13 November 2011

In the fells with Feebs

In the mountains with Feebs.

Firstly I must apologise for not posting in such a long time, but in the last few months I haven't really been out and about climbing, walking or kayaking because of three things.

We moved house at the end of July and that took up many of my days off. Secondly, I changed jobs half way through September; I've now left Go Ape and am working for the family owned Booths, a supermarket chain exclusive to the north of England. Thirdly, Phoebe takes up much of my free time.

Having a picnic at High Sweden Bridge.

However today I got out into the fells with Phoebe. This was her very first experience of the fells and the first time she's been on my back. Previously she's been for walks around Carlisle on my front, but now that she is nearly seven months old she is big enough to be on my back.

Having an afternoon nap as Daddy heads back to the car.

Our walk was only a short one. From Ambleside we walked up the east bank of Scandale Beck, before crossing via High Sweden Bridge and returning down the west bank for tea and medals at the Apple Pie in Ambleside.

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

04 July 2011

Thirlstane Sessions

Phoebe and her mum at the crag.

It's been a while since I posted, and it's almost been as long since I've donned my rock shoes and pulled onto a problem or route. This afternoon we visited Thirlstane in Dumfries and Galloway for an afternoon on the beach and a session in the sandstone tidal borehole.

Topping out on The Groove (Font 5).

It's an impressive spot, with some highly graded problems, which is a shame as the long absence from the rock has affected my footwork and strength meaning I wasn't pulling at my best. However, I ticked a fair few problems, with the hardest being in the Font 6c region. I also held the crux move, for a couple of seconds, on a Font 7a, and got up to the crux on a Font 7b on the first go.

Topping out on Bad Sneakers (Font 6a).

It was nice to be out on the rock again, and even nicer to be at the crag with Phoebe, however it was also disheartening at how a short absence from the rock has such an affect on your climbing.

Reaching for the pocket on Jihad (Font 7a).

It's back to the daily grind tomorrow with work and such like, but having just checked my emails I've discovered I graduated with a First Class Honours in Outdoor Leadership.

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

19 May 2011

Picnic Sarcastic, V7

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After finishing work today I headed down the Borrowdale valley to the Bowderstone. After ticking the usual five problems and then spending some time trying to see if I could repeat Statstick (V6) I moved onto Picnic Sarcastic (V7). After getting some new beta from a friend I sent it with surprising ease, after just a handful of attempts, which was really good as I have been trying this problem for some time now.

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

10 May 2011

Norway

I've just entered a competition for a fifteen day climbing expedition to Norway with Dave MacLeod. In order to win I need your help. Please vote for my application by visiting this link.

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

04 May 2011

Last Night...

I was at Quayfoot Buttress and lead The Crypt Direct (E1, 5b) and Mandrake (HVS, 5a). I also seconded The Go Between (E2, 5c), but I forgot my camera hence the lack of pictures accompanying this post.

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

02 May 2011

Bouldering with Feebs

This afternoon I was at The Bowderstone for a bouldering session with Phoebe. It's been a while since I've been out bouldering and after spending an hour on the fingerboard last night and feeling extremely weak I was slightly apprehensive about the session. However, The Bowderstone is the most pushchair friendly venue in the North Lakes and it allowed us to call in on The Toy Chest so that Phoebe could enjoy some retail therapy.

Daddy and me heading to The Bowderstone.

Despite my reservations about my bouldering strength I quickly ticked off The Rib (V3), The Crack (V4), The Ramp (V4), The Crack Direct (V5) and The Crack Super Direct (V6) before having a rest despite feeling strong on all five problems.

Daddy starting up The Crack (V4).

Daddy on The Crack Super Direct (V6), which I think looks very similar to The Crack and The Crack Direct, but he says it's a different problem.

Once I felt suitably rested and had played around with Phoebe for a while I set to working Statstick (V6) once again. I got to my previous high point, positioned my feet and popped for the finishing hold, touched it and then as my foot swung off gravity took over and I plummeted to the ground.

