Monday, 3 December 2012

STS Round 4, Glenmore Lodge

This weekend saw the final round of the 2012 Scottish Tooling Series. It was held at Glenmore Lodge, near Aviemore. I drove up on Friday night with Andy Laing. Andy stayed at the bunkhouse in Aviemore but I had managed to get a floor space on a friends floor at the lodge.
As I was at the lodge I was ready abit early so helped with clearing snow from the bottom of routes and moving things around.
The qualifying routes were held on the granite towers outside and inside in the climbing wall. The cold weather meant that the towers were covered in snow which gave everything a very wintery feel.
I climbed with Cassim Ladha as my usual partner, Pete Holder, wasn't able to make it.
All the routes were really good and varied so credit should go to Mark Chadwick and Steve Johnstone for setting them. 
I managed to flash all but two qualifying routes. I got Stevies fig four hanging board route on my third attempt, the only person to get it on the day I think, and I didn't manage to get the torquing route at all. I managed to pick up a further 3 points on the campus challenge. This gave me a qualifying score of 138 points, putting me into second behind Andy Clark.
Along with Andy and I the rest of the adult male finalists were Cassim Ladga, Scott G and Gareth Wignall. Before it was our turn to go into isolation it was the turn of the veterans and juniors to battle it out on their own final route. By the looks of it it was a bit too easy as almost everyone managed to top it.
Stevies Fig Four monster (Photo Credit:
Before the adult male final the adult females had their final on the same route, all be it with slightly different rules supposedly to make it easier, although I'm not convinced it really did that much. Fiona Murray won this with Louise Humphreys in second and Karen Macintyre in 3rd.  
As I qualified in second I was the second to last person to try the route. I got a bit nervous hearing everyone else try the route, as we are kept in isolation so that we can't see how each other do it. When it was my turn I tried to climb quickly but carefully so not to get pumped and not fall off thanks to a silly mistake. I got to the final hold on the route without too much difficulty but this is where the battle really started for me. All I had to do was clip the final chains and I done the route. This turned out to be easier said than done and I hung around swapping between fig fours and nines for ages trying to reach up to the clip and then recover enough to have another attempt. This was just a bit too much for me however and I ended up getting too pumped and letting go of my axes.
That final clip on the final route (Photo Credit:
This was luckily just enough to win, as Scott dropped his axes before matching the final hold, despite clipping the chains. By competition rules I won, however in real life he ticked off the route and I didn't, so he was very unlucky.
This was the first climbing competition I have ever won so I was really pleased. This result also meant that I have managed to retain my Scottish Tooling Series overall second place, which I also got last year. I'm really pleased by this as I only lost out on 1st place by 1 point, instead of 10 last year. Scott came 3rd with 58 points.
After every competition I have tried to be critical of my performance and try and assess what I need to improve on. Here is a list of things I need to improve on:
1. Core strength
2. Dynamic moves
3. Not letting my feet stupidly slip off
4. Endurance (if only I had a little bit more I may have been able to clip that quickdraw)
5. Clipping
6. Matching
7. Reading routes

I'm sure there are more but this a good start I think. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

STS round 3

This weekend saw the 3rd round of the STS. I was wanting to do better than round 2, were I came 5th. The competition was held at RGU in Aberdeen. Unfortunately thanks to the rather modest size of RGU there wasn't a final, so everything rested on qualifying.
I managed to get a clean round, getting 140/140 points. It was quite an easy competition as a few people did, including Scott Grosdanoff and Steve Johnstone, but it is still a good 20 points to add to my final series total. 
On Sunday I went to Newtyle Quarry with Andy Laing and Alejandro Garcia. My project for the day was Too Fast Too Furious (M11). I managed to link up to the chains on Torchlite on my first attempt but came off whilst trying to search for holds. I think if I had the hold beta I may have been able to flash it. I had another attempt later on but I was too tired to do very much.
Alejandro and Andy went into the tube for the first time and were working Fast and Furious.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Training with Schmoolz

