In the past we've had reasonably successful long running threads on "what I climbed at the weekend" (always accepting it wasn't just weekend and that some people don't do monday-friday jobs so can climb midweek!). Everyone comes to UKC because they like climbing, so I always think it's nice to hear what people have been climbing - regardless of style, grade, region and so on. It can be inspirational in letting people know about climbs and crags they might not otherwise have thought about, and it's just interesting to hear about what folk are up to in different areas.
Through the lockdown I was cycling almost daily, but my cycling has tapered off since the easing and I've been getting out climbing regularly - climbing with new people, going to crags I haven't been to before and so on. I've done a bit more sport climbing than in recent years and although still terrible, I've got back up to onsighting 6a (and even one 6a+!) which I'm really chuffed about.
So last night I went to Masson Lees Quarry above Matlock with my old mate/sport climbing guru Tony, and after a few easier routes, onsighted Who Sat On My Satsuma? (6a) - a route I had looked at on my first visit there a couple of months back and thought it looked really good. It's a really fun route with some monster holds and relatively friendly bolting that makes even the timid like me think they should go for it, not wimp out! Really pleased I did it. Tony then stormed up the excellent Eye, Eye (6b+) which really felt like a bit of Majorca stuck in a Derbyshire field. I got up with a few rests on a top rope, and am now thinking with a bit more practice I should try and redpoint it. :-0 We climbed until it was getting dark and even had wonderful views leaving the quarry looking north to the last of the sunlight red on the horizon and wisps of mist forming in the meadows next to the river Derwent far below.
So anyone else?
Oh dear - come on people! It can be what you did last weekend, or last week. It can be holding the sloper at the end of the yellow circuit on your local wall for the first time. It can be climbing your first munro. We just mustn't let the "no one talks about climbing on UKC anymore" doom-sayers win!
We sat in the car and watched it rain at Castle Naze for an hour last Tuesday night. It did eventually clear up in time to bumble up a few damp easy things, but even I would probably have plumped for Masson Lees had I known!
Oh no! Yeah, it was pelting down as I left home to go down there but no rain at all once there. The Met Office hour by hour forecast was right for once! I presume you've done most of the classics at Castle Naze anyway over the years?
Here as thread support mostly!
Only been on real rock twice this summer - and one of those days it was pissing down.
Really looking forward to regaining some momentum; currently getting spanked weekly at the climbing wall.
I've been getting in quite a few quick hits, trying to complete a small challenge for the year which is to get as many "E-points" as my age. Good after work jaunts have included:
- Trowbarrow (Izzy the Push and a victory lap of Coral Sea)
- Black Crag Wrynose (Ann's Agony, The First Touch, and some playing around on Glass Slipper before deciding it was too bold to lead)
- White Ghyll (Do Not Direct)
- Gouther, Swindale (The Fang Direct and Hernia)
But, it's all been about the long hits this year, with a first car + good weather facilitating me finally climbing on Esk Buttress and Scafell Crag - two of the great Lakeland crags.
Stanage High Neb a few weeks ago on a Sunday, not my choice of venue and I questioned whether it might be a tad busy but we arrived at the 8:15am and there were only a very few small climbing groups spread along the crag.
It being the first trad I'd done since late January, we stuck to well within our grade and routes we'd done before and remembered no "scary bits". This meant HS and below, though we ended up mostly at HS. A few at High Neb, then along to Crow Chin which WAS somewhat busy with one big group there but they were mostly occupying a single route on a top rope (and I am not judging them for that!).
We did 9 routes then I felt super sleepy after poor sleep the night before, and went home. Great day out. Surprisingly cold!
Horseshoe and horsethief quarry were my first forrays into sport since lockdown was eased. Good fun with good people who I'd not seen for a while.
Went up to Roundhill res boulders near Masham couple weekends ago. Sweated my nads off carrying two pads and a rucksack up to the stones. Had a good couple hours but it was very hot and became uncomfortably so as the sun got higher.
Walked back to the van and drove home happy that I'd at least made an attempt to get out.
More recently I went to FreekLime in Huddersfield, a new bouldering venue. Booked in for first thing in the morning and had a good session getting a lot of mileage in, did all the routes from V1 up to V5 with a couple V6s attempted.
Off to Big Depot/ Leeds wall on Saturday.
That's all folks.
Had probably one of the best weekends (of weather, and outings) this year so far in Scotland..
Started off with a loop of An Caisteal and Beinn a'Chroin near Crianlarich. Car park was full at 8:30am which means there are plenty people out hill walking at the moment! Luckily we managed one of the last spaces. The drive up from Edinburgh was murky grey all the way. We started to trudge our way up to the ridge line through boggy / muddy ground with midges making it even more unpleasant with there being no wind below the cloud layer. Once on the ridgeline and out of the bog, it was a bit more pleasant going.. with the sun now starting to peek through the cloud layer ever so slightly... we ended up above the cloud inversion layer nearer the top and it was a wonderful sight, with only the munro tops poking out of the clouds! Of course now we started to roast from the sun, however the rest of the hike was much more pleasant. Definitely one for 'breathable' shoes though as the amount of bog is dire...
