Friday, 25 November 2011

A Chilly Day At Froggatt

Brown's Eliminate looking seductive (but still scary)

The sun was out this morning, but there was a chill wind in the air. Hoping to avoid the worst of it James and I paid a rare (for me at least) visit to Froggatt. The ground was damp on the approach, but the wind had dried the crag off. We warmed up (in a sense) by soloing something easy, before I tested out the coldness situation on Chequers Buttress. I had seconded it some time ago and remembered the crux being a long stretch to the arete. I was somewhat surprised, therefore, to reach the arete easily, but to find some climbing waiting there for me. I reached the top with fingers which were remarkably still warm, good stuff.

For some reason James had convinced himself that Chequers Crack was easier than it's reputation, the guidebook and everybody who's ever climbed it claimed. He was quickly proved wrong and joined the extensive club of people who've tested the gear on the lower crack. After plenty of effort for little reward he found some sequences that worked and reached the midway resting ledge. On second I lost feeling in my fingers rather quickly and managed to quickly reverse to the ground. Twice. At this stage I decided to run away and preserve the onsight (ha ha ha) for another day when it isn't so cold and I'm a much better climber (with somebody else's arms).

Before it all went wrong...

We ran away to the trees to try and escape the baltic wind and I thought I'd tidy up another HVS I'd seconded long ago. A few minutes later I was elegantly applying my knees to overcome the usual grovel onto the block on Tody's Wall. Last time the rock onto the slab had felt like the living end (and I'd had to sacrifice most of the skin of my forearm to ensure success), but it went fairly easily this time and the upper crack was a doddle. Hilariously some people think this is the crux.

James and I both had designs on the adjacent slab of Motorcade, but I was feeling a lot less keen after James had backed off citing hard moves and a potentially long and bouncy fall, so I opted for the hopefully less bold CMC Slab. At HVS you're allowed side runners in the crack of Heather Wall, which came as a welcome relief. Things seemed to be going well, with a little bit of mild smearing, but then I ran into the crux. A bit of self-persuasion was needed, but I managed two whole consecutive thin smears before I lost my bottle and threw my foot far too high onto the nearest proper hold. There then followed a long and painfully slow rockover, before I could desperately snatch at some poor pockets and then the top. Phew.

The sun was getting low in the sky, so James jumped on Strapiombante. Cold hands got in the way of the onsight, but after a short warm he swiftly dispatched the crux. I'm still harbouring the idea that I might lead this one day, so abbed for the gear instead, and finished the day off with a long-overdue solo of Cave Crawl. I'd backed off the start to this several times before, but it felt easy, and the journey into the centre of the crag that followed was well worth the effort. Delightful.

So all in all a successful day (at least for me, James' was less productive), and for the first time in ages I'm keen for a return visit to Froggatt. Who knows, I might even give Three Pebble Slab a go next time...

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