The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Over Exposure E6/E7?

Over on Dow last Sunday.

'A' Buttress on Dow Crag, Coniston
Left route - Arete, Chimney & Crack - S
Right route - Eliminate A - VS

Dawn's first day climbing outdoors! - great fun climbing the classic Arete Chimney & Crack and Eliminate A, which weave their way up the steep overhanging rock on 'A' Buttress.

Monday, we hunted out the shade & headed up to Borrowdale & climbed the classic Troutdale Pinnacle Direct VS on Black Crag.

High up on Troutdale Pinnacle Direct, Black Crag, Borrowdale.

In the afternoon we drove back towards Keswick & walked into Shepherds Crag.

Dawn enjoying the climbing on Ardus, Shepherds Crag, Borrowdale

Dawn on the delicate last pitch, traversing out across the top wall on Ardus, Shepherds Crag

We had a great couple of days & not a bad haul of routes for Dawn's first forays into climbing outdoors!

On Tuesday, Leo & myself headed up the Band in Langdale to check out the routes on Flat Crags.
I wanted to get on Ataxia &/or Redundancy of Courage & Leo wanted to take a look at Flattery.

The tough looking line of Flattery E7 6b, Flat Crags, Langdale

But we did neither!

In-between Ataxia & Exposure, we spotted a great looking line pulling out left of the overhang which Exposure traverses under & climbing the steep wall & faint crack lines above to the top, which wasn't in the guidebook!
Enough said, we harnessed up & with all the kit walked around to the top of the crag & dropped a rope down the line. It was only then that we realised just how steep the line was, but there are holds on it & it looked like it would go.

Flat Crags, Langdale
Left route - Ataxia E5 6b
Middle line - the route we were exploring
Righthand route - Exposure E5 6a

We placed the only gear on the route at two thirds height & where you exit the overhang at the bottom & worked the route.
Tough steep climbing, which I felt was more akin to moves made on the grit with balance, timing & body positioning playing a crucial part in unlocking the moves & getting up the route.
Fantastic climbing though but very pumpy with the route not letting up until you hold the final slopers at the top!

Leo working the steep difficult moves out around the overhang & onto the hard sequence, linking the unrelenting wall above, Flat Crags, Langdale

With time against us & after a few turns each working the route which actually took most of the day, I pulled the top ropes & Leo psyched up for the head point (pre placed gear).
Although the gear was in place it was still a big deal, the climbing's super strenuous, pumpy & very sequency added to which the gear was spaced enough that missing the clip on the top pieces I'm sure you'd land the the ledge below.

Leo did a great job & looked super solid linking the red point - legend!

It was enough for me to top rope the line & link all the moves together without linking it all together as a red point - Leo felt the route was around E7 6C, which I immediatly felt happier about!

Awesome climbing & a fantastic spot. 

Great views down into Langdale from Flat Crags

Was it a new route?

I got home & did some homework - tonight I spoke to Keith Phizacklea, another Lakes climbing legend & it turns out he climbed the line about 4 years ago!

Keith was teamed up with Rob Matheson & they first climbed the line starting up Exposure to the roof & then out left & up the line we worked.
Keith then returned with Alan Steele of Ingleton fame & straightened the line out by starting up the steep overhanging crack of Ataxia, steeping right up into the roof, out left from the roof & up the line he'd climbed before with Rob - a great effort & a fantastic route

Keith called the route 'Over Exposure', but added if we wanted to call it anything different then go ahead! - the new FRCC Langdale guidebook it being put together as we speak, so I'm sure many more routes will start to fill some of the gaps in many of the Langdale crags.
Looking forward to getting back up there.

Safe climbing


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Shepherds & Reecastle

Super hot again on Friday, so Adrian & myself headed up to Borrowdale hunting down the shade.
Adrian wanted to lead Ardus on Shepherds & I wanted to jump on Penal Servitude at Reecastle.

Adrian Walter on the 2nd pitch of Ardus MVS, Shepherds Crag, Borrowdale

It's a great route & a perfect combination of slab, steep crack & face climbing, which is well protected & the climbing on immaculate rock - a great choice if you're wanting to break into VS grade climbing.

Adrian starting out on pitch 3, Ardus, Shepherds Crag

Adrian doing a great job leading the classic final pitch on Ardus

Adrian moving up to the exit cracks on the final pitch on Ardus MVS, Shepherds Crag, Borrowdale.

From Shepherds we drove back towards Keswick & headed up the small valley of Watendlath towards Reecastle. I wanted to jump on Penal Servitude & work through the crux with a mind to leading it.