Sunday was an alpine start to head for the Buachaille for some classic rock ticks - North Face Route and then Agags Groove, as the one leads to the other and makes a good link up. Having done NF route before I thought it would be a pleasant start to the day as we didnt have to scramble all the way up to Rannoch wall and I knew the route so there wouldnt be any tricky route finding... besides who wants to wait in line for Agags when we could be on rock instead?! Suffice to say NF route was great, with me leading the harder pitches this time and succumbing to the buachaille's run out style on the last pitch although i managed to pull it all together - just! We topped out to a rather rammed Agags groove and Rannoch wall with about 3 teams on and around it which was disappointing but kind of expected due to it being an uber classic, so we decided to finish up Curved Ridge and then descend via Broad Buttress to get a bit more mileage on great, sticky rock which is slower than the corie descent but a helluva lot more fun!
Needless to say I was pretty pooped after that weekend.. !
Shortest session ever on Tuesday evening at the Roaches. Unpacking the boulder pad from the van I could see the rain clouds gathering. Decided to give it a chance but was followed by the clouds as I walked up. I knew I should turn back but didn't. Luckily I was aiming to boulder a traverse starting in a cave. Got to the cave just as it started raining. Hid in the cave with the pad as a rain barrier for 15 mins. Stopped raining, checked the rock was wet so nothing climbable, walked back to the van and home.
Highlight of last few weeks was 8 days on Lewis - climbing, eating, drinking, chatting, sleeping for 8 days solid with friends. Partly injured half way through so went surfing and snorkelling for a rest day.
Then a week in Wester Ross.
Furtling around on some of the more obscure corners of grit (and sandstone) in the last month or so. Haven't tied on but bouldered maybe 100+ problems. From the truly obscure - Urchin's Kitchen, through mainstream - Ramshaw, Newstones, Helsby, to the excellent and underappreciated - Stony Edge, West Nab, Standedge. Sprinkling of lime at Ruthin. Loads to go back to at all those venues. Earlier in the summer cleaned up a funny little buttress at Frodsham giving some nice problems to 6A+
Super chilled afternoon at Birchen Edge today, leading a novice up some of his first grit climbs and filling in some gaps in my explorations there. It was also a test for our young Springer to behave herself at the bottom of the crag , which she did on the whole. So all in all a very pleasant afternoon in the sun.
Waited a long time for a dry day in July and when it came it felt weird to be out travelling for entertainment sake. I went to Galloway to try Traitors Gate as it was described as quick drying. The long drive and cycle to Backhill of Bush were trying in spite of it being a beautiful morning. Crossing the vast bog Silver Flow felt creepy; I was getting the whole stranger in a strange land thing. By the time I reached the crag resolution was crumbling and I started to convince myself that the upper cracks were wet.
Mercifully, it rained at that point, pouring out of a suddenly black sky. I didn’t bring a coat so got drenched scrambling up past the Scrieve slabs and over the incredible rough miles, round the beaches of Loch Enoch, to Merrick.
The sun came out as I negotiated thigh deep tussucks back beneath the Dungeon. It was an interesting walk in a new area but I felt tired and beaten. Drove all the way home in glorious sunshine.
The only route i've done in the lakes, and what a route to have done! I remember it being the height of summer yet absolutely freezing up there, had to pull on a piece of gear seconding a pitch as I couldn't feel my extremities.
I'm still socially-distancing from climbing friends (as well as others), but I've been able to do masses of shunting since lockdown. I set myself a 'gross challenge' ... at least 12 pitches in a day at 12 different crags, from home in Birmingham. Usually I'd shunt a route twice after sorting out anchors etc, so about 72 routes. Some of them very short, and of varying grades. Stanage, Symonds Yat, Hen Cloud, Froggatt, Ippikins, Black Rocks, Birchens, Wildcat, Bamford, Gardoms, Laurencefield and finally Burbage North.
Good fun, not much risk if everything is double-checked, and I was able to chat to other climbers. Mrs H was able to do some good walks, so it didn't feel like a wasted summer.
> Did I see a photo of you on Botterill's Slab (VS 4c)? Still the only proper route I've done on Scafell (20 years ago!) and still one of the best UK VSs I've done I think.
