Monday, 27 October 2008

A showery weekend at Rivelin

Friday’s weather vigil suggested that the weekend would be windy and intermittently wet. Scanning through my newly compiled grit ticklist Rivelin looked like a good sheltered option with a decent handful of things to go at. Nige had been enthusing about the quarry and we were both keen to have a look at some stuff there too.
Saturday we (me, Fi and Nige) arrived at the crag mid-morning. We boulder and solo about for a bit around the needle, between squally showers. Good to see Nige able to climb properly again after his shoulder op and subsequent long recovery. I’m struck again by how confident and assured he always is standing on rubbish footholds, where I often have head issues. We dodge a big shower and head over to try Auto Da Fe which seems to be staying dryish. Bump into James McCaffie along the way who’s waiting for a gap in the weather to do The Brush Off. By the time I’m racked up at the base of the climb the weather has really kicked in and the harness comes back off while we see what happens next. Nip around the corner and solo The Reprieve, which is just about staying dry. Finally even this gets wet, everything gets wet including all our gear. It’s too much, everyone decides it’s time to give up and we walk back to the cars with not much to show for the effort. Annoyingly it seems to stay dry after this and it feels like we might have given up at the wrong time. Arse! We decide to come back tomorrow if the weather allows.
Sunday, it’s just me and Nige, back at Rivelin in much less windy weather. Back to soloing around the needle. Nige does I’m Back, but the rains come again and I’m forced to jump off before getting committed to a rapidly wettening E4. Again we seek shelter at Auto De Fe, I’m starting to get déjà-vu. The cumbrian trad-wad is back too and he’s already on Auto, so we have to man up and head on to the bigger fish, namely a couple of two star E5s at the right-hand end of the crag, Moolah and New Mediterranean. The rain is not hitting the holds but the rock feels damp and greasy. I opt for a low side runner in Altar crack to protect the scrittly insecure 6a moves to reach the crucial mid height gear slot. The gear is pumpy to place, an rp 3, a rock 1 and a friend 0, all in the same slot. They seem pretty good and I scurry back down to the altar to de-pump. I climb up and down trying to figure the crux reach to the tiny ‘jigsaw piece’ hold, but I’m going about it all wrong. I come down again and let Nige have a do. He goes up and tries my sequence a couple of times but can’t make the lock either. The holds are by now very caked in chalk and feeling gakky in the damp, Nige hangs on the gear and gives the holds a much needed toothbrushing. With fresh arms and clean holds he soon figures a better way to get the holds and rocks out to the break. Beta now figured I head up again and climb through to the top without mishap. Great route, safe, bouldery and hard for 6b. Having placed the gear and done the down-climb we are now set up to get straight on New Med which uses the same runners. Nige goes first and gives it a good go but comes off due to moisture on the sloping flat undercuts. He tries again, gets his feet set but can’t quite make the huge span to a slot. A few more similar goes and no joy, but he’s getting super close. He decides to have one more shot from the start. This time he finds the extra inch and bags the route after a bit of pump on the upper wall. I go up after dodging another shower and have a similar experience, taking quite a few goes to crack a sequence that allows the big reach off sloping undercuts and non-footholds to be made. Another good safe route, this time 6c, with a couple of pumpy 5c/6a moves to finish. It’s getting on now but we have just enough time to do Auto De Fe, which feels relatively easy after the last two boulder numbers. It feels good to move fast and efficiently on a boldish E4. It’s not hard climbing, but I often dither on this sort of route and I feel I’m starting to get past my usual nerves and lack of trust in runners.
Good fun and three off my list. Satisfied. We never made it over to the quarry, but hopefully next time.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

This is what it’s all about.