The fantastic line of Penal Servitude E5 6b, Reecastle, Borrowdale

It's brilliant climbing up the barrelling, overhanging wall & as soon as you're off the ground the climbing's super steep & strenuous. You pull up on small pockets & edges via horizontal breaks to a high rock over & a rusty bent peg! The rock over leads into a sequence of thin, tiny edges, linking one & two finger pockets to another high step into a two finger pocket & slightly easier ground above. It's such a great piece of climbing on immaculate rock & one of the best single pitch crags in the Lakes - awesome.

Enjoy the sun, while it lasts!

Safe climbing


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Eulogy today

Super hot today & not the brightest idea to pull hard on a south facing crag, but I fancied the idea of heading up to Raven Crag in Langdale & having a look at Eulogy E6 6b

Leo & Woody were up for some action, although time was tight as it's Wednesday & both Woody & myself were on the school runs.

The route starts just below the impressive & classic corner of Trilogy, but steps right as for Pluto (which is a great route in itself, traversing under this steep wall at HVS) & after a couple of metres heads straight up with hard pulls over the overlap gaining a sloping ledge with small crimps & more hard pulls until onto more steady ground cutting back into the final hard & overhanging corner of its neighbour Trilogy.

The heat didn't really effect the climbing, the rock didn't seem to sweat up or feel greasy which was a shame as I could have used that as an excuse for falling off above the crux & moving to the more moderate ground! although maybe being last up, the rock had become more greasy!!!

Anyway Leo did a great job flashing the route, working through the bottom very cruxy section with strenuous hard pulls & looking super solid.

Leo then belayed Woody, so I was able to get some shots. Woody did a great job hanging in there through the 6b bottom section & working it all the way to the top. All those circuits down the Fly Cave is really paying dividends! - Good effort Woody.

Woody pulling through the bottom overlap. Undercut holds & high feet allowed you to clip the peg & then step back down to shake out before committing to the stiff pulls to gain the sloping ledge...........

Pulling over the overlap & committing to the still overhanging wall, awkward feet & hard pulls gain the ledge & small crimps above

Woody really working hard, sticking & holding a small crux edge on the sloping rail to pull up & run his feet up to gain the small crimps above & then onwards through the second crux section.

Woody high up & enjoying Eulogy E6 6b
The obvious corner/crack system on the left is the classic line of Trilogy E5 6a
Eulogy joins Trilogy high up underneath the black overhanging roof

It's a fantastic line, in an impressive situation & a route I can't wait to get back onto - I'll nail it next time!

Have fun


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Langdale New route

A fantastic day today with both Woody & I climbing a great new route on Raven Crag in Langdale.

Woody was belaying a mate on Armalite last week & saw a new steeper direct line up the shield of rock which Armalite traverses across.

Armalite's a route on the steep Lower Gully wall on the left flank of Middlefell Buttress as you approach from behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

Woody's route takes a plum line, directly up the steep shield of immaculate Rhyolite rock cutting through the traverse on Armalite & then directly to the top with some fantastic climbing - great job Woody.

Woody, low down on his new route? E5 6a, Lower Gully Wall, Raven Crag, Langdale,

Woody pulling through the high crux on his new route? E5 6a

Me high up & making the 2nd ascent of Woody's new route? E5 6a, Raven Crag, Langdale.

Lower Gully Wall, Raven Crag, Langdale

Green line - Armalite E4 6a
Blue line - Future Primitive E4 6a
Orange line - Woody's new route today E5 6a

Fantastic, you've just got to love the Lakes!

On the way in, Woody waxed lyrical about the time Dave Birkett was over in the Himalaya climbing with I think John Dunne.......
Anyway they were hauled up in some bad weather for a few days, but the next morning they woke up to find the weather had cleared through, leaving clear blue skies & beautiful snow capped peaks.
John was stood there, totally dumb truck by the stunning views
Dave looking up said 'yeh but it's not Langdale is it!!'

Safe climbing



Twistleton Scars

It was a good call on Thursday, we headed east into Yorkshire & found some dry rock & enjoyed some good climbing. I'd forgotten how good the place is for quality, short single pitch routes with easy access. The Limestone's super quick drying & all the routes had pretty much dried out by the afternoon, which was amazing considering the amount of rain we've had.

Adrian Walter high up on the classic Evening Star, Twistleton Scars, Nr Hawes

Twistleton Scars is a string of low, limestone escarpments over a kilometre long on the northern side of the fell, overlooking the Ingleton & Hawes road above Twistleton House Farm where you park. It's south, south-east facing & gets plenty of sun & a particularly good venue when the Lakes is blown out or your looking for a quick drying venue or a venue during the colder winter months.

