Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Brimham and The Peak

I had a great day over at Brimham the other day for Matthew's birthday. After two of the classic VS's we wandered over to Black chipper. This went with surprising ease, apart from maybe the top out... Then we went over and onsighted Pathos, a good E3 6a which was probably E3 considering how wet the top was and the fact I had to lunge for a bilberry bush... We messed about Acme wall, and then went to onsight Red Tape E2/3 5b/c. Pretty hard to be honest! A good day!

We went to the peak for a couple of days, being optimistic for the weather... As we travelled south the clouds cleared and it looked pretty good! We arrived at Froggatt and i climbed the first pitch of Valkyrie. Matthew led the second pitch in what was worsening weather and we topped out on the fine grit stone pinnacle. The rest of Froggatt was wet, so we wondered over to Curbar. We both led the Bear Hunter, myself having to climb the crux in the rain and dynoing for a wet break to avoid the rounded top out. Then the sun came out and we went and had a go at the Beer Hunter, but it was hard and still a bit wet. We wandered back to Froggatt to find it even wetter so we went to Hathersage to buy smarties.

I noticed a change in the weather, and although now pitch black, it seemed like alright conditions, so we walked up to stanage popular for a couple of routes. We fell off flying buttress direct a few times which was a bit gay, although we couldn't see any of the holds even though we had a head torch... And then I went over and climbed Easter Rib, a fairly bold E1 which was made more exciting by more rain and darkness. We walked down to the car, cooked some bacon and bivvied.

I was well-psyched when I awoke to sunshine in the morning so we drove over to Millstone. But, yet again, the weather became grey so it was decided on Lawrencefield after Jas Wood had mentioned it was a good crag if its a bit wet. We climbed 'Suspence' a brilliant E2 up a bold slab and out over the famous pool, ace! We finished the day off at Millstone, which I thought was pretty impressive, but to be honest just a bit grim and desolate.

Anyway, although we didn't do that much, it was a good trip and I think we made the most of it. But I can't help thinking that I should stop dossing about on this gritstone, stay in the moors, and get over to the lakes. Also, I could do with a camera to record some of my climbing, so if anyone would like to donate/sell me one really cheap, give us a bell...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

First E3 onsight

E3, a grade that appears to have evaded me for sometime. I feel like Ive improved quite reasonably recently in my climbing but I have not managed a true onsight of the grade. I've tried my hand at head pointing quite a bit recently which I've quite enjoyed, and I'm sure has something to do with my recent betterment. However, it's not what I'm about. Onsight is where it's at.

Thorgill was the crag we were headed. I knew of 'Thor's Axe', a fine but intimidating E3 arete, Dave and Franco's latest addition to the crag.

After a bit of dossing about and generally avoiding the route, I thought 'sod this' and got on it. The gear in the break was quite tricky to place and once it was in place, I tried the long reaches up the arete but they were too much. After a bit of time though, both Matthew and I managed the route onsight, Brilliant! Lets hope this is the way my climbing is going to go...

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Clemitt's Crag - New Routes

Over the last few weeks Matthew and I have been climbing at clemitts crag. We repeated some of the routes on the clean 'Main Buttress' which were good, but after a suggestion from Franco and Dave that we look for some new routes, we saw far more potential on the buttress.

We climbed the existing routes 'Rainy day blues' E1 5b, a good, sustained, but unfortunately short crack climb and also 'Yellow brick road' the 1 * choss classic of the buttress which is quite long and covers some good ground.

Our attention was drawn to a thin unclimbed crack around the corner from 'Yellow Brick Road'. We were keen to actually see where the line would go or if there was a line, and we also needed to alter a tree slightly... Anyway, it looked great. Matthew attempted the line first and managed to flash the climbing, very impressive! Then I had a go, but with numb hands and feet, i couldn't do it! Then, after warming up i managed it. A nice traverse into the crack, which involves some technical climbing to a peg. From the peg, a huge dynamic reach leads out away from the crack which is now too small for fingers, and onto the arete in a great position, to finish boldly up that. 'A Pack of Fibbing Beavers' E3 6a ** we reckon. Cracking!

We then went on to try and onsight a new slab line to the right. But unfortunately we failed to puzzle out the start - what appeared to be a sort of controlled leap/lunge to a sloper, a smear of nothingness to some pockets which may or may not take gear? all above not the best landing... So we failed on this.

Bring on the next weekend though and we were psyched! We opted to give it a top rope and work out all of the climbing. The difficult was actually sustained all of the way up, though thankfully the pockets took good gear, a small hex and a nut. It seemed the first top rope made it easier than to onsight, but after that, it never really seemed to get any more straight forward! Dave also came along and had a top rope on this and an abb down some of the other routes.

