22 April 2015

Crackin' sesh - Caley Roadside, 22.04.2015

Caley Roadside. Two Daves, an Oli and a Bryn were warming the place up, and a Louis soon followed. The crag was smooth and clear of bracken, an open playground. We dabbled here and there, with quite a lot of steady slab work going on, and a lot of basking in the evening sun.

As the light started to fade, we found ourselves below (not on) Otley Wall. Here, in fact...

A high-ball crack with a chipped problem just off to the left, Bryn and I last looked at this in, I think, 2010. I hoped that I would have improved in that interval, so I stepped up for a turn. I tried to keep my feet left, and once I took them right I stalled. Bryn shouted encouragement, wondering if I could gain the top. Not from where I was, but it inspired me to spot the move that could. Left hand first, not amazing, but enough to send home the right hand, which found a glorious hold, and let me skip my feet over the top. I was pretty pleased with this, and returned to the bottom to encourage Louis in his attempt... And it wouldn't go. What? Bryn stepped up. Same story, he couldn't send it. Dave P had done it years ago, but was happy with that. Dave B appeared from round the corner and took a look... Once more, it didn't click for him. I demonstrated it - okay, twice... - but still, no-one else sent it.

Now, okay, I felt like the proverbial cat with the cream, and Bryn did compare me to certain children who may be smug about getting a climb... But I took no pleasure in my comrades having to wait till another day to see it home. I would have liked nothing more to help them through it, but it wasn't to be. To be fair, it's good that they knew where to stop.

And, for myself, not against anyone else, I needed this. I needed the boost. A few climbs recently had not felt so good, so this was not about lording it over anyone else, it was about recharging my own enthusiasm batteries. Mission accomplished, in that respect. Now, just to complement that with better food, more exercise, more training - then I may actually notice improvement in a period shorter than 5 years...
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15 March 2015

What the Fock?

When is a rock not a rock? When it's a fake rock. Round our house we eat a fair bit of fake meat, soya imitations like fake bacon. We call it 'fakon', and so it only seems right that fake rock, such as the 'boulder park' Enterprise built at Whickham Thorns Outdoor Centre in Gateshead, should be called 'fock'. Hidden away in plain sight, just a few hundred metres from the A1 and the sprawling shopping experience of the Metro Centre, lies an oasis of calm and a strange- looking large piece of fock specifically designed for bouldering. You're immediately struck by its odd sprawling shape that looks more like it would be at home in Alton Towers and painted purple. However, this is largely due to the fact that it is purpose built- it's circular nature means you can climb it at any point inside and out. It also means the designers have been able to provide a good mix of slabs, overhangs, pockets, jugs, cracks, and chimneys. 

A slabby central descent route for some more technical ascents either side
The online guide suggests 68 problems from Font 1 to 7c+, and there are clearly a huge amount of further permutations and eliminates. Certainly enough to keep you happy for an afternoon, and return visits. Whickham Thorns also provides an experience definitely lacking with indoor walls- topping out. In fact, the topping out was one of the more challenging aspects for some of the climbs, especially on one side where the top mushrooms out and requires some high stepping. They have, however, provided a fun descent chute should you get stuck up there. 

So, it's not the real thing but Whickham Thorns does have a number of advantages over an indoor wall. Possibly the biggest of these is that it's totally free to use. It's also one of the few places you can combine a climb and a trip to Ikea, and it definitely made my visit to the Swedish Labyrinth a hell of a lot more enjoyable.

Looking across the A1 towards Gateshead.
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8 March 2015


Some weeks really drag. This week dragged me, kicking off with a proper dose of the flu. From whence it came I do not know but it slapped me upside down and left me pretty much bed ridden for 4 days. 4 days of sickly inertia, whilst work, family, climbing, reunions, and life in general passed me by. However, as I finally emerged out of my onesie I felt like a butterfly breaking out of its chrysalis. The sun shone, birds sang, the wind was actually rather pleasant- Spring had arrived! My limbs started moving again and I, blinking, staggered out into the light. It was Friday night, and the final of the Depot Bouldering League and I started to think I could actually get there. Now I'm not normally a competitive person, but I had set myself a goal of trying to get into the Top Ten this year. As a post-40 year old Veteran, old but not necessarily wise, this was actually looking realistic due to diminishing numbers. Two things stood in my way 1. I still had my last score sheet and as such that round currently stood at zero, and 2. The last round offered a one-night-only deal of double points, a chance to boost me up from my current standing at #12. So, joints creaking, I popped some ibuprofen, grabbed plenty of juice and Lucozade tablets, and headed off to Leeds. Surprisingly I turned out to be climbing pretty well, although there were moments I thought I might need resuscitation. Maybe a week of physical collapse with lots of water and little food is just the preparation you need for a competition. I never did find out if I made Top Ten by the way, but I didn't really care by then.
Spring sunset, standing on a chockstone. Almscliff

