Saturday, 1 October 2011
Howlerhirst Heat, Simonside Shade.
Another flying Northumberland visit, thanks to the Indian Autumn heatwave that ensures most of England is utterly glorious and all of West Scotland is utterly torrentially foul (obviously as I type this it is pissing down in Glasgow).
(Hot) Howlerhirst is relatively low altitude, rarely climbed on, and basks in the sun all day - yet the climbing conditions were pretty good. (Shady) Simonside is high up on the plateau, much more popular, very exposed and shady - yet the climbing conditions were pretty poor. It's a curious business.
Howlerhirst is the final main tick in my Northumberland apprenticeship. I've now been to pretty much every worthwhile and inspiring crag, big or small, honeypot or hermit-like. Like all the off-piste craglets in The County, it is really rather nice with some very worthwhile routes. The highlight being the stunningly sculpted buttress with the fearsome Guardian Angel on (and a superb, desperate, but frighteningly feasible last great problem: Think cranking up an impending wall on shallow pockets, hanging off fingertip monos placing tricams, and a wild dyno for a super-sloping top...mmmm). But the adjacent mid-grade slab has some really nice routes on it too, well worth a visit (see below)
Simonside is....well it's cool. I have now been to the two main crags on the Simonside Plateau (SS and Ravensheugh) each as many times as I've been to Kyloe Out and Back Bowden. How's that for dedication?? Obviously the quality of these crags repays multiple visits, and more obviously that quality would improve if they got the traffic they deserved, as it is a bit frustrating seeing some great lines suffering from neglect whilst the Kyloes and Bowdens suffer from narrow-minded overuse. This was the case for previous visits and this visit, but I cleaned off a couple of mid-grade routes for Ewan, and I led a couple of great little arete climbs (Gillette being scarcely bolder and infinitely better than the unjustifiably more popular The Stoic - myopic honeypotting even up here!!). I was defeated by Over The Edge, the desperate solo start being too much in the curious conditions.
Hmmmm actually....I think Ewan mentioned going to Harehope Canyon....ah well....:)
Photos (can't be fucked bypassing blogspot's shitty new slideshow crap, sorry). PLEASE POST COMMENTS ON WHICH OF THE FIRST FOUR IS MOST WORTHWHILE THX: