Summer came early today, so off up to a sunny Camp Hill to check out the new boulder problems people have been recently putting up there. You can see this place from the Blakey road, nestled above Botton village it's a series of little crags and boulders stretching over about half a kilometre of hillside with a classic moors outlook. The burners were out today on the moor above so the air was filled with heather smoke, making the sky a little hazy. Despite not being a hugely popular place the rock doesn't suffer from it, being clean, solid and well weathered, so it isn't too tough on the skin.
We did some good easier problems at the south end including Like Water For Chocolate and the enjoyable laybacking on Who Nose. Grit Arete was new to me and fantastic on the left hand side, if a little short.
Bypassing the main crag we headed to the far north end where a very hard problem called Phillias Fog had been done in 2010. It was always going to be way above me being a good three grades above what I am usually capable of. Taking the centre of a high wall there are obvious and decent holds but moving between them was hugely difficult. The first move from sitting felt impossible to me, a dynamic sideways stretch for a sharp left hander but with feet under an overhang you either catch it or fall off. Needless to say I didn't (catch it, that is). The next few moves were ok and I didn't even attempt the blank looking top section. It certainly will require a lot more finger power and dynamic strength than I have at the moment but the easier (in comparison) standing start may be worth coming back to try in the summer.
Attempted a tricky traverse as the sun went down to try and get a bit of a pump before hometime and for once wished the walk back to the car was longer it was such a fresh evening.
Scugdale is my spiritual home. I've probably covered more metres here over the years than all my other climbing combined. The rock is friendly, it's a non-serious size, has so many good routes and holds some of my fondest memories. Didn't have very long today so after a quick romp up Zoot Route, Jivers Wall and Main Mast Crack we headed over to Cleft Buttress for a wee bit of bouldering.
I spent about 3 years coming here quite regularly before I figured out how to do the start of New Dimensions (above). Now I know how to do the move I can usually bop up to the good hold quite easily but fell off today just as I was getting there. I only had the one go.
A similar outcome with Finger Jam. Some brilliant moves up the crack and a couple of quick dynamic moves off a big slopey pocket and I grabbed the good hold. But when my feet came off I just couldn't hang on. Should have put more effort in, or I'm too weak. I'm getting used to failure! photos:copyright dave_lozman
I was shown two new venues today, both with development potential and within walking distance of each other. The first woodland fancy is in a lovely, quiet location, off the beaten track. I didn't actually get up anything here. It had started raining on the walk-in and the developed bit of rock was wet but we did clean a little roof that may yield some decent lines and I tried and retreated from some soon to be good problems because of grotty tops, some of which were brushed in preparation of a future dry visit. Kept getting some glimpses of more rock through the trees and the area's certainly worth some further exploration.
So across the valley to a more developed area, I was surprised by just how good the blocks looked, unfortunately there wasn't much dry. The picture below is my first outdoor problem this year and one of only a few that weren't wet, the only other one I tried was a little too hard and the light was fading fast. This one involved a nifty little heel hook changeover that felt really cool and balanced.
There is a fantastic-looking arete here, a really inspiring line, unfortunately it is the current project of someone who's put a lot of effort into the cleaning of these blocks but I imagine it is near the top of his to-do list. The holds looked fairly un-positive and it would probably be too hard for me anyway but hopefully it will have been 'claimed' before my next trip here.
With so many new venues being discovered on the moors recently it makes me slightly frustrated that given I have had so much free time it wasn't me who found them. So I headed to Swainby to check out some outcrops I'd seen on google earth. Lovely weather for a walk today, cold and blue skies and after some heavy uphill on rubbish ground I found what I had seen from above, what looked like a series of small quarries running along the hillside. The landings were ok, shame about the rock, much of it shattered, very vegetated and only limited possibilities. Still, a good mooch out.
On the way back down, I headed over onto the open hillside above the sheepwash road to see some rock that's obvious from below. The area underneath looks to be popular with the local sheep but some of the rock looked quite good, one little wall and a small pinnacle in particular. They have probably been clambered on before but might be worth a return with the shoes if in the area again.
A quick visit to NOS boulder near Park Nab today to try and repeat a problem I had done last year. Behind the main boulder is a small undercut bit of rock, Joe Mangel crosses this from left to right, keeping feet 'down under'. Its a tough little problem. A decent knee-bar enables you to reach across to a variety of poor slopers. Making the best of these, and some decent footwork (there is a lack of good footholds here) the crux move is getting across to an obvious good hold and once matched on this it's pretty much all over. Sounds so simple but it took me two days to crack the first time.
(Kev arriving at the blank section on Joe Mangel)
Today the weather was pretty cold. The rock on the main boulder is extremely rough and felt terrible on the fingers. I was yet to actually do a problem on this block and two failed attempts at the traverse, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, proved that today would be no different. I only had a couple of tries at Joe and came fairly close, not being able to remember the exact sequence of holds I'd used last time, but ultimately failed. It makes me think I have perhaps undergraded the problem but we'll wait for a few more repeats and see what others think.