Saturday morning offered the chance for some more sedate climbing, as plans were in motion to continue the work on the low-grade Caley Crag circuit. Temperatures were forecast to hit double figures so it would have been rude not to go, and sure enough it was very fine day. We spent a good hour or two cleaning and climbing the slabby and rather mossy face of Yule Log, much improved after the blitz the top got back in January, and had some fun remembering how to smear again by climbing the left arete. Amazing how quickly you forget after a few months indoors. Then it was back over to the Ice Cream slabs where the group grew in numbers, Paul cracking the sit start. Caley at the start of Spring is such a different place, you can feel the vibrancy of the woods coming back to life yet still actually see all the boulders and orientate yourself. I could feel myself coming back to life too, with the moves of the climbs and the laughs that we shared. Back home for some rest and food, then it only felt right to finish the day up at Almscliff. A gentle scramble up around the top revealed a stunning sunset, and as I rested I felt the strong Southern wind blowing through me, rejuvenating. Spring has sprung, have a good one people!
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15 February 2015

Forgotten Flasby, Hellboy's Arse

I think Bryn was going to blog this one - the trip was his suggestion, and felt like his day to stretch the legs of his penmanship (you know what I mean) - but the lack of blog to this point and the fact that Bryn currently has bigger fish (mountains) to fry (slide down) means I'm hopeful that he won't mind me taking up the mantle. I'll try to do his standard justice...

So, we haz dun a clime an' it woz rite gud...

Last weekend, after a Saturday of gin, burgers, chinese food, and general debauchery, I slithered from my pit altogether too early on Sunday morning to meet with Bryn and make for Flasby Fell. The day was glorious, crisp air, bright skies, clear views. Until, that is, we took up the walk-in to the crag... The directions Bryn was working from didn't mention walking up into a cloud...

Our first glimpse of crag, and a couple of nice problems.
Sans guidebook, we gave... erm... desolate tree area? a stern examination. A first look at the lower rock was fruitless, but the upper rock looked to have some potential, with lots of texture on its face. Turned out, after a big swing to a low rail, the move was to miss out all that face - none of it was as good as it looked - and gain the top. Not that the top was a life saver - slopey, and with only a small crimp to work with in order to proceed, I really made sure of my position before topping out.

To give Bryn an idea of the crimp, but he was on the rock by the time I descended.
Bryn topped it smoother for having seen me do it, and we moved back to the boulder near the tree. I'd spotted a problem that needed some spotting, a couple of delicate high steps onto a slab top. I think Bryn had had a look already, but it was the team effort that saw it done - and don't underestimate it, a slip would have led to an awkward landing.

Up and over the ridge, to a spot sadly massively exposed to the winds, being able to see them whirl and eddie thanks to the cloud cover only marginally making up for their bitterness. More of a general play in this area, with a huge easy slab like Cheeseblock+, and a face with a delicate start and ridiculously easy finish. Plus, some climbing with big gloves on, running away from tumbling boulders (note: very small, and more like shifting slightly than tumbling), and playing with ice pools atop the rock.

Just general ambience
Last but by no means least, Rough Slab... Wait, sorry, what? 'Rough Slab'? Really? Is that the best anyone could come up with? (And how did we know this, since we had no guide? I can't even remember...) No, this Lovecraftian horror of a piece of rock, sinewy, arcane, almost designed to tear at a climbers soul as much as their palms, this deserved a finer moniker...


Credit to Bryn for that one! Thankfully, it was actually less windy around these parts...

