Friday, 28 October 2011

Woodland Ecology

The plan today was to return to Hawkcliffe, which should have stayed dry as all the rain was coming from the west.  I met Elliot there. but Tony was running late, so we walked up to see if it was dry.  As we approached we were greeted to a dry Emerald Buttress basking in the morning sun, RESULT!!

Elliot Flashing Woodland Ecology
Tony on RIP
This is my 11th day out of the last 15 climbing, so being pretty tired I had one route in mind for the day and anything else would be a bonus.  I abseiled down to brush off the leaves and check is was not too damp.  It was dry and there were less leaves than I had thought there would be. but still enough.  Woodland Ecology E5 6a**, the last of the tricky routes on the buttress that I had left to do, is mostly slabby, so I just got on with it.  The route starts as for Ginny Greenteeth to the ramp and gear (which is very good once you get a good cluster in).  Here it traverse rightwards to finish up the easy upper arete of The Blood on the Shamrock.  Elliot also flashed the route and we both agreed that it felt more E3/4 5c.  The moves are straight forward and right next to the gear.  We compared it to Lazy Friday E4 5c at Wilton which we thought was similar in difficulty, but much move serious than Woodland.

 Elliot had cleaned RIP E1 5b* which follows a thin crack up a cool little groove.  We had done this as Tony arrived, so we pointed him at and he dispatched it in style.  We then moved over to the Prow where Tony led Squirrel Crack E1 5b***, which he loved by the whoop! at the top.  Elliot wanted to toprope Driveby E6 6b***, as he thought this might suit his strengths after belaying me on Wednesday.  It was a bit damp today, so he gave it a brush and I took advantage of this and Tony, leading it again to get some pics.  The routes was ok, but the top out was pretty damp.  Elliot climbed the route well, but I was gutted that at 6'2 he could reach past the crux and make it 5c ish.  The top out was a bit much today, so it is one to return for.  As the rope was up I had a burn on Charlie Don't Surf E8 6c***.  I was very surprised when I made it to the peg straight off and then linking through to do the route in 2 first go.  I left it at that.  Don;t want to get too involved  as I might get crazy thought about leading it.

Tony well into Squirrel Ceack
Making the crux move on Driveby
The Jug
Thin moves to finish
 We wrapped the day up with Tony leading Syrett's Slit E1 5b* a quality, steep offwidth.  Another great day at Hawkcliffe and no one else about, shame!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


The plan was to met Elliot at Wilton today, but the rain overnight has wet the routes we were keen to get on.  Instead we went to Hawkcliffe.  There are some amazing routes here, but they have been naglected over the years.  Recently I have done a couple of routes here,  as well as a few other locals that have been cleaning the 3 star classics.
Elliot getting involved with the pod on Squirrel Crack

It was Elliot's first visit, so he was first up on Squirrel Crack E1 5b***.  This is on the easy side of the grade, but offers some outstanding and amusing climbing up the long crack.  Elliot cruised this, which then meant it was time to look at the main objectives for the day.  Elliot was keen for Flame Arete E5 6b**, and I Driveby E6 6b***.  We both Abseiled down the routes to give them a clean.  They had seen recent traffic which made this quite quick, but was still worth the effort after the rain last night.

I was first up to try and flash Driveby.  The gear is excellent and can be placed off jugs, with the peg in reach for me from the bridge in the chimney.  This route is totally my style, balancey moves out of the chimney, then sustained crimping above.  I was totally psyched to flash this with little trouble, and was keen to see Elliot do the same on Flame Arete.

Unfortunately, Elliot was not on form today.  He got shut down by the crux moves leaving the break.  I blame it on his long legs etc.  A route that it better suited to the average stature.  I took advantage of Elliot's hard work and had a bash.  Moving through the crux I slipped off a damp undercut, NOOOOOOOO!  A quick brush and lower off, it went a peachy next go.  Gutted to blow the flash, but these things happen.  I thought the route was very good, but probably 6a for me (the right body dimensions I guess).

Get down here folks.  It will only get better with traffic.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Elevator E6 6c**?

I had a tip off about The Elevator E6 6c** at Eldwick Crag.  This is a 12m steep, technical slab, so right up my street.  John had agreed to give me a belay and I was keen to try and flash it having the benefit of video beta from Dave Warburton and Huw Goodall.  I arrived about 30 mins before John, so abseiled down to brush the holds after the low cloud last night.  A bit of chalk quickly took away the dampness and let me see the crux holds.  Whist waiting, I soloed up to the gear and placed it before reversing to the ground.  After bouldering up and down the start a bit more to warm up, I was chilling when John turned up.  A quick chat and my eagerness to get it down saw me up to the gear and into the tricky moves above.  The last 2 moves proved to be the crux, but all the video beta paid off as I found myself latching the top.  YEAH!!!!!