Yes - I posted a couple I took of my friend and trusty second, yes
It was my first route on my first trip to climb on Scafell Crag, too. You can almost smell the historicity of routes like Botterill's Slab and Moss Ledge Direct and Jones' Arete. The whole way up p2 of Botterill's I was marvelling at the audacity of Botterill to head up such an improbable and impressive piece of rock in nailed boots with no runners. And MLD&JA was a real historical journey, with pitches by OG Jones and Siegried Herford, the 1903 tragedy to dissect as you leave Moss Ledge and Hopkinson's Cairn to add your pebble to as you pass on above. I also saw a cracking Brocken Spectre.
How many times do you have to move the anchor? Must be at least 3 anchors per crag. Sounds like a nightmare in terms of constantly moving/setting up again!
Summer arrived on the last weekend of the Scottish school holidays. I drove early to Seathwaite under cloudless skies, parking half a mile short of the farm; there were a lot of cars but few people.
It was a long hard stumble up to Sty Head where the early risers were swimming in the lake. The Napes stood in cool shade above the backdrop of Wasdale. I’d had designs on Eagles Nest which looked easy and juggy in its first half, but the old worries began to churn again. My legs felt cramped, I had a swollen finger from falling in the burn, was the crux right at the top?
I opted for Abbey Buttress instead which was immediately steep and exposed. I plodded gracelessly up the first two pitches, not really enjoying myself but impressed with the route which was really earning its three stars. Pitch three offered options. A steep, greasy corner crack on the right ( the guide said left) was full of loose flakes, so I squelch up a grassy gully to regain the crest higher up.
By the time I had clattered back down I was knackered. Had a nice chat with a team doing Eagles Nest before crossing the hideous screes of white napes, looking for Moses Trod.
It really was a day of days, with views down Ennerdale and Buttermere to the Galloway Hills and back over the cloudless Lakes. By early afternoon I had found the top of Gabbro Buttress in Gillercombe. It was hot now and I stuffed sore toes into my shoes, surrounded by a cloud of midges that where too lazy to bite. I didn’t fancy yarding on the detached block of Rough Stuff and reversed back down to do Rough Magic instead, which was nice and worth a star. Just say Non was awful and at one point involved hand traversing a jumper bush.
It was a long stumble down a deserted Gillercombe, taking in a few routes on the slabs, before encountering the rest of humanity bathing in the Sourmilk burn.
It took and hour and a half to queue to the M6, but when I finally got to the junction, I was the only car that turned North.
Right- weekenders - let's be 'aving you! Who's done what?
Flaky forecast and disorganisation led to a last minute agreement with Sarah last night to go out this morning. We ended up at Horse-Thief Quarry, not completely sure why, probably because its so close to the road so if the heavens opened it wouldn't be far back to the cars! I went with minimal expectations thinking I had done most of the routes I could do there already but it turned out to be an excellent trip. I led a 5c that felt pretty easy to start with, then we top-roped the 6b next to it, Dome of the Thief (6b). The crux section was tough but I got through it on the top rope first time and practiced the hardest moves again when lowering down. Sarah then top-roped it to refine my beta, before I had my first redpoint attempt. It went pretty smoothly - it's amazing how much easier it feels when you know where the holds are! I think that's the first 6b I've led in the UK if you don't count the Moss Rake slab which is, well... a slab and hence easy. I then onsighted the 6a on the far right of the cliff Stop Thief (6a) - the topo reports it as being crap, but it's not that bad and that also takes some pressure off. Next, feeling good, I tried the great 6a+ next to it Amazing Thief (6a+). That is nice climbing, and I was happy to onsight it. I finished by doing a 4c that I had done before to get the clips in for Sarah to then lead. Not her first lead ever, but almost. Of course she smashed it! In fact looking in the logbooks now, it seems to be 5a - so even bigger applause to her.
As we got back to the cars the heavens indeed opened so even our timing was spot on today.
Since the weather's been piss-poor lately, I've returned to climbing indoors to find that problems in my phone on the board are unbelievably difficult. I have a tendency to say that anything I can do in a few goes is V5 - it's just that pre-lockdown V5 has much bigger moves between much much smaller holds than post-lockdown V5.
I did get out for the one dry evening in the last week and scooted up South Face Direct on Harrison Stickle - this is by far the best scrambling route on Harrison, about mod/diff as mentioned in passing in the definitive guide and way better than trying to follow Brian Evan's needlessly detailed G3 scramble. Just head up to the bottom of the impressive dome of perfect rock and climb it as you like - maybe even one of the best scrambles in the Lakes!
Can't remember the last trad route I did, but one from earlier in the year which I've never looked at before was Delight Maker (HVS 5a). A mate was raving about this a couple of years ago, to which I thought "exactly how good could an HVS at Sheps really be?" - answer: really, really brilliant! Think I took a slightly more direct line up an E1 at the top which just made it better, but it's exciting for HVS already. Not to be overlooked!
Anyone else? Surely people were climbing over the weekend somewhere?
> I'm impressed you've got one of those cyber boards that integrates with your phone!