Daddy trying Statstick (V6) once again.

This is how it went for about three or four attempts. Between each attempt I messed around with Phoebe, which allowed me to rest properly, meaning I could put all my effort into every single attempt. On what could have been my fifth attempt of the session I popped for the finishing hold, touched it and then as my foot swung off and gravity started to take over, I tensed what could have been every single muscle in my body, which allowed me to stick the hold, then after rearranging my feet I matched that final hole.

Daddy seemed quite happy when he matched the final hold on Statstick (V6).

After ticking the problem I took another good rest and started working Picnic Sarcastic (V7) once again, which I don't think I have tried for nearly a year. I got to my high point on my first attempt and didn't get any further in the session.

Daddy trying the moves on Picnic Sarcastic (V7) with little success, which probably means I'll have to go back and sit around waiting until he finally does it.

Some more pictures of Phoebe at the Bowderstone are here.

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

25 April 2011

Evening Cragging Again

Seconding Guillotine (E3, 5c).

Bank Holiday Weekend is over and after a couple of exceptionally busy days at work we were noticeably quieter today meaning we were away by five o'clock. This allowed for a quick skirmish over to Reecastle Crag to tick Rack Direct (E2, 5c) and then Guillotine (E3, 5c).

I've lead Rack Direct before, but it was nice to repeat the route in good style with minimal fuss, and then second my partner on Guillotine before heading for home for some daddy/daughter time.

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

18 April 2011

Introducing...

Phoebe Grace Robinson.


It's been a bit quiet on the climbing front for a while, especially when you compare the previous couple of months with the same months last year. This doesn't mean I'm turning into a couch potato. It's probably the opposite; I've started running around Carlisle seven times a fortnight so my general fitness has certainly improved.


The main reason for this decline in climbing activity is down to one person, Phoebe Grace Robinson, who was born on the 15th April 2011, weighing 8lb 7oz, meaning I'm spending a lot of time in and around the house, which I am actually enjoying more than I thought I would.

I head back to work on Friday so will probably get back on the rock soon after. This is because after finishing my dissertation, looking into the affects of fatherhood on outdoor participants, I've come up with a plan of action that revolves around climbing twice a week after work and spending the rest of the time in Carlisle either running, pulling on the fingerboard or entertaining Phoebe.


More pictures of Phoebe Grace can be found here.

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

07 April 2011

April Sunshine

I got out for a couple of hours this afternoon/evening for a spot of cragging. The venue was the Castle Rock of Triermain and we were blessed with cloudless skies, bone dry rock and the slightest of breezes, which provided a slight chill when the sun went behind a cloud.

An unknown climber on Direct Route (VS, 4b).

I got a lead up the slightly bold Gazebo (HVS, 5a) before seconding Kleinne Rinne (VS, 4b) and Gangway Climb (VD). All three were really enjoyable and were made even better by the quality of the rock, but at times the protection was hard to arrange.

The final difficulties on Kleine Rinne (VS, 4b).

Looking across to the exit slab on the Castle Rock of Triermain's South Crag whilst a climber approaches the top of Gangway Climb (VD).

The gangway on the Gangway Climb (VD).

It looks like this spell of weather is going to hold so evening cragging is certainly on the cards for the next couple of days.

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

03 April 2011

Sandy Times

It was back to that Sunday tradition of climbing sandstone on a Sunday today. The venue was the familiar Armathwaite. I have visited the crag eleven times before, I think, and have only ever attempted to lead the routes that were first climbed in the 70's and 80's once before. Today that changed; I went down to the banks of the River Eden intent on ticking off some of the routes.

Setting out on Cally Crack (E3, 5b/c).