Schmoolz, for those that don't already know, are a really fun and interesting way to train for dry tooling indoors on normal plastic holds with no sharp pointy things to hurt anyone.
Ive been using these for a couple of years now and my dry tooling ability has come along quite well. 
I'm not really one for proper structured training so I won't try and try and give a detailed training plan, but here are a few of the things I try and practice with my Schmoolz.
1. Holding axes: The best thing about schmoolz in my opinion is how similar they are to a proper ice axe, compared to other similar products out there. Holding an ice axe is a pretty alien thing to do at first and efficient use of the finger rests is an important thing to master. If your used to just squeezing your axe because there isn't a trigger then your going to do that on an ice axe and get pumped. To be fair I should point out here that there is a flaw with Schmoolz here. The triggers are just a bit too narrow, which hurts your little finger a bit. Ive been told this is getting sorted though.
2. Moving smoothly: To make your axe stick on marginal holds you need to try not to move the axe whilst matching and reaching the next hold. This is sometimes harder said than done and what better way to practice it than by doing it!
3. Accuracy: It quite hard to be accurate with an ice axe. Trying to do big moves on schmoolz gets you used to putting your axe in the right place to stick the next hold.
Going big
4. Fig fours: Fig fours, and fig nines, are probably the least natural and hardest to understand of all dry tooling moves. Sometime its hard to understand why they may be useful and how best to move between fig fours and nines. Schmoolz are perfect for practicing this.
5. Get pumped!: Schmoolz are an amazing way of just getting pumped. Say what you like but I quite like getting pumped. It makes you feel like your doing something. 

I find that trying to climb routes only using the holds they have been set with is a good way of practicing many of these techniques. As routes are generally set with hands in mind it isn't always possible to use all the holds. This means that you may need to use marginal holds,make big moves or just get into odd positions to complete the route, which you may not do if you make your own routes up.
Getting into weird positions (sorry about the bad photo)
I will add some more pictures when I get some.
Happy Schmooling!

Monday, 19 November 2012

STS round 2 and Ravelston Quarry

This weekend was the second round of the STS. It was held at Glasgow climbing centre. I didn't do so well this round, coming 5th. I flashed all but one route, which I didn't get atall. It just so happened to be the only route that didn't have intermediate scoring on it. If it did I would have made the final. I will just have to improve abit for next week at RGU.
On sunday I went to Ravelston Quarry in Edinburgh, with Dan Aberdeen. Ravelston is a small, sandstone, drytooling crag. It is unbolted and un drilled. I think the style of climbing would be very good preperation for winter as all the holds are on natural features. I managed to onsight two things that were probably M6 or M7.
The crag was developed by Oly Leask. Hes written a few blog posts on it which can be found here.
The routes we did were face route B and something to the left of face route A, as shown on his blog.
I will hopefully get down there again to try some more of the routes, and if things go to plan bolting will start soon.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Round 1, Scottish Tooling Series, The Ice Factor

This weekend was the first round of the 2012 Scottish Tooling Series. I have been looking forward to this for a while and so have been trying to get some training in so that I would be in the best position possible to better my second place from last year.
The day started pretty badly as I over slept. I was meant to get up at 5.30 am and have a leisurely breakfast and drive up in time for registration at 8.30. Instead I got up at 7, made a quick coffee and left. I forgot where I was going on my way out of Edinburgh and was half way to the fourth road bridge before I remembered that I needed to go west, not east, so that wasted a bit of time. I knew there was no chance of me getting there in time for registration so I phoned ahead. I managed to arrive in Kinlochleven at about 9.20, just while the introductory talk was going on.
I was to climb with Pete Holder. I first met Pete at the Northern Tooling Series, which he won and I came second in. Pete has been getting a lot of practice in down at The Works in the lake district so I was interested to see how he did. We got under way climb and despite a bit of a shaky start things seemed to go well. I managed to flash 13 of the 15 problems and got 2 on my second attempt. I fell off problem 3 just because it was very hard. I also slipped off the start of problem 9, just because I wasn't paying attention. This gave me 144/150 points, and I qualified for the finals in second place. I was behind Steve Johnstone, who got 150/150. Pete came in 3rd with 141/150.
The finals were to take place on the hanger wall, which was set to a reasonably steep position today. It started with a short traverse then straight up to the top. There were 5 men in the final; Steve, Pete, Cass, Scott and me. I was the fourth person out, as it is done in reverse qualification order, with 5th place coming out first. I figured Pete, Scott and Cass were all strong enough to complete the route, and hearing the crowd cheering made me think that they quite possibly had. I bouldered around whilst in isolation, trying to do as many dyno's as I could, as I'm not really very good at them.
It was my turn and as I came out of isolation I could look at the route and see which was the highest swinging quick draw, as this give me an idea of how high Pete got on his attempt, which was before mine.
I started off pretty steadily and made light work of the traverse. I got to the 5th clip quite easily but the 6th I found a bit more difficult, as my feet slipped whilst clipping and I nearly came off. I managed to get back on and clip then move up again. I got to the 8th clip, which was just before a massive move up. I was getting pretty tired now so I tried to rest as best I could. My gloves were starting to slip on my axes but I went for the move anyway. I didn't reach the hold and I couldn't control the fall back onto my lower axe and came off.
Stevie was up next and he cruised up to were I came off, although by a very different sequence. Stevie managed to make the move I didn't, although he didn't make it look easy, luckily. He topped the route and was crowned winner. I came second, thanks to getting a couple of clips higher than Pete, who came 3rd.

