Saturday, 31 January 2015

Stony Edge

With work falling through today, I ended up with a couple of hours free this afternoon.  I had bought the new Lancashire bouldering guide yesterday afternoon straight from Robin and he somehow got it to me this afternoon.  Defo worth buying direct with that kind of service.  It is a very well produced guide.  So much so,  I'm psyched to boulder in Lancashire.  It is fair to say that Lancashire has some dreary venues that don't inspire.  Robin has somehow managed to make these venues look worth a visit.  From experience I know if you make the effort there are always some gems to be done.

Stony Edge is a good looking venue without jazzing up.  The pathside boulder is only 10 mins walk, so made a good quick hit today.  A managed to Flash all the problems to 6c,  which left one problem, Fanfare 7b**.  This was not the soft touch like the Sladen Roof problems.  It took a little bit of time to suss out, but was not that bad once I had it down.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Bit of Bouldering

I was feeling a bit knackered yesterday, but thought I'd get out and do something in the afternoon.  A quick hit at Woodhouse would tick the box.  I warmed up on some classics, then did some of the usual problems on the clingen face.  Once warmed up I felt a bit better, so set about extending Rainy Days 7b+.  The new extension climbs Interfacing Angel  Reverse 7c, to then join and finish up the original problem.  It adds a little extra, but the grade stays the same,  Rainy Days Extention 7c.
Making hard moves back around the arete 
I did the sit start to Interface as well which Lee Mac had recently done.  He didn't suggest a grade,  but I thought it was worth 7b+ at least. Not a problem I'll do very often as it's not my thing.  My shoulder is still sore this morning.  I wrapped things up with a nip up an alternative way to start Close to the Edge which bumps it up to 7a+.  A nice session.

Rainy Days Ext from Adam Hughes on Vimeo.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Messenger

Today was my last day with Alex, but it was unfortunately a short one.  He had to be back down the road early for a meeting, so a quick hit was needed.  We opted for the Messenger V,6. It's been a long time since I did this, and thinking back it was a dig fest then.  However, it was even worse today. It took a while to clear the 2 foot deep slab that in encased the initial corner all the way to the roof.  Things eased after the roof, with a mere foot deep al the way to the top.  It felt like we were performing a vital public service to add to yesterday's cleaning work.  It's easy to spot the line that have been climbed as you walk in.  Anything that has not been climbed will offer true winter sport.

It was a great way to finish the 3 days,  and it puts us in good shape for our week on the Ben when Andy will join us as well.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Savage Slit

Today we had a great plan to head in to Lochain and try and do a couple of routes.   This was thrown to the wolves early on as the road to the ski centre was closed.   In typical cairngorm fashion, all the staff cars go up.  I understand how that fits with there no public till passed safe policy, but all handful of delivery vans not so much.  As usual there was not rush to get things open before the ski centre was at 9:30.  A bit frustrating for every other user of the mountain,  rant over.
Look no hands
By the time we got up to the carpark and set off,  it was getting on.  Despite reasonable conditions underfoot, the wind made it hard work.  Care was needed to pick a safe way up to No.4 Buttress as there is a lot of funky slab around.
Alex getting stuck in
Old school 
We eventually got stuck into a very white Savage Slit V, 6 * * * *.   There was not a crack it sight,  other than the main feature.  It made it a proper winter outing, clearing, searching for hooks and digging for gear in some quite icy cracks.  It was a perfect learning experience for Alex to show how a route is not only technically challenging, but the time and effort you need to go through to make it safe.
Living the dream

Almost there
It's been roughly 11 years since I last climbed the route, and it felt like an on sight all over again. I think we both had a great day on a truly classic route.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Honey Pot

Today was the first of three days I have with Alex in the gorms.  We opted to head into Sneachda to see what things are like.  The answer is excellent.  The recent snow has transformed it into perfect mixed conditions. It's a little hard going in places, as there was no consolidated snow on ledges to aid those pulls onto round gorms ledges.

Heading up the first pitch of Honey Pot 
The walk in was hard going by gorms standards.  Straight into a brisk wind and braking trail the whole way. There is a fair amount of winds lab around, but not all where you would expect it.

We climbed Honey Pot IV, 6** to see where Alex was at.  A good route with some sustained sections at the grade.  We dropped back down and did Hidden Chimney Direct IV, 5 as well. After discussion, we opted to not do a third route and save some energy for a trip into Lochain tomorrow. 

