A lot has been going down over the last six months in Yorkshire, hard boulders, bolt routes and E grades all getting done by an undeniably strong scene, with font 8B and ground up E7 ascents almost becoming commonplace. The only question left to ask is what will the Limestone Season bring?
Perhaps the most impressive news is the numerous ascents of High Fidelity, 8B, at Caley Roadside. This high, hard and immaculate test piece (first climbed by Steve Dunning in 2003) has seen several repeats over the years but never as many in a single season or in such quick succession. Yorkshire raider Jordan Buys kicked it all off with his repeat in March. Jordan's efforts and meticulous cleaning of the line didn't go unmissed. Dave Jones and Dan Turner utilised the extended grit season to their advantage seeing both of them succeed within a very short time from each other.
To elaborate on Dave's ascent; he decided to pop out after work for a nice leisurely evening session. Having never tried the line before, he wasn't too hopeful of success. Astonishingly, after some practice with one of these new-fangled telescopic ladder things, he found himself latching the high pocket and climbing to glory. A hard, technical and bold 8B in a session - not too shabby Dave! You can read an account of Dave's effort on his blog.
Here is a video of Jordan climbing High Fidelity:
An on-form Jordan then turned his attentions to The Uncertainty Principle, 8A+, at Lord's Seat (See UKC news report), first climbed by yours truly in November. Thwarted on several occasions, after making the arduous trek up to the moorland haven, he found the problem sopping wet and therefore unclimbable. Not to be outdone by Yorkshire's sometimes cruel conditions, Jordan persereved and pieced together the moves to bag the second ascent.
Just to show that he is no one-trick pony, Jordan recently swooped in to gain the third ascent of Rainshadow, F9a, at Malham Cove. This was reported recently on UKC (See UKC news report). This astonishing ascent on home soil combined with his lengthy CV bursting with hard trad, sport and boulder problems will surely place Jordan firmly on the podium for one of the UK's best ever all-rounders. I doff my cap to you sir!
Mark Katz, another prime example of a corned beef climber (but more widely known as the Mighty Atom) as always is systematically ploughing his way through repeating hard problems and dispatching unclimbed projects (more about that later). He unlocked the secrets of Rhythm (somewhere between 8A and 8B) at Flasby Fell. Having had the pleasure to try this line with Mark some time ago, his mini stature meant that he struggled with the lankier sequence of previous ascensionists (Steve Dunning, Tim Clifford and Dan Varian). Mark's persistent character shone through and he finally discovered a method that enabled him to put the fourth ascent of this spectacular problem firmly under his belt. The ascent will be featured in the forthcoming This Is Yorkshire film (more about that later too).
Here is a video of Rhythm:
Dave Sutcliffe, one of Yorkshire's most prolific explorers and all-round climbing superhero, has been quietly ticking his was through significant repeats and his sacred multi-page project list. His most sensational recent repeat is that of Cindy Crawford, E7/Font 7C, on the Calf boulder at Ilkley. This is thought to be the second ascent since John Dunne's visionary dispatch over a decade ago. The reason for such a long hiatus between first ascent and repeat is obvious when you stand, aghast, at the bottom. A combination of height, exposure and sheer difficulty, culminating with a committing move provides a daunting challenge. In Dave's words "I went ground-up over pads and it still felt scary due to the nature of the top move so I'd agree with the grade".
Cherry Falls, 8A+, at Almscliff had been high on Martin Smith's list for some time and this season saw him latch the wild move to the slopey break. The problem has seen quite a few repeats now but none have been captured on camera as far as I'm aware...until now.
Martin Smith on Cherry Falls:
Yorkshire certainly seems to also be playing host to a pool of talented young climbers. Many of these are performing well on the junior competition scene, with Nathan Phillips as the junior don. Nathan, the current Junior UK Bouldering Champion, is brimming with talent. He has won numerous national and local competitions and has certainly impressed locals when transferring his skill to the real stuff. Martin Smith took him for a session at Caley where he mopped up plenty of difficult testpieces in a single session. He quickly dispatched Crystal Method, 7B+, and flashed Blockbuster, 7B/+, Secret Seventh, 7B+, and Ben's Groove, 7B+.
Will Buck, 18, is another youth whose considerable talent matches his enthusiasm for climbing outdoors. Will is an exceptional all-rounder having bouldered 8A, sport climbed 8a and performed very well on the comp circuit. His most noteworthy ascents this season have been boulder problems, making very quick work of Heaven In Your Hands, 7c/+, at Brandrith and a repeat of Andy Swann's crimp fest, Vogue, 7C+/8A, at Brimham Bat Buttress. I used to call him 'Lil Will' as when I first met him (when he was about 12) and did so until he out grew me. I had to ditch his original nickname. 'Talented Will' is probably more fitting now.
Every season climbers pluck plum lines from Yorkshire's exceedingly ripe project tree.Some of these have been reported on UKC previously:
But that isn't the full story.Yorkshire's depths have, as ever, yielded a fruitful bounty this season and undoubtedly will continue to do so.
