Monday, 23 March 2015

Scarlet Fever

After waking up to a damp day, I scrawled through the guidebook looking for a crag that faced the right way, was sheltered and not too far to drive so the journey would not be wasted.  I came up with Mytholm Steeps.

There were a couple of things to go at, but they needed a good brush and a little time for the few damp bits to dry.  Whilst cleaning I noticed the potential for a line on the wall to the left.  That was dry, so I cleaned it up and had a play whilst I was waiting.  The climbing was excellent, but what little protection there might be seemed poor. After toproping the route a few times, I decided it was to go for the solo.  I had a pad with me which at least partly cushioned the boulder below the first crux at 5m.  More good technical climbing followed to reach the final crux move to the top. An exciting dynamic pop to a flat jug.  From there the route followed Nick the Grip to the top.

Into the first crux, point of no return 
That gave the F.A. of Scarlet Fever E7 6b*
25m. A little eliminate, in that it climbs the wall between The Rift and Nick the Grip without using either arete. Climb the right side of the wall on positive flat holds. At the you would then move onto the arete, make a long move left to a good edge and get established on it. Climb straight up the left side of the wall with some cunning mid way. Holds then lead left to the second crux, a wild move to the top. Finish up Nick the Grip. micro cams may be place in poor/hollow sounding rock at approx half way. A good belayer may keep you off the ground if they hold.
The line
Once I'd finished with Scarlet Fever, I got to Flash Edge of Extinction E2 5b * * and Nick the Grip E4 5c *. A great day after the weather this morning.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Back To Basics

The classic Sheriff 
I had a couple of hours at Woodhouse this morning to try and get back in the swing of rock climbing.  It's fair to say I have lost a lot of strength over the winter for the steep stuff.  However, the not so steep seems fine.  I rattled off a few classics, along with a handful of the 7b+'s first go.  Hopefully the strength will come back quick with a few focused sessions.

Big moves across Angelface 
Finishing off the Roof Eliminate 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Watson's Winter Climbing Weekend

I wrapped up my official working season with stunning weather in the Cairngorm for the George Watson College Winter Weekend.  This year we opted to take full advantage of the weather and just go climbing.

I was climbing with Vicky, Adam and Richard, with the aim to do 2 routes on the Saturday if possible.  We climbed a really varied Central Gully Left Hand II.  It had cool thin iced slabs low down, snow in the middle and a great little ice pitch at the top,  After a bite to eat on the top, we nipped back down and climbed Goat Track Gully II in excellent condition.

Vicky getting grips with the thin starting pitches

Richard enjoying the ice at the top

Goat Track Gully

Spiral in great nick

Vicky having fun

Adam loving it

Yesterday we strolled in and climbed Spiral Gully II.  I offered the direct finish alternative, but was quickly shot down.  We topped out in sunshine again and ate some food.  Tired legs and bodies won out, and we walked back down via 1141m for coffee and cake.  Another great day on the hill in good company.  A real fitting way to round off a busy season back and forth.

Friday, 13 March 2015

CIC Hut Week

Despite the poor weather forecast for the week, it has been a very productive course, with muchos sendarge!!  Andy and Alex were hoping to tick off a number of routes between grade IV and VI if conditions allowed. We had the plan to keep an open mind and to work around the forecast to give ourselves the best chance of success.

Sunday started pretty well.  We walked in mid morning and dropped off our kit at the hut.  A quick turn around took us up into Observatory Gully, where we climbed Hadrian's Wall Direct V, 5***.  Not a bad start.  

The forecast for Monday was poor, but a small window early morning gave the chance to do something before it hit.  The first of a few 4 am wake ups, got us out early and up an excellent Two Step Corner V, 5 *** and back to the hut before the weather peaked.
 
Alex approaching the first belay on hero ice

Spindrift getting worse with the weather moving in

A great forecast for Tuesday took us back up to Number 3 Gully Buttress and up the classic Gargoyle Wall VI, 6 ***.  A first grade VI for both and in outstanding icy condition, made it a bold proposition.  Every pitch delivered in quality and value, making it a great experience.  We climbed Rien ne vu Plus V, 5  on the way back to the hut to top off a Stunning day.
 
