Saturday, 15 October 2011

Captain Cook's

Got out to Captain Cook's the other day for an evening of bouldering. No climbing this weekend, it's a busy one, but Thursday's bouldering sesh made up for it. We did everything in the area V2 or below and tried some of the V3 stuff but couldn't get the sit start! Frustrating!

The first area we went to had a pond, and was a fairly disappointing, crumbly looking bit of crag. I think it was called Cockshaws? Chortle chortle. I'm not in the mood for loose stuff at the moment, unless it's top quality or nice and high.

After inspecting it I hurried Matt and his poor mother along to Right Little Potters' Quarry, which turned out to have some fun if short bouldering. Finally starting feel like I can mantle properly, which is good.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

A Retrospective Update: The Lake District Day 1

For our first climbing trip to the Lakes, we headed to Borrowdale. Staying in Keswick we were well-situated to get to Shepherd's Crag, and the rather high Black Crag, home of the classic Troutdale Pinnacle (S). Sadly, we were only there for two days, but we got a fair bit done in that time. 

Day one, we headed to Black Crag and after a bit of wandering around we finally found this beast staring out at us from the peak of a forest: 

 Black Crag, imposing itself on the valley below.

Excited to get up there, we made the trek to the base where we found a couple of other guys from our area about to head up. From what we could gather, they'd had quite a night and were feeling a bit worse for wear, so they let us head up first. The route we were going for was the most popular of the crag, Troutdale Pinnacle, a nice, 100 metre Severe. I led the first pitch with ease and Matt followed me up. He headed up pitch two on the sharp end, and I was joined at the belay by one of the lads from the bottom. Good to have some company  on route! 

"Safe!" came the cry from above. "Off belay!" I shouted back up, and the rope began to disappear up the crag. The rope draws taut, he sticks me on belay, and I head up. I reach the stance earlier than expected, and, consulting the guidebook, begin to realise that this may not be the intended belay. It certainly didn't look to me like a 'large ledge'. Oh well, how bad can that be? 

Quite confusing, as it turns out. On pitch 3 I had a mini epic as I wandered all over the above slab trying to work out where the hell the route went. Eventually I found the stance that preceded the famed traverse, but not before amassing a considerable degree of rope drag. I hastily build my anchors and begin pulling the rope up with great difficulty. Long story short, Matt reaches the belay and sets off across the traverse, stopping only to check out the final section of the pitch, a climb up to the ledge. I follow him, glad to be off my increasingly uncomfy ledge. 

I head up pitch 5, more of a scramble, and there it is. The Pinnacle. The view's quite stunning, but it's not over. One more pitch finishes the classic climb. Matt leads it as I lay back on the pinnacle, comfortable in my new position. Half an hour later and it's over...

 ...and all that's left is a dash back to the car, where my dad's been waiting for the last half an hour!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

A Retrospective Update: Almscliff

In-keeping with my 'update per night' theme, I bring you Almscliff tonight. This was from a few months back now, but I have the pictures so I thought I'd go ahead and make an update.

For those of you who don't know (bloody weirdos), Alsmcliff is a gritstone outcrop near Harrogate. Gritstone is known for it's crack-based routes, which often require a fair bit of jamming. With this in mind, the trip revealed to me a number of things:

1. I'm not very good at jamming (I have since got slightly better)
2. I'm not very good at climbing with a hangover.
That's right folks, I was hungover for my first trip to Almscliff. Crushing it was, and I'd rather forget it, but this blog needs posts.

                                          Me and Matt getting ready for Overhanging Groove (HVS 5a)

The first route of the day was to be Overhanging Groove (HVS 5a). Looking back, it was a great route to second and Matt did it in fine style with an exciting run out, but I really didn't appreciate it at the time. Would love to get the lead at some point.
                                        Matt on the run-out upper section of Overhanging Groove

Next up was my lead. Oh shit. I'll spare you the sight of me floundering around on a VS, and simply give you some advice: if you're planning on scumming with your forearms on grit, wear sleeves.

