Wednesday, 3 November 2010

26th May - Hammer

We enjoyed the Etive Slabs so much yesterday that Lorenzo and I went back today for another route. This time we went up the brilliant corner line of Hammer (HVS5a or 5b depending on which guidebook you read). The Scoop pitch (4c or 5a in some guides) was lovely - blank steepening slab followed by a corner crack with good gear and an awesome belay stance. After this comes the infamous traverse - originally tensioned and given 5a or even 5b in some guides. Either way it's pretty thin and we were both glad of some good gear either side of it! It feels like the main climb is over after that pitch, but the final traverse pitch was a wee sting in the tail!

25th May - Spartan Slab

Today I was climbing with Lorenzo and with a good forecast and not too many midgies yet we decided to head to the Etive Slabs. I hadn't done any routes on them as yet, so we headed up Spartan Slab (VS5a) as an introduction. The crux move over the overlap is hailed as being difficult for the short and I can certainly see why - I found t very awkward! A great route though, and I confirmed my love of granite slabs, leading the 4c pitch very happily.

15th-22nd May - A week in the Lakes

This week I've been in the Lake District with Thom and Chris, staying with my long-suffering godmother in Whitehaven. With only one day of rain, we managed to get a whole lot of climbing done. Not bad considering that Thom and Chris had only trad climbed a couple of times before in the Peak and had never done any multi-pitch.

On the first day we wanted a crag that would give us lots of easy and non-threatening routes which we could split into pitches and practice multi-pitch techniques, so we headed for Shepherd's Crag. We climbed Brown Slabs (Diff), Brown Slabs Arete (Diff), Brown Slabs Direct (VDiff) and the classic of the crag Little Chamonix (VDiff) and aside from a brief trip off route making Thom's first lead a little more exciting than intended, all went smoothly.

With this in mind, we thought we'd head to Wallowbarrow the next day and up the ante slightly, climbing Wall and Corner (VDiff) and Thomas (Severe). A lovely crag with a great outlook and much quieter than yesterday!

The following day with a great forecast, we fancied hitting a mountain crag and decided to head to Dow Crag. Unfortunately the weather wasn't quite as nice as we had hoped and we ended up bailing after the first pitch of Murray's Route (Severe) in the rain before heading up a slightly damp Giant's Crawl (Diff) and taking a wander round onto Coniston Old Man. We got a stunning sunset though, so no complaints here about the route change!

After easy climbing for the first few days, we were keen to push the grade a little, and headed to Hare Crag - a small granite outcrop in Eskdale. We started off soloing slab routes in hot sunshine, climbing The Rib (Diff), Easy Slab (VDiff), Birch Tree Groove (VDiff), Pleasant Slab (Severe), Plaque Route (VS4a), Celebration (VS4b) and Hirsute Slab (HVS4c). Thom was keen to get on a lead of something a bit harder and headed up the excellently named (and good value at the grade!) Fireball XL5 (MVS4b), and we put a top-rope up on The Brazilian (HVS5a) and The Groove (E15b) just next to it. Chris finished up with a lead of Jugged Hare (HS4b) which turned out to be a nice slab route again to finish the day.

My godmother Judy had the following day off work, so we all went for a wander around Ennerdale and then to the wall in Keswick where she got her first taste of climbing and Chris & Thom played on the steepest bits they could find.

Whilst Chris headed home and with rain on the cards, Thom and I spent the 20th on a ghyll scramble on the upper Esk. This gets grade 2 in the guidebook, but we suspect that this may be for lower water levels as it was quite tricky in places!

On the 21st we met up with Guy at Raven Crag and climbed The Original Route (Severe 4a), Mendes (VS4c) and Bilberry Buttress (VS4c) before heading to the Mountain Festival to see Andy Cave speak.

On the last day we decided to head full circle and pick off another couple of routes we fancied at Shepherd's Crag - Jackdaw Ridge (Diff) and Donkey's Ears (Severe 4a) which has a brilliant hand traverse and a really noisy nest of birds in the back of a deep crack which nearly made me fall off said hand traverse! Then it was back to the Mountain Festival to see Andy Kirkpatrick talk (hilarious, seriously can't recommend him enough) before the long drive back north.

A great week, good company, some quality routes and loads of sunshine. Win!

12th May - Where the Mood Takes Me

Today I was leading another crag session with local school kids up at Polldubh. Some of the group were out with us last week so we decided we'd take them over to Upper Scimitar so they could climb something a bit different today. Chris and Graham were out with me to assist again and we got set-up a little earlier than expected so decided to head over and take a look at the steep slab lines of Jahu, Sweet Little Mystery and Where the Mood Takes Me. These lines are all 6a, but the crux is at different heights on each. They are very bold - I could only see one tiny crack which looked like it'd take a bit of gear and that probably pretty tenuous - and were soloed on the first ascent. None of us are quite up to that standard so we decided to have a go on a top-rope instead, and rigged a line above Where the mood takes me. Chris made it most of the way up, Graham took a couple of slips but got up it okay and I made it up with a rest on the rope before the hard bit - perhaps the hailstones helped?!

9th May - Ring of Steall

Today I was out on the Ring of Steall with Maz - a circuit I've been meaning to do for a while now. It has a reputation for being a great day out ridge walking and this turned out to be justified, with a few wee scrambly bits to be found if you look for them. I got a bit carried away at not carrying a climbing pack or any winter gear and decided that running some of it would be a good idea... Not sure if Maz agreed, but there we go! My camera decided to have some kind of 70s throwback issue today and all the pictures I took came out pink and lime green, so I'll not subject you to them!

6th May - Flying Dutchman & Spike Wall

This evening Gillian and I headed to Polldubh again. We started on Flying Dutchman with the VS4c finish and then headed for Spike Wall (VDiff) as a quick route to finish so we didn't run out of light. We thought the gear on the start of Spike Wall was surprisingly fiddly for the grade. Two good routes though.

4th May - Resurrection & Crag Session

Today I was running an afternoon crag session at Polldubh with kids from local schools with Rich. Ali, Chris and Graham were coming out to assist too and we managed to hatch a plan to get a morning of cragging in before the kids arrived. We met up with Al and I headed up Resurrection (VS4c) to start the day before Ali and Chris lead a pitch of Right Wall each whilst I set up some ropes.
Most of the kids we had on session had parents in one of the local MRTs and had done some climbing before. We did a spot of bouldering near Pinnacle before heading up to Upper Pinnacle then SW, finishing up with an abseil.