1 July 2012

Wrestling with the Virgin - Almscliff and West Chevin

The weather looked pretty rubbish for a session at Almscliff. Windy with a real threat of rain. I drove in through a light shower with expectations lower than an investment banker's morals. Craig was at Low Man looking equally unimpressed by the weather. We warmed up and agreed there was only one thing for it, we had to prostrate ourselves under the Virgin Traverse. A Cliff classic, 30 odd feet of overhanging roof traverse at font 6C, it's a beast.

We got stuck in, and here is the rub with this problem, every move is possible there are just lots of them. Every time we got a little further, every go sapped power at an alarming rate. You climb like a sloth towing your feet, wedging them in a slot trying to keep the weight off your arms as much as you can.
On about go four I pretty much made the corner at two thirds distance, which is a shuffle in the right direction although word is it gets hard from there. Craig who hasn't paid homage as much as I have was half a move further back. Its a compelling problem we will return.

We cut our Virgin losses and did a few bits more. That wall to the left of Matterhorn Arete went again. We both flashed it, which is good as it took me over a year to work it out. Craig flashed that slappy, quality, one move wonder by the bottom wall, I should have been annoyed, but his beta was good so I have a new sequence to try with fresher arms. The wind rose, our enthusiasm waned so we did a bit more and then gave it best. The friction had been fantastic for June and the progress way better than either of us imagined, a good session.

I headed off to Bingley to pick up the boys from my in-laws, but an idea was gnawing away in my head. I wasn't happy with progress I wanted to send something so work would seem more bearable in the morning. I headed for Otley's West Chevin and the vague promise of a punter's paradise

I found the right walk in this time, although crocs and a cow muck filled swamp made for smelly memories and destroyed a pair of socks. I assumed it would all be drenched from the weeks flood and I was on a fools errand. I got to the boulders and they were bone dry, the wind had whipped through the trees and the friction was spot on.

Barn door is the left arete, Super Central is straight up the middle from the mat
I got to work on Barn Door which I thought I had got last year, it turns out I was climbing the wrong side. Its a lovely little arete problem that is an awkward font 5. It took me a few goes as I barn-doored off gracefully, then the right approach was found, I found a sidepull to work with, a quick slap and it was done. Super Central gave in a little more easily even with my aching arms screaming. I felt a bit happier now and headed off for my tea no longer a West Chevin virgin.
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