Thursday, November 25, 2010

more cloud formations

Another blue sky day warranted a roaches trip again yesterday. This time to Nth cloud and skyline. We warmed up at nth cloud and i had a couple of meek attempts at a project i'd tried last year. In fact upon returning to try again it last year i'd been sunned off it and that's when i stumbled upon the prow which is now The Darkest Cloud. Today was looking pretty similar, blue skies are lovely but bad news for small grips. And with Caff and Neil running out of eliminate warm ups to do on the 6a's we went and did art nouveau. It was baltic up there and after Neil'd seen off a swift onsight of Entropys jaw. The clouds had returned to save the nth cloud from the November sun. A big fat cumulo stratus infact, so the sun had no chance. After getting going again it was apparent that conditions were way better, So atleast i'm finally old enough for a tiny bit of wisdom to have crept in. Neil and Caff quickly got stuck into the LH project Which looks nice but climbs pretty thrutchily and with no distinct line compared to its looks. I'd come back for the RH line, whilst this is marred a tiny bit by the swivel finger arete visually it is a far better line climbing and hold quality wise. But then again these projects have been known about since atleast 2004 if not earlier, which speaks for itself, basically they're good but remote enough for no one else but a loony cumbrian to bother walking up there (marras were in the crag majority yesterday!).

The Rh Project has no footholds, just naughty smears. Which have a habit of ripping off and i think they are pretty boot dependent (i went for a good worn in pair of Sazi velcros) You basically pull on and undercut the only usable hold, which rags your pinky, Use a half pad mono to stretch upto the Gaston of fury, I'm so stretched when i get this that i can only creep 3 fingers on and my feet often blow. If they dont you snap some lock in your arm then fire through an amazing move to a lovely 3 finger slopey dish (top photo) then a large juggy LH crimp leads to a final lunge upwards for a good drag. From the last good edge it is possible to match and skulk left into the corner via a big but easy move, but this is not the line nor the problem.

Yesterday i had the rarest of bouldering moments. A perfect go. I'd had several shit attempts at getting the initial gaston and foot poppage was bugging me. I decided to just pull really F-ing hard and see what happened, luckily everyhting clicked, i really yarded down on the mono and undercling and finally got the gaston nicely with 3 fingers, a full on emergency crimp and gutteral growl got me through to the dish and still on i lunged for the top move, which is still droppable but a bit easier, i caught it in a good drag and kept over gripping to get the top. Brilliant. I could barely repeat the crux for video which adds a dilemma to the grade. As it felt fine when it went but hard. Then it just felt sharp and hard after. But then doing something this fast means it cant be too hard. For me i think its 8a+ but i can see taller people getting the gaston with 4 fingers and being much better set up (my 6'2" reach was pretty maxed out), so maybe 8a/+ is more accurate. I couldn't be on much better form board wise and this project is pretty basic, which also adds complexity. Thats more than enough space for grade talk anyway.

I decided the Nth Power would be a nice name for obvious pun reasons. And i am fully made up at flooking such a nice project. There are 4 more projects on my little whiteboard list that i'd like to get done before the new guide comes out, it's a nice incentive anyway to make more work for Cofe and Ru.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

The Darkest Cloud

Pic courtesy of Nick Brown

I managed to see off a mini project on tuesday with the help of Ben and Nick. Its on the Arete on the back of the 5th cloud. Lovely moves straight up a blunt prow. SS from double undercuts and quest upwards to glory. This supercedes a random route called Ride the Lightning E2 6b which pulled on near the top of the arete off the hill behind. Its called The Darkest Cloud and creeps in at soft 8a at the mo i reckon.

Its north facing so is a good escape from sun and sweat when other problems are out of good nick. The landing is a bit technical with it being a grassy hill, decent sized tent pegs are recommended to prevent pad slippage and erosion.