We went for the lead, the climbing was utterly brilliant, weird in a places and in some ways, slightly wild! I tied my shoes too tight and ended up with Elvis leg after trying to down climb the top moves after i got a bit mixed up, managed the top section, and then had some sort of pansy on the top out, which isn't actually that hard. Then it was Matthew's turn. He made the first moves and then tried the long reach to the pocket. Ending up off balance, he had to jump off and i pulled him away from the gully of death. If you jump off before the gear and land just right, you should be ok, though if you slip and the starting moves, down the gully of death you may go... Then he did it and that was that. A really great route! 'Cupid and Psyche' E5 6b **.

We went to ravenswick a few days later and ground upped 'Fred' E4 6b, though its probably a bit easier than that. The years old thread also seems to be bomber as well.

A Wednesday training day at school meant we could make another trip back to clemitts. We went to camp hill first, but got utterly freezing in the heavy rain showers and strong winds and all me, rory, jack, joe and matthew could manage was a team ascent of tempest.

So we ran across the moor to a slightly warmer and dryer clemitts in time for the sun to come out. The lads made a good simul solo ascent of capstone chimney as me and matthew tried and failed to climb a blank wall we wanted to do - probably getting distracted by the shouts and boulders flying out of the chimney.

Jack made the fa of 'Dirty Clemont', the reasons for its name illude me... A good line, but could do with a bit of rain i reckon.

Then Matthew and I made the fa of  'The Badgermin' a HardVS 4c adventure route involving bold crawling through a ledge sort of thing to finish up a fine arete. Much much better than the goblin, some crap 2 star gritstone route. No doubt that the crag has more to give. Those 'classic' E2's look good.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Round Crag - VAMPIRIRC OBSESSION - YES! And some new routes

I started up the very first move, a long reach into a downward pointing flake. Somehow, I ended up back on the floor, my foothold had come off... Anyway, dazed, I made the move again up into the flake and to the only gear on the route, two good cams. Next, a hard pull on a flake, concentrating on the intricate footwork, I got to two good holds, where I could chalk up for the crux. On top rope, I'd always waited at this point, but for some reason i didn't seem to be able to control myself. In a total trance, a high foot and move up to the hold. (is it a hold though? I'm still not sure?) (probably deck from here?) Brilliant anyway, completely in my own world. Then, just for the top out, which was amusing, though I'm sure I didn't think so at the time... I made my post head pointing noises (oooooeeeeeaaaaplebudsfhuuuooooaaassednnddeeee) and returned to reality.

E5 6b** I reckon
So me and Matthew had done it! head pointed our first E5! And lets hope there is many more on the moor to come!

But the day was still young, and the unclimbed wall starting from the ledge to the right had caught our eye. Jake lead a few routes over to the right and then we abbed down the wall next to Vampiric to clean the line. Both myself and Matthew flashed the route, climbing from the ledge. We strapped a boulder mat to the ledge, but with it being sloping, it would really do anything, just meant we could stand up! We also lent over and placed the gear in Vampiric which might slow you down if you fell. The moves are great and the climbing is pretty engrossing from start to finish. Vampiric Recession E3 5c probably. On second thoughts, maybe our route 'Idle Ignorance' also at round crag is E3? but who knows?!

We finished the day over on Lion Buttress onsighting The Big Cat E2 6a** which really is quite good!

Friday, 14 September 2012


Now then, I haven't posted in months. I'm not really sure why, but anyway, I now feel like I've really got something to write about! Over the summer I've had brief trips to the peak, the lakes and also Pembroke, experiencing some superb climbing! Of particular note was: running from the rain from the peak, eagle nest ridge direct and tophet wall on great gable and some sunny sea cliffs in Pembroke. However, this is not the main event!

I've climbed lots on the moors this summer. Well, not really, with the weather not that great, it feels though i actually havent been out climbing that often. But with team psyche about, I've actually got a lot done!

I've done a few new routes at thorgill and newton dale including 'spinal crack' E2 5c and 'Another one bites the dust' E4 6a, the free ascent of 'if you're not flying, you're not trying'. Also, myself and Matthew, paired with Franco and Dave, climbed some superb new routes at smugglers terrace. These include 'Sea King' E1 5b and 'Black Beard' HardVS 5b as well as Franco and Dave's superb looking 'psychosis' E5 6b. Jack Hodgson and I also developed a new crag, Duck Crag, south of Oak crag.

