Friday, 25 September 2009

Autumn Gold

Since doing The Great Tribulation I’ve been only going out on the grit. Funny really, I spend all summer hanging on for bits of limestone to dry, then after repeated disappointment I give up and turn elsewhere only for the buggers to go and dry out! I wonder if anyone’s looked at the bastard Cheedale Cornice lately. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the stuff there is bone dry. Typical.
It’s been great making the most of the decent weather at Higgar, Stanage, Curbar, both Burbages, Hen Cloud and Baldstones. Finished off Snug as a Thug (crafty trademark kneebar came in handy), got beasted trying Ray’s Roof, had an excellent day ticking classics at Hen Cloud (8 routes, 16 E points, 23 stars) such a good crag and a remarkably productive lazy Sunday at Burbage S, doing Pebble Mill, The Knock, Above and Beyond all of which I’d managed to avoid the issue on before.
I love this time of year. Either it rains and you get to pick loads of mushrooms or it doesn’t and the crags are mint. It’s a win win situation. Soon enough winter will arrive and it’ll be bouldering and indoors of an evening, at which point the consequences of a summer/autumn of pottering will become painfully apparent, but for now I’m just happy to float with the current and leave the fighting up waterfalls for other fish and another day.
I haven't got any of my own pics to go with the post, so here's one of someone elses I found on Flickr. Interesting angle on the Cioch at Burb S, looks a bit like a huge dragon's head.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The Great Tribulation

In the last week or two with the bracken starting to die back and enough wind to keep the midges away I’ve been mostly drawn toward the grit. You can’t beat going out picking off quality midgrade trad routes, recent the highlights include Sentinel and Emerald Cracks at Chatsworth; Moribund and Fern Groove at Stanage; Mighty Atom and Rasp Direct at Higgar; and Insanity and Apollo at Curbar. The best one that got away was Snug as a Thug on a Jug at the Cowper Stone, the green flared jams chewed me up and spat me out, but I’ll be back for more tonight and this time I’ll tape up!
Enjoying the grit so much it almost seemed a wrench to go back on my lime project, especially after a visit with Ted saw it wet with condensation. But return I did on Sat with Fi and this time the rock was perfectly dry and quickly remembered how brilliant it is.
Being now familiar with the route, having cleaned it and dogged it in bits, it was just a question of putting them together. On with the homemade kneepad and start the climb. Big move on angular features to a dinosaur’s mouth of a jug, clip some gear, jab in a big cam at full stretch. Lurch up to an undercut pinch, feet swing left into a kneebar and up to the slanting pod. Legs swing back right and fiddle in a wire. All well so far, now for the low crux. Stretch from the pod and a poor kneebar, way up a broad sloping pinch, powerfully work feet up into and Egyptian and reach to a good hold, clip a good peg and move left to a strenuous rest on the shoulder. Still feeling fairly fresh but this ‘rest’ is no place to linger. Reach back to a gaston, feet up and a barndoory crossover to a layaway pinch above, then full stretch to a rough blocky hold layaway, cutloose and swing feet over the cave to the point of a big hanging fang on the lip. Burl up quickly to the roof and another imperfect rest. At this point I’m wishing I’d clean more of the loose mud off the holds in the break. A decent pump has now set in as I make repeated forays over the little roof to arrange cams for the second crux up the finger cracked headwall, but more kneebaring helps to claw back some reserves for the finishing push. The final crack is steep and not as positive as it looks, I won’t spoil your already blown onsight further with too much beta but keep an eye out for holds on the right. It’s an excellent sequence and it’s a bit of a fight but goes well and all that remains is some yarding up finishing jugs to the chain. Lowering off and stripping the gear is epic due to the steepness. We pack up, head to Cromford for a chip butty and a can of D+B. Chuffed.
There you go, a blow by blow account and I don’t usually go in for those. It’s E6 6b, easily worth three stars (do I always say that?) and about 7c in sport grade money. I’ve called it The Great Tribulation, a reference from the religious dogma of my young upbringing, but mostly because I like the sound of it as a name and I think it well describes the grand struggle on offer.
I suppose there wasn't an excessive amount of ethical purity in my top down approach, but for me the dirt, loose rock and ancient fixed gear dictated this, I don't think I could have done it any other way and it was massively fun, so I'm glad I did. It was certainly more fun that making another 7c sport route of it. Now it’s clean and chalked it’s ripe for all you trad heroes to come along and do it ground-up. An onsight would be a bloody good effort, but a flash would be very attainable for plenty. I’m happy to give full beta if anyone is keen. Go and do it you freaks!