There is a 7c+ to the left too ( which is worth doing, details on to follow.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

bigger belly

A Bigger Belly is a tiny little squeezed in problem at Rubicon, revolving around 4 minging crozzly crimps. I had spent a bit of time trying it with Dan before he made the first ascent a couple of years ago – very impressive to watch. He “gave it” 8a+ at the time, its generally considered to be pretty hard – not many people can even pull off the ground, let alone do the moves. This is exactly the style of climbing that I am bad at – snatching between tiny death-crimps, with a dynamic last move to a “jug”. For some reason I had to do it. Fortunately I have bendy legs so I was able to use a heel hook that Dan hadn’t – clearly cheating,this made the first few moves much easier for me but it made the last move a lot harder.

Still one hard move is better than 4. Last summer I had a couple of session falling off the final jump move, and I hadn’t gone back to finish it off since then (a combination of not wanting to go to Rubicon, and having ruined a pulley in my middle finger). Although this problem is one of the worst and most minging things I have ever climbed on I needed to finish it off.

In September had a session on it for the first time in a year and felt much stronger on the tiny holds. I also got a new bit of foot beta which made the last move ever so slightly easier. Still, I had another session falling off the last move! I had invested too much skin into this problem, I wasn’t going to leave it. After a couple of rest days I went back on a cold(ish) morning and finally held the swing! Pretty satisfying as it means I never have to try it again! Although it’s the longest I have ever spent on anything (6 or 7 sessions I think) its not the hardest as the climbing totally doesn’t suit me, and each session was always cut short by ruined skin, rather than tired fingers.

After this I went to font. I might get my arm twisted into writing about that, or you might be spared.


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Young

Ever since the start of the year there has been 1 name scribbled on the top of my little whiteboard ticklist. The Young. I have wanted to try it for years after hearing tales off springer about its quality. Last year on a plus 30 degree day we were driving back from back bowden after pottering about sun dodging all day and we decided to walk in to have a look, it was near the longest day and the forest was carpeted in blueberries, you could literally eat your way there! And whilst the walk in was long and hilly with pad raping branches. It was worth it. The Young is one of the most incredible pieces of sandstone i have seen in the flesh, a perfect tablet of stone situated in the forest with an incredible view, soft grassy landing (with even the slightest rock or root this route would become alot scarier). Andy first did it in summer 2000 and a picture which gives nothing away appeared in the new route guide, other than andy looks like he's trying hard, which is good as that means its probably quite hard. Springer had mooted font 8a/+ about with andy's sequence. This route was a phenomenal effort back in 2000, it'd equal any hard grit route in terms of difficulty and boldness, infact this route is more like a slightly higher high fidelity in terms of its niche, easier of course. unprotectable and high. that said the landing on the young is perfect soft grass so it never quite feels too serious.
the bottom of the route is obscured in this shot, its a bit below the tree's shadow, its only just dry!

That day in 2009 i had a quick punt ground up and got to the large juggy patina just before the crux at about 1/3rd height, its about font7b+ to here or there abouts i think.
Arriving on Sunday with Mark we were blessed in that either side of the route was wet due to the last nights rain, but the route itself was dry. The top was wet too but i figured i could work most of the route and atleast get a feel for it. I had resigned to top roping it first as basically i wanted to do it, climbing in the county is alot more effort than in sheffield where pads and spotters are easily available, and the walk in to this is over a mile and hilly so lots of pads are ruled out. I carried 3 in which nearly killed me, however Mark always manages to win on the sherpa challenge and he lugged 50kg of camera japery in.
So after a quick clean on an ab, and writing off Andy's sequence as having FA blinkers i decided to use a small RH pocket he must of missed, this let me flick out to where he crosses over to a pocket, as a mono and with a bit of dainty footwork i could launch direct upto the first of the dinnerplates (big patina blobs, they are so cool!) this sequence was quick, safe as it kept me going straight up above the pads and i had no spotter to move them, and ridiculously fun. What follows is 8 moves of some of the most amazing climbing i've done.