Hidden Chimney Direct 
Alex at the top of Hidden Chimney Direct 
A great day, but we are hoping the wind drops away tomorrow. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

EB Climbing shoes

Many of remember either seeing, hearing about or even using EB's.   I never worn the originals myself, but often wondered how good they were when I saw pictures in mags,  guides or books.  So many classic images in a shoe that changed climbing forever. As I've been trying out a set of Django it seemed right to see how things have changed for the brand over the years.

The history of the first real climbing shoe started with Pierre Alain.  In his quest to improve his climbing in font,  he worked with an expert shoe maker called Edouard Bourdenneau  (EB) in 1947.  After three year EB bought the business of Pierre in 1950 and went on to dominate the market in Europe, Britain and USA for around 35 years.  The downfall started in 1985 when most notably the Boreal Fires came to town.  From the 1990's the company continues with ups and downs and changes ownerships and partnerships.  It keeps on trucking though, making steps in the right direction.  In 2009 they joined forces with 9a climbing, and gained even greater direction.  They have continued to grow and develop over the last 5 years, with some top climbers joining the EB Team.

like most people I thought the brand had closed up shop a long time ago.  So it is nice to see a brand with such a rich history coming back strong.  They now have a complete range of quality looking shoes available, some in the UK if you know where to look.  I've been using the Django which on first impression seem very good.   They have worked well on a variety of angles on problems from 6b to 7c+.  I had a very quick try of the Hulk's which also seemed very good..

The sizings seem ok.  Best comparison is Scarpa and Edelrid  depending on model.  About 1/2 size down from Evolv, and a full size down from 5:10.

Places to try them are Boulders in Cardiff, The Crag Station in AWCC Stockport, The Climbing Station  Loughborough, Absolute Skate/Rock Hemel Hempstead and City Bloc Leeds.

some images of the range below

A Bit of Lancashire bouldering

Today I went out with Garry and headed into the depths of Lancashire for a spot of bouldering.   We went to Stanworth Quarry which had a bit of dry stuff towards the right end of the crag.

I did a nice enough 6b+ in the middle section of the the right side on a section that looked more like pex hill, but wetness but us of doing anything else.  We then did a couple of 7a's.  One up a wall to hard manta, and the other up the arete of that wall.  After that we went to the far right and did Backlash S'S 7a which was good, before trying the harder problems.  Fracking 7c+ got the most attention, and I hit the top with my tips on a half hearted effort.  Sure it would go next try, I laid one on and got the hold, but ripped a lot of skin on the razor sharp edge which made me let go.  Pain and blood didn't put me off taping up and trying again, but hitting the top again the discomfort was enough to make me let go.  Next time.
 We then moved on to Knowle Heights where Garry made swift work of Race to Base 7b.  My sore hand and powered out body failed to stick one move which meant no joy today.  Frustrating as the problem was not that hard, just one of those things.

Race to Base

Monday, 12 January 2015

CWA Training

After the work in Scotland last week, I had to run back down South for a CWA Training over the weekend.  It was a good course, and good mix of experience within the candidates.  As usual, ROKT and The Leeds Wall provided good venues and prompted some good discussion.

Today I have been setting at ROKT, trying to catch back up after the festive period.  I need to pull my finger out this month, as I'll be away a bit more next month.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

2 Route day in the Gorms

After a long and useful skills day yesterday at the ice factor, we were keen to get stuck into a good route today to rap the week up.  The decision was to head East for a change of scenery and style.

The snow starting to stick to the road on the drive over to the gorms was a good sign there should be something to do.  The lack of snow in general is surprising, but was improving as we arrived at a snowy car park.  The walk in was as easy as ever.  It always feels like a rest day after the walks on the West.  We made our way over to the Fiacaill Buttress as it looked the whitest by far.  Other teams had the same idea, but despite being the first of the groups we approached with to start.  A couple of teams had been early starters.   We had hopes to do the Seam,  and despite a team starting the chimney as we sorted ropes, I'd hoped they would be up and gone by the time we arrived.  Unfortunately this was not the case, so we opted to go up Short Curcuit IV, 5 instead.   This was in excellent condition and offered some great sport, With the final pitch buried under 6 inches of power.

Rhys pulling hard up the steep little corner on Short Curcuit 

Karen getting stuck into some proper Scottish mixed
 We descended the ridge and back into the corie to go and do a sporty Aladdin's Mirror Direct. It was a rapid ascent with the best ice being straight up the pillar at the moment making it a bit more sustained that usual.  We abseiled off and enjoyed the veiw as the light faded,  making it back to the car without the headtouches.
Happy team back at the car
A great week.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Number 3 Gully Buttress

Good snowfall over night.

Today we ventured up the Ben to find a fair amount of snow had come down.  A number of teams were about, one on Green Gully, Number 2 Gully Buttress and a team headed towards the cascade area.

We opted to go for Number 3 Gully Buttress which looked in great condition.  There was excellent ice on the start and we also climbed the steep ice corner of Quick Step to access the rightward traverse.  This adds a some good climbing instead of traversing around.  We did have a fair amount of spindrift coming down to give the full Scottish experience.  The mixed step was good spot, as the snow was not as consolidated in some spots as you would like.  Typical early season condition.  We cruised along steadily to top out in less windy conditions than expected.

Guy had been over in Glencoe and said there was very little snow,  and thinks had not really firmed up that well.  With the high temperature tomorrow and heavy rain forecast, it will be interesting to see how things hold up.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Dorsal Arete

Today was very warm.  A complete contrast to yesterday,  but at least it was dry.  We had decided yesterday to have a walk back in to scnl, with the view of doing Dorsal.  It's a great little route and the lack of snow around the apron meant that approaching should be straight forward.   Karen and Rhys made short work of the walk with there lighter bags and we sailed up the route.   After a discussion about what to do next,  we opted for a descent down Broad Gully and back to the car.  This will hopefully recharge them for a bigger day tomorrow. 

Conditions on the route were lean,  with the fin being a rock climb.  The snow that remained on the route was good, with the odd icy patch about. The turf was still frozen for the most part, so hopefully it will improve as the temperature comes down tomorrow. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Raeburn's Ordinary Route

SCNL Today

Rhys and Karen on approach 
Today was the start of Karen and Rhys's week long climbing course. We opted to start a day earlier than planned, as today seemed like it could be the best of the week.  This is the 4th year I've worked with them, so we decided to make the most of the weather and start big.  Despite doing little climbing this year, they coped well with the route.  After making reasonably short work of the first crux pitch, they continued this for the rest of the route. The route was on the challenging side today.  There is very little in the way of consolidated snow, so all those transitions on to ledges made for good sport today.  The temperature remained pretty stable just above freezing, with the snowpack seemingly holding just below.  The turf was widely frozen at the start of the day, but there was the odd section low down that was on the turn.

A great start to the week, let's hope it continues  fruitfully with some clever route choices.

More pics when I get use of a computer. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Last Bit of Rock in 2014

After a busy xmas with a bit of setting and a good morning bouldering session locally.  I was not expecting much from our day at Hobson Moor yesterday.  The general consensus was routes, so Hobson, being reasonably sheltered and quick drying fit the bill.  Ben and Dan started off on Crew's Routes VS 4c*,  so I soloed a fee things to warm up before seconding that also. Dan is just getting into trad, so started his leading off on Evening Ridge Midnight Variation S. Not a classic, but got him moving. I started off with Sunshine Superman E2 5b*.  A bold little number with a fee damp holds, which made it interesting.   Ben then led this also.  A great led as he is still getting his head back after a broken ankle bouldering.

Ben on Sunshine Superman

Dan the led Crew's Route which he avoided seconding earlier.  I used that time to clean and dryish Eastern Touch E4 6a*.  As it was damp I opted to pre place the gear as I can't afford to hurt myself with winter work booked in next week.  I Flashed the route, which had some nice climbing.  A route that has gear that could be placed off jugs all the way up.  Ben took advantage of my work and Flashed the route in the same style.

Flashing Eastern Touch
Dan then led his first HVS in Parker's Eliminate HVS 5a***.  A solid lead.

Dan sending large

I again cleaned and attempted to dry Gardener's World E4 6b*.  This was proper wet in the crux, but it is safe, so I pre placed the gear again and gave it a lash.  It was touch and go through the wet crux, almost dropping it clipping the gear mid crux as I was sliding off the wet holds.  I managed to bear down and keep going, drying my hand for every move from halfway to the top.  Good climbing that would be quite straightforward if it was dry.

We rapped the day off with a solo of Tighe's Arete E1 5a**, then some bouldering.

A good day at a venue with a good selection on days like this.