Anyway, the happenings so far this year of most personal significance, have been the last few weeks...
Team Psyche is what it's been all about.
First was Highcliffe. I walked up to the crag with only one route in mind, this was Scarecrow Crack. Anyway, I soon climbed this and went on to climb Stargazer E3/4 6a ground up after one fall. Isn't stargazer brilliant though! A classic line on a brilliant buttress. Brilliant, hard and safe climbing, a great fall, and finishing in the most fabulous position high on the arete.
So the day had already far exceeded my expectations. But after a little while, I found myself bouldering out the start of Moonflower Direct E4 6b. I tied in, falling off a few more times. Eventually I was at the break and clipping the wires though. Stepping right I was utterly gripped. By this time the sun was on the tiny hold, but eventually i got to the crucial rock over up onto the break with the gear in it. (not great gear i must admit, but i tried not to look at it) I did it, reaching the good hold and the ledge. I threw down a loop of rope to pull up a few cams, and topped out. Fantastic. I've been buzzing about that route ever since!

The day after Highcliffe we went to Beacon scar, climbing Mongol E2 5c, Yellow Peril E3 6a and Gehenna HVS. On the way back we stopped off at park nab for a brilliant evening soloing. I flashed Dangle 6a? (YESSS) I had oft eyed the line, thinking it impossible, a long reach up to a ridiculous hold, and decided to never actually try it. Anyway, via a hidden hold, it was climbed! Franco then made a wild ascent of Dynamo in the dark!

The next day I had to enrol in sixth form, but this didn't stop me getting out! Jack and I went to the wainstones. Jack began by leading the crag classic, the sphinx nose traverse. Next it was my turn to lead Ali Baba. This route has intimidated me more than any other route on the moors. I look up at it every time I visit the crag, imagining what it would be like to pull up over that top overhanging block and always finding an excuse not to try it. But today was the day! The groove was climbed with relative ease, not really thinking. To be quite honest, I then mucked up threading the chock stone, but after 15 minutes I managed it... The top section is just brilliant, totally different to the bottom, bold, and hard. This route really has quite some significance for me, another step in my moors climbing apprenticeship. After a bit of dossing about, we went over to ravenscar. Jack climbed airlift, whilst I climbed Fever Pitch, yet another Moors classic! Seven moors classics in three days, fair going I'd say!

A great summer, cheers Team Psyche!

The First Half of 2012 - written a few months back

Well then, I haven't posted since march, where i discussed last years climbing and what I hoped to do this year. Anyway, I realised it's June now! So here's a round up of the first half of the year!

After I returned from Scotland, myself and Anthony Jones had a brief attempt at winter climbing on the moors, climbing a grade II up a 50 meter ramp below an old iron working in the upper reaches of Rosedale which made for some exciting climbing. We only had two axes between us and no crampons, so we cut steps all the way. We also has sledges, so we hauled those up aswell, creating an amusing belay at half height.

The following weeks saw numerous trips to Camp Hill, eventually ticking off all of the routes apart from the 'waves within' E4, which still remains! This is quite significant for me, as the crag has always been a sort of testing ground, where I can tell how my climbing is progressing.

Another thing of personal significance was the new route I put up in Newbridge woods... Climbing onsight, I though 'The Last Light' to be about E1 5b or something, but on further thinking, the last move, being above a large possibly dodgy fall, and also actually being a campus(!) the grade could be anywhere from E1 to E3 I reckon.

The Moors Youth Team has seen numerous developments recently, with the unofficial club's numbers growing a fair bit! Jack Hodgson, Anthony Jones and Nathan Jones have all joined the crew and theres been some reasonable crag development recently!

Whats been great for me and Matthew is that we both feel as though over the last couple of months, we've improved and made a bit of a jump in standards. A few trips to ingleby etc. saw us climb a some E1's and 2's. But more recently, we've begun doing a spot of Headpunting... I'm not entirely sure what I think of it yet, but it's certainly seen us improve, and following the advice of a two Moors Mooses, we've been able to headpoint two E4's!