Although I have done over 10 E6's, this would be the first I have flashed.  Unfortunately, I am not convinced the meaty grade is right.  To me it is no bolder than Wings of Unreason or Auto de Fer, both E4.  It is however, much harder to read and would be a very good onsight.  Therefore E5 might be fair.  The tech grade is way over as well.  My thoughts are that it is a balancy 6b.  I am only 5'10, so can't even claim the advantage of height for this discrepancy.  Never the less, it is a great bit of climbing and worth a visit.

John working hard on Die or Comply
We also had a go on Die or Comply font 7a+ or V7?.  This is a good looking finger crack, that has some excellent locks, tricky layaways and good but small footholds.  We both slipped off the crux a couple of times as the hold was suffering with a damp spot.  I abseiled down to brushed it and removed some mud and plants that where causing the problem.  This made all the difference, and I sent the problem straight away.  John got extremely close, but maybe needs another quick visit.

John setting up to start the crux couple of moves
Again this is a great little problem, but over graded.  I thought font 6c or V5 was a better reflection.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A Working Weekend

I have spent the weekend in the Peak with Izzi, who wanted to improve her general climbing technique.

Saturday we went to Burbage North where the focus of the morning was to get Izzi back on the sharp end.  She did well, leading a bunch of routes from Diff to HVD 4a.  I the afternoon we turned the focus on to new skills.  20 foot crack was a great place to run a jamming clinic, as it was the perfect hand size for Izzi.  We found finger cracks to work with, before spending some time focusing on footwork and shifting our centre of balance.  By the end of the day we had covered loads and climbed 10 routes from Diff to VS 5a.

Today we went to Stanage with the aim of climbing loads of routes to put into practice to skills covered yesterday.  We started by climbing Paradise Wall HS 4b*** which meant we were straight into some jamming and neat use of our feet to make things as easy as possible.  This theme continued with Paradise Arete VS 4c* and Pegasus Wall VS 4c*.  To mix up the use of feet and features, we then climbed Seesaw VS 4c*.  This has some good smeary moves up a slabby arete.  Izzi then led Garderner's Crack Diff* to break things up a little.  It was straight back to the focus of consolidating skills and we climbed Fairy Steps VS 4a**.  This was a great test for Izzi, with its lack of handholds in the right places which forced the use of good positive footwork.  Next up was The Coign HS 4b**, another slabby arete with a couple of steeper moves in the middle.  We moved over to Wall End Slab to cement the days footwork focus.  Here we climbed Wall End Slab VS 5a***, Wall End Slab Direct Finish E3 5c** and Wall End Slab Super Duper Direct E3 5c*.  This gave a really good and concentrated session.  The day ended on the Lone boulder.  Izzi managed to send Lone Slab Arete V1 5c.

A great couple of days in good company and with good conditions.

Thursday, 20 October 2011


I had forgotten about Em's work thing this afternoon, so found myself with a few hours free before I had to do a learn to lead course at the local wall.  Having seen that someone had been to Hawkcliffe and climbed the route I fancied I thought that a 5th day out of 7 was called for.  It proved to be a great end to a weeks climbing.  I had walked into the crag a week ago to find it soaking.  This time it looked like a different crag altogether, and the lines looked amazing.  Ginny Greenteeth E5 6a*** was what I had come for, and was very pleased to see that there was still loads of chalk on it.  I abseiled down and cleaned off all the dry leaves and left a sling in place for the dodgy top out just in case (useful beta from UKC).  It was totally my kind of route, so I got straight on it.  It was really balancy and technical, but not physical.  I was soon at the top, which although scary, was all good.  Many thanks to Dave Warburton and Nik Jennings for cleaning this route up.

I noticed that The Blood on the Shamrock E6 6a*** had chalk on it as well, and really fancied this too.  I dropped the rope down and had a go.  The climbing on this was also outstanding.  A little more physical, but positive and again my thing.  The hardest thing about it was not falling off whilst belaying myself through the Gri Gri.  This at least meant that I had to be balaced and solid the whole way up.  After a good rest I soloed this as well.  The crux of the route is near the start, but still quite high.  It then eases considerably as good holds arrive.

This venue has some great routes, but needs a lot more attention to stop them all being reclaimed by nature.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Bouldering at the Bridies

After the rain yesterday, I was glad to see the sun out today and a good wind blowing.  This meant that by midday when I met Elliot at the Bridestones, they were nice and dry.  Conditions were pretty good today and we climbed a good range of problems to V7.  We both did some problems we had not done before, the best of which for me were Big Bash V4 6b*** and the Direct version of Charlotte Rampling V7 6c*.  A split tip and getting tired we called it a day after Cleopatra V5 6b***.

