19 April 2014

Under the Shadow of the Cross - A new Jerusalem was built

Cold this morning a first good sign, dry for the last week, better sign. Off to Caley with my boys. They are grumbling I didn't bring them gloves as we head up the track, the cross on the ridge near the Royalty is visible in the distance.

We meet James by the sugarloaf and get on the crimpy scoop of Luna. It succumbs first go as a warm up. I'm happy with that it has been throwing me off for ages. The kids get to bum sliding down the back of it. I try and persuade them not to, gritstone has taken the arse out of too many of their trousers their mother will skin me alive if they sacrifice another pair, and her at work too. We play on the classic, steep Pine Tree Arete, but it looks like it needs a few sessions and some real belief before it will give you the time of day. The kids find a problem where they have to think a bit, they think a bit, they get up it.

Chicken Run gets a look, it has potential, even at 7b I reckon, but boy does it need a brush. I haven't seem moss like it at Caley, it's been really wet this winter. We play on the impeccable Flapjack Scoop, still a beautiful thing and a visit to Caley is less if you don't have a go on it.

James says he fancies a go on New Jersualem. I don't fancy it. I'm feeling tired and weak but why not, he has danced to my tune for an hour? We walk down taking a higher shortcut which takes ages and has a Lost World feel to it. We get there. NJ is bone dry, no seepage and the bottom crimp feels good. First pull and I'm past the gaston and on to the first of the slopers, progress. Bugger better have a proper go then. James is pulling on but he is struggling to get through to the gaston.

Third go it's nearly there, I hit both slopers but my feet spin off as they come under me. I tear the obligatory flapper on my little finger and think that might have to do, but it tapes up nicely.

Next and I reckon final go so I'm throwing off weight like a crashing air ballon. Big wee, hat off, chalk bag off, most of my clothes in a heap, deep breathing before I set off. Ludicrous but you never know, it might be the difference.

All feels good, hang the crimp, reach through for the gaston, arm over for the first sloper, sort your feet, both hands on the slopers, feet come under and stick, pop for the edge, feet up, keep pulling, top, done. Splendid, first bit of 7A, Happy Easter.

James has a few pulls on Forked Lightening, it might only be 6B+ but it's dead hard. We give it best, I float down to the car as the kids chuck moss around and stuff themselves with pringles.

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18 April 2014

Easter, no egg


Back in the Peak again it's looking like my local area the moment. We are braving the April frosts in a tipi at Kniveton.

Wednesday and we are back at Cratcliffe for it's family friendliness and it's beautiful wind eroded boulders that need firm hands if they are to be beaten. It's Easter I want to climb the Egg. The Egg has other ideas. A polished elephants arse with maybe two proper holds and otherwise just slight changes in steepness on which to ply your trade.

My brother sorts out the central scoop at 5+, I flail on the arete (6b'ish) I'm off the ground but wide of the mark and gawd help us it's too hot for the first time this year. The crucial sloper is a grease fest and won't provide me with enough friction to move my feet. I pull till it peels, again and again and again.

We head up to the top boulders. The classic one move wonder on the rib succumbs without the arete at V3'ish the pinch is greasing up in the bright sun but somehow I hold on. We play tunes on Pink Slab eliminating the chips but really wanting to eliminate the chippers.  Time was these were really nice problems now they have become eliminates so some arsehole can make them easy enough for them to do, rather than improve. I skin a knee on Last Arete as it shrugs me off. After that it's kick the can as we all catch some rays. Then off to Tissington to paddle and eat cake. It felt like summer today, All good.
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3 April 2014

We are all in this together

This week the GB bouldering team via  Mina Leslie-Wujastyk asked for crowd funding so they can travel round the World Cup circuit as a sponsor had pulled out at the last minute. Most pro climbers don't have pots of cash.

24 hours later the required 8 grand was in place and they were back on track. 

Well done GB climbing community you played a blinder, here is what I hope happens:

You see last week they were climbing for themselves, the sponsors and the "country" thing is nobody really knew what national pride meant.

They know now, people care enough to stick their hands in their pockets, they stood up and implicitly said "we believe in you, you're worth a few quid". Now when their funding expectations were exceeded so quickly maybe something extraordinary became more likely? When you are one of the best climbers in the world and you know that lots of people believe you can win, maybe it becomes 1% easier? At the very highest levels of elite sport winning margins are often this or less.

