Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Back to Trad

Getting back from Orpierre I felt fit and psyched for the real game of UK onsight trad. The 1st weekend we were back, it was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend which meant a double bank holiday. My good friend Ged was having is 30th birthday celebrations up in the Lake District and small team of us gathered up there to get involved with some of the classics.
As luck would have it, the whole of the south of the UK was drenched with torrential rain but unusually the Lakes were getting some of the best weather around.

Day one saw a visit to Reecastle, a good communual crag and a good place for getting lots done as its single pitch and close to the road. The routes here have a reputation for being steep and hard, but I’ve got to say having been sport climbing for a while, the angle seemed pretty tame. Its one of the only crags in the Lakes that I’d been to before and having done a few of the classics previously I was keen to up the ante slightly.

I started off with an E4 6a warm up called Inquisition and then after belaying Gilly on her 1st trad lead in a year and a half (which she cruised) I decided to go for the onsight on Daylight Robbery E6 6b. Irritatingly my foot slipped off on an easy move low down, but I sent it next go.  It’s a  really enjoyable and intense little number consisting of a safe and pumpy crack in the lower half to a peg at it’s close and then a runout wall on little crimps. Classic Reecastle.

Local lad Leo Houlding had come out to join us for the day, and had set about working on one of the few routes there he’d not done before. A fierce diagonal seam called Burnt At The Stake E7 7a. After top roping it and preplacing the gear (a practice that is apparently standard for the harder routes here) he sent it without too much trouble. I then asked him to leave the gear in so that I could have a go at the flash with his beta. I went for it getting through the bold start to the peg and even through the supposed crux but dropped it getting to the wire. It would’ve been good to do it next go but time was short and we had to bail.

Next day was a more chilled affair. I teamed up with Dave Pickford and had a great day at Goat Crag in Borrowdale doing the ultra classic Bitter Oasis E4 5c, 5c. It didn’t disappoint. 2 pitches of wild moves steeped in climbing history. Fun times.

Day 3 was a stunningly beautiful day. Hazel Findlay had been on at me for a few days about how awesome Impact Day on Pavey Ark was. She had had a couple of days on it already and was psyched to do it. With the weather so good it seemed like a good idea to go to a mountain crag and get stuck in, so Pavey was the destination of choice.

Local legend Dave Birkett joined us for the day, and so Gilly, Dave, DMM’s Dave ‘Noddy’ Noddings and myself 1st went off to climb the classic Golden Slipper HVS 5a. One of the best slabs of its kind in the UK.

Noddy enjoying a casual flex on Golden Slipper HVS

After a lazy ascent and a lot of chatting and catching up, it was time o go and see how Hazel was getting on and jpoin the fun. Needless to say none of us actually got around to getting on Impact Day until quite late. Myself, Hazel and Neil Mawson were all keen to do it and top roped it a couple of times each. 1st up for the lead was Neil who sent it pretty much fine. I then went next and annoyingly fell off whilst trying to match the top of the crag. This is actually a pretty hard move, but it was still a bit of a heart breaker to blow it that close to the top. A rematch beckons.

Finally after my go, Hazel went last. She had been having trouble with the bottom moves due to her height. They’re by no mean the hardest move on the route but they are the boldest. The route itself isn’t particularly bold overall but the 1st 3 move are quite necky. Its advisable not to blow it on these moves, and suddenly out of the blue, that is exactly what Hazel did. She took a spectacular tumble down several ledges, ripping the starting cam in the process and going passed Neil who was belaying. After the initial shock and fear that she was seriously hurt, she brushed herself off and even walked down to the pub. She was pretty shaken up and had a little bruising and whip lash, but all in all was fine. She tells me she’s keen to go back for a rematch too, believe it or not. She doesn’t give up easily that lass.

Since then the weather has been appalling. Much indoor training has been going on with the occasional visit to Anstey’s Cove  but not much more. A day at Cheddar in between the showers I onsighted the splendid E5 6a Schizoid at Freaky Wall. And another rare day of sunshine I got out to Uphill Quarry and did Jimi Hendrix Experience E6 6b (F7c). Luckily good friend Mark Campbell was on hand to snap some great shots, which basically tell a far better story than i can ever waffle in words.....

Jimi Hendrix Experience E6 6b at Uphill Quarry
Photo: Mark Campbell

Jimi Hendrix Experience E6 6b at Uphill Quarry
Photo: Mark Campbell

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Back now from 3 weeks in Orpierre and it was a great trip. In my last post i said I'd on sighted a 7c+ called Trop Pure amongst a few other things. Since then the weather went a bit rubbish and we had to bide our time avoiding rain and then seepage. As such we didn't get to try some of the things we had been hoping for. That said Gilly continued her rapid post pregnancy come back with some cool headed onsights and determined redpoints.

In spite of the rain I on sighted an 8a called Le Poisse and came flying off the last move of another because of a soaking wet hold. Redpointing something hard though was never gonna happen due to the seepage.

The Crag, The Wheels & The Wife

Gilly on Diedre Sud

Gilly on Diedre Sud with Orpierre behind

Coffee Mornings
Onsighting Trop Pure 7c+
Armed with an 80m Nano

Going for the onsight on Game Over 8a

Onsighting something i cant remember (brilliant though)

Business time

Sky art