We started out on the three star classic, Flasherman (VS, 4c), where I was able to get used to the intricacies of leading on soft sandstone; a lot of thought has to be given to the quality of rock the protection is placed in and this is what had put me off leading at Armathwaite in the past. However, with a renewed confidence, and having dispatched Flasherman, we set out to climb Cally Crack (E3, 5b/c).

Getting a rest after placing the gear to protect the crux.

Going for it.

It was a nice route, which was reasonably well protected, but was incredibly tiring; it was past vertical for a short period of time before it relented and you could run it out to the top. Following this we headed upstream to the final buttress to sample Jelly Terror (E1, 5b) and the extremely delicate Barnacle Bill (E1, 5b), before heading for home.

Making delicate moves around the overhang of Barnacle Bill (E1, 5b).

It's back to work tomorrow.

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

The Gibbet (E1, 5c)

I said in my post, after Monday's evening session at Reecastle, that I would make an effort to get hold of some of the pictures from my ascent of The Gibbet (E1, 5c) and here they are.

Approaching the crux.

Fiddling in some micro-wires before committing to the crux.

Working out the sequence through the crux.

Half way through the crux.

Nearly through the crux.

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

31 March 2011

Going Underground

Today was the last ever university practical and with no need for ensuring certain learning objectives were achieved we decided to head across to the Yorkshire Dales for a spot of caving. Caving was probably the only activity that would have provided any sort of enjoyment considering today's weather; it was blowing a gale and raining as well.

Abseiling down the Wet Entrance of Sell Gill Holes.

We headed over to the Sell Gill Holes network, which is above Horton-in-Ribblesdale, and requires a fair few ropes as we had to make three abseils down the side of a 45 meter waterfall.

Rigging one of the abseils to take us further into the cave system.

Looking up the Main Chamber of Sell Gill Holes as someone descends from above.

Once we had reached the Main Chamber we headed for the passageways that some of our companions had descended so that we could climb up their ropes, and remove them as we went. This allowed us to experience another section of the cave system, but it also made it feel a bit more like a journey.

Approaching the Dry Entrance of Sell Gill Holes, which we used as an exit.

Tomorrow it's back to work, and then I've got another three days off before rescue training begins.

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

28 March 2011

Evening Cragging...

Looking down the Watendlath Valley from Reecastle last August.

So I started back at Go Ape on Thursday and the clocks sprung forward on Sunday, meaning we've gained an extra hour of day light, which incidentally means there is more time, after work, for playing on the easily accessible crags of Borrowdale whilst the sun heads for the horizon.

Tonight I kicked off my year's evening cragging in good form up at Reecastle Crag, which is found in the hanging valley of Watendlath. This is one of the most beautiful valleys in the whole of Lakeland, in my opinion, and it was a nice place to spend the evening climbing The Rack: Finger Flake Finish (E2, 5c) and The Gibbet (E1, 5c) before darkness fell.

Unfortunately I left my camera in the car, hence the picture from August, however my partner for the evening's escapades had their camera to hand. I'll make an effort to get some copies of the pictures taken whilst I dithered through the crux of The Gibbet.
Watendlath's quiet nook.
A farm is there, and a slated barn,
And a waterfall, and a pebbly tarn;
And all the way to High Lodore
The banks of the beck are painted o'er
With red herb-willow and red loose-strife.

- Edmund Casson, The Wise Kings of Borrowdale.
Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...
Iain

26 March 2011

Saturday Slate

I started back at work on Thursday, and this year, instead of being freelance, I'm there full time as university is all but over; I've just got to print my dissertation, hand it in and then I've finished, which is nice. This also means that I am able to get out on my day's off, instead of spending them writing assignments, so today, with the weather looking favourable, I headed over to Hodge Close Quarry in the Tilberthwaite Valley, just outside Coniston.

Looking into Hodge Close Quarry from the top of Behind the Lines (HVS, 5a).

I've been meaning to get over to the quarry for some time after once heading that way, but changing plans at the last minute, and since seeing this video, made by some of the students studying for a BA (Hons) in Adventure and Media, I've wanted to head that way even more. We started out on the three star classic, Behind the Lines (HVS, 5a), after abseiling into the quarry, and this was my first taste of climbing on slate.

