Thursday, 25 September 2008

More early season gritting

After last week’s new routing at Turning Stone I was keen to get back for a couple more plum lines this weekend. So for the second week in a row I spent both days in the Amber Valley, Saturday at Cocking Tor and Sunday at Turning Stone. Both days with a very longsuffering Fiona.
The objective at Cocking Tor was to climb the left side of the arete taken by the classic ’76 Bancroft route Jelly Ache. Rather hot weather meant the steep rounded upper arete felt harder and scarier than it would have been otherwise, but still very enjoyable. It went without incident and is every bit as good as Jelly Ache and a touch harder, but still probably only E3 6a. I’ve called it Both Sides Now, for the obvious reason and after the Joni Mitchell song. Then tried to force a new line between Jelly Ache and Cyclops’ Eye, but ended up wimping out at the top and finishing up CE. This line will go and will be E3/4 6a/6b, but lacks the line and independence of it’s neighbours.
Sunday I did the left wall coming out of Vee Chimney. I'd cleaned and worked this line about a year ago whilst on a bouldering mission. This turned out to be easily the best of my additions to Turning Stone. After placing ok but worryingly low runners, the climbing goes up a short rib to a thin break, makes a big pull past a roof to an eye, does a strenuous shuffle on the eye to get hands set, then rocks way over ‘right between the eyes’ to a small crimp in a second eye, up to a very slopey edge, right to a good edge, left to a sidepull, then a big slightly scary reach to a juggy break and easier climbing. I called the route Right Between the Eyes and reckon it’s just about safe but scary at E5 6b. After this I had a go at the direct start to Happy Landing, a big roof line just left of last year’s highball 7a+ Finger Bang. Low poor gear in crumbly rock and hard moves on snappy flakes saw a swift retreat and a couple of cams placed in the break above so that I could work the roof on a rope. Managed to do it in a oner eventually but it’s hard (font 7b), the holds are rather brittle and the gear is very suspect. I’d wager it’ll be E7 6c as a lead, but might be better suited to a highball approach, with lots of pads and spotters, though a fall from the crux last slap would be very wild indeed. The moves are great, any takers??

Calling the Grit

Right Between the Eyes

Both Sides Now

Said 7b-ish project roof

Monday was a drizzly trip to the Tor with Andy C and the Bee-keeper. A lot of the crag was a bit wet but we had an ok session and it was good to catch up with the chaps.

Tuesday the forecast looked better for Yorkshire, which was good as I had arranged to meet Toby in Leeds and go out tradding. After flicking through the grit guide looking for which crag had the biggest number of three star routes not yet tried I fancied a visit to Almscliff. Too often the bouldering crag of last resort, when all else is wet, I had barely done any of the routes, which is madness as they look better than the bouldering. Talked Toby into the plan and headed out fairly early to find perfect sunny but cool conditions. Warmed up soloing three HS/VS routes on Demon Wall and then Demon Wall itself, all of which were excellent if a little polished. We then decided to do the big three, three star E3s on the West Face, all Extreme Rock ticks no less. We both led each route, abseiling for the gear in between. What can I say, these routes are totally stunning, Western Front, Wall of Horrors and Big Greeny, awesome stuff, I’m mad keen to come back soon for the likes of Grand Illusion. Even dropping a lense out my glasses halfway up Wall of Horrors didn’t spoil the fun, just had to throw them down and push on blindly up the top half. After this we opted to escape the bitter wind which had been building and move over to Black Wall. Followed Toby with a solo of Black Wall Eliminate E2 and then seconded up a rather pokey E4 ‘Arrie’s ‘Ook. Topping this out I spotted a ring of Shaggy Parasol Mushrooms. It turned out to be a circle of 40 caps! Most where sadly a bit old and withered but there were enough fresh young ones for us to both take home a good amount.
Long live dry autumns and classic bagging on grit!

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