That would indeed be surprising. I have a file on my phone with lists of numbers, e.g. 22+56, 145,147, 210,229, 109,176,210,255 top.
Oh OK, although even that is pretty impressive organisation! I was thinking of the, are they, Moon Boards? With the little LEDs in them and you can share problems online.
Do you have 255 different holds on your wall!?
> Oh OK, although even that is pretty impressive organisation! I was thinking of the, are they, Moon Boards? With the little LEDs in them and you can share problems online.
> Do you have 255 different holds on your wall!?
Actually there is a cyber board at the wall but when it was the old moon board it was too hard... But the 30 degree woodie board with nearly 300 holds on is just right for me, I much prefer it to the proper bouldering which is well set but limited.
Then there's greshams "Malham board", a unique way to get elbow tendinitis.
Congratulations on Dome of the Thief and Amazing Thief Toby, you did well to choose a place with a quick getaway option... I was out with a friend at Wildcat and the rapidly crossing bands of dark clouds were a testament to the accuracy of the forecast. We were the only ones there, not surprising given the same forecast. I lead Lobo a friendly VS that I had only done once before around 20 years ago. It was a lot less clean than I remember with crumbly soil collecting on the bigger ledges. That was it! when we got back down to the sacks the heavens opened, as if someone was dumping tanks full of water from on high! Spent the afternoon eating chips watching rain pinging circles on the Derwent and catching a rainbow bestride Starkholmes from the cliff top path, waiting for the train back home.
I don't want this to become my personal climbing journal, but I feel we haven't reached a critical momentum to carry the thread forward with its own weight yet! So, with a lovely evening forecast for the Peak I popped up to Froggatt to meet a friend and her two friends, to make it a theoretically more efficient two pairs. Climbing with someone for the first time, I didn't try anything particularly hard (even by my own low standards of what is hard!) but I did do a couple of routes I hadn't done before. My choice of "warm up" Sorrallion (VD) turned out to be possibly the least impressive route to have snuck its way into the Rockfax guide. I'm sort of obsessed enough to rarely find a route I don't like, but that was one where you are left really just thinking "well that was a bit pointless". I also led the amusingly named Grey Slab (S 4b) - amusing because it neglects to mention the bloody great offwidth in the slab! Also watched a chap make a very cool onsight of Long John's Slab (E3 5c). He made it look worryingly doable, particularly as he said after if I remember right that it was his first E3!
We walked out just after a great sunset and even got a fly-by (a fly-below more accurately) from two heavy sounding military helicopters, Chinooks I suspect although it was too dark down there in the valley to see them beyond their lights. Pretty fancy flying, ground hugging in the dark like that!
> I don't want this to become my personal climbing journal, but I feel we haven't reached a critical momentum to carry the thread forward with its own weight y
Keep going: this is a good idea and great a way to keep the Rocktalk threads alive.
Forgive those of us who only get out every couple of months though.
I'll play... as quick hits are these days the only thing I can properly do...
Last evening on the way back from the summer cottage to home, I stopped for like 45 mins to a new bouldering place in Sipoo... and ticket a problem called Teräskäsi (f7B/+).
Earlier this summer, we were in Turku. So I did a quick hit to a new bouldering spot in Kuusisto and in 2.5h, including driving there and back resulted in like 3 f7As or so.
And my only proper route with a rope was Fissure (E4 6a). Had a short family session on it some weeks prior (fixed TR solo). Then on the next sesh, both me and Sari had a brief TR solo on it. Followed by quick proper sends of it... all in all, took less than 2.5h from home to home (including lugging both kids to the crack and so one).
Hoping to get an hour tonight , if it doesn't rain later
Ventured west to The Five Clouds last night after realising that soon there won't be enough light for longer post-work trips. I have been wanting to get on Crabbie's Crack (HVS 5a) all year after reading the excellent feedback about it on here. Well, it didn't disappoint though my vision of cruising up a VS jamming crack didn't work out. It's an awkward bugger and blocking what was to be the crucial jam with a cam didn't work in my favour. After a couple of goes on lead I offered it to Ollie who swiftly rearranged the offending placement and cruised through to the top. Even on second it felt hard, I really have neglected my jamming skills of late. Good to get out though and make the best of the only spell of decent weather this week.
> Ventured west to The Five Clouds last night after realising that soon there won't be enough light for longer post-work trips. I have been wanting to get on Crabbie's Crack (HVS 5a) all year after reading the excellent feedback about it on here.
It repays a positive approach!
If it makes you feel better, I had a trip to the Fourth and Fifth Clouds for an early post-lockdown warm up. That didn't go so well. I've never had such a hard time on routes I've previously soloed or at least led fairly effortlessly. To be fair, the rest of the team did little better, but it was so sobering we had to retreat to the Trout.
