Saturday, 13 April 2013


Several months ago Jon Fullwood kindly informed me of a new route opportunity at Gardoms, saying it was probably too bold for him and that it would be a classic. "Cool, I'll get to it" I said. Two months later Jon was again talking about this line, how he'd found a kneebar on it and that it would probably be E7 or maybe even E8. Again, I said I'd look at it. The grit season passed quickly with trips and many sessions spent falling off boulder projects, until just before my trip to Switerland I got a text from Tom Randall. It read something along to the lines of "how much do you know about the direct on make it snappy? fancy trying it?". My heart sunk, I hadn't tried it and therefore I couldnt even try and play the pathetic "please let me do it first as its my proj" card. It was an open project, and I wouldn't be on it for another two weeks.

During my Swiss trip I forgot about the line, like so many times before. Until near the end I texted Tom asking him if he'd been on it. He had, saying that he'd done it a few days previous and that it was perhaps E8. I was pretty gutted, but quickly shook off the feelings of regret ("You should've gone and done it you idiot!!") Instead I simply had a new E8 to go and try on my return, and looking at the video in the cafe, it looked right up my street. 

First day back in the Peak I headed straight there by myself and set up a top rope. I shunted all the moves in the first hour or so, the crux last move to the break feeling ok at this point. I then linked it in two, then in one,  the last move not feeling so bad, and the rest feeling fine. I rang Dad and asked if he could come give me a belay after work. He agreed, so I stashed the gear and went home, having forgotten to bring food and not wanting to hang about at Gardoms for 4 hours. 

Later we returned, it was a great evening, more sunny and warm than it had been during the day, the golden light shining through the birch and oak trees. After checking the gear out I tried the route from the ground, but fell at the last move to the break, the holds feeling slippery. Perhaps I was tired, perhaps it was the conditions, I was now wondering about the lead, it had felt so sure only an hour earlier. Dad then tried the line as it cooled down and made short work of the slappy compression moves. Conditions must have improved, as I then top roped the route in one with no hitches. Lead time. 

It all went pretty smoothly, with the odd adjustment, to the last move to the break. As I hit the left hand set up sloper the hold seemed sweaty when before it had felt cold and sticky, this made the last move to the break a proper all or nothing slap. I didn't quite hit the hold spot on either, hitting the rock above and dragging onto the hold. Ie, it was a close one.

The final easy moves done and it was in the satchel, "You fucking idiot, why didn't you listen to Jon...."

Dad then swept up the 4th ascent, looking a little slappy on the way, but E8 at 51 can't be bad can it?

Quickly on the subject of the grade; it seems to be unfashionable to talk about grades properly at the moment, so I'll be quick. If I was grading the route as a first ascent, I'd have given it E7, but that means little. The style of the route fits me well and the fall didn't look like it would be horrific. Besides, those who have graded it know alot more than I do on the subject. Whatever it settles down to, its a great piece of rock that should become popular. I predict ascents!

Now its time to crack on with one project in particular, aswell as everything else that comes with summer, wet weather, midges, seepage and humidity.

Moral for the day, listen to Jon.


Friday, 12 April 2013

Spain, Swizzy and the Summer ahead.

Hello. When I wrote my last entry I was training in the wall a little bit (training being lapping 6as...) for my trip to Spain in late Feb. During the trip we visited the classic, yet quiet, Limestone venue of Wild Side in Sella. The last time I had climbed there was two years previous, where I had climbed my first 7a+ (which i was pretty chuffed about at the time!) This time I was there to focus on the classic 8as, with Ergometria and Watermark being the two that were most recomended by friends. I ticked Ergometria on the 2nd day, which was pretty surprising and went on to do the best route of my trip, Mediterraneo, a classy 8a with a very high crux sequence! All in all it was an ace trip, although the rain did ruin my ambitions of ticking Watermark aswell.

Between this trip and Switzerland I had two weeks of very little tickage. I played on The Zone at Curbar once, got the moves pretty wired and penciled it in as a post swizzy project. Unfortunately the psyche hasn't materialised yet and I find myself looking to other things.

Anyways, back to the trips. I realised in the week leading up to Switzerland that I wasn't going to be strong enough for the trip, which was a shame, but it was too late to solve it (learn for future...) Despite this it was a pretty fruitful trip ticking wise. Highlights being the stunning Confession of a Crap Artist ("Its Chaos Man!"), the uber classic Dr Crimp (first problem I saw abroad, leah crane vid..) and doing a whole bunch of classic 7as and bs. Waddage to Mr Carmichael and Chris 'Elijah' Smith who both went hard, then went home. I should have a video of this trip up soon. In the meantime check out george's.

The one thing which pained me most in Switzerland was hearing of the amount of snow back home, and looking at the photos of the snowballing in the cafe near the end of the trip left me feeling homesick. So when I arrived home (after toms thing, next post!) the first thing I wanted to do was get to the platforms. As promised they were still there, under all the classics of the Stanage and Burbage snowball circuit. We checked out Black Car and flailed about, then quickly moved to the popular end where we despatched Shine On and Cemetery Waits. Shine On temporarily being the best 7a+ in the Peak! Next up was Burbage North where Mark Rankine had been busy building a platform under Nefertiti. This is usually a highball with pads anyway, and with the snow it was a boulder, which meant it could climbed with fun jumps to holds rather than static locks. Another problem in that vein was Puck, which was climbed via a wild dyno! Cheers to Mark for the effort on Nefertiti and everyone else who has built platforms, I wish I could've been there to help!

Now attention turns to bigger things, I feel like I've not done anything properly hard for months, so hopefully I can take it up a notch soon..... provided the temps don't go through the roof.

Ciao Grazi.