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...

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