15 May 2011

March(ish) rocks!

With March, the climbing year began in earnest. Birthday time off work, the final fling of a friend's company car, unwittingly good work timetabling, "spring forward" - all these things led to some great opportunities to climb.


I've always been one to avoid work on my birthday, and since Bryn shared that position and birthday weekend, we took to the rock. Bryn suggested Lord's Seat on Barden Moor/Fell, and with a suitably intrepid walk-in we were more or less warmed up on our arrival at the crag. So what did we start with? Lunch. Bread and humous in honour of the vegan's birthday! Set to a surprisingly fine view back across towards Harrogate. When that was polished off, we set about investigating the crag, starting with a walled off area at the far end. It was damp underfoot, though this took a while to notice - so grippy was the coarse (and seemingly rarely used compared to Almscliffe) grit that it served as a kind of inverse tread on our shoes. Two climbs in this area really pushed my buttons - a hi-ball series of flakes and a crack with some puzzling lay-offs. If I'd known of these last year, they certainly could have been considered tick targets, and they were very pleasing to work through with Bryn.


High flakes at the left, puzzling crack at the right. Bryn in the middle.




After this, we moved onto the more open section of crag, where we played on a geologically interesting slab and soloed a small route nearby. At this point the rain came, which coincided well with ideas we'd had about when to set off back for the car. Overall, Lord's Seat would be well worth investigating again, as amazing grit and a fine setting would make for a great day out with a larger party.


Next up, Ellie was unfortunate enough to lose her job when her company hit difficult times (don't worry, she has since gained new employment, yay!). Wanting to give her company car a last run out, she decided to take me and work colleague Dan (who also lost his job; who has also been employed again since!) to her old stomping grounds on the North Yorkshire Moors, specifically the Bridestones in Dalby Forest (not the other Bridestones in West Yorkshire). Meeting Craig and Lisa there, with Craig leading the way. A well photographed small overhang was an early highlight, needing some power moves from myself, some heel-hook grace from Ellie, and some campusing piss-taking from Craig.


This angle makes the climb look very good.


As we moved along the ridge on which the Bridestones sit, Craig chose to depart in order to get some surfing in, not wanting to miss a notable swell - who would have thought Big Wednesday would be on a Sunday? - but he left us with word of a solo at the far end of the area. Finding this, I took it on with vigour, surprising some walkers picnicking nearby. The others were less keen to give this a try, not wanting to get into a situation they would struggle with. A shame, because I'm sure it would have been within their capability.


More or less finally for this post, it turned out that an idle decision I made back in October when planning the timetable for the reopening of my refurbished place of work, Harrogate Library, would have positive implications on the climbing schedule. We tend to do a fair bit of our climbing (not to mention chip van visits) on a Wednesday evening, and for no particular reason back in October I decided to give myself Wednesday off one week, Wednesday afternoon the next week. Go me! It has been generally helpful in getting set for the evening's climb, but it was of particular use the week before the clocks went forward, when a five o'clock work finish would pretty much have ruled out a climb. Instead, Bryn and I took to The Crag (note: if not otherwise specified 'The Crag' or 'the crag' will likely refer to Almscliffe, local stalwart that it is). We focused our energies on 'the project', a hi-ball problem near the wall at Almscliffe's north end, with some twitchy holds and breaks, albeit with a handy scoop in which one can sit half-way up! Some progress was made, but being a move or two from the top of a problem this high is of little consolation when risk/reward stakes are stacked towards the former. An investigation into the potential top-out turned into a scramble onto the top of the crag to view the sunset, knowing that, from the coming weekend, we would have more time to climb before we stopped to admire the fading light.


A coda: this post was going to continue into further tales of the return to Almscliffe, but since I've taken so long to get this posted, I feel an Almscliffe summary is best suited to a post of its own. Which hopefully won't take as long to produce!
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