Tuesday, 24 April 2012

E Is For Easter

Excuse the tardy update. Some bugger gave me some work to do. Outrageous. Anyway, when I last left you I was lying in bed whilst the rain hammered down outside, sulking about the injustices of awful weather. Eventually I managed to coax myself into the real world with the lure of baking and a possibly climbable forecast for the Wednesday afternoon. T'internets came up trumps for a random partner, so 24 hours later I was sitting in a car park in Ambleside with a freshly baked lamb dhansak pie in the passenger seat, waiting for a man called Frith. It had been snowing in the morning, and it was blowing a gale, but the sun was out and I was full of unreasonable optimism.

Man Of Straw

Frith turned out to be a friend of a friend, and a general good egg, which was nice. We decided that White Ghyll might combine the holy trinity of being in the sun, out of the wind, and not covered in snow, and it was. We had the crag to ourselves, and had a brilliant afternoon climbing Moss Wall, Laugh Not, Do Not Direct and Man Of Straw. None of which felt desperate, being well supplied with small, positive holds. Man Of Straw was particularly satisfying, being a proper E1 and everything (although I'm having the E point for the second pitch of Do Not Direct too, as falling off the 5a moves would have been a tremendously poor idea).

I spent the evening in the CC hut in Grange, before meeting my second random internetter, Phil, in the car park below Black Crag. It was chilly, but the sky was blue and we had the crag to ourselves again. We romped up Troutdale Pinnacle Direct and The Coffin (with its rather character building gogarthesque finishing pitch with an added frozen moss cornice for good measure), wrestled with Obituary Grooves (which has quite a lot of very for a VS) and struggled up The Shroud (including a rather lonely and ill-advised rematch with the now-defrosted moss cornice at the very end of the ropes some distance past my last gear, all a little type II fun). A cracking day out in spite of the vegetable interest.

Dan was right - vegetables are evil...

Good Friday was a bit rainy and uninspiring, but luckily team win (comprising Matt, John, Mo, Stacey and Chris) had chosen the super-psychetastic venue of Windmore End. But apparently it was wet, so I met them skulking in an unpronounceable tea shop in Brough and hatched a plan to sample the delights of Jackdaw Scar. Everyone was a bit underwhelmed when we arrived, but after waiting an age for my phone to download the pdf guide we found some reasonable looking stuff and generally had a gay old time.

 The forecast seemed friendly for Saturday, so we got up super-early to secure a car parking spot in Langdale. Turns out everyone else is supremely lazy as we were the 5th car there at about 9 o'clock. There was a little residual dampness when we arrived, so J-Ro and I warmed up with a pleasant little Severe on the top slabs, before an unprecedented bout of manning up saw me setting off up the crux pitch of Forget-Me-Not, an E1 on the same slab. An easy traverse led to a good RP3 placement, before a couple of hard moves and then some sustained 5a crimping for what felt like a very, very long time with the RP becoming ever more of a distant memory, led to the belay. Phew. I soloed the other Severe whilst waiting for James to make his way down the descent rake and we moved down the crag. A quick bamber up Slip Knot left it as my route choice, so I decided to push my luck and get on an E1+, The Palestinians. I placed far too much gear (although in my defence none of it was incredibly confidence inspiring) and it felt quite tricky, but thankfully the looming overhang near the top turned out to be jug-infested, and we were soon hurrying back down to the car, with Masood's mega-curry awaiting us.

Claire having a three star time on Haste Not

Easter Sunday saw J-Ro and I do a bit of pottering at Gouther until some terminal drizzle set in just as we were getting warmed up, and the rain didn't stop all of Monday, so I ended up at the Depot in Leeds feeling weak before an appointment with the mighty Pelican that evening. A rifftastic end to a rather spiffing few days.

Monday, 2 April 2012

3 Days Of Win... And Some Welshness

The last 5 days started and ended with some serious sulking, but there's been a fair amount of winning in between, so I'll concentrate on that. Last Thursday, after some other plans fell through, a hastily-organised trip to Stanage with Lizzie materialised. She was pretty much fresh off the boat from two years in exotic far off lands (with no rock in them), so she needed reminding about the delights of grit.

Luncheon de victoire...

We sauntered up to the slabs just left of High Neb, with me in a t-shirt and Lizzie wearing about 5 thermals and a fleece. There was a wee Severe in the graded list that I'd not yet ticked, so I started with that. Lizzie made an admirable effort at making it look substantially harder than Severe, and even tried avoiding all the holds and climbing a different route entirely for a few moves, but eventually she remembered what it was all about.

Next I led a very pleasant VS 5a called Rinty, which a few years ago I would have found desperate. There were no positive footholds, just lots of sloping nonsense, but the handholds and gear were good. It felt fairly easy. It seems that a little bit of footwork goes a long way. Lizzie then summoned the beans to lead Duo Cracks, a well protected (especially when Lizzie was placing the gear!) pair of slabby cracks (surprisingly).

I've decided that trying to lead an HVS every time I go out would be good for my soul, so I nipped up a pleasant little bold slab for the tick this time. Then rounded the day off with Typhoon, a ticklist VS that I hadn't done before. At Stanage. What a treat. It was quite good too. All in all a rather lovely day.

On Saturday I got up early(ish) and Jaime picked me up and we headed for Tremadog, where Marq, J-Ro and friends were spending the weekend. We arrived at lunchtime and quickly nipped up The Brothers, before hacking up to Pant Ifan for a speedy ascent of Borchgrevinck/Poor Man's Peuterey. The sun came out in the evening, so I felt compelled to keep my HVS challenge up, and manned up to the unknown challenge of Holloway. After running the first two pitches together to a superbly positioned belay on top of a pinnacle, the top pitch set off through a menacing looking bulge. This turned out to be the crux, with a lightly desperate lurch for a mercifully good jam required to ensure success. After this the angle eased off and there was time to enjoy the rather exposed traverse to the belay tree. We abseiled off and reached the bottom just as darkness fell. Good timing.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny, but Jaime was feeling a bit under the weather, so J-Ro and I climbed Grotto Direct, a reasonably soft HVS with some bold climbing (on a section which was in common with the non-direct VS version). Then, inspired by Marq's heroics on it, I manned up and finally got on The Plum. I've been wanting to climb it ever since, 4 years ago, I stepped onto the top arete on the Micah Eliminate and looked down the line. The new guide advises avoiding the famously desperate starting crack, and who am I to argue with the guide, so I dutifully avoided it. Having got established on the arete the route didn't disappoint, with loads of brilliant, varied climbing, excellent moves, and supreme positions. A proper 3 star classic.

On The Plum

After this Jaime had woken up a bit, so we yomped up Oberon via the original (rather polished) start at 4c, before Jaime fancied a crack at the initial layback crack of Belshazzar. She made the first 2/3 of the pitch look easy, but then psyched herself out at the overhang and backed off. It succumbed to my sexy wide-bridging assault, and I managed to run the second pitch up the rib (avoiding the random traverse of the original line), just reaching the top with one metre of rope to spare. Whoop.

We retired to Ynys Ettws after enjoying a pizza from the magic pizza shop in Llanberis and plotted some adventures for Monday. The forecast was good, with only a small risk of "Isolated pockets of drizzle to the North of Snowdon", we decided to head to the Moelwyns. When we got there, it was raining. So we went to Moel y Gest, where it was raining, and then Tremadog, where it was dry for a few minutes, but then started raining again. Harrumph. The forecast for Tuesday was horrendous, so we decided to bail and head back to Sheffield. Stupid bloody Welsh weather...

There was a crag out there somewhere