Yesterdays quick hit was not really all that quick, more like 3h. And only involved 3 lines. But to be fair, we were there to let the kids climb and I only lead an old classic in Käärmekallio, and then soloed a few easier ones on the slabby side. The kids were really enjoying their time, so not a bad day by any means. Vallu (4.5 years) can get up 4s clean nowadays and even unclip QDs on tge way up.
I keep a blog titled RockAroundTheWorld but perhaps should rename it Quick Hits in the New Normal. I've been taking advantage of the travel restrictions to visit crags that have been on my tick list for years but never quite made it to the top...
Dove Crag is a spectacular bit of rock set in a gorgeous location, but unfortunately has fallen into neglect. Great to finally tick Dovedale Groove but Extol will have to wait for another dry spell: https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2020/08/09/dovedale-groove/
Blue Scar is one of the great Yorkshire Limestone crags, but the faffy access agreement and bird ban had always put me off. Access has now moved into the 21st century with agreement via email and I'd really recommend taking a look. https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2020/07/29/blue-scar-and-kilnsey-two-greats-of-yorkshire-limestone/
Craig y Forwen is another tremendous limestone crag that has been rejuvenated thanks to new access arrangements (though sadly not to the whole crag yet). What is allowed will keep you busy for a few visits https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2020/08/22/craig-y-forwen/
trevor rocks in the sun with pals:
4a,5a,6a and a 6a dog.
Planned to get the trad rack out too but time got the better of us.
Well done on the dog getting up the 6a! Woof woof! ;-)
I was out early doors today to Darlton Quarry, to put my new found confidence, skill and mighty-strength (lolz!) to play on the easy routes there that I hadn't done on my first visit. It was great, we got the early morning sun, the peregrines are still around, screeching about high above. I did a 5b onsight; tried a 6a - broke a hold and fell just by the first bolt (already clipped fortunately!), lowered off and sent the route next go; then we went and did a fun 6a Still Game (6a) which is a bit longer and more sequencey than the other routes on that wall - onsight (yeah! Insert bicep emoji here), then I onsighted another 5c. Sarah also did the 5b her first lead of that grade. Really good fun for what on the face of it is a slightly crappy quarry. Considering how much it rained yesterday, and again this afternoon, it was pretty perfect.
And just to see if I can drum up any business from other weekend climbers...
Today, I took 75 minutes out from working to pop up to Baslow Edge, jog over to the Gullies Wall area, do something like 6 of the micro easy routes there (lines like Route 3 (D) really are quite ridiculously micro!) that somehow I hadn't done before. I finished by clambering down one of the gullies into the brambles and bilberry bushes below the sector to get on Broken Buttress (VD), amusingly described by Rockfax as "A 20m route on a 8m crag!" I carried my rucksack up it for the full alpine tick. The crux is definitely finding how to get to the bottom!
I can see from my logbook it's a day shy of 6 years since I first visited Baslow - it was a nice day taking my kids climbing on some of those slabby routes on Gullies Wall. We had arrived in Sheffield just a week or two earlier, after moving from Finland that summer. Doesn't feel that long ago for me, although for my kids who were 8 and 10 then, I'm sure it feels like, well almost, half a life ago.
Definitely starting to feel like late summer, even a touch of autumn out there somehow - like all the vegetation has stopped growing, thinking "that's enough for year".
What has everyone else been up to?
Quick afternoon trip to Grimness, South Ronaldsay, Orkney yesterday. Mr S had never been, so we headed out with our 12 year old daughter. She hates roped climbing but loves scrambling around and giving me a fright.
Despite being present at some of the FAs at this crag, I haven’t a clue which route is which from the route descriptions. I think we did a few routes from Diff to Severe.
Weather was fabulous and tide was low enough to scramble down and walk about at base with no danger of wet feet.
Fantastic! Now we just need a report from someone who has been bouldering on the Scilly Isles to geographically balance things out!
I'll play as a good opportunity to get involved here if you'll excuse a noob (and at the opposite end of the country to Scilly) - our exploits are somewhat amateur at the moment. Having been a regular on various motorbike and car forums up until a serious crash and our first (only!!!) child stopped play 4.5yrs ago, it's nice to have something to browse again in spare minutes.
Brief intro - having had some very limited (and not necessarily entertaining) climbing in a former life with Her Majesty's Royal Marines, my wife and I started climbing indoors a year or so ago as something to do together when we only had a couple of hours babysitting available. Being fortunate enough to have the Swanage and Portland crags in easy reach, natural progression led us outdoors post-lockdown, and the child finally paid dividends as we met an instructor through her nursery to set us on the right track.
