Friday, 28 August 2009

Back on the new route bus

So far summer 09 hasn’t been much of a new routing season for me on the lime. Partly because I’ve been putting more time into cleaning/re-bolting existing routes and partly because I’ve been holding out for my Cornice project to dry out, which has yet to happen. To be honest, I think the ongoing tweaky wrist and the subsequent lack of proper hard climbing means that I’ll be in no shape to try that project even if it did end up drying. But all that’s by-the-by now as I have a very inspiring and amenable project on the go. What’s even more exciting is that it is that rarest of things a high quality, well protected, hard-but-not-too-hard, peak limestone trad route. I can’t even remember the last time I heard/read about a new trad route on peak lime (actually come to think of it I think Tom Randall did one of his roof crack specials at Harborough, but other than that….).
I’d been meaning to check out this line for a long time and when I couldn’t find anyone to go tradding with on Monday I decided to go take a look. I’d noticed some old looking threads and pegs in it on a previous occasion and a bit of background research had revealed that it had been tried but never completed (mostly due to it being partly wet at the time) about ten years ago.
Getting to the top was pretty hideous, involving trail blazing through chest high vegetation, on a steep hillside, in the rain and then a fair bit of abseiling down slope between trees. I was soaked by the time I’d got to the top and set up a rope. The route line is about 20m high, 8m overhanging, up stepped grooves to a small roof then finishing with an overhanging finger crack. The old insitu gear consisted of six pegs, three threads and one stuck microwire, there were also the empty sleeves of five or six bolts suggesting that maybe someone had envisaged it as a sport route at some point before or after the known attempt at climbing it trad. I didn’t have a full rack of gear with me so the steepness meant I couldn’t get close enough to clean/inspect the route, so I decided to return with a rack and cleaning gear the next day.
One thing I’d noticed on day one was the horrific nature of the topout where the rock deteriorates into overhanging blocks held together with mud and grass. The topout looked bad enough to spoil a great route somewhat and would prevent it from being completable in rainy conditions, which is a shame on an otherwise weatherproof line. Topping out would also involve venturing into the species rich slope for which the area is designated a SSSI. For these reasons the first thing I did on day two was to install a lower off. I then abbed the line to clean it up and check the insitu kit, placing gear as I went to hold me in. Two of the threads I re-threaded with new tape and one I removed without replacing. One peg broke off in my hand, the rest were in varying states of decay but have been left in for the time being. Some will certainly be useful on lead as they’ll provide an instant clip whilst fiddly trad gear is placed to back them up, but I’m not mad keen on testing any of them on their own. The line would be purer without them but would be a much more intimidating prospect to attempt ground up. For now they’ll stay but I may remove some or all of them in future and possibly replace one.
The rock took a bit of cleaning but nothing like the all over scrub down that some of the recent Cheedale things have required and looseness was confined mostly to small stuff. Now all I have to do is go back and give it a go. Fingers crossed for next week (away in N Wales for BH weekend).

And here's a pic from Ireland of some Sea Aster growing on the clifftop beside Mirror wall

Monday, 17 August 2009

Well hello

Haven’t been particularly inspired to blog for a good while. Part of the blog lethargy stems from a feeling that their’s a backlog of blogworthy things which have happened since the last post, hence a feeling of not knowing where to start and what to cover. In hope of purging the backlog in one efficient splodge, here is a bullet point summary of some recentness. Hopefully the resultant clean slate might inspire me to produce something more worthwhile:

  • We are having a baby, due early next year.

  • Did Supercool which was brilliant. Planning to get on The Groove soon in an attempt to complete the famous Big 3.

  • Spent ages cleaning The Ogre (old school vertical 8a on Chee Tor) only for it to get wet the next day and stay wet ever since.

  • Put in a session on Ecstasy then Cold Steel at Kilnsey only to be thwarted in my ambitions on both due to external circumstance, firstly wetness and then everyone wanting to get on ‘my’ route, then holiday. Generally getting royally peeved with the whole UK redpoint interuptus game.

  • Had a great trip to the Burren on the west coast of Ireland. Climbed loads of the classics in the E2-E5 range. Ate good seafood, saw lots of wildlife, had a generally good and relaxing time.

  • Re-bolted a couple of things on the Cornice down Cheedale. One I’ve already done, the other I need to get on, hopefully as a warm up for The Ogre when/if that dries.

  • Further investigations at Central Buttress. Getting a good idea of what routes are in/out of condition and what sorts of actions could be taken. Interestingly various things had already had pegs swapped for bolts.

  • Wanting to climb trad mostly but struggling to find people with interests beyond the pad and the bolt. No change there then!
In case you're wondering the big guy in the picture is The Head and the little guy is The Kernel