Friday, 24 February 2012

Slopey Cratcliffe Weirdness And Brrrrrrimham

It was a dry but windy day during half term, so Jaime and I sought shelter amongst the trees and boulders of Cratcliffe. We started off at the cliff-top boulders where we repeated a couple of amusing mantles and some slopey chip-eliminating smearfests on the pink slab. We also swiftly crushed a new problem or two before moving along to the Last Boulder. Here I failed miserably to repeat a big V4 mantel I'd done previously, but I did manage to negotiate the weirdness of Johnny's Groove, another V4. Oddly this problem involved making several moves whilst still standing on the ground with one foot. Hard to explain, but very amusing.

Jaime sloper-wranging at Cratcliffe

We then retreated into the trees and had a look at the Egg, home to some classic sloping bizarreness. After what felt like an almost infinite number of attempts at Left Egg, and some very, very subtle modifications to the approved technique I made it to the top. Quintessentially gritstone fun. The right-hand start to Eggy Scoops was our next challenge, which turned out to be slightly less horrendous once the correct sequence of appalling footholds had been established. Feeling a little buouyed by this I made some advances on the classic Egg Arete. I got totally spanked. My attempts ended either failing to stand up on a perfectly good foot-rail, or using a cunning outflanking tactic to get stood on this rail, only to wish that my feet were the other way round. Curses. I will return with some beta and maybe some more skills //shakes fist at sky in frustration//.

The foothold of failure

A couple of days later it was my Birthday (whoop), and we finished an excellent weekend with a visit to Brimham, which was sunny but utterly Baltic. We started at Acme Wall, where I cunningly chose a HS in the shade with a hard start as my first lead for 3 months. A few fun and games with icy hands and unfamiliar gear later (what are these cam-things?) and I was beaching myself delicately over the top of the crag and back into the sunshine. Suitably notified of the importance of climbing in the sunshine we headed over to the Cubic Block, where James eschewed the obvious seductive allure of Millsom's Minion (mwahahahahaha) and opted instead to set off up Rough Wall, which was very much in the shade.

James on Rough Wall...

... and his team of hecklers

In spite of the best attentions of a large group offering 'help and encouragement', young Oswald succumbed to frozen hands (surprise surprise) and beat a retreat. I politely declined to repeat the exercise on lead, so he spent about a month trying to find his way to the top of the block, and then rig the safest abseil in the history of climbing. I occupied myself demolishing the remnants of a Higginson's pie (kindly donated by team Gray).

Learning the lesson of previous failure I sensibly chose a route on the other shady side of the block. I did, however, have some sense, and the route was very easy, and with no gear to speak of to slow me down in placing. Once we'd slithered down the still terrifying descent I decided it was probably a wise time to beat a retreat to the car before Avril noticed how cold it was and turned into a grumpy icicle...

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