Sunday, 16 March 2014

Revisitations, and reverting to punterdom...

I had a bit of an escape to the grit recently, well timed with perfectly dry and far too warm weather. I previous week I'd got back into training with 3 indoor wall sessions and 2 gym sessions, most of which had gone okay once I'd learnt my limits with my wrist. This trip I put that into action by being fairly crap on everything but easy slabs, although thankfully there were enough of those for it to be fun overall. This trip was mostly about Yorkshire Grit, which I used to visit regularly when I first moved up to Sheffield, in a contrary bid to avoid the Peaks. Thus I went to a lot of crags a dozen years ago, and mostly explored at a fairly punterly standard. This time....I mostly explored at a fairly punterly standard...

A few months ago I'd have hopefully taken advantage of good crisp friction and played around on Walkover, before using Hovis as a mere warm-up for it's direct variants of Wholemeal and Mighty White and hopefully even Small Brown.

This time it was boiling hot and I was restricted to strictly mid-grade bumbling:
Walker's Wall - pleasant enough.
Winter Traverse - quite scary with an odd escape finish.
Premium White - soft-touch eliminate.
Family Matters - very good value with two top end cruxes.
Hovis - quite okay in the end but only possible at dusk when it had cooled down.

Hovis was a bit of a perculiar one, as recent discussion has shown that even usually sensible and intelligent friends have the ability to talk complete cobblers about their local crags with a plethora of lines, variations, and eliminates. Hovis you step off a flake around onto a face and into a groove. There's also a direct start off the ground, a direct variation linking that, and a super direct with it's own extra looping variation. One could say the line is not obvious, except using common sense it is obvious: It was done by Joe Brown over half a century ago and you can damn well bet he was climbing the natural line of least resistance around into the groove rather than pissing around with "if I start a metre lower will I get the tick". I will eventually come back to piss around on other versions, but on the day there was only enough time at dusk to do the actual route.


A few months ago I'd have definitely been up for giving Wellington Crack (gruesome pumpfest but I was trad fit last year) a go, after a retro-flash of Tufted Crack (failed on this 12 years ago) of course.

This time such shenanigans were clearly out of the question, so it was a mixed pottering session:
 Bald Pate - top end of the grade, tastily bold and smeary.
Old Spice - bottom end of the grade, tastily bold and smeary.
Short Circuit - good cranking low down but quite dangerous higher up.
Sinister Rib - bottom end of the grade, tastily bold and smeary, this was actually really enjoyable and I romped up it in a couple of minutes.

I also attempted Nordwand - this is a rather cool route but the type of E2 5b that involves a tricky 5c sequence with an irreversible foothop into a hard all out 5c slap for a ledge with the gear distinctly beneath your feet, uh HUH. After a lot of faffing and garment-shedding to combat the warmth even in the shade, I did 95% of that crux, the 5% I didn't do was the one more inch required to get my fingers over the ledge. 6m lower and I'd added some good falling practise into the mix and am still cultivating a massive bruise on my thigh. Strangely I'm not that pissed off as I'd actually done the committing bit (eventually!) and a proper trad fall is perhaps as valuable as actually doing the route.

Running Hill Pits...
A few months ago I'd have been warming up on a retro-correct-line-onsight of Spanner Wall (failed to do the much more serious left hand entry 8 years ago), hopefully then adding Harvest Moon into the mix before moving on to Mangled Digit if dry and hopefully Calamity Crack (again truly horrific pumpfests but a standard angle for Scottish Climbing).

This time I was too weak for even vertical stuff so it was all about slabs, which are thankfully rather good fun there:
Content - fun but entirely morpho, a grade harder for me as I could only just get my tips on.
Weaver's Wall - not a soft touch, even with the plentiful gear in the slot, the upper reachy crux is pretty damn committing.
Windbreaker - does exactly what it promises, very steady and very bold.
Cochybondhu - quite sketchy! but at least with the option of falling rightwards and thus only the length of the route rather than the extra 4m...

Windbreaker I'd actually wanted to do in recent years because I never got around to it when I was there and said hovis-eliminate-pedant-but-otherwise-sound-bloke friend had it as his Shitbook profile picture for ages. It sort of nagged me in a "look, this has crimps and stuff and even though you're a fat weak and fucking injured punter, you could still crawl up it". So I did. It was interesting to compare this to Weaver's Wall, the other classic bold slab around this grade. W is much more serious, it has +4m fall potential before you even start and is a pure solo. WW is often soloed but has good micro-cams in a break and a shorter fall overall. So why is WW graded harder? Errrr....because it is. W is very easy 5b with the trickiest moves off the ledge and everything is in control. WW is very hard 5b with a committing and reachy crux to a distant off-balance hold and I suspect if you have enough rope out to do the move you have enough out to hit the ground. So although it's apples and oranges, it makes a harmonious and tasty fruit salad overall.


Despite being hampered a bit by my wrist and a huge amount by my weakness and thus lack of any physical confidence, I did okay and my wrist seemed to cope with almost everything apart from tugging nuts too hard and pulling up the rope in a funny way. It stiffened up after I returned but this trip showed promise that I can start pottering around again...

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