“Don't knock the weather. If it didn't change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn't start a conversation.”
― Kim Hubbard
― Kim Hubbard
It is said that the English weather is one of the biggest topic of conversations in the UK. This topic will get you out of and into many social situations. The topic of weather, when raised among strangers can be a boring one, one that is used to just fill that awkward moment when there is little else to talk about. However, with climbers, along with many other sports, the topic of the weather is normally top of the list and of high importance. Starting on a Wednesday (for most of us full time working folk) – checking to see how it’s looking on the lead up to the weekend, then again on a Thursday, has it changed? What’s the temp like? What are conditions due to be? With a final discussion on a Friday to decide if heading out is worthwhile. This decision is made easier now we are a mere 30 mins away from most crags.
If you have read my previous blogs, you’ll know the start to this year has not been smooth sailing and I was beginning to question to move. THEN IT ALL MADE SENSE. The heavens cleared and CALEY BECAME DRY! AMAZING! I have been to Caley a few times, but not enough to understand such comments as “it’s one of the best crags in the UK”. I do k now that it’s rarely in condition though, so with this break in the weather, some holiday to spare and early finishes are work. I managed about 8 straight days at Caley, Brimham and Almcliff. It was amazing and the move finally made sense.
Spending this time at Caley has showed me what a top crag it is. I’ve only ever ventured to the road side part which I thought was awesome enough, but managed to break out into the crag part, which is, dare I say it, almost on par with the roadside with some quality problems.
The best for me by far was Ben’s Groove Stand Start (f7b). It’s a quality looking line which goes up the centre of the huge bloc. I remember looking at this many moons back, thinking “how on earth to folk get up there?” – and now I have. It’s got some nice moves on it. There are however, no photo’s on the top as I needed a spot – might have had a little wobble due to fingers pinging and feet popping. So happy to top this one out though.
Ben's Groove Stand Start - Font 7b
|Start of Ben's Groove - Font 7b|
|Getting into the crack before the heart stopping moves|
Walking to the crag area, you will see a rather large bloc by the footpath with Scary Canary (f7b+) on it. It looks awesome so I had a few plays on it as I now am in possession of the fantastic Metolius Magnum, its an awesome pad which covers so much area and makes high balling / bad landings much easier to protect– one for next time:
Brimham is a place I visited, once again, many moons ago to do some Trad (yup you read right). It was a damp and drizzly day, I got lost, bailed and declared Brimham was naff. I’ve never returned since until the start of the good weather, and I have to say, I have changed my mind. The grit is different to that of Almscliff or Caley. Its much more rounded and has a very Font like feel it. There is a high concentration of problems in such a small area, its hard to know where to start and when to stop! Turns out when to stop for me was splitting a tip! Here are a few blocs I managed to do along the way:
Whiskey Galore - Font 7a
The Anchor - Font 7a+
|This was destined not to have an elegant top out|
Un-named - Font 7a+
The best for me was Whiskey Galore. Looking it, there are a limited number of holds and you have NO IDEA how to climb it. A friend of ours had seen a video on line and managed to do it first time and show us the way. I was kind of disappointed not to have been able to solve the problem – however I do wonder how long we would have been there trying to solve it J
The rest of the time has been spent at Almscliff, where I have a new project but managed to try it with a split tip – less than ideal as it’s on crimps! I am confident it will do next season though. This weekend saw the last of, what I feel, is the life of full day grit cragging for this season. On Saturday the fog decended so we headed back to the Cliff, had a few pops on the project, split another tip so then decided to try and finish the Arete sit start to the Matterhorn Arete (Font 7b+). It’s not the best looking like (the Mattherhorn stand is!) but its something I started and wanted to finish. I was getting a little annoyed as I wasn’t able to do the first move again. So I’d pretty much given up and called it a day. Only to have one last go – and it went. Rather quietly, so quietly my better half missed most of it. Lucky Chris was there to provide some useful beta along the way, as I totally messed it up and was thinking when he gave me some beta, as my feet were pinging but somehow still holding on, that “it will not work, I’ve tried it like that”. It just goes to show, let go, have no attachment and good things will happen. I’ve now done all the ways up the Matterhorn :D
Sunday came, with more mist and everything condensed which made some of the Cliff wet. We tried, but morale was low, skin was missing and body’s were tired. It was time to declare the full grit days over.
We are so lucky to be living so close to the moors that we still have the chance to get out after work on to the hills during cool spring evenings. It’s been a cracker, but it does feel like the end of a relationship … for now.
I have already started the preparation for next season with a 7 month strength and power plan :D I’m finally feeling fit and injury free for the first time in about 3 years, so I’m very much excited about this journey!
Onwards and upwards, training, summer and Malham. The pump is going to be painful!
On another note, as many of you may know, the GB Team had their funding cut in half unexpectedly, and with the first round of the World Cup coming up very soon they decided to try and raise the funds through Crowd Funder. What an amazing success this has been and I’m proud to be part of such a giving community, despite most climbers having very little money!
Here is the link if you wish to take a look and give something: