Thursday, 29 March 2012


I took my first visit to the Roost of the season with Dan today.  This is an under used crag that has a fantastic selection of hard trad routes, that makes excellent early season mileage.  There are only the E7's here I have not done, but they are all excellent and worth repeating to get fit.  Dan has only been here once before, so he still has loads to do.

Dan Flashing Chip and Pin Indirect

Joining the normal route before it's crux

I put a rope up Chip and Pin E5 6a*** to get warmed up.  Despite not being here for a while, the moves seem to be cemented in my mind now, thankfully.  Dan took advantage of this to warm up as well, as this is the only route he had already done here.  I then led Chip and Pin Indirect E5 6b***.  This gives a more sustained and tricky start to join the crux section of the normal route.  Whilst Dan continued his warm up I tried Con dem Nation E6 6b***.  I was hoping to climb this ok, but soon realised that it was dirty.  Rather than over grip and get pumped, I cleaned and put the clips in as I went.  This paid off and I led the route without too much trouble.  The conditions on the whole today were excellent, where the routes where clean.

Entering the harder climbing

Great moves

It just keeps going

Dan then stepped up and flashed Chip and Pin Indirect, which made good viewing.  I tried to wrap my day up climbing Sleepy Hollow E6 6b***.  This was pretty dirty and damp, which along with my tiredness contributed to my less than perfect performance.  We did a few more top ropes to get the gear back and take advantage of the training opportunity.

The video shows Dan's ascent of Chip and Pin Indirect to the normal crux of that route and me climbing Con dem nation in a sports styley!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Lancashire's Finest

Today I took a trip over to Bolton to visit Ousel's Nest and specifically one route, Pigeon Toad Orange Peel E5 6b***.  This was first climbed back in May 1985 by Geoff Hibbert and has probably not seen too many more ascents since the end of the 80's.  Elliot had been a hero and spent an hour cleaning the route at the end of last week, but I still had to put in a good half hour myself to get the holds through the crux free of their greasy film.
Technical and physical starting moves

Poor sidepulls as you start the long crux section

One more hard move to finish the crux

Why bother? I here you ask, when there are so many other routes that are already clean out there.  Firstly, I stupidly entered into the Lancashire's Finest Ticklist on UKC, and quiclky realised that I could probably do them all.  Secondly, this has taken me to crags I would most likely have not bothered with and climbed some outstanding routes, this one being another.

The climbing on Pigeon is steep, powerful and technical, so it plays to 1 of my strengths at least.  From the start to the end of the hard climbing at 3/4 height it just gets harder, bit by bit.  there have been a few holds break off at the start, but this did not really effect the route.  I fell of on my first go trying to get gear rather than push on to the jug, but took the winning option second time around.  This is an absolutely brilliant route, and well worth doing if you are in the area or combining it with a trip ti Wilton or Egerton.

It was getting really warm by 1pm, so I called it a day with the one route.  My apologies for the extreme whiteness in the pics.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Check Out Those Pants!!!!!

I met Dan at the Heptonstall (yes again) car park this morning armed with the new Orange pants of power!  The aim was to cover some mileage and get rid of those early season jitters.  It was a cold morning, but things improved through the day as the cloud burnt off. Dan had not done a lot of the classics, so it was the perfect time to tick them all off.  We warmed up on Main Line VS 4c**, Grindley's Grunt HVS 5b** and Pulpit Route HVS 5a*.  These are the less commonly climbed routes here, but well worth doing.  Tony and Tom turned up as Dan set off up Thin Red Line E2 5b*** and found the 2 cheeky hands off rests.  I then led demerara E4 6a**, before Dan led Brown Sugar E2 5c**.  Getting tired we nipped up Curving Crack VS 4c** to give the arms a chance to recover, before Dan led Forked Lightening Crack E2/3 5c***.

Dan about to start the second crux of Brown Sugar

Dan pulling hard on Brown Sugar

Tony Seconding Bull's Crack

Dan cruising Forked Lightening Crack

Tom Leading Main Line

The Pants of Power! in action on Demerara

A pretty good haul for 4 hours climbing.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Craggin' Close to Home

As the arrival date gets closer, I am trying to tick off the last few starred routes that I have not done locally.  This pretty much means Heptonstall.  Phil had to work this morning, so we only started climbing at 1ish,  Never the less, we got a few routes in.

We warmed up on  the usual VS's, before I climbed Cream E4 6a* to get the fingers going.  It was a little warm through the crux, as the rock is black and had started to hold the heat,  I then had a go at Badlands E4 6b*.  This used to have a lot more holds on it when I first started climbing here 11 years ago.  Climbing what's left, it is still the same grade, but there is one really hard move halfway which I fell off a lot.  I like to think it is just early season, but I have climbed a few routes and problems already that have been 6b, and this felt hard.  If I was 6 foot though, it would not be as bad.  Eventually, I made it past that move and climbed the route ground up, which is some consolation.

We rapped things up with an ascent of Thin Red Line E2 5b***, which is much pumpier with the rope on.  No pics again today, sorry.  I will try tomorrow to get some of the new, very bright orange trousers.

Monday, 19 March 2012

CWA Training

Yesterday I was working with Dan on the second day of a CWA Training course at Harrogate Wall.  The 8 candidates had already covered the personal aspects of the course at Leeds Wall, so the focus of this day was working with groups and the abseil module.  All the candidates left with lots to think about, so a good course all  round.

I managed a quick boulder afterwards on problems up to V7.  The problems are very well set and offer a good variety of climbing styles.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Golden Yorkshire Gritstone

After returning home from my winter season early, moving house and spending time with Em.  I managed a few hours at the crag today.  There are still a couple of starred routes at Heptonstall I have not done, so I was keen to tick a couple off.

I have not done any of the routes in the lower quarry, so Sunstroke Slab HS 4a** was the first to be soloed.  Next up was an excellent Triplex Direct E1 5b**.  Out on a Limb E3 6a** looked quite exciting, but had a good number of pegs in it.  I pre placed the runners on the pegs, then led the route whilst I belayed myself as well, much like you would do if you were solo aid climbing.  Poundstretcher E3 5c has the same start as the previous route, then escapes before the crux into Triplex Direct to finish.  As I had already climbed the other 2, I soloed this as well.  To rap things up here I nipped up Heatwave E2 5b**.

Satisfied with my lot in the lower quarry I went into the main to solo Thin Red Line E2 5b***.  This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time, and the sun came out just in time to make it perfect.  Pretty  tired, I finished off doing a few laps of Demarera E4 6a** on a rope.  It is fair to say that hanging around on tools for the winter has not taken away all my summer fitness, but a lot is needed to get it back up to were it should be.  With baby due anytime now, it is going to be hard to sustain the level I have managed over the last couple of years, but time will tell.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

CIC Week

This week I have been staying in the CIC Hut working for West Coast Mountain Guides.  I met Craig and Andy on Sunday.  We chatted to establish aims and organise kit etc. before heading up mid afternoon.  A glorious day on Monday brought us some fantastic ice on Comb Gully Buttress IV,5*** and some mixed climbing on South Trident to cover some skills to help through the week.  The rest of the week had a changeable forecast, so a suck it and see approach was taken.  Up and out early on Tuesday, some avalanche activity and we had to be sharp to pick the right route and approach.  We climbed an awesome Green Gully IV,4***, which had 2 mixed pitches starting from the bottom, before good ice at the top.  We stayed low on Wednesday and made the most of the day on the SW Ridge of the Douglas Boulder IV,5**, getting back to the hut before the real wet weather arrived.  The forecast for Thursday was apocalyptic after midday, so the early risers seized the chance again.  We topped out of Central Gully Right Hand IV,4*** by 11am.  The temp rose around 10:30 and we heard avalanche and cornice collapse in and around the No.3 and 4 areas.  Today was a real ming fest, so we walked out early and made our journeys home.

I am now back in Yorkshire awaiting the arrival of baby Hughes, so my season is over a little earlier than usual.  Hopefully thing will improve and folks can keep going a bit longer up there.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Winter's Back!!!

Stob Ban this morning

There has been fresh snow on the hills today down to approx. 600m.  With the cold weather due to hang around until mid week, this will open up a number of climbs across Lochaber and Glencoe.  A little riming had started yesterday on the Ben, so by tomorrow things should hopefully have improved a lot.  The ice routes will still take a while to recover and we would need this cold spell to continue for longer than the forecast suggests it might to repair all the damage.

I will be heading up to the CIC for a week this evening, so may not be able to update, but willbe trying to pass info down to Alan Kimber so he can keep folks posted.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Ropework in the Glen

As the routes are very limited on the Ben at the moment, we opted to cover a range of multi pitch ropework in the Glen.  Starting at Pinnacle Ridge, we looked at belaying 2 seconds and managing change overs.  We then moved up to The Gutter Diff***, to put the systems into practice.  Dave and Colm broke the route down to maximize the pitches and get as much practice in as possible.  An ascent of the classic Resurrection Vs 4c***, although a bit wet was a good way to wrap up the day.

John went back up to the Ben and climbed North Gully II with Ronon, Robbie and Eoghan, which has a big gap at the start which is much harder than grade II.  Jonny climbed Good Friday Climb III with Ronon, commenting on the ques for Tower Scoop.  There has been  few things falling off Tower Scoop, so standing around the bottom is not recommended.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Ben Nevis in a Sorry State

I have been back up on the Ben today with Colm and Dave looking for something to climb.  The weather over the last week has really took its toll, leaving the majority of the line broken and hollow.  We climbed a varied No. 3 Gully Buttress III***, which was broken on the first pitch, a good ice pitch on the second, then very alpine mixed through the traversing pitches.  Colm and Dave led the route between them, looking at using half ropes and different belay methods as they went.  We descended No. 4 Gully which is firming up, but has a droopy, collapsing cornice.
Colm leading up Pitch 1

Dave on good ice, Pitch 2
Dave leading to the top

Mike Pescod climbed a combination of Good Friday Climb and Indicator Wall to avoid the ques on a hollow Tower Scoop.  Smith's is still complete, but will most likely be detached for a few days at least until a period of cold weather.