Sadly the beautiful British summer weather put paid to my plans to go to the Lakes festival of climbing in the Duddon valley, which was a shame, as I was pretty keen for some proper lakeland routes. Still, determined to salvage something from the weekend, I headed to Leeds Wall on Friday night for some steep bouldering with Julie and Andy before fattening ourselves up with some of Mr Khan's awesome pizza goodness.
The forecast for Saturday was indecisive, but we went with the most optimistic and headed up to Pot Scar, just past Settle. I have a vague recollection of some friends telling me it was rubbish, and the guidebook warns of extreme polish, but there were ticklist routes to be done. When we arrived the sun was out, and we warmed up by soloing a bunch of routes on the smaller left-hand wing of the crag. These were entirely polish free, although whether this was because they were rarely climbed, or because all of the polished holds had fallen off was unclear. There were certainly a few worrying moments pulling on questionable flakes and standing on wobbly footholds, but there were no fatalities, so we celebrated with lunch, although not before Julie and I had soloed one of the proper routes, Equity, a Severe with two whole stars. It was great, relatively long, solid and with lots of lovely holds. Altogether a little bit more promising.
Pot Scar in the evening sun
After lunch I geared up and led up Overdose, a VS which reminded me one of the main reasons I don't like limestone - all the gear cracks staunchly refused to accept any inspiring gear, although they'd admit any number of wobbly or half-in nuts. Luckily the climbing was pretty easy, so it wasn't too pressing a concern. Andy led the adjacent E1, LSD, next, which proved to be pretty easy, with only one hard move, and that was a high-step and rockover. The gear was similarly mediocre though.
Next up was The Long Black Veil, a weird little eliminate with a rather hard start (probably 5a and quite committing) and a slightly wandering line, but which somehow managed to feel independent and good, in spite of the top arete being within a few inches of the next route. Andy then led Sunspot, the classic of the crag, although he did have a slight wobble and almost called for a top-rope at one point. The climbing was lovely, but the holds were small and the gear uselessly distant for the crux. A good reminder why I'm so utterly terrified of limestone E1s.
Andy showboating on The Long Black Veil
My last lead of the day was Addiction, a steep looking VS which had repelled efforts from both of the other parties at the crag. I was a bit wary, but after much fnoogling from a rather strenuous position I managed to place enough shoddy nuts that I was happy one of them would stick, and I committed to the steep moves. They turned out to be relatively straightforwards, but a positive approach was required to keep going rather than stop, try and fiddle in more gear, get pumped and fall off. I was quite pleased that I managed to do this in spite of my natural longing for gear. Andy finished things off by nipping up Potholer's Proddle Direct, the crag's other good E1, which had better gear than the others, and was very enjoyable.
Julie at the start of the interesting bit on Mort's Crack
All in all a pretty positive day, with some good routes, and some pleasing commitment above ropey gear without any gibbering. The E1s all felt ok, and not too tricky (although it'd have been a rather different matter had I been leading them I'm sure), I even managed to stand on a few small holds without crying. Good stuff.
Sadly Sunday was full of rain, so Andy and I went to Citybloc and bouldered until we could boulder no more. It's been a while since I went to a wall, so it was good to confirm that I can still pull on small holds and make overhanging problems look like epic feats of difficulty. Plus ca change...