New enthusiasm. Not that I generally lack motivation, but not for a while have I been picking over my guidebook collection and devising plans with such vigour. Finally I’m realising a long held ambition to get back into trad grit, after not doing much of it for the last five years or so. The weather has been good and now I’ve gone to three days a week I’ve got the spare time that’s needed. I can do one wall session on a work night to keep the fingers ticking over and then get out as much as possible climbing on the four days off.
Why trad grit? Obviously I love climbing, and living in Sheffield I’ve enjoyed climbing in the Peak a lot for the past twenty years. Generally I’ve been stronger and fitter in the second ten years than the first. During this time I’ve mostly devoted my energies to sport climbing and bouldering. Partly this has been for reasons of convenience, but mostly it’s because I had loads of classic things to do in these disciplines. I like to climb as hard as I can, but above all I love to do lots of quality climbing. I treat climbing as the collection of rare and beautiful experiences. Given the choice of spending ten days to get one treasured experience or spending ten days to get ten only slightly less treasured experiences I almost always plump for the latter. The consequence of this is that I have climbed, or tried and failed on many if not most of the best locally available sport climbing and bouldering. There is still good stuff for me to try but it’s ever more sparse and quirky (conditions dependant, or requiring re-bolting, or perma-wet, or serious, or other confounding issue). As I don’t like to loose too much strength or fitness, bouldering and sport climbing were ideal options when I only had evenings and weekends free. Now I’ve got more time to spare I can do a greater volume of trad and still find time to do some bouldering for strength. Get in! As I haven’t done heaps of trad climbing for fiv/ten years and I was never brilliant at it before, I still have shit loads of super classic stuff to throw myself at. This is proving to be great fun. In the last week I’ve been out six times and bagged a whole bunch of great climbs and still come home each day neither knackered or with trashed skin. Highlights have been Calvary, White Wall, Nettle Wine, Jelly Ache, Spock’s Missing and Moon Walk. Nothing amazingly hard, nothing particularly bold, just good honest brilliant routes. So much good stuff to go at, can’t wait for the next day out!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

More grit

Haven’t been arsed to write for a while, so here’s a quick fill-in.
Since the last posting I’ve been to Bauston Tor, Black Rocks, Ina’s Rock, Eastwood, Almscliff and Stanage High Neb.
One new route has been done, Farmaggedon, a nice little E2 5c breaking out of Hot Yimminy at Eastwood to cross the upper bulge on perfect slopey edges and a pocket. Whilst at Eastwood kiwi Seb did the second ascent of my E5, Monster Monster in a ground-up highball style, including taking a lob from the lip. Have also been working on a couple of other more substantial new routes, but I’ll keep these under my hat for the moment.
Twice now I’ve visited the mighty Bauston Tor. Half a mile down the High Peak Trail from Black Rocks, swathed in Beech and Sycamore this most mysterious of buttresses juts out of the hill in a most unexpected fashion. Small but big, overhanging on all sides and painted in black and green. Just how an esoteric crag should be, very unique, with a small selection of good routes packing a lot of surprises. Anyway to cut a long story short, I’ve done all the easier routes there now, tried an E3 that was too wet to do, not tried the E6 and twice failed to finish the route of the buttress Bad News For Slab Climbers E5 6a. Twice I’ve got past the rust peg protected creaking flaked roof, past the leg jam, up the cracked arete, to fail at the sloping green mantel. Oh well, had fun both times and still keen to come back for a third shot when the leaves fall off the trees.
Went to the much vaunted Ina’s with Bristol Si after wasting myself failing at Bauston. Had a good day and did the classic Nadin E5 The Inaccessible which was great, start up a meaty fist crack E2, move left and yard through a pebbly roof of satisfyingly chunky holds, make a big lock and then push on up the pumpy headwall making sure not to pull on the wrong bunters. Also had a play on Thumbelina which is as fantastic as the hype suggested. Eventually bouldered out the crux lower half (Si even managed to climb it direct at I guess 7a+/7b), but felt far to wasted to want to quest on up the rather high continuation. A return visit with fresh arm and more pads might be in order. Having not got up it I can’t be too sure on the grade, but it seemed more route than boulder problem, E5 or E6 I’d guess at, depending on how the top feels.
The Black Rocks visit was on a drizzly day and was mostly spent checking out a couple of potential new routes.
The Almscliff day was mostly bouldering, mostly on old favourites. Did get the rope out for one route Grand Illusion. Not very long but mighty good yarding about on big pockets above bomber gear. Super safe and a bit of a softy at E4. Well worth bringing the rope for.
This Sunday we went to High Neb. The sun was out and Stanage was busier than a workaholic worker bee on crack. Not brilliant conditions but it didn’t really matter much for the stuff we did. Did a few warm up solos then led Quietus RH. It’s a exciting as it looks and the climbing is also very good, with the final moves up the fluting being exceptionally fine. Then went over to No More Excuses. Was being lame and bottled out of bouldering it out the whole way, but had brought some pegs and luckily had the right size to put in the hand placed channel so led it with this. Brilliant route/highball, now I know the move I think it will feel fine as a highball next time. Pottered about a bit after that and did a slightly contrived E2 called Meddle.
In between the trading I have been gradually getting back into evenings down the wall. As is usual early season the gains seem to be rapid and the bouldering strength is starting to return.