Along with "May is often the greatest trad month in Scotland", another usually reliable maxim is "If it's wet in the North West, it's dry in Northumberland". Especially when it's definitely westerly bollox weather and the forecast is for dry and breezy from Alnwick to Coldstream....and we're just past Jedburgh and it's wanking it down. So in the end I drove over 200 miles this weekend to second one route I'd soloed before, in the icy wind and sporadic showers at Back Bowden. Wow. Still we gave it a go and I got to recce a couple of routes and I was still fucked with this chest infection (now on anti-biotics, so back to training as soon as they kick in and back to climbing as soon as the weather fucks the fuck off) so couldn't do much anyway and during the drive I managed to work out how to crush the last mission of Heart Of The Swarm (build an entire army of Swarm Hosts, slowly burrow forwards, and use Kerrigan to take out any Ravens and other air units....I think I lost about 5/200 supply of units in the final battle). I also got to ponder more on the County, and came to the conclusion that although I have climbed at loads of crags and done loads of great routes, I haven't done much that's actually challenging, and if the dire weather continues, I might have the opportunity to do some more down there. So far I've done:
Outward Bound @ Back Bowden - easy and fun.
Sir Francis @ The Drake Stone - easy moves but damn bold!
Broken Wing @ Great Wanney - quite tricky and committing
Thin Ice @ Great Wanney - safe and steady, cool climbing.
Shine On @ Howlerhirst - steady but committing, nice.
Stealth @ Linshields 1 - bold and good.
Mirage @ Lineshields 1 - bold and good.
Stella @ South Yardhope - kinda serious but manageable and a cool route.
Also I've backed off / failed on:
The Trial @ Bowden - downclimbed from the upper crux 5 times, reachy and dangerous.
Rice Krispies @ Callerhues - escaped at finish, pretty bold.
The Sabbath @ Kyloe Out - fell off crux onto slider (backed up with 3 bomber cams)
Over The Edge @ Simonside - backed off start, hard and dangerous sandbag.
Generally there is a correlation between success on "bold routes above gear" and failure on "dangerous routes before/without gear". Throw in a bit of confidence and a lot of inspiration for cool lines, and my wishlist starts to look like this:
Merlin - steep as fuck but actually has gear in. Might need a partner abseil clean / thread replace. Lots of bouldering to warm-up.
Hard Reign - should be fine.
On The Verge - bold and smeary grit style. Intimidating but with the right sort of bouldering warm-up, could be okay.
The Gauleiter - thin but good gear in break.
Goose Step - not sure about gear situation on this.
Poseidon Adventure - *gulp*, very bold without pads, will need a lot of bouldering training.
The Trial - 6th time lucky??
Twin Hats - should be fine with committment
Ned Kelly -should be fine with committment
Toshiba Receiver - should be fine with some finger training and a lot of faffing with gear.
Overdrive - should be fine.
Underpass - should be fine.
Hard Shoulder - bold but I'm usually okay on aretes.
Endless Flight - super-inspiring, gotta stick with the falling practise.
East Buttress Direct - as long as it's not too serious to start.
Pratchett's Plunge - should be fine with some cunning.
First Born - probably bloody hard but safe and can try to use bouldering strength.
Master Blaster - inspiring, intimidating, might need a partner abseil clean, but it's gotta be worth a look.
Masterstroke - if I'm too scared for MB but feeling strong enough. I have sliders!
Also got to visit Harehope Canyon, do a few harder things at Jack Rock, more mileage at Callerhues too, but the whole Simonside plateau can fuck off until it's been climbed on enough to be in good condition. Anyway that's enough to be getting on with...