And here she is. Photo doesn't really do her justice. And why is Hellboy's bottom a she?
Use of the obvious mounting boulder to start served as warm-up, and Bryn found a more subtle traverse in from the right. The key move was to tackle it direct - the two lips on it conspired to create a thorny problem. Right hand on the top lib, left hand just below. Left foot locked under the larger lower lip, right foot then... Where? It took several goes - twice! - to get to a point where I knew what I was doing - locking the right foot out lower and wider meant that I was hanging more off the right hand, and could more comfortably move the left hand (this is starting to sound like Twister...) without dismounting. With both hands on the arse's top lip - ewww! - both feet then found the lower, and onwards and upwards from there. Most rewarding, though some of the chalk in evidence suggested lower starts still...

And there we called it. It doesn't sound like much, just a few areas, but it felt like a good session, substantial enough, with some good unraveling of moves and sequences, and fine philosophical banter throughout. Might be nice to go back in the sunshine someday...
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1 February 2015

The Ice cream Sunday

Pic Matt Rickard
Good forecast, we have Mats and a Matt as we head below the track at Caley. The Yule Log's easier problems climb well once more after their wash and brush up, we even have a few pulls on  Pine Tree Arete, but I can't make sense of it and Matt did no better, we sneak off to the Flapjack. The Scoop is as good as ever even if the descent is sheet ice and more harrowing than the climb. Dave arrives on his bike followed by Louis and we pootle about a bit

Below the scone is a boulder I helped clean a few weeks ago, It has dried out, most of the moss is gone and as far as I can tell it is un-recorded and judging by the state of the rock unclimbed there was plenty of scrittle and no sign of wear.

The "Ice Cream Sunday" gives me a nice little font four mantle up the middle,  a one move wonder but worthwhile. Along with a couple of high stepping rock overs at 5ish on the left that are Dave Booth's work. Louis picks the plum. On the right side is an open handed flared scoop with little for your feet and what there is will be better in a few months, when it has dried out yet more.

He bothers it for ages, we all do but in the end he gets his feet up, throws for the top and latches it. Some sort of 6 today but probably 5+ when the foot "holds" dry out properly. A nice little boulder if you are passing.

If they were all done years ago, so be it but it kept us amused for an hour, thanks for coming gents I had a ball.
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18 January 2015


A snow plastered Glen, well the bits that aren't seeping. Pete twists arms we head through a gathering blizzard to Halifax, snow piled as high as cars in places. We park up by somebody's drive on a street in town. There is a crag hidden on the other side of the road, how convenient. 

It's a belter, highball territory with some smaller bits knocking about. Most all is minging today alas.

We find a cave, it's dry to the lip. We throw some shapes, Callum the closet to finishing one thing.

Clingen bay is weatherproof, some locals tip us off. When they have done gracefully easing up it we get on it too. It is good, sharp holds on steep rock to a jump off break. We play a few tunes and finish a few things. Smiles return as skin is shed and feet freeze. Good call, worth the trip worth another, there is plenty to do.
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11 January 2015

Ours and hours

photo Pete Jackson

And you shall have a rock garden.

I hadn't really noticed, it just crept up on me. I was doing less and less at Caley below the track as the problems were reclaimed by the forest. Those fillers in, the easy ones you knock off on your way to to the classics or your projects, were going feral all moss, and loss.

What should be the best lower grade circuit in Yorkshire was becoming somewhere with more walking than climbing.

Yesterday after Pete Jackson and a few locals got involved we rebuilt a circuit that will amuse the lower and middle grade climber for a few more years.

The wind was keen as I parked up on the road, I was worried I would be too hot as I got out the car, it was not a problem. Maybe a dozen fronted up at the Horn and armed like a communist collective farm. We got going, we scraped and brushed and pruned and even dug a little. As the tree canopy was trimmed back and the moss and vegetation on top and on the faces was removed you could watch the boulders dry and start to come back into condition even in the middle of winter.

The Yule Log's slab is once more a beginners playground, Luna is drying out, the Flpapjack Scoop has a few more holds exposed from the green. So you have an even greater choice of holds on that finest of problems and the traverse should seep less as you flail round the corner.

On the Roadside, Will Hunt has tried to help Terry dry out, that whole wall probably needs a little more love yet.

Three or four other boulders, over towards the Scone and the Creme Eggs, that I have never climbed as they were always too vegetated, are available. They have been de-mossed and allowed some air. Thanks to Paul Clarke for knowing that they were ever climbable, some of them looked like non-starters. Nothing too hard but if you operate around V0 - V4 you now have a circuit once more. It might be the spring before it is really back in condition. If you are going soon I would take a stiff brush for a few bits and pieces, but if you are wanting somewhere for families or beginners you could do worse.

