Saturday, 13 June 2015

Hey, are you....

....the guy who writes that Fiend blog?? 

Errrr....depends who I've offended this time, but, errr, maybe? 

This is the second time I've been accosted at Ratho and recognised like that, AND been told that they quite enjoy reading my blog, which as before comes as a pleasant surprise. I know a few friends read it (which I understand, I'd read their shit if any of them bothered to write it) and apparently a few strangers do too. One of these days I'll find out the other half-dozen readers, hunt them down, and persuade them to stop.

In the meantime I had to apologise because my writing and updating has reflected my climbing - mundane and often shite. I'm trying to rectify that in my climbing so why not here too. The Ratho dude said he liked reading about crags so here are some crags:

Brown Band Crag, Aberdeen
One of many new developments on the coast from the evergreen Rankers who has his overly-strong fingers in the various pies that form the cragging smorgasbord - developing hardcore sport at The Fin whilst putting up VDiff sandbags here and steep power bouldering at the nearby Brown Hole crag (well it was a lot more of a brown hole when the Costa express kicked in and I had to rush off behind the rocks hur hur). Anyway BBC is very typical south coast schist shizzle, steep, breaky, good fun if you slam in the cams and keep yarding, a miserable pumpy nightmare if you stop and think for a second. I mostly got it right apart from sliding off Devo Max with my fingers a mere inch from the crucial break, pretty gutting as I really put some effort in and it would have been an essential confidence boost.

Findon Ness, Aberdeen
Findon Ness is not a new development, but the information has been newly revised in a useful topo on Neil Morrison's flickr. As always a clear topo provides fresh inspiration as much as fresh information and this was no exception. I've ended up having 4 visits there this spring - a couple greasy, a couple immaculately fresh - and I've pretty much climbed it out and enjoyed everything I've done. An very worthwhile crag for the E2-ish bumbly.

Robbie Gow's Prison, Aberdeen
As part of a semi-abortive, semi-mileage trip which included stropping at Meackie Point because the tide was coming in, being too weak to commit to routes at Harper's Wall, and running away from The Outpost, I did end up doing a couple of decent routes here. Both short, steep sandbags, but rather good with a lot of intense climbing packed in. Definitely worth combining with the more classic Hidden Treasure wall.

White Crag, Langdale
We went to Black Crag the day before but obviously you lot know what that's like and if you don't you might as well give up climbing as it is some of the most delightful short cragging on the best rock in Lakes. As part of an accessible Lakes crag easy mileage trip it would have been rude not to go to White Crag too and complete the Yin and Yang of punterdom, especially given how well these minor crags are shown and described in the impeccable new Langdale guide. Anyway I did a few warm-ups, got inspired by this steep E3 that followed a footless rail across a steep wall beneath a crucial peg to a slopey lip encounter. I got onto the rail, stretched up to clip the peg, as soon as the karabiner just touched it the peg fell out and bounced down onto my hoodie. I reversed and lowered onto a cam, we sacked it off and went home via Bramcrag Wall at the ludicrously popular Bramcrag Quarry (add bolts to any olde choss and verily the hordes will come) which I'd been putting off for a while and it turns out it's quite easy but does have some great climbing. The peg is now a doorstop in the lounge.

Moss Crag, Buttermere
Now this was a wee treasure. Umming and ahhhing over where to go in the Lakes, having got punished by the sub-heatwave-but-still-relentless sun at Raven Crag the previous day, I spotted this wee shady, seemingly accessible buttress in the guide, and managed to persuade the beastette I was with that a day of (guess fucking what??) easy mileage would be worthwhile. And indeed it was, as much for the situation as anything. The seeming accessibleness turned out to be a 45° slog that was short enough to be okay and steep enough to be decent leg training, and perched us scenically above Buttermere, the weeness was adequately compensated for by nice rock and nice lines, and the shadiness was an absolute delight of lounging in the sun and climbing in perfect conditions. The easy mileage was perhaps a bit too easy for either of us but it was just nice to be there (God I am getting soft....).

Baildon Bank, Yorkshire
I don't know how many people remember the picture of the sheer blank-looking corner of Anne Of Cleaves in the old Yorkshire Grit guide? I don't remember that clearly - possibly because I've tried to block all memories of the dire old YG guides out of my mind with their prehistoric design, insistence that Almscliff deserved to be deified, and reluctance to be dragged screaming and kicking into the 21st century of guidebooks - but I do remember it looked cool, even at a time that I doubt I would ever climb it. Fast forward a couple of decades and normally it would be a formality, this dire trad season it would be a minor challenge, and either way it would be inspiring. A sunny breezy made the Lower Quarry worth exploring and indeed it continues the quality which Baildon is renowned for, despite being grossly underused. AoC lived up to it's appearance, excellent climbing with a definitive sting-in-the-tail finish. I took faffing to a whole new level before committing to it, but it was good in the end.

I don't know how many people have seen the picture of a bold slabby-looking arete of Hergest Ridge in the new Yorkshire Grit guide? I do remember clearly - possibly because the fantastic new YG guides have firmly etched many inspirations and appealing photos in my mind. After a bit of a warm-up it seemed like a valid option and I was getting on well with the off-vertical crimpy quarried grit. Apparently I have some ability left because despite a "moment" pulling on sweaty micro-crimp sidepulls, I did the whole damn route in less time than it took me dicking around beneath the AoC finish. A small but real victory.

Hebden Gill, Yorkshire   
Another underrated gem which I recced in Autumn and realised it's steep positive climbing wouldn't suit the cold grit winter but could be great on the right sort of spring day. This wasn't the right sort of spring day, but it was almost close enough....almost. A warm-up on Crevasse Wall confirmed my suspicions that the whole wall was understarred and indeed as good as it looked, and then a fight on Performance Management confirmed that it was a bit too sweaty even for this sort of grit. I clearly needed to manage my performance a bit better as I flapped around on the crux until I skidded off a small bit of crusty rock a mere move from the crucial foothold, pretty gutting as I really put some effort in and it would have been an essential confidence boost.

Photos (Findon & Hebden):


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