peter, Mike, Alan and Donal went off to Kielder for some mountain biking, where Peter was eaten by midges. Carmen and I met up with Jamie at Crag Lough, under the Wall, to take advantage of the dry conditions for some climbing. Any midge that had shown its head would have been immediately blown into the North Sea, so we stayed uneaten.

The roc's nest on Grad's GrooveWe managed half a dozen routes, from VDiff to MVS, though as is often the case here, the guidebook grades bore only a passing resemblance to their actual difficulty. Jamie led the classic hard severes of Main Wall and Hadrian's Buttress. I led Dexterity (S) and Hadrian's East (VD). And Carmen led Ash Tree Wall (S) and the main sandbag of the day, Grad's Groove. Graded MVS 4b, but with 5a moves to leave the ground, the crux for Carmen was climbing into and then out of the massive nest that blocks the upper chimney.

Sunday brought more of the same weather. Mike headed off for some more biking. Alan did a long run along and around Hadrian's Wall. Donal and Peter finally managed to climb at Crag Lough, after many years of rainy visits, but called it a day after being sandbagged on two "VDiff"s Bracket, and Tarzan's Mate – climbing at this crag takes some getting used to!

TrapeziumCarmen and I started out at Peel Crag, where I led Tiger's Chimney (VD) prior to Carmen's attempt on Tiger's Overhang (VS 4c, with the crux involving getting over a large horizontal roof). Discretion won the day and she retreated into the chimney, to return sometime in the future, packing extra bottle. We then returned to Crag Lough, where I led Face Route (S, but easier than most of the VDiffs) and Carmen did Sinister Groove (S, but would be VS anywhere else). Some light rain put an end to anything hard, so we finished with Trapezium (Diff), Back Alley (Diff), and Route Two (VDiff).

A few more photos here.

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.

crookrise giggles and cursing

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Sunday 2nd August, me, simon C, Kirk, Skenders, Ewan and Dave P all headed off to the delights of Crookrise. After some initial skirmishes on End Slab we all went our seperate ways, meeting up every now and again on our favourites. Best entertainment was had by all on Buster, a mere Severe which requires the skills of a contortionist and then sneaks in a traditional gritstone sloper of a finish. Me and Simon also had a giggle on Slingsby Chimney, a three star HVD. I could see the light in simon's eyes as soon as he spotted this so didnt dare pass it by, sure enough the thing was a true off-width offwidth, too wide to be a squeeze chimney, too narrow to back and foot. So the traditional giggling, squirming, cursing experience it was, good value indeed. Simon to be fair had already paid his dues on Flake Wall, an alleged severe which turned out to be a thinly protected VS. Another sandbag was found with Simon's lead of Face Arete and Wall Climb – allegedly VD, but felt very thin indeed, unless we were off route. Meanwhile Skenders and Kirk tried the cats whiskers, somehow managing to miss out the crux, and Crookrise Crack, a two star VS, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed The Long Climb, a straightforward and enjoyable VS. Then yet more cursing ensued as I sandbagged myself onto The Forager. VS 4c, how hard could it be? I found out as I swore sweated and gasped my way through the crux traverse, to the amusement of all. Lots of other routes done, wont list them all, but a very enjoyable and fun day despite some occasionaly wacky grades.

Stoney Sandbaggery

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

After many years of excuses, and spurred on by a post on UKC, we finally decided to take a trip to Stoney Middleton, a big trad limestone crag in the Peak District.  Once one of the most popular crags in the area, changing fashions and a reputation for polished rock, mean that hardly anyone climbs there these days.  But go over the road to the bolted choss that is Horseshoe Quarry and you'll be queueing for routes…

Anyway, inspired by the tales of horrible polish, Carmen made straight for Parachute (VS 4b), described in the guidebook as possibly the most polished route at the crag, presumably on the basis that after this everything else would seem OK.  In the event it wasn't actually that bad compared with somewhere like Twistleton, and Carmen was soon at the top (after a teeny weeny rest to examine her reflection in the holds).  As we were finishing the route, one of the only 2 other parties at the crag that day arrived.  We thought they were climbing nearby until they turned on their head torches and disappeared down a hole in the ground.

Onwards to the Triglyph, three "unmistakable" crack climbs.  I started with the nicest looking line, a narrow chimney/offwidth which luckily soon narrowed further to become a jamming crack.  This was "How the Hell", VS 4b, and seemed quite hard for the grade, but great fun.  We then moved on to the adjacent route, Morning Crack, Severe.  Carmen had a go first, found it surprisingly tricky, and duly backed off.  I took over, found it surprisingly tricky, and even more surprisingly unprotected, but eventually made it to the top.  VS 4b we reckoned.  Both routes turned out to contain active jackdaw nests, luckily other than a bit of squawking these birds are largely unbothered by climbers.

A bit more wandering round (aka faffing) deciding what if anything to climb next.  Met the 2nd other party at the crag – a bloke top-roping a vegetated VDiff with his 2-year-old son.  Was tempted by a VS jamming crack but wary of getting out of our depth after the last 2 routes we decided to go home instead.  We also wanted to be up bright and early the next day for some more climbing, taking advantage of the forecast sunshine.

At 7.30 the next morning it was pissing down, and didn't stop until about 3.  So we went orienteering instead and got soaked, ideal preparation for next weekend's LAMM!

Footnote.  After a bit of discussion on UKC, it turned out that the topo in the Rockfax Stoney Middleton guidebook is wrong, and the routes we actually did were What the Hell (VS 4c) and How the Hell (VS 4b – no wonder it felt hard and scary for a severe!).