Thanks to Pete for doing the hard work negotiating with the BMC and the Landowners and then doing his share of hardwork on a rope in the trees. Thanks to everyone else who turned out from HBC and Leeds Wall and other locals who wielded a trowel or a pruning saw, we did good, we should have an opening meet up when the sun gets back on it in the spring.

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5 January 2015

Stop Motion - Roundhill, 04.01.2015

Bryn spotted grit weather good and early in the year, and lined up Roundhill for an examination. He and I met at Masham and made for the reservoir. Two steps into our walk-in, Dave pulled up with his boys, and we all made the walk-in together. Dave had said it was longer than we would have though, and since he took us on a dubious shortcut he managed to prove himself right.

A decent slab - 'The Slab', apparently - gave us our first taste of grit, with a good selection of crimpy delicate problems. Mantles and other top-out moves felt somewhat rusty, but that only illustrated how good it was to be out there again. Dave's son, however, didn't necessarily agree, and started to feel pangs for home. At this stage, Bryn nobly took one for the team - for Dave, mainly - and entertained the boys with hat stealing antics and the like. This let Dave have a decent crack at the right rib, and then let me finish off the problem just to the rib's right.

Bryn noodled it up for a while, I took my turn entertaining the boys by dropping them off a rock that was around their height, then I vanished to go and look at the nearby... monument? Folly? Actually - it turns out, thanks to my Mum's research later - a sighting tower, used during the construction of the dam. I elected not to ascend, the downclimb would have been a killer.

Not so natural.
Once I returned, Dave and the boys - no longer concerned that I might have fallen down a mine - departed, leaving Bryn and me to scout for new play. And it was all aretes from there on in, first a kind of multi-pitch of a boulder, with a big jug on its mid-level ledge and a hold made from pure erosion at the top.

Bryn is actually off the ground here.

Then, the best of the bunch...

Reminiscent of a levelled up version of a classy little arete near Brimham's pommel area, the photos don't do it justice. But here's what was so good about it - Bryn and I chipping away at it, one us of us getting it started, the other suggesting a move, repeat and elaborate, encourage and seek feedback. Brilliant. A real collaborative effort, lots of small moves coming together to make something more than the sum of its parts. I don't think it could have worked out fairer, and we both topped it out and agreed that it was the highlight. I know that I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much if I'd been alone and done much the same without Bryn's turns punctuating it.

As an ineffectual coda, we threw ourselves at Top Pocket and its friends, but the wind was strong by that point, and we felt that the true narrative had been concluded. We were near the true path anyway by this point, and so we elected not to tromp through the heather for some reason, and headed off into the sunset...


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11 December 2014

A mountain not made of rock

No crag in this blog post. No routes, no problems. No bouldering mats, no belays. Plenty of climbers though - a very lucky 13 or so, so dramatis personae...

Ellen, Cosmo, Bryn, Giovanni, Rob, Dave, James (+Laura), Kirsty, Pete, Louis (+Liz). And me.

So, where the heck were we? What was our challenge?

The Cheeful Chilli, on The Chevin. Their banquet meal. Halloumi cheese, nachos, goats cheese tartlets, pizzas, enchiladas, curry, cheesecakes, ice cream. Mountains of food.

As we do when we take on the crags, we went at it with gusto, and as a team. As we share spotting duties and beta, so we shared stories - of how we started climbing, of how we met - and of course the food. Wonderful to see everyone catch up with each other. And that's the beauty of it. We're all in it together, helping each other through, bringing each other along. We use what we share on the rock and we turn it to cementing friendships and camaraderie. We might be a bit leaden - weighed down by so much vegetaria - the next time we hit the rock (or plastic), but there will be springs in our steps that only climbing kinsmanship can bring.

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6 December 2014

Deer Gallows - might as well be hung for a sheep than behave like a lamb

I knew it would be mint, the forecast was bluebirds, cold and clear. A grit day. Pete said Deer Gallows, I fronted up but the weather barely showed. Everywhere frozen at the sailing club. A muddle headed Kirsty talking of too many cocktails and being pulled from her bed. We start the trudge up to the ridge. You could see the crag a way off, a stiff little guidebook "20 minutes".

I'm soon sweating up my down jacket, too hot. The occasional burst of sunlight making me overheat even more. We get to the crag and the noose is round our necks. Any thoughts of being too warm evaporate in a bitter winter wind that is chilling to the core. Nice crag, but harsh day for these games. Pete won't be beaten, he racks up for a VS, as the cold seeps in it becomes a V Diff and finally a Diff on to the pinnacle's top is what he sets off up, in all the clothes he has brought.

In big boots gloves hats and jackets we follow Pete. Up the sombre frozen grit as the weather changes from icy cold to a light driving rain.  The view goes from the other side of the valley to fifty feet in fifty seconds. We manage a few quick summit pics and then we are climbing back down as fast as we can. Pete abs off.  Then we are throwing gear in bags and making a swift exit as the rain gathers pace, laughing at what we will do for fun. A beer makes everything right and we are soon warming through. At home I am exhausted, good clean fun.
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30 November 2014

Taking a chance.

Planning a climbing trip in advance always seems like a rash decision given that it rains pretty much half of the year in the UK. When you figure in that the higher up you go, the higher the chance of it raining gets, then picking a date out of the air is probably even worse than flipping a coin. And so it was that I found myself last week sitting at home constantly checking the Metoffice forecast, whilst outside a seemingly neverending mix of mist, drizzle, and full-on rain set in. Planning to get my annual trip to Northumberland in November might have seemed a bit optimistic, but previous experience had taught me that you never knew what to expect up there no matter the time of year. As it was the Gods looked like they might be throwing me the crumbs from their plates- the mist looked like it might be breaking this weekend!

We headed up to our base for the weekend- the delightful and luxurious Tillmouth Cottages (disclaimer: I'm one of the owners and might be slightly biased)- on a Friday afternoon, hugging the A697 as the sun went down and the mist closed further in. Wooler appeared to be keeping some of the mist at bay, however, looking as quaint as ever when we stopped off for supplies and a curry. Boardgames and beer carried us gently off to bed, and I rose eager on the Saturday morning to draw back the curtains and see... more mist. At least it meant we were in no rush and I spent some time sawing up wood and doing some chores, before we eventually headed out into the gloom.

The sun appears, sort of. Bowden Doors
One of fantastic things about Northumberland as a climbing venue is that each year I get to check out new crags, and I'm still only halfway through the list. I'd been to Bowden Doors, and Back Bowden on previous years, and this time thought we should have a look at their neighbour Ravens Crag. As we set off it properly started to rain, but by some magic things were looking a bit clearer by the time we got to Bowden. Well, clear enough to see anyhow. The rock, however, was persisting in remaining damp. Luckily, Ravens Crag itself is a roof, and so a large part of it was dry. Dry enough to sit under and picnic anyhow and look out across the misty hills. The atmosphere was heightened by the distant baning of hounds and the horn of a hunt- we weren't the only ones out searching. The roof itself proved too powerful and the holds too painful, and so we moved along the crag to look for a problem called Juggler. Given that Stu and I had met through juggling, and that juggling continues to compete with climbing as our main hobby, it seemed like we had to give it a pop. Despite the minging nature of the conditions, the positive holds and the nice wide ledge were positive enough for us to get up onto the problem, and whilst the damp/slimy/sandy top was too much for me Stu powered on through and ticked it off. Not much else looked safe enough to try, however, and so we walked along further. At this point the hounds and their followers charged across the fields below us. Whether they were chasing a fox or just a scent we'll never know- it was hard enough seeing the dogs as it was! This brought us up to the end of Bowden Doors, and we walked back under the imposing wave of sandstone as the mist turned pink with the setting sun, reminiscing about our trip there in 2012.

Fine views above Oxen Wood.
Sunday morning brought hope in the shape of a sunrise. Things had indeed turned a corner, though only a small one it turned out. The first part of the plan was to hit up some crags near Alnwick, in particular Oxen Wood in the hope that its elevation would help it dry. It turned that it had indeed helped, though only 2 boulders and only one of those partially. It was enough to give us 6 problems and we savoured every one of them. It was also a fine spot for a tromp around, with fine views across to Wooler and the Cheviots. Definitely not a crag to visit in the summer though, we seemed to pass through a lot of dead bracken. But I would happily return in better conditions and work the other boulders, there looked like some good low to moderate grade problems. Part 2 of the plan was to drive a few minutes down the road and check out Corby's Crag. Photos of this on a fine summer's evening look idyllic and I seemed to had forgotten this when I was dreaming away on ukclimbing's crag map. This was seeping like I had never seen a crag seep before, complete with waterfalls and slime. It also didn't help that some people seem to think the car park at the top is a great place to park up, have a drink whilst admiring the view, then chuck their can or Mcdonald's cup over the edge. Classy. Then it started raining. Still, I'm sure if I was up there in the Summer and passing then it would be worth giving another shot as there was plenty of good looking rock. I guess the main problem is that there are so many other crags I want to see, like Callerhues, or Ravensheugh.
Stu enjoying Summit Block, Oxen Wood.