Shauna has had the potential for two years at least. She was always strong as you like but I thought her tactically raw. In fairness you have to remember how young she was/is. Actually she was performing out of her skin and defining the women's, GB comp role model and all in one season, big ask.  Mina has come on leaps and bounds and the way she kept pulling back onto Careless Torque on that video, before taking another big fall and finally sending it, made me realise she had the kind of tenacity that makes a champion.

The boys oddly may see the most benefit from this, they are outrageously talented climbers. When I told Dave Barran's his setting was a bit hard once, he did a particularly tricky problem in his crocs then just grinned at me whilst he sanded his fingers, after that I STFU. I think he just needs the kind of lift Andy Murray got when he realised that despite coming across as a dour Scots git we all wanted him to win. And that he could be the man.  If Dave delivers a performance that exceeds his own expectations he could tear up the script. Amongst the others in the team who is to say someone else won't put in a performance that could delight us all?

So I'm excited in the way I was excited when I heard Meshuga had gone, or I saw the video of Pete Whittaker on Baron Greenback. GB climbing is in rude good health, I wish them all well. I hope they all end up with enough cash so it means they can concentrate on doing what they do best. Will I be watching and screaming at the screen? Oh yes it's required viewing now, I have bought a ticket.

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26 March 2014

Venture Fourth - Peak District

Derbyshire, Hope Valley, Thorpe Farm Bunkhouse, 21-23 March 2014. 8 climbers, 2 crags, and a cheeky climbing wall as well.

Okay, so there were a couple of things I took from this trip.

The Big Tick

Dave may have found himself back on home turf, but I - notwithstanding laying my hat where I please - call Yorkshire home. Where one friend bid me join him at the site of many a touristy scramble, and where another took me under his wing at a site that had loomed over my landscape yet remained unvisited until climbing came along. Brimham and Almscliffe were followed by Caley, Shipley Glen, Slipstones, Widdop, Crookrise, and clearly show that Yorkshire is a fine venue.

Northumberland followed soon after, as Bryn's holiday cottage provided an excellent base to strike out to Kyloe, Doveholes, Hepburn, Rothley and more. We've made several trips, and will hopefully make many more.

Next up was a geographical jump, over (or under) the Channel, to France, to Fontainebleau. France seemed pretty dull to drive through. Fontainebleau was magical, and felt truly rewarding to even attend.

Curious then that The Peak District took so long to get the big tick of attendance. Why? Can't really say. Things just didn't come together that way. But something about the slow start to this year's season (fair weather style...) saw Louis prompt a trip, and then there we were. Stanage Plantation and Burbage South Boulders were the spots, both scatterings of boulders beneath grand edges of rock, like dystopian walls erected to split societies in two. For my part, glad to fall on the side of the climbers.

The Adventure

Dave has covered the technical side of things in his post, and rightly so, but mine was more of a dive-in kind of experience, and one that heightens life from the mundane that I imagine so many go through. The adventure started on Friday night, as I hooked up with Bryn and Cosmo to take in The Depot's Winter Bouldering League final round (Rob was along, too, but sadly couldn't join us for the whole weekend). A fine atmosphere, and a great warm-up for the weekend, it was the fact that we had decided to cram this in alongside the big trip that made it work. Winding up the plasticy climb with the knowledge that we were striking out in the dark to greater things made for much excitement. A fine drive down and acclimatisation with the bunkhouse - with Geoff welcoming us - finished our preparations for the task at hand.

I'd been to Derbyshire twice before, in touristy fashion. Possibly in 1994 with my parents, and possibly 2004 with my then-girlfriend. Fine times, each, but I hadn't even seen - from Castleton, granted - the ridges of rock that would deliver a true appreciation of the area - I suspect it won't be a decade until the next visit. Getting started, and excitement, adventure and endeavour were key. The joy of piling into the car and targeting the crag, the pleasure of catching up with our climbing buddies, and of more of them catching up with us. For me, a steppy slab and a crimp-to-mantle that Dave B pushed a gram of me up as I gamely clung on following a reach and slip (I then repeated unaided and cleanly). Even being rained off brought its curious rewards, unicycling back to the car, then making the most of things with a pub trip and intrepid walk from the bunkhouse. The less said about how adventurous things drunkenly got in the evening, the better... Though I'll never look at tables in the same way again (because I'll want to climb around them).

