Sunday 31 January 2010

'But can we still claim them?'

So said Grimer to me yesterday, with a kind of glazed glee in his eyes. He was drunk, drunk on being handed access to rock normally out of reach, and so were we. In a few, crucial places the snow has redrawn the landscape and, as far as certain climbs are concerned, all of history has become but a footnote. Forty-foot walls have become bouldering height, boulder-choked gullies have become soft, flat platforms. As I've said before, I'm all about getting the best out of the weather, and if there's one thing I'll avoid its contrived behaviour. With the crags finally dry and the roads clear, on thursday I was out to a crag transformed. Alternating digging and ticking was a great way to keep warm, and by sunset we even had platforms to come back to.

Nige Kershaw on No More Excuses, High Neb

So can we claim them? Who cares? I just want to enjoy them while I can. These local crags hold few surprises by now, but suddenly its like having whole new buttresses unveiled. A stout spade is handy, as most of the drifts have a ridges top that needs taking off, just enough to make a pad platform, and there's usually a crevasse down the back which can accomodate the extra. In some places, the top half of the crag becomes a bouldering venue. In others, its more a case of a poor landing becoming more acceptable.

Three Blind Mice is a good example. Normally a bold E7 popular with would-be hard grit headpointers, presently its a ideal bouldering spot with three problems, crossing the bulge at different points and getting harder right to left. The interesting thing is how arbitrary the crux of the route is. Cross the bulge as per the classic shot of Dave Pegg, and its a great move, but move only slightly right, and its easier but not as good, and fast becoming a bad sequence on a much easier line of holds. Bouldering encourages you to do all the variations and not worry which earns a tick. The left-hand line is entirely independent but a good bit harder and less secure. Whether it becomes a route when the snow goes remains to be seen, but for now its a great 7b that Dan Varian managed first and christened Snowblind Mice.

Matt Pickles, Shine On, BAWs crawl area

After a busy saturday at The Plantation, we headed up to High Neb on sunday, and enjoyed a wonderful day on a great circuit meeting no other climbers. More digging enabled me to sneak in a potential new line - a direct start to Old Friends - dubbed 'Friends like these' at around 7b, though likely easier for the tall. Currently it has a nice landing which will also make Old Friends feel a good bit friendlier too. Second ascent still up for grabs,...

Matt Pickles, Shine On, BAWs crawl area

Here's a list of this week's essential ticks, north to south.
*Snowball ratings: 3*** = landing revolutionised, have no fear, 2** = landing significantly improved, now highball, 1* = landing slightly improved, pack your balls. NB assuming a modicum of topping out skills, no lowballs here...


Pig's ear/ Crew Pegs Diffs/ No more excuses - all ***
Wolf Solent  ***
Kelly's Overhang **
Friends like These ***, Old Friends **

(Daydreamer might be worth a look. Shirley's looks totally buried)

Weather Report ***
Silk ***
Don *, Ulysses *, White Wand * (someone should dig out Fairy Groove, potentially***)
Big Air * and going fast...

Grace & Danger ***
Boys will be boys * (dug but not tested)
Cemetery Waits ***, Shine On *, Golden Path ***

Puck ***, Superstition * (tested!)
Long Tall Sally, Three Blind Mice, Ai No Corrida - all ***

Nige Kershaw, Shine On, BAWs crawl area

Lots more to go at too, I'm working this week but looking forward to a world of platforms by friday, over to you...

edit - just had some reports of Nectar (first pitch) *** and Goosey Goosey Gander **

Sunday 10 January 2010

Snow fun

One of the things I try to do is not fight the weather. In fact its more than that, on any given day I obsess about how to get the most out of it. Despite having well over half the days in the year at my disposal, it never seems like there is enough time. Climbing and photography have different requirements, so the first decision is which to prioritise, though both sets of gear usually make it into the car boot. Both pursuits have plenty of sub-disciplines with their own requirements, so with really good local knowledge there's usually plenty of choice. At this time of year though, bad weather can really be a challenge for climbing, along with an almost desperate urge to make the most of any sunlight going.

White Edge, a couple of days before the snow really hit

The last couple of weeks have been no exception.Although a select few bouldering venues remain snow free, there's much more to be gained by embracing the snow. I've had a few days out winter climbing which have proved a little frustrating due to the short days, long drives and crowds. Twice we ended up on obscure routes to avoid queues, only to get lost and have to retreat by abseil to avoid benightment.

Barson lost on the frozen wastes of Ysgolion Duon

Having spent a frustrating last week indoors whilst the clear skies froze the country, it was no surprise to find with the weekend came the cloud, and I remain sceptical of the big freeze lasting much longer. Snow in the eastern Peak isn't unusual, but it is twelve years or so since we had anything comparable and whilst it has of course raised questions about just how climate change will affect our little maritime bubble, on my first day off I was pretty desperate to make the most of it. This is what we came up with.

Mam Tor clips from Adam Long on Vimeo.