27 April 2010

Queen and Castle

The Northumberland locals looking on as I walk to the crag.

I suppose I've had a leisurely couple of days. I was working on Sunday, and the weather thwarted our after work climbing plans. Monday saw me have a relaxed day. However, I headed out east, at around 5pm, to Northumberland, to take in the new kid on the bouldering scene, Queens Crag, and today I was back at Reecastle, but more on that later.

NW Wall (Font 5+) as the sun goes down over the Northumberland Moors.

Queens Crag, as described in the Northumberland Bouldering Guide, is the new kid on the block and it's an impressive little venue. It faces north-west and looks over the bleak Northumberland Moors. The rock is a hybrid, it is a fine grained, metamorphosed dolerite and sandstone combination, which meant that many of the holds had a dusty feel to them last night. This was a bit detrimental to the session as many of the problems were made up solely of sloping holds and the dusty nature meant that it was hard to stick the moves. Nevertheless I got a fair few problems ticked before it went dark, and I also eyed up some of the highball problems, which the crag is famous for, and probably best left for later visits when I have more pads and a couple of spotters.

Spring Loaded Camming Devices: the saviour on many a poorly protected route.

And now for today, like I said I was at Reecastle on a quest to tick off some more of the routes so that I am closer to achieving my summer project. I had a quick blast up Ador (VS, 4c). I called it a warm up, and then set out on the route I worked on my previous visit, Thumbscrew (E3, 5c).

Trying to get it back on Thumbscrew (E3, 5c), after all of the hard climbing, in preparation for the final push to the top.

It went well. The moves, which I hadn't quite committed to memory on my previous visit, quickly came back to me when I was on the rock and after pulling through the two apparent cruxes and getting a little nervous when I fumbled a couple of gear placements, I was at the top, getting ready to lower off and strip the route.

Placing protection on Rack Direct (E2, 5b) before pulling over onto The Rack (HVS, 5a).

After this I felt that my day was complete, but Rack Direct (E2, 5b) was calling me. I had backed off this route on a previous visit, because it felt a bit bold to begin with, but since then I have taken order of some extremely small DMM 4CU's, which protected the start, and gave me the confidence to climb through the hard section and link up with the final part of The Rack (HVS, 5a). Not bad for an afternoon I suppose.

I think I'm out tomorrow, but I am not too sure on the exact location. There's talk of heading up Bowfell Buttress (VD), but this may change depending on the weather.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

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