Suffice to say, many of us were quite delicate by the time we reached Burbage on Sunday. All self-inflicted, of course, and this led to a hazy atmosphere among the rocks. Some decent problems, but the focus was... blurry. We were there a while, but many of us got closest to the rocks by lying on them, and much of the climbing was fairly genteel. Not Dave P, obviously, but you can read his post for that story.

"How was your weekend?", I was asked at work on Monday morning. It was amazing, I adventured through plastic, rock, beautiful scenery, and alcohol with a group of fine friends. Thanks for asking, but I very much doubt that I'd swap it for your weekend.

Derbyshire told us what was what.
My favourite problem. Doesn't look much, does it?

Burbage, wide.

Burbage, tight.

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23 March 2014

Home Turf - Stanage in March

7.06am and I'm knocking on Karrie's door waking her from sleep. I have a 48 hour fully validated pass. I'm full of excitement like I was when as a teenager I could think about nothing from Wednesday except a rainless Sunday on the grit. We were driving for 7.15 my tired car engine screaming as I drive it as hard as I dare towards Stanage Plantation, we must beat the rain, there is much to be done.

If climbing is a church, Stanage is one of it's great cathedrals. Three miles of sweeping grit set above a view of the peak that draws your eye. Time was that I only ever climbed at Stanage, there didn't seem a lot of point going anywhere else. The routes were all fantastic and there were hundreds of them. For two years I worked my way though most things with three stars up to E1. I wanted my ashes scattered there, I was enchanted.

My love affair faded, I moved away but as we pulled into the car park and met up with Pete and a bleary eyed Kirsty the familiarity and the aura flooded in. Today was a mat day. I never really bouldered back in the day it hadn't really been invented, Ben and Jerry were makers of ice cream not boulder gods and Careless Talk cost lives.

No rain yet, we warm up on a few bits and bobs above the causeway, the wind has an edge to it more Siberian winter than last weeks Prague spring. The rock is in good nick, Bryn, Cosmo, Stu and Geoff arrive and we wander down to Crescent Arete. 25 years ago I backed off this highball 5+ it was HVS 5B then. I think it made E1 before mats tamed it a little. The equipment changes, you change, the grit is immutable that's it's charm. Crescent Arete is maybe 30ft high, a soaring, elegant arete the right side of vertical, but there isn't much for your feet so you lay away if you want to play. We ummed and arred it looked high and hard, Pete called it, we got on it. Pete had a quick look jumped off maybe five foot up and then he had another go. He got a high step, a few shuffles of the arms up the arete and he was committed, he flowed up nicely and looked solid. A whoop as he topped it and there it was done. I got on it next, a better climber than last time I tried it in the days before friends. I had a go slipped off like Pete, then back on. A thin step, then a hand shuffle and I had a foot in the lone pocket, grab the notch in the arete and from there it just gets better. The route is a joy it's not even very hard and another one off my long term list, happy with that.

We next found a few unsung gems the Cockscomb being one of many. A hanging fin of rock with a serrated top edge that you hang one armed before you monkey bar up it to glory, great fun. The lone boulder was more fun we ticked the bloc. A mix of paddy slabs and overhanging prows. Louis and Dave arrived and got involved. We were soon down by by the Crozzle boulder Louis and Pete seeing off the thug fest of Bullworker at a scandalously under graded V3 and the three of us getting the crimpy V5 of Bull Flakes. Dave gave skin and blood and his offerings paid off as he sent it too, good effort young man. A no hands slab kept everyone amused, Karrie was seen leaving the ground.Simon Kimber rocked up showed us how to do a few bits with amiable style and grace.

3 hours later the rain hit like a cricket bat to the head. It had a little sleet and hail thrown in to tingle as it wetted. We made a mat bivvy but everything was wet though rapidly. We toughed it out for a bit but soon the call of the pub was loud and urgent. I was soon downing a pint of pedigree in the Scotman's Pack. The last time I had been here was to sit on the floor and hear superstar Ron Fawcett talk in a packed room. I young upstart called Jonny Dawes showed some slides of concrete climbing in Birmingham and a route called Braille Trail he had just put up. I thought he had potential if he calmed down a bit.