The first of these was Jungle Drum at Danby Crag, perhaps on the easy side of the grade, but it was a good introduction into this type of climbing and certainly a great line.
A few weeks later, Myself, Dave Warburton and Matthew Ferrier went to Round crag. Dave was keen to flash his new route, a link between vamperic obsession and honey arete and so the 'Honey Badger' E5 6a was formed. Me and Matthew then set to work top roping Dave's 'Heal of Approval'. After a few goes we were ready for the solo. The route was quickly dispatched, nice!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Thoughts on 2011 and ideas for 2012

A busy Christmas holiday, the winter trip and plenty of school work has meant that I've not had chance to write about 2011 or what I want to do in 2012. I began leading in January last year, having previously soloed, and top roped about a bit. When I began lead climbing I felt like I'd become a proper climber. Despite the fact I'd already soloed routes, this whole new seriousness made me feel like I'd reached a new level. I began well, being able to climb the odd very short VS, but on attempting moors HVS', they never did go well. Occasionally a ridiculous idea would pass through my mind that I would be able to climb e3 if I went to almscliff... But essentially, I always thought that moors HVS would defeat me, and this was my aim for the next year. Sooner than I thought we were in the peak district, climbing VS solidly with the odd HVS. I began to boulder quite alot with Lee, but it was only the more highball, almost soloing problems that really interested me. Soon enough, me and Jake we bumbling up the easy routes at shepherds crag, and the next thing we knew, we were climbing on the sea cliffs in jersey, and I felt confident at HVS and managed to climb my first E2! With E1 being a rare grade in the moors, I seem to have rarely climbed at the grade regularly until just recently.

With Franco and Dave back in the moors for the summer, I quickly improved, and with the inspiration (an over used word in my opinion) from their hard ascents at Danby Crag, I was able to climb Warrior E2 at high crag. By this time I was beginning to feel even 'quite experienced' and we would often get comments at crags outside the moors about our age. One thing that's for sure is that climbing walls and some climbing media is ruining climbing. Climbing walls can make you strong (though not like ravenswick can) and teach you moves, but it cant help you read the rock. If you only climb indoors and can climb f7a you wont do warrior.

During the summer, the moors youth team was also formed, consisting of Myself, Jake, Rory, Matthew and Jack. I can't wait for the next few years, I hope great things are to come!

Not much of significance happened during the autumn, but I was able to reflect in the years superb exploits and the great memories I had.

Recently, I feel like I've again stepped up another level. I feel like I'm climbing better a bit more regularly, perhaps because I've now got a moped so can get out whenever I like.

This next year I want to do even more climbing! We're heading to the peak district in a few weeks, but more importantly, I cant wait for this next year in the moors! That I hope shall be promising too. I want to go to Skye, the lakes and north wales, and maybe plan some mad trip abroad by myself...

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Cairngorms - my first winter trip!

This has to have been one of the best, if not the best climbing trip I've been on so far! We set off on Friday night to bivi in the cairngorms ski car park.

The first morning we awoke to quite appalling weather, with winds of 50mph and gusts of 70mph.

It was 5 in the morning, and me and Matt were sat in the car, having had enough of the wind! I'd already tried sleeping in the open glenmore lodge van parked next to us. The, as the winds whistled its tune louder, the doors swung open. In popped the glum looking face of John. "Shit" he said. "good sleep" said Matt. "My fucking therma rest blew away". Matt and John then quickly strode off into the dark, whilst I spent 15 minutes laughing hysterically to myself.

Anyway, after some deliberation, we decided to go for a slightly revised version of our original plan, due to avalanche risk being considerable. We walked up towards the corries, other groups also on their way, battling their way through the weather.

With visibility low, after a while we had to get the map out. John had spent his previous day at work carefully printing and laminating maps of the cairngorms. "Shall I hold your glove?" I asked. "So it doesn't blow away" chuckling to my self. He passed me his glove. He pulled out the map. "SHIT" he shouted. The map blew away down the hill back toward the Aveimore. Off he ran, but he never caught it up!

Eventually we reached the fiacaill ridge, grade two, my first winter route! We soloed the first section, and then simulclimbed the second in two pitches, the second pitch of which I led.

Getting to the top was a superb feeling. My first winter route! Yes! It wasn't over yet though. On the top, visibility was terrible! Anyway, after some impressive navigation from the rest of the team (whilst I stood there and grinned about the fun I was having) we found the way down, back to the car park, and the Italian for food, blacks for a new pair of socks and coop for a daily telegraph to dry my boots out.
John. - Hard man.

The next day we awoke to much better conditions. We walked up to Corie an t'sneachda and split into to teams, Me with Matt and John with Craig. Me and Matt set off up Aladdin's mirror to try the direct. Stupidly, we had decided to leave the ice screws in the car! so we opted for the usual route and then into central gully thought in lean conditions in was grade two.
The second to last pitch was superb!

We descended down the goat track, and then climbed a variation first pitch to red gully which was grade three ice steps. We made it to the top in good time, with a lesson in winter belays and made the decent of the goat track.