Flashing Big Bash

Starting up Cleopatra

Cruising up the easy section of Cleopatra

Elliot try hard on one of the Small Smart Wall problems

Reaching far on Charlotte Rampling Direct 

Sticking the poor sloper

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Virus

The weather has been better than expected here today, so I took good advantage this morning and got out early.  I went up to the Bridestones first despite the wind to try Cleopatra V5/6 (depends on the guide you look in).  This is a great problem with one tricky move low down then straight forwards to the top.  I thought it was on the easy side of V5, but awesome none the less.  Out of Sight V6 is a funky little arete problem just around the corner.  I was pleasantly surprised when this was sent with in a few tries.    After a couple more problems I boosted and went to the natural section of the Roost.

There have been 5 new route go up here recently and I don't think any have been repeated.  These are all my possible solo range, so I thought I would go and have a look.  Jumble Hole Jaspers E1 5b* and Ost Gut Ton E3 5c* were only done yesterday, so I knew these were clean and good to go.  Both routes were average and pleasant enough, but I would not give them any stars.  The 2 harder routes looked much better.  The hardest of them, The Virus E5 6a* takes a steep crack, then seam/flake up the overhanging main wall to an exciting finish.  I gave this a quick brush and toprope to see how it was.  The climbing was straight forward and on the easy side for 6a, with the hardest part of the route being topping out.  After a short rest I soloed this, but was pretty gripped on the top out.  The climbing was very good though.  I abseiled down Flaming Stepe Beko! E4 6a* and brushed it.  This looked fine, so I flashed this Solo.  I thought that E3 5c* would be a better grade, but the climbing was excellent.  There was only one more to do, Ig n Stu's techno Groove E2 6a*.  This needed a brush, but was fine after that.  At only 6m it is more of a highball problem, and reasonable.

All in not too bad a day.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


I was not expecting to climb today as we had friends visiting, but Em, Penny, Does and I ended up at the Bridestones for a couple of hours. Only Does and I climbed as the girls are out of action for a while.  I had not been up to the Bridies for about a year and was surprised to see a few other folks about.  As always they were crowded around Horror Arete, so we went to the small smart wall area.  This was the first visit for Does, so here gives some reall nice problems in a good grade range.  We climbed a number of problems from V0-V7, but the highlights were Does's flash of The Villain V2 and was psyched to cruise all the problems on the Pointless slab.  I even did a few problems I had not done before.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Wilton 2 and Egerton

I traveled over to Bolton today and met up with Elliot and Stu hoping to find some dry rock.  The main reason was to try Pigs on the Wing E5 6b*** at Wilton 2 if no one was shooting in there.  Luckily no one was in there and it was the driest wall around today.  As it had been so wet I abseiled down to brush and check the route.  It was a bit smeggy and the only jug was a puddle, but I managed to soak it up and dry it off enough.  The aim was to flash it, but after starting up it still felt greasy and very reachy for my.  Not really trusting the RP runners and the crux move looking like it would but me very close to, if not on the deck, I opted for the soft option and toproped it.  The crux move was pretty hard for 6b, and I was shocked when neither Elliot or Stu could do it.  This did re assure me that it was hard as I found it nails.  The move got better as I warmed up and the hold dried out a bit move with traffic. After a few goes to get the move wired, I led the route it the best style I had climbed it on any go.  Awesome climbing, but quite committing with the landing.

About to enter the hard climbing
We moved over to Egerton where we all climbed Satin Sapphire E3 5c***.  There are still a few 3 star route here that we all want to try, but have to clean them all before we can.  It seems to be a route a visit here.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Eastby Take 2

After the bad weather this week I was hopeful that I would get something done today.  I took a walk up to Hawkcliffe spurred on by the knowledge that it had been dry last Friday after all the rain, but was not surprised  to find it very wet.  Eastby was my back up, and thankfully dry enough to try and tick the last of the stared routes ate the crag..

I started by soloing Block Buttress HVS 5a*, which had a few damp bits on it.  This prompted me throw a rope down Genuflex E3 6a* to brush it and see how dry it was.  There was a little damp on the crux break and    I had heard it was a bit of a sand bag, so tried it on the rope.  I'm glad I did.  It felt more like stiff 6b.  I got the move dialed, then soloed.  Hangs E4 6a* was the last route on the buttress and more my style, so I was happy to flashed this one.  Defective Too Early E4 6b** was next up.  A hard crux low down with a poor landing meant headpointing this was the sensible choice.  After a quick toprope, I soloed this as well.  I was running out of steam a bit, so moved on to some slabby routes.  After checking they were dry, I rounded off the day soloing Blinkered Variation E3 5c*, Mistaken Identity E1 5b* and Action Traction E4 6a*.

Another great day at Eastby in the bag, and a couple of stared routes still to come back for.

Monday, 10 October 2011

SPA Training

Over the weekend I have been working on a SPA Training Course in the Peak for DaN Mckinlay.

 Day 1 was spent at Stanage where we covered all the aspects of personal climbing, management and professionalism.  Despite the weather, everyone led routes from Diff to Severe and seemed to enjoy themselves.  There was also an evening session at the Foundry, which covers the use of climbing walls with groups etc.

Day 2 was all about groups.  The small bay at Lawrencefield give an excellent venue for this, with its easy access and self contained area.  We managed to cover all the rigging for climbing and the problem solving before the rain started.  But had to suffer a little whilst we worked through the abseil section.

Overall, the weekend was successful and everyone commented they had a lot to take away.

Friday, 7 October 2011


High on Whaup Edge

After the downpours this week I was keen to get out and take advantage of the good forecast.  Looking through the guidebook, Eastby seemed like a good option.  South facing, Very quick to dry, a bunch of 3 star classics and I had never been before, Sold!  I meet Elliot on the way, and before long we had racked up a total of 9 routes.
Elliot on Piilar Rib VS 4c***

Firstly we soloed Eastby Buttress VD***, then Pillar Rib VS 4c***.  Elliot put the rope on to lead Pillar Front E2 5b***, which was as excellent as the others so far.  I then led Thumper E4 5c***.  Despite being bold, the climbing was steady and again did not lack in quality.  Elliot then flashed the route as well, giving us both a good haul so far.  Both of us soloed Nose Climb S 4a*** and Index Variation VS 5a** before having a look at Dead Babies E5 6b** which is a short solo.  After falling off the last hard move near the top, we decided to bin it and try some other routes.  I led Thumper Direct E5 6a, which I thought was the better way to do the route and not that much bolder.  Elliot wrapped up the leading for the day with The Padder E1 5b**.  We the both soloed Whaup Edge VS 4b** to finish the day.  All the routes we did today were excellent and I would highly recommend a visit to the crag if you have not been before.

Elliot on Index Variation VS 5a**

Monday, 3 October 2011

Almscliff Classics

John chillin' before the crux
I met John at Almscliff today to back a few routes and enjoy the good weather before it turns bad.  John was psyched to push himself after his Yosemite trip, and Big Greeny E3 6a*** was on his radar.  This is one of the big 3 have not done yet, so I was more than happy to give it a bash.  John had abseiled down to see if it was dry etc. and was going to boulder around to warm up, but my over keen attitude saw me tying in thinking I would just give it a bash.  Steady climbing takes you to a good hands off rest before you commit to the crux up the headwall.  After a quick shake I was into the crux and happy to find positive crimps which suited me to a T.  I would say this is the easiest of the 3 E3's here.  John then went for the flash, but his head beat him with only 1 tricky move to go, but he took the fall with pride and was full of confidence on his next go and crushed it.
John pulling through the crux of The Big Greeny
We moved around to black wall where I fancied 'Arries' Ook.E4 6a**.  This has a bold, delicate and technical start which leads you to gear at 2/3 height.  Here it changes style to become big steep moves to join the finish of Black Wall Eliminate.  A great route.

Trying to work out the best way to use the undercut through the crux

Starting up the steep upper section

Pulling through the last hard move

To wrap things up we did a bit of bouldering.  Making rapid ascents of the Gypsy E3 6a/V3* and some of the eliminates on Morrell's Wall.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

No One Wept or Alec Trench

No One Wept For Alec Trench E5 6a*** had been on my tick list since I moved back South and saw a pic in the Lancs guide.  Unfortunately, Egerton is a bit of a forgotten quarry, but has some gems worth putting some effort into.  Elliot had done all the hard work and spent a day cleaning the line and practicing it on a top rope, so it was primed for me to come over and flash it.  I had a wait for Elliot, who kindly offered to belay this evening, so thought I would repay his hard work and clean Ice Cold Acid Test E4 6a***.  This route looked right up my street, crimpy wall climbing with no real hard moves and the crux looked low down.  Needing a warm up, I soloed this which was awesome, and very easy for the grade.

Elliot turned up and was psyched.  I had already climbed up and clipped the first runner and climbed back down (over keen during my wait).  The other couple of bits of gear were in from Elliot's session yesterday and are all placed from ledges, so there was no sense in replacing them.  I cracked on and was at the top pretty quick.  The climbing very straight forward and again very easy for the grade.  Probably only F6b and the crux one move of hard 5c.  This did not stop the route being outstanding and worth the drive over.

Making the crux moves

Elliot then led the route smoothly and also flashed Ice Cold Acid Test.  A good couple of hours spent.

I apologies for the pale body in the video and pics.