The beer soon led to talk of heading back as the sun was out but by the time we had decided to return it was proper raining and it was clearly abort mission. We went on one of Louis beer walks back at the barn and then the evening ascended into an amiable blur of gin, beer, indoor traversing and vomit. I was the first to fade away but word is Dave slept were he passed out, good effort young man.

Burbage South and its only just gone ten. We got up and out in some style, hangovers drowned in grease and we were pulling on grit rougher than any other I have known since Lord's Seat. The Brick was a bloc that needed faith in your feet. If you had that it gave in nicely, if not it brushed you aside. The Tank was memorable for a crimpy throw into a sharp slot on the aptly named Tiger UKC's V4 a fairer grade than Rockfax's 6A.

The Amoured Car had an excellent arete and some horrendously under graded pebble pulls, with sloppy tops that kept us amused as my brother joined us. We had a play on the Sheep the arete of Shearing spitting me off and making me admit my mat is knackered, I bottomed it out as I pinged off. Birthday soon and easy pressy choice. Soon though me and my bro had topped it but it was no path. We finished on Pock bloc which two years after my last go was sent packing. Tiredness was all over me now I was lacking the gumption to get my feet off the ground, it was time to call it. Cracking trip thanks one and all, I made it 37 problems 42 V points and about a months worth of units of alcohol if you like raw statistics. How about the Roaches next time it's as least as good?

I have just put my youngest too bed the stairs were a struggle, I think my quadriceps are relatively unique as they are one of my major muscle groups that don't ache. Thing is my love of Stanage is once again a living thing not fading memories of days gone. My soul is full of images of careful movement, the feel of sharp crystals of grit under my finger ends and those rolling Peak views heading of into the sun and the rain. I will have better weekends climbing but not many.

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10 March 2014

You're going to reap just what you sow - Caley, perfect day

The job was looked at by 11, so the rest of the day until the schools turn out was my own, off to Caley then. I meet a Climber Who Shall Remain Nameless (ACWSRN) and we got to playing on the playground as you do. Perfect conditions, sun finally over the crag top for the first time this year so warmer, but dry and grippy, all too good and not a cloud to be seen.

ACWSRN polished off Thin Slab in some style and I let him. It looked a little necky for my liking even at 5+. We both had some success with the brute thuggery of Breakfest (6a) and before we knew it we had wandered under the power lines towards the other end of Caley where few go. Neat Arete was just that  ACWSRN threw for the top and then finished in style, I wimped off the top out. Good value at 5+ I thought. We wandered down toward Rough Rib which claims to be a classic of the crag. It's a rising layaway arete with a reachy top from a good break, good holds throughout peerless problem, recommended.

Next up Our Fathers Arete  which is knacky and powerful. I eventually cracked the crux with a cheeky heel hook but couldn't finish as I got too spread out and ran out of beans. ACWSRN had no such problems he got his feet up and threw for the top as his feet slipped off and he held it. Effort, another one that looked good value at 6a+ and another top draw problem, need to get back on it soon.

Finally we headed back along the bottom and played on the chicken scoop bloc. ACWSRN  ticked the bloc with some style, and I was delighted with a bit of alleged 6c on Edge Wall which succumbed to delicate feet and a throw for a pocket. This time last year I could barely pull on, today I could throw off the fairly poor holds. A fair few ticks today, the hoped for improvement after a diet of protein and plastic seems to be materialising. Your going to reap what you sow, I guess.

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1 March 2014


The rains stop, the sun's out the woolly hatted ants swarm over the small stones of Upper Huby it's another Saturday at Almscliff. There am I, excited about trading winter plastic for grit, with a  knot of excitement beneath my recently downsized beer gut.

Louis and James rock up. We get to work. Somewhere along the line I pull on and finish Beneath the Decks, that prow without the block for your feet at an alleged 6c, happy with that, James follows suit, result. James keeps up a rich vein of form and sorts out Flying Arete with an appropriate dose of fear as he rocks over, effort. Louis shows us the way, I get fended off close to the ground.

Bryn joins us and some Spanish wad is being filmed and slackjaw-gawped at whilst trying Bulbhaul. There is a fair old crowd gathered, tripods are aimed, a camera drone zooms by overhead. He makes the hard moves under the roof, throws a very big one, gets the holds on the lip then he is off, effort mind you.