Seconding Big Dipper (E1, 5b).

Once we'd topped out on Between the Lines and admired the beauty of the quarry some more we abseiled back down the wall and started out on Big Dipper (E1, 5b). This was an impressive line that takes a rising traverse rightwards across the quarry's central wall and provides some really good climbing in a pretty exposed position.

Hodge Close Quarry.

After completing the two pitches of Big Dipper we pulled up all the ropes, headed around to the other side of the quarry and abseiled back in, to take on Oiling the Lawnmower (E1, 5b). This was a really nice climb and provided two excellent pitches of slate slab climbing, which was, rather than being protected by natural protection, bolt protected so it is problably more fitting to attach a sport grade to the climb.

On the first pitch of Oiling the Lawnmower (E1, 5b).

I imagine I'll be back at the quarry at some point, as there are a fair few lines I would like to look at, and I enjoyed climbing on the slate once I had got use to it's intricacies.

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

22 March 2011

Grinding away on the Gabbro

Gabbro (pronounced: ɡæbroʊ) refers to a large group of dark, coarse-grained, intrusive mafic igneous rocks chemically equivalent to basalt. The rocks are plutonic, formed when molten magma is trapped beneath the Earth's surface and cools into a crystalline mass.

Carrock Fell with the Boardman's, Mushroom and Low Boulders left of centre.

Gabbro can be found on the flanks of Carrock Fell, Cumbria and that's where I spent the afternoon, whiling away my time on the problems, which can be found on the Gabbro boulders. Carrock Fell is probably one of the best venues close to Carlisle and for some reason I've not visited it since November of last year.

Problem 17 on the Aretes Boulder.

Crimping up Problem 18 on the Aretes Boulder.

I took in some new problems before moving on to a problem I have tried once before, but didn't get round to completing. I worked out a new sequence of moves, which got me past my previous high point, and then I couldn't make the following move to the top. I ground the problem into submission with countless attempts and instead of it letting up, my fingers let out. I had to call the session to an end as my finger tips started to spurt blood over the small sloping, but incredibly painful holds, as well as anything else I decided to touch.

However, before leaving I happened to notice that there's a large field of boulders between the two central groups of documented problems, which look to have a few lines, albeit above bad landings, that don't appear in the Lakes Bouldering guidebook. I may just be back before another four months pass to check them out.

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

18 March 2011

A day in the sun...

I was over in the Langdale Valley today and spent the majority of my time climbing up and down the aptly named Langdale Boulders. I repeated a variety of problems, which I have done on previous visits to this stunning location, and ticked off a couple of new problems as well.

There isn't much else to say really, as I think pictures are the only medium that could do the day any real justice; it was that amazing.

Back Boulder Left (V6) with the Langdale Pikes behind.

The Overhang (V5) with the Langdale Pikes behind.

Adding a sit start to The Overhang, which bumps the grade up to V7.

The Pocket with the Langdale Pikes behind (V5).

More pictures of the day can be found here.

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

14 March 2011

Another Bowderstone Session...

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

06 March 2011

Sunday Sandstone

As with the Sunday tradition I was out on the sandstone today. The venue was Rothley Crag, which is just over 4 miles away, as the crow flies, from Shaftoe, where I was a week ago. This meant that many of the boulder problems were of a similar nature to the ones I ticked at Shaftoe however I went with a definite motto in my mind, "send it within three goes or move on."

Working out how to mantel over Yorkshire Roof (Font 6b).

As a result of this, I walked away from the crag, three-and-a-half hours later, having ticked twenty-two problems. None of them were exceptionally hard, but it was nice to get a lot done, and now when I next visit the crag I'll be paying a bit more attention to specific problems, or maybe I'll carry on working my way through the remaining 196 problems.

