A combination of low funds, and an uninspiring forecast led to Scottish winter plans being shelved once again, and me heading up the M1 to stay chez Julie and Andy in Leeds. Saturday's forecast looked vaguely promising, so Andy and I decided to go and investigate Clattering Stones near Widdop. Our journey there was obstructed by the Widdop road being closed, so we had to detour via the wilds of Burnley to reach the top end of the reservoir, where a short hack up the hillside took us to the boulders. Whilst not extensive, there is a good concentration of excellent looking problems, but unfortunately for us a lot of them were rather green and damp looking.
Andy oh so close to the top of Morning Sickness
After sulking a bit and eating some lunch, we decided to have an optimistic look at a V4 dyno called Morning Sickness. Neither of us have any dynoing skills to speak of, but we spent an entertaining while getting remarkably close, before giving up and going to Clatterjack Wall in the hope that it had dried off a bit. It hadn't, but closer inspection suggested that the holds on some of the problems might be dry enough for them to be worth a shot. First up was Clatterjack Pencil, a V2 up a thin seam, which Andy flashed and I managed second go. Next was Fontanelles, a V6 which Andy dispatched very quickly, but which I couldn't make much headway with. We decided to beat a retreat to Widdop, but the weather had other ideas and started to rain on us. This brought the day to a rather premature end, but we had seen enough to bring us back another time after a dry spell.
We spent Saturday morning trying to sleep off a red wine induced hangover, before the sun came out and we decided to see what delights Shipley Glen might have in store. Conditions were, if anything, a little warm when we first arrived, but it felt like Spring was here and the last vestiges of my hangover melted away. We started off around YMC Wall, and rattled through a host of fun problems, including the very high and very fun Glen Arete, before Andy's mate Chris arrived, and we moved to Leaper Roof. Here I enjoyed a brief moment of glory by flashing Leaper after watching the others fall off the last move, before we moved on again.
High on Glen Arete
Next on the agenda were the twin V1 aretes of Donner and Blitzen, one of which required an exciting slap for a jug, and the other had an exciting highball finish which certainly got a bit of adrenalin flowing. By this time the sun was nearing the horizon, and the temperature was perfect for some crushing, so we made for our chief objectives for the day. Manson Wall, a V5 6b for me, Paul's Wall, a V7 6b for Andy, and Red Baron, a desperate looking undercut arete at V7 6c for Chris.
Chris trying hard on Red Baron
Strange goings on below Manson's Wall (above Andy) and Paul's Wall (above Chris)
Manson's Wall looked a little high, with the crux apparently the slap for the top in a position where falling off would earn you quite a lot of air-time. At least the landing was good. The climbing was just off vertical, with a tough rock up off a manky crimp to reach a small but positive 'ear' before some chicanery with another manky crimp allowed the crucial slap. On my first go I just tickled the ear before falling off. Next time I managed to get my fingers round it, and furtled the next manky crimp, but spent too long thinking about the fall and grabbed the inviting looking tree just next to me. After watching Chris make slow, but definite progress on Red Baron I reluctantly had another go. I wasn't very inspired about my chances of success, but as soon as I grabbed the ear things felt more positive. I quickly moved my right hand onto the second crimp and before I could bottle it again I jumped my left foot up onto the thin edge and stood up on it. Suddenly I was very committed, and flung my right foot out to a distant edge for a bit more purchase before I realised I was going to have to slap for the top or just fall off. With huge relief I hit it and lo, it was good. The fun wasn't totally over though, as my wrist chose that moment to stop working, and I had a heart-in-mouth few seconds before finally pulling over the top. My first V5, and I think my first English 6b all in one problem. Maximum aceness. After that I decided to quit whilst I was ahead, and watched Chris have another couple of goes on Red Baron before Andy nearly reached the top of Phil's Wall a couple of times before being thwarted by some really, really manky crimps. Then it started to go dark, so we went our separate ways after another excellent day's climbing, and with plenty of inspiration for a return visit someday soon.