After the recent spell of dryness, last Sunday seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally go and investigate the mysterious delights of Duke's Quarry, home to the legendary HVS, Great Crack. I'd long been hankering after this route, but had never been able to arrange a visit when the weather had been dry for long enough for the start to dry out. I found some willing accomplices in the form of J-Ro, Adam, Kate and Tammy the wonder dog, and off we set.
Duke's Quarry itself is extensive and tree filled, though not in a nasty Lancashire quarry sort of way, and would be quite a nice place to go for a stroll. We didn't need to get the guidebook out, however, to find Great Crack, as it's rather strikingly obvious, a perfect hand jam width zigzag crack cleaving the highest wall in the Quarry. Awesome.
The Great Crack in all its majesty
I was super-psyched, so racked up with plenty of medium to large cams, the bare minimum of 20 quickdraws, and jumped on it. The apparently always greasy start was pretty dry, and the jams and gear were perfect, so it didn't pose much of a problem, and the rest of the route was a brilliant carnival of jamming. There was a moment of mild concern near the top, where you have to forsake the crack with one hand and pull on a large flake of questionable stability, but it stayed put, and I reached the top and immediately abbed back down the line, stripping the gear as I went, so James and Adam could both lead it after me.
James getting involved with Great Crack
After we'd all led it, I'd seconded Adam to remove his gear (to make this more interesting I tried to avoid using any holds outside the crack - I managed to get by with only two, but I think it might be possible with none) and we'd bushwacked our way off the top of the crag, I decided to lead a nearby VS which had no stars, but looked clean. It was good fun in a sort of 'which of these holds are actually attached' kind of way, and was definitely worth its no stars, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
By this stage it was getting on a bit, so we abandoned our plan to go questing in the neighbouring Robin Hood Quarries for another HVS called Thundercrack, and went and had tea and cake (with posh china and everything) in the tearoom. It's definitely worth a visit if you're passing, the carrot cake was marvellous.
Tammy vs Tree