So was it worth driving all that way to climb 6 and a half problems? Of course! As it was we actually did pretty well to get any climbing at all done given how shite the weather has been for the last 2 weeks. It helped break up my overuse of indoor bouldering, where all the holds are kindly coloured and there are no scary top outs. Yes, some of those holds were sandy or slimy, but the views were great, the company sublime, and we got curry and boardgames. And herbal schnapps in test tube shot glasses (not part of the plan). We'll be back next year, flipping a coin and seeing what we get.
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22 November 2014

Yorkshire Gritstone guide volume 2 verus Yorkshire Grit 2.0

"Ladies and Gentlemen meet the Champion. Representing the YMC and old School guide writers. In The White Corner the undisputed champion of guide books everywhere. It's the Yorkshire Gritstone Guide Volume 2  - Ilkley to Widdop"

I was going climbing today, the kids were at their Nans, but the weather had other plans, it was damp out, proper minging grease, then through the letterbox popped the new guide, what was a boy to do? I put the kettle on a sat down to have a look.

The usual standard of the first excellent volume  is definitely maintained, the photos are top notch. Mike Hutton can drive a camera and there are loads of pics of the the big beasts on the big beasts.
There are  plenty of us mere mortals punting up the classics. Somewhere along the way Adi Gill got me on a rope in Ilkley quarry and you can see the evidence of very cold morning in there somewhere. At least I was shot from above you can't seem my chins.

The novel mix of bouldering and trad routes is maintained and best of all for this lover of the esoteric there are to me "new" crags to go and have a look at.

Why haven't I been to Crookstones it looks mint? Why have  I never bouldered at Ilkley?  I need to go and do more trad at Rhylstone. I still haven't been to Eastby. What is the knack to Trick Arete?

Next years list of places to go and things to try, just filled up, all this I like.

A good guide gets you thinking beyond my usual "I will just go to the Cliff and try the Belly Slap once more. It makes you want to go climbing. I want to go climbing, nice work people.

You get bouldering circuits if that is your thing and interviews with a few of the super wads. John Dunne is as modest as ever, but then the routes still stand up 30 years later, perhaps modesty wouldn't have got him off the ground? Lord Fawcett of Embsay and Bamford tells a nice tale, all quiet understatement about things I still dream about when they aren't giving me nightmares. Ron probably fits the term legend as well as anyone I have ever seen climb.

All the routes are described well, the lines on the photos are clear, if there is stuff missing it is beyond me to comment. You can't get all the boulder problems in, there are simply to many, but they have the overwhelming majority and the grading seems fair.

As paper guides go this one is a winner, when I have finished greedily reading it. I will try and get a few more ticks in it, I just need some decent conditions and I reckon I can pull those crimps on Manson's Wall.

"Now meet the challenger representing crowd sourced, online route databases and rising from the ashes phoenix like, to build an online record of climbing on small Yorkshire stones it is.... 

Yorkshire grit on Peakbouldering.Info or Yorkshire Grit 2.0, if like me you still bemoan the loss of version 1.0

Good news indeed. A version of Yorkshire Grit is back online and this time it is a community project. If Jon Pearson's last version dwindled and died because it was too much for one man. This one looks likely to be built by more souls, so should have more longevity. At the moment there is not much there. Just the main crags and a few hundred problems, but it is open source, you can contribute, it will grow. Good as a paper guide is an online database can crowd source it's content and so maybe in exchange for the occasional inaccuracy and omission you get a different view of the climbing we do.

For now the project needs pictures, if you have pics of any of Gods own bouldering however obscure, you can drop them here. I have put my crap ones on, the elves will put them where they need to be, what is not to like. That should give it a good quick start. Well done everyone who has made this happen.

"And the winner is.."

Well it is a bit like comparing apples and Orang Utans, I am glad we have both. Good on the YMC for all the effort that has gone into producing an excellent set of guides. Well done the online climbing community for getting Yorkshire Grit back in the world. I will be doing my own small bit no doubt, recording some small esoteric crag that few people care about. Because if we share the fun we have climbing, maybe more people will go to more places and have nice days out.

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19 October 2014

Dam Fools

Every climber gets to have an 'epic' now and again. They generally involve heading off with good intentions, making one or two bad choices, then ending up on a hairy but ultimately successful adventure. Sometimes bad beta plays a role, sometimes people pull through for you, but you always end up smiling. When we were invited over the border to taste some Lancashire gritstone with the author of the new Lancashire Bouldering Guide, little did I expect that the journey itself would be an epic.

Robin had supplied us with the postcode for Cow's Mouth quarry, and so Louis and I typed it into Google Maps and headed up onto the rather blustery Pennines. Things were looking good as we left the M62 and began winding our way down the delightfully Lancastrian road Back of th'Height towards a reservoir. Little did we (or Google Maps) know but a team of engineers were in the middle of Rebuilding th'Bridge, and we hit a dead end. Gutted at facing a huge round trip, we headed back up the road only to see a Diversion sign facing down a farm track. In retrospect it was too good to be true, or rather the track was too bad to be a diversion, but it seemed to lead to what looked like a road across the dam. Our suspicions should have been further raised when we had to open a gate and head down a muddy track, but I guess we were getting a bit giddy by now. Things looked even more dodgy as the road across the dam turned out to be just wide enough for a car, and even Google Maps got worried when it thought we were underwater. But we could see a car park at the end, and the A58 just beyond. Our rational voices were being drowned out by cheers right up to the point where we came to the locked gate at the end of the dam, and stopped. Further inspection showed the final metres of our epic journey were barred by a single padlock. It was then that the rational voice "What are you doing driving across a dam!" started to get a bit clearer in my head. There was only one thing for it, a tricky reverse back from whence we came, though the comeuppance for our escapade was just getting started. It turned out the muddy track worked better with Land Rovers than Clios, and after a few frantic wheel spins we realised the awful truth- we were stuck in a field in the middle of nowhere. What was even worse was that the local farmer was heading our way and I braced myself for a well-justified tirade of abuse. Instead what we got was a smiling old boy who thought this was the funniest thing in a long time. I'm sure my orange climbing pants just added to the ridiculousness of the scenario. We tried backing up, getting Louis to weigh down the wheels by sitting on the bonnet, but all to no avail. "Ah'll go get machine", and 10 minutes later we were being pulled up the track by our saviour in tweed trousers in his trusty tractor. Miraculously we found ourselves back on Back of th'Height and heading off towards our destination. A thank you card is in the post, and anything negative I've ever said about farmers is revoked.
Louis getting poetic

Amd so it was that a bit later than planned we finally ended up at Cow's Mouth. Memories of our epic journey faded as we met Robin and his crew and got to work on the Rainstone. We even had to time to follow them off across the moor to the aptly named Hidden Boulders. If you want to find them, buy his guidebook. Just don't follow Google Maps...

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12 October 2014

Into the light

Called the grit, had no choice cold and clear Saturday morning, hat was on doing more than just hiding my bald patch.

The Glen again Craig and Kate it's been a while with "The Barn rejects'. It's greasy maybe I called it early? But it dries as it warms and then it is good. A few bits are done, some easy some harder depending where you where starting from. Some of the rejects I would keep in my team, they moved well. Nice session, mellow vibe.

Sunday clear and bright in HG2 so to Caley, but I hit a fog bank as high as the Chevin as I zoom in with breakfast not yet digested. West Chevin is nearly out of the murk, the sun burning through the clag. It's like that Gieger alien space ship in the woods, etherial and brooding.
James finds me, a gorilla in the mist. He talks and climbs, we try Eat the Light but we lack a little grace and power. We dig a problem out the choss, hold by hold, it nearly goes but sticky rubber will not quite float on this sea of green. I have to go now, on on. 

With my boy in tow and his mate and his dad we hit Brimham. The hoardes are here, freshers with fresh mats, new hats and high hopes. We get involved and a few newbies make the grade. We take the full safari tour and end up beyond the tea shed where the quiet lives. It's a nice amble out and back as we head toward a cooling and setting sun. Quite a weekend, thanks if you made the journey, It's grit season get out there.
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