Andy enjoying quality Ben Nevis Icy mixed


Starting up an extremely icy Gargoyle Cracks

Andy looking glad to be near the belay

Alex fully engaged

More super icy and bold climbing on the top chimney

Wednesday required another 4am wake up.  We were rewarded with outstanding conditions and a glorious morning on Vade Mecum V, 5 ***.  This is and excellent climb and not often in, so a real steal on the day.
Andy cruising up pitch 1 of Vade Mecum

Alex staying relaxed on the very steep crux of Vade Mecum

After another 4am wake up on Thursday, the gamble didn't pay off.  Blown out by the really strong winds as we tried to approach a route,  we had to concede.  Patience and commitment won through though as we nipped out at 16:15 and did Italian Right Hand IV, 4***.  This felt like a real victory after the mornings efforts.
 
When the weathers bad, BAKE!! Blair kindly bringing supplies on his was to SAIS Forecasting 
 
A close second to the climbing this week
Today we climbed Point 5 V, 5***, which was not in the best conditions for the leader.  Poor ice and crud made it a serious outing. The amazing weather helped make up for it though.  After a bit of food and drink in the sunshine on the summit, we nipped down Number 3 Gully and climbed Winter Cascade IV, 5*.  This was in excellent condition, with some great steep ice to finish off a great weeks climbing.
one of the rare sections with good ice on Point 5 today

Alex through the Narrows
Andy enjoying the Point 5 experience

Through the Rogue Pitch and on the glory

Stunning ice on a fat Winter Cascade

Stunning views on top

Alex romping down No.3

A stunning end to a challenging, but great week.

Once I get back to a computer, I'll add some pictures.   Big thanks to Andy and Alex for there efforts to make this such a great week.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Turbo Thaw Ending

As I  drove up north yesterday from sunny Yorkshire into the ming, it was clear that a significant thaw was in full flow.  Looking at pictures on the sais blogs it shows a considerable snow loss.  It does feel a bit cooler at sea level this morning, and the sky is blue with the sun shining.  I'm about to head up for a week in the CIC hut, so let's hope the forecast holds and we can get some cool stuff done.  A dusting of fresh snow gives a bit of hope.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Higher Chelburn, Chilli Burn

I have been back at home now for a week, and had a child free day for the first time.  As I head back North on Saturday for a weeks work in the CIC Hut, I was keen to make the most of it.  The forecast was not optimistic, but I headed out with the Lancashire Bouldering Guide in hand to check out another of the more local venues.  Higher Chelburn is approx. 25 mins drive, with a selection of easy problems and the odd harder one.  The pick of the bunch is Chilli Burn 7c**.

mid crux

Latching the flake to finish the crux
 
The aim today was to tick the crag, but I missed out by 2 as they were just too wet and green.  After a warm up on the path side boulders, I ventured over to the chilli wall.  I ticked off the other problems here, the best being Sergeant Pepper (sit) 7a*, before getting stuck into Chilli Burn 7c**.  I had a quick play with a couple of sequences and climbed into the finish, but the crux was pulling on and setting up for the next 2 moves.  I could do it 2 ways (sort of), but settled for what felt the most likely, if less obvious.  After that the problem went much quicker than expected.  After 25-30 mins it was done.  A cool little problem.

Through the hard bit

I bashed around and climbed the rest of the problems at the crag.  Good ones were Limber Skin 7a, Clarion Call (sit) 6b, Top of the World 6a, Lover's Lip and Small Star 6b.  So, after 2 1/2 hours and 32 problems later, it was crag done.  Defo worth a visit, especially if local.  The problems may be small, but there is a lot of fun to be had.

chilli burn from Adam Hughes on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ben Nevis Double

I was on the Ben today with Colm and Dave hoping to find something tricky to challenge them.  The good weather and easy walk in started the day off nicely.
Stunning views on the walk in
We opted to climb Jackknife V, 6 first.  This gives a good sustained crux pitch up the groove with some thin climbing. The upper wall after the groove is normally avoided one the right.  To add a little harder climbing, I went straight up the steep wall boldly,  to reach the second belay.  I think this may have been the way Andy did it on the first ascent, as the grade is different in a couple of guides.  This way offers some good top end 6 or even the odd move of 7.  Once we nipped up the next steep wall to join the SW ridge, we bailed down and over to Vanishing Gully V, 5.

Thin moves to reach the second belay


Embracing the spindrift

We climbed this rapidly in 2 long pitch to be back down and out as the temp was starting to creep up a little.  Stunning soft ice and hooks made progress easy.  A pleasure to climb.

Stepped out heaven on Vanishing 
A great day in good company.