Adrian did a good job leading Evening Star & the easier Christine just left of the obvious mushroom shaped rock earlier in the day, when the routes were just starting to dry out. We also spent some time looking at top rope set ups, belays, anchors & just general good safe leading practise. It was his last chance to have a good run out before his SPA which happened this weekend.

Adrian's enjoying a few drinks tonight! He rang earlier & said he'd passed the assessment which is great news - well done mate.

Safe climbing


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Langdale today

The screech of tyres as the Panda broadsides up the steep corner past the Golden Rule & on up to Woody's house. He's already phoned me once to see where I'd got to & I was only running 5 mins late! We were on a tight schedule though, as the only time we had was in-between school runs & I had to get back to Sedbergh. Waiting impatiently! beside his newly acquired caravan was Woody, bags in & we're off.
It's still cool for May & it's been raining off & on a lot, so we wanted somewhere close & accessible due to the time constraints but also dry & dared we think it? in the sun!
So we headed up into Langdale, parked at the New Dungeon Ghyll & headed up to Middle Scout.

The line of Elvis E5 6a on Middle Scout Crag, Langdale

The crag's a black outcrop of volcanic rock (part of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group) & all the routes here are steep & very strenuous. We were keen to get on the classic E5 which is Elvis. It's a route which as soon as you're off the ground the steepness of the route starts to sap you energy & the route just gets progressively harder! You undercling a flake & then follow a thin crack up to where it peters out & some big moves reaches easier ground above, but the lay aways are poor & the gear hard to place & blind at times.
It's a fantastic pitch of climbing which woody first led, inspiring me to pull my finger out!
Woody did a great job on it. My turn & I have to say I was working hard to catch the final holds & sink the jugs at the top, but I got it! - A great pitch & super happy.

Woody as happy as a pig in s###

Oh no that wasn't enough though! We had an hour left & I was thinking coffee down at the New Dungeon Ghyll, basking in the joy of having just dragged myself up a steep hard pitch & talking the moves to death. Woody had different ideas, so we throw everything in the sacs & legged it back to the rod & headed down to Chapel Stile.
Woody was now on a mission, we parked up below Raven Crag Walthwaite & literally ran up to the crag, time was definitely against us & it was now spitting with ran. Black clouds were threatening to discharge heavy ran but it was just the light stuff so we racked up & headed down to the base of 'Into the Light' E5 6b.
This I new was a very committing route, Woody couldn't deny that as it's there in black & white in the Langdale guidebook! He'd done the route before though & was fired up to do it again & thought it'd be right up my street! Can't think why as all the rack consisted of was a medium size friend! The friend went into a small pocket low down on the route & the rest was up to faith & friction!
A very awkward start led to vague ripples for feet & small, difficult to hold crimps for hands which gave way to some hard pulls & high steps on this steep overhanging route. A high rock over gave way to easier ground & eventually the top - fantastic, Woody said I'd love it & I did! I was stoked to get up it in good style. It was run out & very committing, a fall was unthinkable but what an awesome route. Woody also led it, & actually climbed it first, I needed a bit more of a physic up first, which Woody definitely helped with!
Great day Woody and we're both back in time for the school run & us a play in the Sedbergh park!

Me, high up & committed, leading 'Into the Light' E5 6b, Raven Crag Walthwaite, Langdale

Looking forward to our next foray!

Safe Climbing



Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A Sense of Doubt

Headed back to Trowbarrow today dodging more showers & looking for quick drying rock.
Adrian Walter's got his SPA assessment this weekend & he wanted to get a route in & myself, I'd eyed up a good looking route on the Assagai Wall which stood out last time I was there, when I climbed Moondance on the Main Wall.

Adrian leading Barrier Reef at Trowbarrow

Adrian did a good job leading Barrier Reef & then top roped Coral Sea VS. I headed over to have a look at 'A Sense of Doubt' which takes an impressive line up the centre of the blank looking Assagai Wall. It's fantastic steep face climbing on tiny crimps & vague footholds, with some powerful but very delicate balancy moves linking the whole route together. It's just great climbing & a totally absorbing pitch which I was super stoked to On-Sight today.

Assagai Wall at Trowbarrow

Left - A Sense of Doubt - E4 6b
The line that finishes up the middle in the top fluting's - Assagai HVS 5a
Right - Sleeping Sickness E2 5c

Safe Climbing



Monday, 14 May 2012

BMG Summer Rock Training

Some photo's from the British Mountain Guides Summer Rock Training which I directed & ran last week. We had a mixed bag of weather which on the whole was dry if not sunny in parts, add to that a dose of very talented climbers (BMG Trainees) it made for a great course.
Both Tim Neill & Steve Long drove up from N Wales to help out & we split the days into guided multi-pitch rock climbing, short roping & teaching rock climbing days.
It was great to spend time with both Tim & Steve and work with the new trainees coming through the BMG scheme, the guys being super enthusiastic & keen to learn.