We make do with fiddling around on a few old favourites, that crimpy wall on the Matterhorn, you know the worlds hardest 6a and the thing by the wall all get some hammer and a bit of my skin. Bryn gets to grips with MK Wall and sends it packing, nice work young man.

Pebble Wall teases, Louis can do it to order with one hand in his chalk bag these days, James is close I was nowhere, man. Then we are part of a gang of 30 ants all hats and mats and enthusiasm, more scruffy cult meeting or rave than meditative outdoor experience. We move away from the throng and warm down on a few more stones as the sun adds some colour to a fairly magical afternoon. James stays with the young folk, the over forties head off to massage their sore bits and grumble about things that ache.

Let the year begin.

Here is Bryn's video

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22 February 2014

Pulp Friction

It were a bit windy up crag.
Apparently we are in the middle of the 'Grit Season' right now. However, I'm definitely in the middle of the 'Plastic Season'- so far this year my only touch of the grit has been a damp and rather underwhelming trip to Brimham. Dropping temperatures may increase the friction, but the increasing chance of wind, rain, and significant lack of daylight mean my Grit Season really starts when the clocks change. In the meantime, I'm resigned to spending my evening climbs indoors hucking it up multi-coloured holds, drinking fresh coffee, and listening to eclectic soundtracks. So it was a breath of fresh air today to actually get outdoors and have a 'proper' climb up at the 'Cliff. More than a breath in turned out- there was enough wind to blow us up anything we faced!

Stu tucking into Pork Chop Slab
After a while the wind died down and myself and the boy joined Louis, Stu, and Communal Climbing Comrade Mike at the West Cave. First climbs back out always bring back the same old quandries- discovering where the holds are all by ourselves (no colour coding), remembering how sticky gritstone actually is (and how unforgiving), bricking it when you top out (rather than just climbing down the easy holds). Louis dived straight in the deep end by jumping straight onto 3 Swings Traverse- a heroic attempt that he may have begun to regret when he started the dangle over the ramp halfway across! I thought I'd keep it simple and just do one of the Swings, and even managed to get back to my mobile just in time to snap up some new Evolv shoes on Ebay. Meanwhile Stu was obviously feeling peckish and got stuck into Pork Chop Slab. Either one of the crimps had come off, or Stu had forgotten where it was, but this took a bit of working out and much entertainment for us all.
Louis and Mike then worked on the rest of the wall, making good progress but getting freaked by the top outs, whilst Stu and myself played on eliminating the Postbox on the Postman- the Sorry You Weren't In? The sun even came out for a bit, not bad for February.

We left the rest of the crag for another day as temperatures were dropping- I'm sure the friction was starting to go through the roof but I quite fancied a cuppa.

Cosmo basking in the Winter sun.

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18 January 2014

Shoes, Chalk, Harness, Onesie... What?!

Why would you need a onesie for climbing?

Well, perhaps it's to get your attention...

...as we climb the equivalent height of Ben Nevis...

...at Harrogate Climbing Wall...

...this Sunday...

...for Save The Children, specifically children in Syria. Here's the poster!

So that's www.justgiving.com/bennevisonesie - please give what you can, or come down to Harrogate Climbing Centre around Sunday lunchtime and pop some cash in one of the buckets we'll have there. I suspect you won't have any trouble finding us...
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13 January 2014

In Memory of Yorkshire Grit - Oh how the mighty have fallen

A new year and the same tick list as last year for me. Pebble Wall and anything else that comes my way. Repetition wasn't enough for me in 2012 and letting go of that undercut to crimp to glory is still elusive, but this is not news. The demise of yorkshiregrit.com, that's news.

Its gone, Jon has thrown in the towel and taken it down. I will miss my tick list showing my grades slowly climbing from mediocrity to something approaching the middle ground as the years passed. I will miss the details of those minor crags, I would otherwise never have known about. Without Yorkshire grit I would never have gone to Swastika Stones or Lords Seat or Round Hill or the West Chevin. Without a community of climbers documenting what they were doing. I wouldn't have known where to start on some of the more popular problems at the honeypots. Spashdown at Widdop springs to mind where the videos made sense of what looked hard.  The comments helped sort out the soft touches from the sandbags and just feeling like you where part of something bigger, even when you where on your own, that made me feel part of a club.