Another Arete (Font 6a), another mantel shelf.

Making the leftwards traverse on Zig Zag (Font 6a).

We didn't leave the crag until 4:30 so we were blessed with a lovely light as I came to the end of the session and I was slightly excited for the drive back west along the Military Road, because the sun would be setting in the distance.

Pulling off the ground on South Sea Bubble (Font 6a) as the evening sun illuminates the rock.

The sun didn't disappoint and as we passed through Walwick the sun was sitting on the Military Road, and a couple of minutes later it was below the horizon and darkness started to set in.

A setting sun as we head for home down the Military Road.

More pictures of the bouldering at Rothley Crag can be found here.

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

28 February 2011

Making the most of Good Conditions...

Today, I was on the first day of a First Aid at Work course, which was a shame as the conditions were perfect for climbing. However, when the course finished at 4:15pm I was in the car and driving down Borrowdale before you could say: "DR ABCDE!" I eventually parked in the lay-by for the Bowderstone and was almost running the short distance to the boulder in the hope of making the most of the light, which would soon be fading.

I managed to work through the three problems, which I have now been sending since the end of April 2010, and called that my warm up, before taking a good long rest and during this period I decided what I would try and work in the hope of eventually ticking it. I've been working several problems at the Bowderstone now - Picnic Sarcastic (Font 7a+), Power Pinch (Font 7a+), Bloodsucker (Font 7b+), Statstick (Font 7a) and Move Man (Font 7a+) - and feel motivated to get Statstick the most. I don't know why this is, but this is what I now set to as the sun eventually dipped below the mountains and darkness quickly set in.

Cal Reid on Statstick (Font 7a).

However, the darkness didn't cause that much trouble; it was out with the head torch, and once it was set to it's brightest, it acted as the perfect spot light to illuminate the holds from the floor and it also doubled up as a handy light for the camera. I know the quality isn't that great, but you can just make out in the video my efforts to tick Statstick; I fell from the last hold several times as I failed to control the swing and match the hold. I should get it on my next visit.

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The last clip, where the climber is wearing a head torch, is Needle Sport's Cal Reid climbing The Ramp (Font 6b).

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

27 February 2011

Some more Sandstone on a Sunday

Last Sunday I was at Armathwaite's Sandy Bay climbing on the overhanging sandstone and this Sunday I headed north-east to Shaftoe, which is Northumberland's premier sandstone bouldering area. It would appear that this is the start of a Sunday tradition!


Shaftoe is an impressive little spot. "There are over 300 problems situated on more than 50 boulders in a beautiful setting on the Shaftoe Moors in the Wansbeck Valley" (NMC Bouldering Guide) and because this was my first visit I was unsure where to start. After trawling the internet, checking out pictures, I decided to head to the Western Edges of the moor, which meant there was a fair walk-in, but it was certainly worth it.

Problem 14 (Font 7a), on The Business.

I ticked off a fair few problems, however the conditions weren't ideal. The boulders were slightly damp and throughout my session I was plagued by brief showers, which just added to the already moist holds, however there was a strong wind whipping through the complex system of valleys, ridges and escarpments so most of the surface moisture soon dissipated once the showers had stopped. This did allow me to make most of the moves on the problems I attempted, but the wind wasn't doing anything for the damp, rounded top-outs, which required a perfect mantel shelf technique in order to see you safe onto the top of the boulder.

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The Scoop (Font 6b): an example of a Shaftoe top-out.

It would appear that my mantel shelf technique is lacking and so there were a fair few problems I ended up walking away from; I did the hard moves to get to the lip of the boulder, but I just couldn't get myself over the top. I'm hoping that when I return the conditions will be better suited for climbing on slopers and this should see me ticking a fair few problems I hope.


Driving back along the Military Road to Carlisle.

On the drive back west I was treated to some lovely views of the late afternoon sun breaking through the clouds and illuminating the borders of this fine land.

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