                                                 Me finishing up Overhanging Groove on second

After that Matt decided to lead The Zig Zag (HS 4c). Even I was feeling okay about this, and it turned out to be a rather fun climb.
Seconding The Zig Zag

I finally decided I was ready to lead something, with the hangover starting to let up after a few sandwiches and copious amounts of water. I went for Bird's Nest Crack (HS 4b), a 2 starred crack climb with some nice jamming. I got up it with ease, and berated myself for arsing around so much earlier. I was finally starting to see why there was so much fuss over all this 'grit' stuff.
Heading up Bird's Nest Crack

After a beautiful fist jam, I happily top out, glad to at least have led something on my first trip to Almscliff.
Happy with at least one lead, and looking forward to another visit

It was a bit of a disappointing day for me, since I'd aspired to get on the famous 4-starred (for non climbers, this is 4 out of 3 stars, it's that good) Great Western, but at least the sun shone and the jamming was good. Still haven't been back, but I expect another trip will yield better results. 
Exploring around the big grit blocks of Almscliff

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A Summer Update

I'd forgotten how long it'd been! Reading back through the two posts I made earlier this year, I realised that I mentioned my goal to do Concave Wall. Just thought I'd say that I did in fact do it soon afterwards, in good clean trad style. If I remember rightly, I ended up with my right foot on a tiny pebble, then standing up and crossing my left in front of it to get into the break, in a bizarre 'walking up stairs' kind of technique. A local climber who was watching observed, 'Well that's one way to do it...'

After having seconded it not that long ago, I'm quite impressed I got up it on lead without falling once, it still felt quite tough.

The rest of this summer's largely been taken up with HVS 5a onsights, with the odd 5b cropping up. We went to the Lakes and Almscliff too, but I'll save them for another post. Shock horror, I actually have pictures for them too.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Summer Hiatus

Good thing I remembered this blog before making a new one I suppose. Firstly, it's been ages since my last post since I basically forgot about this blog. Oops. Anyway, I think I'll take it a bit more seriously this time.

I'll start this off by documenting my latest climbing achievement! Achilles Last Stand (E2 5c/6a) at Park Nab was first climbed by Franco Cookson a few years ago and had seen at the most 2 more recorded ascents, not counting any possible top rope ascents or repeats by the same people. Me and Ferrier (Matthew Ferrier, my regular climbing partner) spotted the line on Climbonline and took a look at it at the crag, and I pretty much decided I was going to climb it. I'm pretty sure he thought the same thing. Hard to tell.

Anyway, we rigged up a top rope and after a few attempts at the trick start managed to get it down and we both got multiple clean ascents. Apparently I can climb 5c outdoors. Who knew? However, as any climber knows, top roping's a whole different beast to soloing or leading, and in this case it was going to be a solo to keep it clean.

The route itself's 7 metres up what looks basically like a blank wall. On closer inspection, however, it has a few small crimps that let you get up it, but it's important not to stray into the route next to it. Anyway, back to the story. We put off the solo until the next week, making excuses like 'my fingers hurt'. Well, I did anyway.

The next weekend we come back and have a few more top rope ascents each to check we haven't somehow forgotten the route (fat chance, I'd been thinking about it for the past week). We hadn't, luckily. Matt soloed it  first, and then it was my turn. Cripes. Nerves set in at the start, but as soon as I was on the route it all disappeared and I was at the top before I knew it. So that's what focussing is.

Anyway, since this is getting a bit too rambling, I'll stop it here. More to come at another point I'm sure, hopefully with pictures.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Return from Duke of Edinburgh

Hello! Just got back from Carlton today. We walked through the Wainstones, to Clay Bank, then back to the Lordstones cafe, and on the way I got to check out the condition of the rock. It looks pretty green sadly, but that isn't my main problem at the minute; there's something up with my shoulder. I, and someone else, fell on it, with quite some force, and it now twinges like a beast.

Hopefully it'll be better by Saturday.

Friday, 28 January 2011

First post: Duke of Edinburgh

Well, my first ever blog post. How exciting. Anyhow, to avoid making a rather banal 'first post' post for the sake of it, I'll add some actual content.

Tomorrow I'll be embarking on the residential part of my Duke of Edinburgh Silver award...and the next day, I'll be returning. Not particularly adventurous, considering we'll be staying in dorms, but it's something to write about. The first day'll be archery and climbing/high ropes (weather dependant), then the second day we'll be treat to a 15km walk. Luckily, our route passes through the Wainstones, me and my climbing partner Matt's usual climbing spot, so we'll be able to check how the rock is.

We're hoping to get back on there after a long hiatus for winter; indoor climbing just isn't the same I'm afraid, even if it is at the brilliant Rock Antics in Newton Aycliffe. We only learned to climb trad in September, and only started climbing indoors in April, so this'll be our first full season. With a new set of micronuts and 5 new cams, I'm chomping at the bit to climb trad again, and especially excited to fly up Concave Wall E1/HVS (the grade differs depending on who you listen to) after months of training indoors. It always defeated me last year, but not this time! The cams and nuts seem about right for protecting it too.