nothing but blank wall and slopey dinner plates to come (stick a dinner plate so the bottom faces away from a wall and you'll see the similarity)
Flicking, popping and locking between the slopey patina dinnerplates and badger heads (bigger and more round than chicken heads) All the moves are do or die though and hanging around isn't a great idea, the route is also inescapable. That said it is only low font 7 climbing so compared to the lower section it is alot easier. I'd managed to clean two jugs enough at the top to make it worth going for. As a compromise Mark knotted a rope for me to help top out once i'd reached the jugs as the grass and tree roots were wet and lethal. On my actual go once i got the top jugs i monoed the bottom knot in the rope for security, upon pulling on it it stretched and i found myself with 1 finger in a mono below my shoulder and my other hand on a wet flat jug, there was only one thing for it, teeth, in a spur of the moment i bit the rope weighted it so as it wouldn't unstretch moved my LH up and topped out over the grass and tree roots. Top roper and aid climber!
one of the tricker moves into the mono (you can 2 finger it but it felt better as a mono to me), Andy gets this hold with his right using his stronger sequence.
I spent the rest of the day lapping the best boulder route (boute?) i've ever done anywhere upto where it gets too scary to jump off. This route was totally worth the wait, it is a stunning bit of climbing and phenomenal effort by andy 10years ago, especially via his original sequence as it was an even harder proposition. With my sequence it feels like a highball font7c+, or a route 8a solo, i believe my sequence is very ground uppable for someone with the balls and this would be an awesome awesome route to ground up, very pure too as there is no gear and no rope. That challenge still remains. As i didn't ground up it but it feels weird commenting on the trad grade but my gut feeling is that this is well worth E8 for a ground up or onsight attempt, and i think atleast 1 fall would take place from the top section unless you had perfect beta, which would be a big fall, a long very awkward way from help.

Even though Andy is widely regarded as one of the best boulderers in the UK i feel his trad routes are mostly overlooked nationally and heavily under rated, despite his hard trad routes being amongst the best in the country of their style (short (10-16m), bold and hard) Apart from this, (which went unrepeated for 10 years) only Endless Flight Direct has been repeated of the E8s and harder (by Graham, Fielding and Watson). Neither has been ground upped. Mark Savage's routes, even bolder often but not quite as hard technically have also seen few repeats (i'm guilty too, sorry Mark) if any. Sadly most of this is through lack of attention from anyone but the locals.
The Young is a beautiful wall (it actually overhangs by about 2 degrees), and deserves its place amongst the classics of the country rather than some obscure side note at the back of a guide somewhere (its actually mentioned in the bouldering guide if you look at the very back pages)

All pictures Mark Savage

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Price change

face 1, originally uploaded by Beastmaker. inc.

Unfortunately due to the VAT changes coming in January 2011 and the effect this will have on retailers we are moving the price of the boards to £75, this will take place from the 20th of November.

close comfort

Since i got back from Germany i've been just as keen for getting out as ever, if not keener, which is unusual as usually after getting back from a holiday i'm up for putting my feet up. I had a crack at a few projects from last year and felt much better on the whole, after splitting a tip on one i took a walk round wyming brook before heading home to train. Wyming brook is 5 minutes drive from my house in sheffield with a free car park and a 1minute walk in to the rocks. It has no decent recorded boulder problems. until now! (actually thats open to opinion but they certainly seem good)

That's not to say it has a lot of boulder problems, yet, or ever will have. But when such a nice venue (peaceful woodland with a stream) and good problems lie so close to sheffield it really is worth the 5 minute drive if you live there. If you don't live in sheffield but 7b is a tricky grade for you then the above picture of, Superbrook 7b should hopefully encourage you to check out a nice problem to try. Its called superbrook due to it being a smaller easier version of superbloc on initial appearance.

We also climbed a nearby problem (named brookside 7b+) under Matthew Thompson's route, parthian shit (great name) it takes the arete right of the crack on its RHS with the crack being avoided for hands and feet. We (me nick and ben

Another nice arete lies on the opposite side of the brook, on the isolated slab, it takes the overhanging LHS of the arete upto the ledge at about 7a and is called the Rhyming Book
All pics Nick Brown.

i'll put these up on soon with directions for people to find easily

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