Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Big One

Where to start. Its been another crazy few weeks since my last update. The summer weather we've all been wanting has continued, crags are drying out again and sending conditions have been in abundance.

The Cornice in Chee Dale sounds as if it is approaching something of the state we all enjoyed over that famous summer a couple of years ago... However I've been biding my time a little before venturing back down here, mainly down to the fact I've had other projects on the go.

Yesterday marked a big step forward in my climbing and a major dream realised that I've had for as long as I can remember. Mecca at Raven Tor is probably one of the most famous routes in the country and lusted after by many. My Dad can remember it as an old aid route back in the day and the majority of UK climbers will know of its history.
I've had a fair few friends over the years take down this short, power endurance test piece and I even gave it a try myself a year or two ago but the madding crowd waiting in the blocks behind me, rearing for there turn, always put me off and I decided to leave it.

My psyche returned for it though a few weeks ago after knocking out an ascent of the long 8b Waddage, amongst a few other endurance fests. While its hard to compare the two routes, as one is pure endurance with no totally desperate hard move and the other a short bouldery rig, it suddenly dawned on me that I might actually have the fitness required to have a good go at Mecca. So about a week ago I decided to jump on and see how it felt. The moves came back to me fairly quickly and after various beta from folk I had done the main big 'pocket link'. I was buzzing as all that was required now was to add around 4/5 extra moves and it could be game on... So I went away stoked on the rapid progress and spent the next few days barely being able to contain my excitement for the next session.

One thing about this route is that it can destroy your skin, particular the left hand so I took a few days rest and waited for the temps to cool down. Saturday came around and I ventured back, hoping the extra couple days rest had done me some good. Conditions felt prime when we arrived at around 8.30am and there was a good breeze. I was fairly confident of being in with a chance of pushing on through to the top, using my new found fitness and ability to recover, if I could just get established in the base of the groove. I tied in, pulled through the start fine, set myself up for the crux and before I knew what was happening, found myself at the top of the groove. However the fatigue quickly set in as I attempted to free myself from the tangle of knee bars and egyptians and I peeled off into space.
But I was on the home straight. This was it, the feeling we all know when we suddenly realise something is within our grasp. Four redpoints later and I had gradually increased my highpoint inch by inch, with my last try proving to be the closest yet. A simple foot pop prevented me from reaching the final hold you use to rock over into the finishing flake. Gutted but psyched out of my head at the same time I decided to call it a day and I'd take a couple days off to fully recover and grow some much needed skin!

Driving over early yesterday morning I felt a mix of excitement and nerves clashing together but I was fully confident in myself and knew that in theory it should all be a formality... I met up with the crew and after a good warm up I fancied giving it a try. The bottom moves felt totally solid, skin felt good flicking between the crimps then all of a sudden POP and my right foot slid off. That certainly wasn't in the script to happen, at all. It did throw me for a split second and I felt a tiny sliver of doubt suddenly creep its way into the back of my mind. But back on the ground I tried to focus in, put it down to a false start and keep my eye firmly on the task in hand. After a brief rest I was back up there in the same position but my foot popped again! Only this time I crimped up hard, readjusted and fired up to the horn. Clip, clip, shake, undercut, crimp, drop knee, crimp and I was back at my highpoint, the last hold staring in my face. This time I made sure my foot was solid, tensed my core, boned down on the crimp like no tomorrow and it was there. I stabbed my feet over, reached into the flake and clipped the belay.

A lifetime dream, a route I've looked up at and wondered about since I first visted the Tor as a kid, was complete and it felt dam good! But now I'm hungrier than ever for more and we'll be back out in the next few days and onto the next project. That's how the wagon rolls, and how we progress!

Thanks a lot for reading and checking in folks. Have fun out there!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Yorkshire Trip Trippin

Last week we headed up to Yorkshire for a few days, camping at the brilliant little campsite at the mouth of Gordale. I've not been to Malham in about 2 years so I was mega keen to get back there and change things up a bit. It turned out to be one of the best weeks camping we've ever had. The weather was incredible! Waking up to clear blue skies and bright sunshine every morning gets you really psyched and sets you up good for the day ahead. Nothing is worse than hearing the rain hammering down on your tent as you wake up!

Waking up to this every morning!

I wanted to try and get to as many crags as possible and seek out some of the classics I've never done. So first up was Raindogs at Malham, a must do and probably the most popular and sort after 8a in the UK? Definitely in Yorkshire anyway. We were at the crag for about 8.00am, in a bid to beat the heat, which was building by the minute, and the dreaded midges!
 It was a bit of a race as the sun was moving around fast and our window was small but fortunately it went down without too much trouble and it was time to bail and find some shade!

It may surprise some people but I've only ever been to Kilnsey once, about 3/4 years ago for a very brief visit. It is incredibly impressive and I'm still amazed at its length and size. We spent an afternoon here ticking our way through a few of the classic lines including , Comedy, Pantomime and Tragedy. Then it was back to chill in Gordale and eat a tonne of food ready for more the next day.

I'd heard a lot about Giggleswick and one of its sectors in particular caught my eye flicking through the guidebook. The Hollywood Bowl. Its a very unusual sort of crag for the UK, and something you'd more expect to find on the continent somewhere. Its dripping in tufa's of all shapes and sizes. Big, fat, thin it seems to have them all. While its nothing compared to places like The Loup it made a huge changed from boning down on rat crimps. Along with this and the warm breeze you could easily lose yourself for a second and think you were chillin' at some crag in the South of France.

 The Hollywood Bowl

There are a lot of hard routes here with many a FA from Steve Dunning and recently Jordan Buys, that tackle the tufa on the lower walls and then launch through the big roof above. Kleptomania stood out to me, as I'm sure it does to many. An extremely short route that is more like an extended boulder problem up a perfectly formed thin tufa. Apparently some kind of knee bar makes this easier....? I found it to be pretty dam tough and clipping the belay felt like the absolute living end! Anyone who jumps to the chain on this is a douchebag!
I'd love to come back to this awesome crag soon to get on more of the routes here. There is a hella lot to do!
Tufa heaven! 

After this I decided to go search out the famous G-Spot sector. Home to probably one of the hardest routes in the world. John Gaskins unrepeated 9a+ Violent New Breed. While I'd already decided to save this one for laters the line to the right, Militia, is a popular 8a+ and after wandering around searching for the crag, which is probably the smallest crag I've ever been to, we eventually stumbled upon it. As soon as I saw it I was syked immediately and quickly set to work brushing the holds and figuring out a sequence. From a distance it looks super short, which in reality it is, but then you realise it starts way down in the cave at the bottom and actually packs quite a few moves in. It suited my style perfectly. Steep, small edges, big moves and even some sneaky toe hooks that unlocked the starting moves. A slight change of foot beta through the crux proved the difference and I was yarding my way to the top on my 3rd try. It must be one of the few sport crags around that you can actually top out on.  I'd highly recommend this rig to anyone, go check it out. It is class!

 Post send Creme Egg

It was a perfect finish to a brilliant few days of hanging out with my Dad, chillin in the sun and getting a bunch of cool ticks. Looking forward to heading back up very soon!