A guided climbing day on Pluto, Raven Crag, Langdale

Top pitch of Pluto, Raven Crag, Langdale

A guided climbing day at White Ghyll, Langdale

A short roping day at Dow Crag, Coniston

A teaching day at Black Crag, Borrowdale.

A teaching day at Shepherds Crag, Borrowdale

A sunny Borrowdale, great views of Derwent water from Black Crag

A teaching day at Shepherds Crag, Borrowdale

We had a great few days.

Safe climbing


Saturday, 12 May 2012

Moondance at Trowbarrow

I had a great afternoon yesterday. Dodging the showers I headed over to Trowbarrow Quarry just south of Kendal & linked up with Woody & one of his mates Mark Roe from Ambleside. Both Mark & Woody had climbed Cracked Actor E2  to warm up & Woody was just finishing up Moondance which takes an independent line between Jean Jeanie & A Touch of Class.

Me leading the lower part of Moon Dance E5 6a

It's a great pitch & totally absorbing climbing, working your way up a matrix of fossils & small crimps which link at times faint horizontal breaks running across the steep Main Wall at Trowbarrow Quarry.

Me enjoying the moves high up on Moondance - Main Wall, Trowbarrow Quarry.

Trowbarrow doesn't stop surprising me with the amount of good quality routes you'll find there from VS through to E5. It's a great venue when the rest of the Lakes is blown out as it generally gets better weather being that bit further south, it catches a lot of sun & the rock dries super quick - it's a great venue in the South Lakes.

Safe climbing!


Friday, 11 May 2012

Weekend guiding in Langdale

We enjoyed some great weather last weekend, so we headed into Great Langdale. For one of the guys it was his first climbing experience so we headed up the Classic Middlefell Buttress on Raven Crag behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll. Middlefell buttress is a fantastic introduction to rock climbing taking a great line up the left most part of the Crag on fantastic volcanic rock. The Rhyolite rock here gives great friction & good solid protection for the first time leader. The buttress also gives moderate climbing linking short pitches together interspersed with good ledges & belay & the views of the valley below are stunning, the higher up you climb the more the valley below opens up until you can see Lake Windermere in the distance.

We topped out on Middlefell & then climbed the broken ground above to where we struck the main mountain footpath  which leads up to Harrison Stickle. We continued up the footpath a short way to where we broke left, traversing the hillside around to Gimmer Crag a little higher up.

Gimmer Crag is one of my favourite crags in Langdale sitting high up on the hillside towering above the valley below & facing south it gets plenty of sun & drys quickly. There's loads of classic great routes here at all grades from Gimmer Chimney, Bracket & Slab climb, A route, B route, C route & D route all moderate in grade,  Springbank, Eastern Hammer, Equus, Kipling Groove, Intern & Gimmer String all mega classic 3 star routes and the list just goes on - an awesome crag.

Gimmer Chimney on the SW Face of Gimmer Crag

NW Face of Gimmer Crag with a great view of Langdale below
The obvious central corner is The Crack
Just right of The Crack is a climber on the second pitch of Kipling Groove
Right again is a climber topping out on the classic Eastern Hammer 

We returned to Raven Crag on the Sunday & climbed enjoyed a couple of other classic multi-pitch routes at the crag.

Luke & Tim on the 3rd belay as we climbed our way up Original Route, Raven  Crag, Langdale

Tim on the 4thm pitch of Original Route, Raven Crag

The Classic Centipede on Raven Crag, Langdale

Luke on the classic Revelation, Raven Crag, Langdale

We had a fun weekend with some great climbing and a fantastic introduction to some of the routes & crags in the Langdale Valley.

Safe Climbing


Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains which is two & a half hours drive west from Sydney is a World Heritage site & one of 15 World Heritage sites listed in Australia’s National Heritage list. Approaching the mountains the road steadily climbs & you start to really notice the dense forests of eucalyptus trees filling every gap apart from where man has laid ash felt & built houses, schools, hospitals, shops & made their living from small ranches lining the road. If you’re new to the Blue Mountains then you’ll be imagining that around the next corner you'll see a great vista of peaks looming ahead with great rocky summits & escarpments, but not so here. You’re actually driving on the mountains with the valleys opening up alongside you as you pass by them. All you really get to see is Eucalyptus trees. When you can though, pull off at the next look out. Park up in one of the small sandy car parks which is generally rutted & potholed due to the heavy rains eroding the gravel, sand & underlying sandstone, take some water & walk the short distance along the flat, through gorse like bush & scrub, beneath huge towering eucalyptus trees to a clearing where you’ll see what all the fuss is about. The views are breathtaking.

