Sunday, 23 October 2011

Pickering woods aid climbing

Our most local crag is Pickering woods. Previously is has seen development, however these are somewhat unknown and probably fallen down. The 1984 guide states 'Newton dale: Routes have been recorded on these extensive crags, however, due to the unstable nature of the rock, they are not recommended.'

As those who climb there (me, tom and Jake) know, this is far from true, and if the crag were in the peak district, it would be more popular than stoney middleton and cheedale. Earlier this year, me and Jake put up 'Wall and Tree Chimney' a 14 metre 2 pitch vdiff ***.

There are several other lines to be climbed, but one that had taken our fancy was the steep cracks and head wall dubbed 'script wall'.

We had looked at the wall several times, the upper section was not well protected and quite hard! Then earlier this year, Jake and Tom abseiled down and placed a piton and an old bolt off a kids swing. Jake managed to free the line up to half height, but then lowered off the 'bomber' swing bolt, the next wall looked hard!
Prior to the line being clean...

But instead, this week, we decided to aid the route...

Jake began the tenuous moves to start the climb, managing to place a nut in a brittle crack, he steadily pulled upward gaining a high ledge, sandwiched between Stilton. At first he was concerned, where had the bolt gone?! But there it was, sitting there sweating, despite the cold, in a band of cheddar. I was impressed by Jake's quick and apparently unhindered free ascent of the bottom section however, the next bit looked hard and tenuous aid.

Starting the aid section plus in situ camera man.

Jake began; stood in a sling from the bolt, he reached up, a placed a sketchy sky hook, he pulled on it and managed to reach the previously placed peg. He clipped it with a sling and stood on it. However, looking at it more closely, he was not sure on its solidarity. So out came the hammer, and he bashed it back in, still standing in the sling. The next section was the crux, Jake stood up and placed a sky hook on a small edge. He pulled on it. Ping! the sky hook ripped and he was back at the peg, thankfully it held! He regained composure and went for it again, finding another edge, he managed to stand in the sky hook, and reached over the top of the crag, nothing! He scraped around in the dirt for a while until he began to tire, once again, he was off, this time a bigger fall, concerning us as to the 'soundness' of the peg. It was beginning to get dark now and he had one last chance, placing the sky hook a third time, he stood in it, grabbed a tree root and pulled over the top. The route had been done, though not free, and with far more effort than we first thought. Aiding is hard!
F.A. of 'If you're not flying, you're not trying' HVS 5b A2 **

A few days later, I returned to the woods with Jake to attempt new routes on some of the other buttresses...

Creeper wall.

We abbed down two lines, knocking off most of the loose rock, I then decided to lead my new route, 'The Grim Creeper' VS 4b.

For those who revel in a bit o choss, this is turning out to be not such a bad crag! ;)

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