Although very much novices I feel comfortable enough leading for us in the 4s and occasionally 5s, though whilst my basic ropework is fine my climbing technique leaves a lot to be desired. We had a great trip out to Dancing Ledge on Sunday with our instructor friend and kids, that day was all about the kids and we were the stereotypically proud parents as our sprog made her first outdoor ascent on one of the beginner (unnamed/ungraded as far as I'm aware - staircase) routes on the bottom tier. She wasn't so thrilled with being lowered in to start with or lowered off after climbing mind, being used to walking up to the bottom of the wall at the local climbing gym, nevertheless has already asked when she can have another go! A bit of paddling, picnic, sunshine and no wind made for a very relaxed afternoon.
We followed this with a trip back to the same area on Monday, this time just the two of us with the child in nursery. We wandered down the coast a little to Hedbury, again in mostly sunshine and still air. A nice warm-up with a great view at the sea-end of the wall on the aptly named Sea View (3a) was followed by a good onsight of Moral Flexibility (5a), though I'm uncertain as to whether I flexed my morals as I skirted an overhang that may technically be part of the route - though I was never more than a metre from the direct line up the bolts, the routes are tightly packed which confuses the line and I have nowhere near enough experience to judge a true grade. There was plenty of chalk on my chosen holds and less on the overhang mind! Unfortunately the other half found the last move too reachy and DNF'd on toprope - she needs to fall off at least once in a session before she finds her balls! My intention was to get her to do her first leads up the grade 1 and 2 (!!) routes next door, but having failed that climb she wanted a challenge first, so we headed up to the other end of the wall only to find Tethered by Gravity (4c) taken.
Undeterred I decided to have a crack at New Beginnings (5c) next door whilst we waited, had a nice solid climb to the crux at the last bolt but failed on the crimpy (well, crimpy for me) overhang. Worked it for a while but only succeeded on blowing my fingers (note to self: purchase fingerboard...then use fingerboard...) and eventually gave up. The wife reached the same point but couldn't crack it, so we moved back to Tethered by Gravity. At this point I realised I had made a good job of spoiling the rest of the day from a climbing perspective at least as, after retrieving my abandoned draw from the last clip I made on New Beginnings, my weakened grip couldn't cope even with the more positive holds on the overhang, and I had to admit defeat and lower off the last bolt. By this time the easy grades were taken by organised tourists so we canned it, silver lining was that gave us a couple of hours in the pub before we had to collect the child! Hedbury highlighted that most of what we had done to date had been at least a little slabby, and vertical climbs with the odd overhang will need some adaptation.
Finished off tonight with a couple of hours in the climbing gym (bouldering really - I guess the walls are around 3.5m-4m, no ropes but vertical problems), the girl managed a couple of clean ascents on newly set kids routes and I cracked a couple of crimpy pinks (trying to work these weak fingers!) that I wouldn't have got a few weeks ago, so all in all a good weekend.
As the kids have had a running nose and thus not been in kindergarden (Covid19 and all), the whole family needed to get out last night. We drove to a newer bouldering spot in Nurmijärvi and I warmed up on a lovely 7a+ or so problem with Eeva, who decided to come along as well. I had tried that in the past and gotten pretty much nowehere with it. Now nearly did it first go and topped out on the second go. Eeva took a few more tries before she got up it.
After that I went with the kids to look for some 'shrooms and actually found some chanterelles and funnel chanterelles. Pretty soon Sari managed to tick the 7b or so project she had been working.
All in all, a good afternoon sesh.
OK, my turn
Last weekend I got down to the Elbsandstein for 3 days. I'd corresponded with Tony and Sarah Whitehouse here a couple of times (Tony & Sarah here), who have climbed basically everywhere in the world with everyone at some point; they spend a few weeks/months every year at a hut near Bad Schandau climbing on the sandstone, and invited me to visit. My partner was James Wolff (Jameswolff), an American alpinist and ice climber with whom I'd had good sessions indoors in Berlin in Jan/Feb before he got rudely and forcefully dragged back to the States because of Covid. He'd recently found a way to escape back to Berlin, so it was time to introduce him to the horrors and glories of knotted slings as protection and very long runouts.
First day: we arrived in the afternoon. Tony and Sarah picked us up at the station. Me in the car: I can't wait; this is maybe heresy, but Saxon sandstone is better than Grit. Tony: Are you joking? This stuff is at least three times better! We unpacked briefly, and immediately headed up to the Schusterweg (IV) on the Falkenstein to give James his baptism. I've climbed this route six times now, and will never get tired of it. It was basically the first major free climb ever: climbed in the 1880s, with 6 incredibly varied pitches weaving in and out of the rock to find a way to the summit of the 80m high free standing Falkenstein; for the day an amazingly bold piece of fantastic route finding. James and I alternated leads; Tony soloed up behind, in front of and in between us, enthusiastically vocal and radiating his love of climbing. Mistake: it blew James' mind so completely (he'll forgive me) that he thought that the rest would be as good as this. Great evening in the hut listening to Tony and Sarah's inexhaustible stream of anecdotes.