Looking out from Pierces Pass over the Grose Valley & Bluegum Forest

The continuing sandstone escarpment which wraps around the rim of the Grose Valley
Looking directly down into the lost world of the Grose Valley where in the afternoon sun huge patches of eucalyptus trees turn a vivid white colour as Sulpher-Crested Cockatoos take to the warm blue skies escaping the dark underside of the tree canopy. It's an amazing sight looking down from the steep sandstone cliffs that rim the valleys.

I linked up with a great friend of my a local climber called Deam Mounsey. Dean's based just north of Sydney in Dee Why which is part of what they call the Northern beaches close to Manley. The beaches are world famous not just through heritage, wildlife & tourism but also the worlds surfing fraternity with consistently beautiful waves rolling in off the Pacific Ocean. We had a few days playing in the surf & enjoying the beach life & then headed into the Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains to reacquaint myself with the sandstone & enjoy some of the longer routes the mountains there have to offer.

Dean enjoying pitch 3 on Bunny Buckets, a super classic of the area which was my first introduction to the steep & exposed Sandstone climbs of the Grose Valley.

Dean high up on the very airy pitch 7 on Bunny Buckets, Grose Valley.

Dean seconding  the final pitch 8, which was an awesome 50m steep pocketed wall leading to the rim on the valley - great climbing.

Dean enjoying the the last few moves at the top of pitch 8, Bunny Buckets, Grose Valley

Views from the top rim of the Grose Valley

The routes in the Grose are pretty committing with many of the routes requiring you to abseil in to access them. You need to be pretty sure of both the weather & your abilities before committing to these long routes which take the best part of the day to climb.

Superb routes on the Walls Lookout Area, Pierces Pass, Grose Valley
Left - Debris 23
Middle - Disco Non Stop Party 25
Right - I Have A Dream 25
  Dean leading the first pitch of Bergermeister close to the Mirror Ball Pinnacle, Grose Valley

A view out from the first belay on Bergermeister

Dean High up on the first pitch of Bergermeister

Dean topping out on the second very steep pitch of Bergermeister which after a difficult fingery start it lead to a very pumpy hanging arete which I was pretty happy to hang in there on!

Dean leading another steep pitch finishing up Weaselberger, Grose Valley.

Great views across to some great climbs - Debris, Disco Non Stop Party & I Have A Dream in the Wall Lookout Area, Grose Valley. 

Me enjoying some sun at the top of the climbs with the Grose Valley & Bluegum Forest behind & below.
Dean tackling one of the many steep & exposed pitches on Big Nose in the Grose Valley

Dean seconding the steep first pitch on Disco Dancer in the Weaselberger Area in the Grose Valley 

Dean leading a great pitch high up on Disco Dancer, thin moves on the arete lead to the half way ledges.

Dean seconding the awesome steep pocketed wall which should have been called 'Keep Smiling'! Which actually was the top pitch of The West Face of the Mirrorball, Weaselberger Area, Pierces Pass, Grose Valley.

We had a good number of days in the Blue Mountains & as well as a few days in the Grose Valley we visited Upper Shipley at Porters Pass, Pindari close to Mount Piddington in the Mount Victoria area, a couple of great routes in the Centennial Glens area on beautiful steep, gently overhanging orange sandstone walls & Heathcliff nr Blackheath which was an absolute awesome find with some great rock and fantastic climbing.

One of the steep, gently overhanging sandstone walls at Heathcliff with 3 amazing routes powering their way up to the top. The quality of the rock here at Heathcliff was just amazing, you have these 3 gems with steeper routes further left & then a whole other part to the crag further right with steep vertical walls, grooves, cracks & slabs endowed with tiny sandstone ripples & small pockets. There were 2 pitch routes there of all grades - fantastic  

The right end of Heathcliff in the Centennial Glens area near the town of Blackheath

The right end of Heathcliff in the Centennial Glens area near the town of Blackheath

Beautiful evening Sky's above the Blue Mountains

Local residents of the Blue Mountains when not sleeping (which they seem to do for 80% of the time) awake & enjoying what they love best - eating eucalyptus leaves!

The Three sisters, Katoomba, Blue Mountains

We had a great trip & while out there planned a couple more!!

Keep travelling