I suppose in the end it was too much for one person to keep going on his own and it looked a little dated towards the end. It never really worked on a hand held phone but why would it? It was from a time when desktops and laptops where all there were. What it lacked in style it more than made up for in functionality.

What about some sort of crowd sourced phoenix to fill the gap between Facebook and the new excellent paper guide? I thought about taking it on myself. I just about have the skills, but my wife pointed out I didn't need anymore unpaid online communities in my quiver and she was right. I would however like to play a small part in building something better than Yorkshire Grit, something where many could contribute and many could be involved in the behind the scenes bit.

Somewhere to have the discussions and piss takes that also happen in pubs and cafes and add to what is a largely developed Yorkshire bouldering scene.  It would be a fool who suggests there is nothing left to be done. I remember Jonny Woodward putting up Beau Geste in the early 80's and everyone saying the Peak was finished, just as things started to really hot up. So there will be much more to come from a younger, stronger generation I'm sure. We just need a way of keeping up with it and a way of documenting the wealth of problems we have, rather than relying on paper guides. Good as they are inevitably they date quickly and some things have to be missed out.

There is some talk on UKB of trying to revive it in some form and that would be good but for my money it really needs an update to make it even more use going forward. I also know someone who is looking to fill the void so lets see what happens. These things are easier and cheaper to make than ever it seems a shame not to keep some form of the database going forward.

Whatever the future holds thanks for your efforts Jon, you helped keep Yorkshire bouldering at the forefront of Uk climbing were it belongs for over a decade. Better still you helped get me off my fat arse and  back on the crags again.

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3 January 2014

On The First Climb of The Year

The Depot, Pudsey, with Bryn, and Lee was around also. A glance at the walls showed that new black problems were order of the evening. The session was notable because - hate to blow my own trumpet - I was on pretty good form. Bryn had had a week off over Christmas, but I'd managed to keep my hand in, and it showed. Or perhaps it just so happened that the problems were set in a way that suited my physique more than Bryn's. It seemed that I flashed more problems, got more problems cleanly, and generally just climbed more anyway - with bonus handstand attempts in between climbs. I even outdid Lee on one problem, though neither of us finished it off - one for next week.

Fine session, good friends, good vibes. I like The Depot.

But about that first climb of the year - it hasn't happened yet.

I haven't been out on the grit for a few weeks. I can't get out this weekend, but I'm sure the chance will arise soon. When it does, we'll see the days getting longer, the nights rolling out, the clocks will change, and the crags will be ours again. It may not be grit season by then - I'm not even sure when that is, but as long as I can get out on the rock for an enjoyable session I don't really mind.

So, I had a good session on the plastic, but it was on my mind throughout that it didn't really tell me much about how it will be when we get back out on the rock - for the first real climb of the year. I worry that it won't help, or that I don't know what will help, or that if I do know what helps I won't get round to doing it. I don't mind too much. I still want to get out there on the rock - with friends, under sky and sunset - and climb.

It does a job, but it is a different job.

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23 November 2013

Not bad for a kid

Craig meets me at the gate, James is warming up as we get to Morrrell's, not a cloud, mint. We try Flying Arete  I sort my feet and get the slot but its still uphill from there, back down I go, progress mind not to be sneezed at. James and Craig are shut down we move on. Dreamland is just that we dream and on we go. Pebble Wall gets bothered Craig is getting some pebbles and looks set, James looks solid on both pebbles, he is a pull from glory but no cigar.  I get the hang of the hop and finally a pebble, we all move a little further along the journey. James looking most likely and Craig might yet get there first. Than the tallest man in the world lanks his way from crimp to finish hold for an unlikely tick.

We give the  Dolphin Belly Slap some attention, we fully expect to get spat off and laughed at but some beta off a guy with it in the bag unlocks the moves. Its all tension and heel hooks. James gets himself set, heads out under the roof, heel on and slaps for the lip. He sticks it and from there he is throwing for the finish hold and yarding up the jugs, effort. A pig flies over and I'm suddenly established under the roof slapping for the lip too, and I don't do roofs,  the lip is touched but not held, seemed more likely than pebble wall though, more progress happy with that.

Token visit to the Virgin Traverse for the standard burly beating up. James nearly finishes it but runs out of arms after the corner. Me and Craig just run out of arms.