Day 2: time for the serious stuff; the Bielatal is the best area for newcomers, offering relatively horror-free climbs to newcomers to the area, so off we went. Quote Tony: Forget the grade comparison tables, this is Elbsandstein! The first climb was fantastic; Direkte Westkante (VI-). The grade translates to S 4a, but honestly: it felt like at least HVS 5a; overhanging and beefy, with 2 rings and and a couple of knotted slings in its 30m. Glorious, if you switch your brain off and just climb. Three more enjoyable but psychologically challenging climbs, and then I really got my ass kicked. The Perryriss (VI) has been on my list for ages. Oliver Perry-Smith was the best climber in the world in the first decade of the 20th century; when his climbing colleagues doubted his free ascent of this crack, he repeated it in front of witnesses in the company of a bottle of wine, carving his name into the rock next to the only ring. The remains of the bottle are still to be seen in the crack.
Anyway, I f**ked it up, Too stupid to read the guide book, I tried to get to the ledge at the start of the actual crack via an obvious ring which happened to belong to a very hard modern route. After I'd backed off three times, Tony soloed up and found a well-hidden possibility for a 5mm sling before the ring. With this in place, I made the moves to the ring and up to the ledge. I was now well situated to attempt the actual crack, but this was unfortunately horribly greasy. While testing the holding capability of the first possible sling, a foot slipped off, the sling popped out, and I landed on the ledge. Thoroughly demoralized, I retreated with dignity...
The last climb I actually enjoyed. Another supposed S 4a... 5m to a ring, and then 10m to the next one, completely unprotected; friction climbing on good foot holds but very little for the hands. Switch your brain off and enjoy... James said afterwards that he'd felt like throwing up, belaying me and thinking of the consequences of a fall. But quite honestly, it wasn't going to happen; suddenly, the rock was my friend again.
Day three: it started off drizzly, and I got my ass kicked again on an unprotectable Diff chimney (a Saxon speciality). We'd gone for a long walk around the base of the Affensteine, hoping to find something dry enough to climb (the drizzle had stopped). We raced up a couple of hundred meters to the Frienstein, hoping that the wind would have dried the rock, and, desperate to climb something before going back to catch the train, I went for the "easiest" route. Rope maneuvers round a chockstone, weird placings of slings to try to minimize rope drag, then finding myself 5m further up in a mossy wet chimney of inverted V-shape, looking at a long drop into the bowels of the Frienstein should a foot slip... I retreated again, shamefully.
Elbsandstein is addictive, once you accept that you're going to have to drop a load of grades to have a chance. I'm visiting Tony and Sarah again in three weeks, and can't wait to enjoy both their company and the climbing.
> Elbsandstein is addictive,
It all sounds totally terrifying!
Anyone been out this weekend? Or back earlier in the week?
As a teacher, it was back to proper work for me last week - in a classroom, not over the internet - so I am back to proper weekend warrior status. Friday night I arranged to shoot out to Horseshoe as soon as I could get out of school. I've been climbing a lot in the evenings through the summer, so like with cycle commuting, you really notice when the days are starting to shorten more quickly. So we knew we only had until about 8 pm before it would get too gloomy and tried to climb reasonably efficiently. We went to the upper tier figuring it would get any sun going and would be the last place to descend into the murk. We did an unremarkable 5a to warm up, then I led three 6as in a row, all onsight - so left feeling really chuffed with myself! O Brother Where Art Thou? (6a) was great fun up at the top, although I was a bit confused on just how hard you had to make the first few moves which you could simply chimney up the detached block behind you. But the route I enjoyed most was Babe The Blue Axe (6a), which doesn't get a star in the book but I reckon deserves one. It has a powerful slightly steep start, which normally I'm rubbish at, but is really well bolted so it encourages you to throw everything at it, then the upper wall is joyful big moves between great holds - again the bolts are perfect and just keep drawing you on. Of the 6as, I did FOP (6a) first, which I didn't enjoy as much but the bolts are rather sparse on (we did have a clip stick so I could do the hard moves at start with the safety of the high first bolt pre clipped) and I was pleased with myself for having the commitment to not wuss out on climbing above each bolt someway to get to the next!
Excitement of the evening came from what sounded to me like alpine rockfall! A chap leading one of the routes over on Chocolate Blancmange wall seemed to have pulled some quite big off. Fortunately it seemed to miss his mate belaying and their rope. Good for folk to know those routes aren't on BMC land so weren't assessed for rock stability when all the work was done a couple of years ago rebolting and stabilising all the routes on the BMC land. I've done a few of them and they didn't seem ridiculously loose to me, but clearly bits are still coming off so helmets and keeping a healthy sense of where you are at all times is sensible.