Let's kick off with Dave Sutcliffe. I assure you Dave has a project list taller than the man himself enabling him to consistently produce quality boulder problems and trad routes. Dave gave me the lowdown on a few of his recent highlights:
"Over at Earl Crag and during that crazy snow drift spell I managed a long standing project of mine next to the route "New blade" from a small undercut and a terrible sloper , hard body tension and reachy moves are made to gain the jug! 3 Degrees of Desperation, 7C+ish, is brilliant but almost un-gradable for me as is the nature of the spanned out moves! It's totally at my limit! I have absolutely no idea on this one all I know is I first tried it 10 years ago!"
"I also made a quick trip up to Rylstone where I climbed the obvious project directly through the roof above Monument Crack; The Monumentalist, E6 6b, is brilliant and involves some airy moves."
Perhaps Dave's finest addition was in the form of Detachment Theory, E8 6c, on the 'Slip n Slide' buttress at Crookrise. Dave had this to say about his new route:
"The route can be classed as a real 'gritstone experience' and in keeping with its neighbour 'Slip'N'Slide' relies more on body position and feel rather than brute strength. The route can be broken down into two distinct sections. The first boulder problem is a precarious 6c mantle to gain the ledge and a breather, then its insecure 6b climbing to the top! The landing is awful even with pads and a fall from low down is not recommended and a fall from high up would be unthinkable."
Having watched and filmed Dave on the first ascent, Jordan Buys quickly swooped in to gain the second ascent confirming the route's high quality and nervy nature.
Here is a video of Dave on Detachment Theory:
Believe it or not, Dave did leave some unclimbed peaches for others to find. Mark Katz, as well as ticking hard test pieces, has continued to leave an indelible mark on Yorkshire's first ascent catalogue. At a little known venue of Sutton Clough, not far from Earl Crag, Mark climbed a superb project, now christened Tree Beard, 7C. In Mark's words:
"Tree Beard is an easy roof, leading to a techy arete, with a BIG fall into the clough if you blow the arete and miss the pads! I've cleaned/tried this line over the last few seasons, after I had a tip off about it from my mate Ian Magee who lives in Sutton. Finally got it together and got it done in March. Go check it out!"
Yorkshire's answer to Mr Universe also known as Dave Cowl, has continued his love affair with Brimham and added a few new quality-looking problems. At the Pounce area Dave gifted us with two new problems. Oscar, 7b+, starts as for The Grouch but branches right to join the grovelling top out of Pounce. Also at the Pounce area, Dave climbed The Grouch Traverse, 7c+. This arm-busting link starts as for Ponce (not to be confused with Pounce) and navigates leftwards to join the finish of the Grouch.
Will Buck, as well as repeating some hard problems, has also left his mark on Brimham Bat Butress in the form of Loose Cannon, 7C. This new addition is the direct start to an existing problem, Turn Me Loose, 7B/+, and adds considerable difficulty. In Will's simply put words; "it's just a nice set of moves revolving around one perfect, square pebble".
Here's a vid of Will on the first ascent, plus a few other cool problems at Brimham, including Vogue, 7C+/8A). Keep it up Will!
Dan Turner busted in on the first ascent action with an intensely pumpy link at Eavestone (not far from Brimham). Auroras Encore, 8A, combines Get A Grip,7A, with Digital Delirium, 7C+, via a techy and powerful lip traverse.
Here is a video of Auroras Encore:
If Yorkshire is 'God's Own County' then surely the latest YMC Yorkshire Gritstone Guides are the Bible. Volume 1 – Almscliff to Slipstones, was published in late 2012 and is a masterpiece of creative design and enthusiastic collaboration. Volume 2 –Ilkley to Widdop is still in progress but set to match the quality of its counterpart.
Volume 1 is the full package; rammed with stunning photos, easy to usetopos, evoking descriptions, detailed history, prolific climber profiles and even aerial photography (yes, the budget stretched to chartering an aircraft!!!). Jack Geldard reviewed the guide here and concurred with the general consensus of it being on a par with its predecessors (See UKC review here). It really is a must buy, even as a nice coffee table book. A hefty pat on the back to all those involved is in order, especially Robin Nicholson (editor) who brought the whole thing together. I await Volume 2 with bubbling anticipation. Robin had this to say about the guide:
"For me, the commitment from volunteers, particularly their local knowledge, has made a massive difference to the guide's success since its release. All this has come as a result of a climbing community who love their local scene, wanted to show it off in its best light and unlock some of the secrets of Yorkshire grit to be appreciated by many. It was a privilege to be part of it. If you liked it, well expect Volume 2 to be more of the same."
Yorkshire seems to lag behind on the climbing film front but apparently "viddy cameras" have crossed the borders into the hands of enthusiastic and seriously strong local climber, Dan Turner aka Highball Productions. Dan has been beavering away ticking problems and filming friends which have been captured on video. Keep your eyes peeled for this one – it's due soon!
This is Yorkshire by Highball Productions: "A season of Yorkshire bouldering filmed during 2012/13. Over 30 problems from 7b-8b, some you may recognise some you never knew existed. Climbed by a group of mates having fun and forming one of the most friendly and strongest scenes in the country."
(Update - Trailer removed now the full video is out)
Here's This is Yorkshire:
Tom Peckitt is UKC's Yorkshire Area Reporter, being a passionate, active and strong member of the Yorkshire scene.
Tom has climbed many hard boulders, including first ascents up to 8B with PaTina Turner.
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