I had read how to do self arrest in a book, and it always looked like a fun thing to do. Anyway, when we were going down the goat track, i stupidly decided to shut my eye because of the snow. My sights not brilliant, and in one eye its terrible. I tuck a step, and then, down I went! Whizzing along, I remember what to do. Amazingly, I managed to stop myself after about 30 metres, still holding onto my cadbury's dairy milk.

It was a thrilling end to a brilliant trip. A trip which will remain in my memory for a long long time.

I didn't even get beaten up!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Oak crag, Camp hill, Moor's best routes

Over the Christmas holidays I ventured to two of my favourite crags on the moors with Joe. We went to oak crag first, and after a slip, I managed Digimon, E1 a route Ive wanted to do since i took a ground fall on it, on my first day 'properly' climbing. (I didn't understand what e1 meant). Joe soloed a couple of Hvs' in good style and went on to try and lead Captain Birdseye, a terribly protected and superb crack and slab. He managed the crux, and after a bit off persuading, carried on above small rp's. nearing the top, he made a delicate rock over, but unfortunately his foot slipped. Down he flew towards the ever approaching ledge. I jumped back and caught him just in time, his last rp holding, just!

Joe doing a back flip.

A few days later we visited camp hill. I managed to solo cling wrap direct, E1. I thought I'd completed the clingwrap saga, but not until I'd soloed the best route on the buttress, latching that top hold on solo puts you in a whole new situation!

Recently I've talked to a few people about what they think the best routes in the moors are. Routes on the moors are totally different to routes anywhere else. The sand stone rock provided an array of bizarre moves, but also the atmosphere and bleakness in the valleys and on the ridges is unlike any found anywhere else.

So here are my top ten routes i've done on the moors:

10. If you're not flying, you're not trying.
9. Ace of winds
8. Ornithology
7. Valiant
6. Hari Kiri
5. Captain Birdseye - Perfect slabs are rare on the moors, but this is awesome!
4. Cling wrap direct - Moves which will only amaze, maybe not the best, but my favourite route in the moors.
3. Warrior - A truly amazing and inspiring feature, unlike anything Ive see before, one of the best E2's in the moors
2. The sphinx nose traverse - mint!
1. The nightwatch - amazing, and the best VS in the north!

So there you are! I'd like toy here your comments...

Pickering Woods and Peak Scar

Back in November, me Jake and Tom continued our exploits in Pickering woods. Despite the crags only being between 8 and 20 metres high, there's a significant feeling of adventure, mostly due to the horrifically loose rock (video to come). There are still many more lines left on the creeping buttress, but one stands out from the rest. The large roof was our target for this day. Jake first attempted to free the roof, but the roof proved difficult and he eventually secumed to aid.

A Strenuous Roof   VS 4b A1 We will no doubt come back and free the magnificent roof.

I noticed recently that various cretins on ukc complained at the fact that in our aid climbing video i was apparently belaying too far back, most definitely the most dangerous part of the ascent ahaha. and also unavoidable, do to the steep bank below the route and the fact that when rocks fall down, they hit you on the head. Anyway, during Jake's ascent we photographed my new belaying style.

The typical Pickering woods climbing lout.

I also went to peak scar recently, one of my favourite moors crags, with Rory and Matthew. We climbed a few routes which was cool including a superb ascent of ornithology.

Then we tried to climb the full traverse again as a three, which proved eventful, climbing pitches and realising we'd actually soloed them. Then we simulclimbed a few pitches, though we didn't really know what we were doing... We ended up abseiling off, then the rope got stuck, tried prusicking, failed, so soloed back up and freed them again. All in all, a good day.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Last weekend I met Matthew Ferrier at camp hill crag. Basically, this is just about my favourite crag on the moors! And although it lacks in size, the quality is amazing. If you're visiting the moors, and you want a bit of esoterica with some of the best climbing in the country, go to camp hill.

I still had a bit of unfinished business to do. I still hadn't done cling direct, or the direct start, nor had I done Ace of winds or anything on the pick pocket buttress.

We did Cling wrap direct and the direct start, which was really good to finally complete the 'cling wrap trilagy'.
Matthew soloed a few of the easier routes and then we climbing 'ace of winds'. This is the other route I'd really wanted to do for a long time.

Camp Hill seems to just be one of those crags which isn't particularly extensive (although there are several other brilliant smaller buttresses) but every line is classic. After this Dave Warburton rather unexpectedly turned up. He showed us a few of Mike Adams' new boulder problems, and then we went and had a go on the pick pocket buttress. Pick pocket, the central life still confuses me as to how on earth to climb it!

So all in all, a superb day at my favourite crag in the moors :)