Today I was walking and blackberry picking with my family, but I still managed to go via Raven Tor (Miller's Dale). I stood below Hubble and thought about my all-too human-ness and the god-like power of Ben and Malc and John and Adam and the couple of other uber-wads who have done it. My 3 year old assured me he'd climb to the top when he's a "big boy".
I have something to report!
Back from a Pembroke trip that's been a kind of turning point for me - not in terms of performance, that's been shite for years, but enjoyment. I've been half-way or more to giving up climbing for a few years as more often than not I don't enjoy it. I don't like getting stressed out, I hate fannying around on routes for hours, then grinding to a halt and giving up, I hate the feeling of anticlimax of finally grinding my way up some route or other in a state of abject terror that's 3 grades lower than I could climb 5 years ago. It was all just getting to be quite negative.
So down in Pembroke I climbed The Soup Dragon (E2 5c) and it was exactly what the doctor ordered (we did some other routes including the amusing The Gong (E1 5b) and a had a semi-epic escape out of Stackpole, always a laugh). A "magical adventure" as the guidebook says, and this was exactly what I love about UK trad climbing. I think it's one of the best routes in the UK - I had about as much as fun on it as stuff like Prophecy of Drowning (E2 5c). The route name is brilliant too, but to say why would be giving the game away - go down and do it to find out, you will be amazed and entertained, I promise!
I tried to go to Baggy on Saturday and have never seen it so busy, walking in 4hr before low, 6 people on Ben/Marion area, 4 on kinkyboots p1, 2 teams on scrattling crack area, and 7 odd teams waiting to ab into long rock. So we opted for wasting the £7 parking and driving 2 hours more to Low Man. Saw another 3 teams on the walk out too, maybe previously Ive just been lucky.
Anyway at Low Man we jumped straight on Aviation which was fine apart from the start when I lost all feeling in my wrist, and realised I should have warmed up. Next we did Outward Bound with customary rope drag, and then finished on Raven Wing, which was pleasant but had me bridging across the corner, checking UKC photos to try and understand where the step across went! Obvious in the end!. Logged as beta.
Ambition failed to subdue suspicion again this weekend as I sat sulking in front of a dry Scrubby Crag, too scared to even attempt the soaring corner of Grendel. It was 10:30 am. An icy Nor'Easter roared round the crag make it too cold to sit around and wait to see if the wind would die.
I went for a pootle at Kettle Crag instead, which was roasting and a couple of locals were full of friendly beta. It was a nice spot for a few routes and a view of the Langdale Pikes.
Later, an amber sunset saunter up Thomas at Wallowbarrow was rather special, particularly as this was my fourth attempt, having beaten off by crowds in the past. It felt tricky enough to be satisfying and I was as glad as anyone to grasp the eponymous Peter John Thomas on the final move. I even sat still for a few minutes while the first brown leaves of autumn spiralled down onto the green lawn at the crag foot.
A cold starry night in the car at Walna Scar had me sleeping fully dressed, so after a quick carton of orange juice, it was a relief to be peeling off the layers on the walk up to Dow on a warm and windless morning. I've been lucky enough to catch Dow Crag a few times on such a morning. Arete, Chimney and Crack was pure fun. The rock is covered in rugged holds and A Buttress is as steep and exposed as you could wish for. Topping out to a view of the sea and the Isle of Man floating on the horizon was something else.
By the time I got back down other people were out and I went for a wander over the tops to Little How, by which time I was knackered and thought I'd unwind with a nice plod up a V Diff. Sunshine Arete arete proved to be the hardest route of the weekend with 30 feet of exposed arete wobbling before easing off.
Back in the valleys, all car parks were fit to burst, which made for empty roads and an uneventful drive back to Scotland.
Snatched a bit of peak limestone for the first time in years a couple of weeks ago on a nice saturday after Wales trip postponed.
Beeston Tor for the first time.
Blimey, have people stopped going there or has the approach to central wall always been a death-defying, leg-shredding adventure?
Also, Ossam's rocks. Goodness me, what an awful first pitch on Cummerband, but what a cracking next bit! Certainly a climb of 2 halves.
Last Monday I completed a trad new route on a high mountain crag in the Carneddau that I had been working on. It was a fabulous day, with a fairly big walk in and out, plus scrambling and abseiling needed to get to the route, all done in perfect weather for climbing. I had climbed the whole line the week before but by a slightly indirect variation that avoided an obvious roof. On Monday I finished things off by doing the direct version up a corner and over the roof. Only 6 or 7 metres of climbing was different from the original version but it was the line that first caught my eye so I was well pleased to get it done before the rain arrived.
This weekend the inaugural British Climbing Cup will take place at Rockcity, Hull, giving British athletes much-needed competition practice post lockdown. The invitational event will be contested by GB Climbing Team members and some of...