A good session, a few problems looked like they might yet have solutions today and it was nice to be on the sunny side of the valley. Almscliff seems to be giving away a few bits and pieces this weekend get on it before there is nothing left.

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17 November 2013

Ship Crimps

Shipley Glen, Saturday morning. It was Louis that had the free time which served as catalyst for this session, so naturally he was the last to arrive. Well, joint last, with Mike - who I'd never climbed with before, but had probably seen around. Bryn, James, Craig, Kate and I were already warming up in the John area by the time the slightly-late comers arrived.

Warm-up gang.
There was some grease on the rocks, and the temperature wasn't classic grit season. The sun crept through occasionally, and all in all it made for a pleasant experience. The worst of it was probably the damp grass, and puddly jugs here and there.

For the problem 'John' itself, we all found ways up without the left crack/arete. For my part, this was quite pleasing. Shipley doesn't see a lot of traffic from our group, a couple of visits a year maybe, and I always seem to need to relearn problems. And John usually needs the crack, so finding my own way up without it felt good. That said, though, I did slip on my first attempt and hit my face on the rock. Just my chin, a glancing blow, no injury.

The effect of relearning was amplified for the nearby Reach for the Skies, a crimpy problem that has delivered several good sessions over the years. I couldn't see the way on at first, so I bimbled up the arete as further warm up. Joined by Louis, Kate and Bryn in particular, Reach for the Skies came in for some stern examination. It went with a left side approach, just shy of the arete, but I felt something more economical and direct was needed. Kate tightened up the footwork but struggled with reach. I followed her lead and then - prompted by Louis hollering from above - found a 'shit crimp' that helped me transition to the decent break near the top. This wasn't enough for me, however, as I was loving working the crimps lower down so much. First I swapped the shit crimp for an equally transitional pebble, before moving to eliminate such transitions all together. This meant matching on a wide crimp either side of a line of mossy green deposit and then setting yourself for the break. This took several goes, but I was resolute, with Bryn chipping in as well. Got the break - but with the left hand, which threw me all out of whack. I persisted, and eventually managed to get the right hand in place. Still a strain, given that both arms were stretched out to the max, but a foot got up and I put it to bed.

On to Leaper's Roof, where I managed to fall. Not from the rock, just on the bouldering mats as I was approaching, and then off the bouldering mats as I was spotting. I'd say it was a good thing that I was keeping my clumsy off the rock, but then I tried Leaper's Roof... I normally love this one, and have been known to climb it several times over, but I must have still been in crimp mode, as I was making a right meal of things. Bryn shined a light on it though, and focused my efforts up the centre, and with less swing than I'd previously been victim to. Piece of cake.

But that was my fill, and I had elsewhere to be, as did Bryn and James, so we left the others to it, hearing later of Louis and his famous achievements on Manson's Wall, which also looks a little crimpy...

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10 November 2013

Chill - Caley

Caley Road is shut at the top. Someone took the black ice expressway into the barrier. I detour, as I get in by the gate the breakdown truck is removing the twisted metal, looked like the sort you walk away from losing only your excess.

To the playground to play. It's sunny on the boulder top, the bottom still in the freezer, frost for carpet. Bryn lands channelling Countryfile, in green coat and wellies. We warm up, well move around and wait for the sun to come and warm us through.

The sun plays a cruel trick it tracks the horizon line then disappears. Once more we are chilling in the Whatefedale deep freeze.

Many come, we play tunes on Chicken Heads. Me and Louis dispensing with the break, Louis in good style. Everyone else licks their fingers then gets a leg over. It's sticky as you like you can pull on shadows today.

Then Otley wall, low but oddly scary. Today I have no fear, but my feet will not stick me through the crux, good progress but not unlocked. Craig goes for one, slips off the mat and then he is under the lip. We are all one by one, shutdown and out. 

Forked lightening crack is everdry and greasy. We shuffle around putting off having a go. Louis has a fag, Kate keeps her coat on, Craig talks of aches and knee pain. 

Then he flashes it first pop, three goes later the sitter is in the bag as he barn doors away, than holds the finishing jug, effort.

Louis and I leave skin and blood offerings in the first finger slot, surely these will curry favour for us next time?

Then we are cold, it's got through in a "I will need a bath to fix this" sort of way. Kate looks minutes away from proper unhappiness. We head off and out into the light. It's grit season, long may it continue.
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