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.

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...

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.

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...

20 February 2011

A bit of exercise...

I've just been down to Armathwaite for a quick boulder. I ticked off the usual three problems - Exorcist Start (V2), Problem 3 (V3) and Problem 4 (V4) - before tackling Problem 5 (V4). I'm not sure why I've never tried this problem before; it's a four move traverse into Problem 3, but those four extra moves, even though they are pretty straight forward, gave my left forearm a slight pump so it took a few goes before I stuck the moves off the diagonal rail, up to the big ledge and the awaiting finishing hold.

Taking in Armathwaite's Sandy Bay.

I spent the rest of the session trying to get Problem 7 (V6), which I have been trying on most of my recent visits to the Sandy Bay, but I just don't seem to have the strength (or more likely the confidence) to make the big move to the bad looking sidepull/pinch, which is just two moves from the finish. Today, my attempts were a mirror image of all my other attempts and the confidence thing was even more of an issue. If I came off, slightly out of control, I would probably have landed in the River Eden, which was fairly high and this meant that the two other problems, I can usually tick, were out over the water and were therefore out of bounds for the session.

After my bouldering I headed back to the car, swapped gear and headed off for a run around Coombs Wood. I managed 2.8 miles in 29 minutes, which isn't too bad when you consider that apart from yesterday - where I got out for 13 minutes and managed 1.64 miles - I've not been for a proper run since I left high school in 2005.

My new thing: running at night.

You may wonder why I have started running; I've decided to improve my general fitness so that I can walk into high mountain crags quicker and arrive in better shape for the climbs, but I also get to play with my new head torch if I head out at night for a run, which adds an extra element to the monotony of it all.

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

17 February 2011

Into the Mountains...

I've just got back from a day out in the mountains. The objective was a couple of routes on The Napes, Great Gable, however the conditions had other ideas. There wasn't any rain, but there was snow up high, and the rock was greasy and wet in places from the rain we've had over the previous few days.

Looking up Styhead Gill to the Scafell Range.

This did mean that we were limited to the routes we could climb, but we set out for Needle Ridge (VD) instead, which is a Classic Rock tick, so the quality of the climb was not lessened by the poor conditions; it just made it slightly harder. We climbed the route in walking boots, with our bags on our back, so some of the moves were extremely difficult at times because of the greasy rock. However, this just added to the adventurous nature of the endeavour.

The top of the Napes Needle with Wasdale below.

The route gave us excellent views down over Wasdale and across The Napes. We were also able to watch the clouds roll in off the Irish Sea, but luckily these didn't dump any precipitation as we climbed, but they did limit our visibility as we ascended.

Sphinx Rock.

Once we had topped out we scrambling along the top of The Napes to the ridge that connects it with Westmorland's Crag and the rest of Great Gable. We hopped along this and then made our way to the summit of Great Gable.

Scrambling off The Napes on the way to Great Gable's summit.

From the summit we descended down to Windy Gap and then, with time still on our side, we hurried to the summit of Green Gable and back down into the Gillercombe hanging valley before descending down the side of Sourmilk Gill back to the car at Seathwaite.

Looking down into Ennerdale from Windy Gap.

More pictures can be found here.

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

10 February 2011

February Sunshine...

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

08 February 2011

Getting a quick session in...

I haven't posted much this year and that is because of one main reason: University. I am coming to the end of my three years at the University of Cumbria, where I've been studying for a BA (Hons) in Outdoor Leadership, and as a result I've been spending an unnatural amount of time in front of my laptop, in the library, or with my nose in a book in one last effort to get all my assignments done so I can focus on my dissertation. This has meant that outdoor activities have taken a back seat, which is not good, but today I managed to grab a quick session down at the Bowderstone in between weather fronts, which have been bombarding Cumbria with a hell of a lot of precipitation of late.

It was a productive session; I repeated the usual suspects and set to work on Move Man (Font 7a+) and Statstick (Font 7a). Unfortunately I didn't send either of them, but I'm only one move off Move Man. It's just a shame that it's one really big move off one of the smallest, and most polished crimps I've ever tried to pull on. Statstick is still a long way coming, but I feel like it will go at some point soon. I've just got to pray that I can keep my strength up whilst not actually getting much climbing under my belt.

I suppose it will all be over, that is University, soon.

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