My high point
 There will hopefully be some videos to follow.
The full results are here.
UKC have done a write up of the event here.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Migrant

This weekends weather was looking promising for winter climbing. I met up with James Higgins at the Cairngorm car park at 6.30 am on Saturday morning, after roughly 5 hours sleep in the back of the car, and off we went into Coire an Lochain to find something that looked white. Jim was on about trying Pic n' Mix but we decided against it as it is really quite hard and would have been a bit ambitious for such early season. This was my first day out this season, and Jim's second. We were joined in the Coire by Neil Adams as his partner had forgotten his boots.

We decided to go for Nocando Crack (VII 8). I had seen some pictures on of it on UKC and it looked really good. Neil lead the first pitch and then I was given the second, which was the main crack and crux pitch. I started up a short corner and then onto a big ledge. From here I was to traverse to the right edge of the ledge and climb the crack to a big cut out. I spent a while trying to get gear in and find hooks. I couldn't find anything I trusted and after a while of fiddling around I asked Neil and Jim if they wanted to have a go at it. Neil said he would and came up to meet me on the ledge. He gained the crack and then started climbing up it on very thin icy hooks. There was too much ice in the crack to allow you to place gear, although he did find some in situ gear. Neil climbed about half of the pitch before deciding it was unjustifiably dangerous and lowered off his axe in a good hook. I was quite glad I didn't get that far as I'm not sure I would have done that.
Neil abseiled to the ground and Jim and I finished up the Migrant (VI 7), which was very good. Jim lead the crux on this, which was a thin traverse. I finsihed up the easy angle slabby terrain at the top, which I though climbed really nicely. We abseiled down Nocando Crack to retrieve Neils axes and walked out.
Despite the faff we had on Nocando Crack I had a really good day, and only got hot aches once. Hopefully the rest of the season holds more successful ascents.
Jim has also done a write up on his blog.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Getting Creative

It was the first CSE climbing competition this Thursday, which I went to. The format this year was different from previous years as there were no mats to pad up the tower with. In this case the competition was a joint bouldering and top rope competition. The competition wasn't a massive success, as the CSE route setters don't really climb in competitions and didn't seem to understand how to set for them. Regardless we soldiered on and I managed to come out in 2nd in the male hard category, 7 points ahead of Hugo and 5 points behind Ryan. I'm very pleased with this placing as its the highest Ive ever placed in a non dry tooling competition.
Today I have been getting creative with and old pair of climbing shoes. Ive wanted a pair of fruit boots for a while but they are very expensive to buy so I have decided to make my own. I used my old Scarpa Mago's and bought a pair of Petzl dart crampons and bolted them to the front. This is the result.....
Hopefully they wont fall to pieces too soon.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Comp season begins

Friday saw the first round of the Alien Rock winter boulder series. I went along with a few members of the EUMC. This was my first, of many, competitions this season so I wasn't expecting anything particularly spectacular.
There were 30 problems in total, with 20 being in each category. I entered the male hard category so had to climb problems 11 to 30. I started well flashing everything until problem 16, which my foot slipped off just before the final hold. Problem 21, which was an odd sort of mantle/bridging route, proved quite difficult, although I got it in the end. I was especially pleased with my flash of problem 23, which I saw a lot of very strong climbers fall off. I finished with 230 points out of 300 which put me in 12th. With the number of strong climbers, and the fact that I don't really see myself as a boulderer, I am pleased with this result, although I do hope to improve.
On Saturday I headed to my usual weekend venue of Newtyle Quarry. I could probably have got some proper winter climbing in but I was psyched to get on DTS Spirit. DTS Spirit was put up my Jeff Mercier last year and was given the grade of M12, making it the hardest thing in the cave at the time. I wasn't too sure on the start so I started up Torchlite and made a big move to the first hook. All the moves on DTS are very large, there are 9 moves and 9 bolts. On my third attempt of the day I managed to link up to the 4th bolt then do all the moves up to the 7th bolt. To get to the 8th is a very big move, which I wasn't able to do. After talking to Greg Boswell this evening I now know where the route starts and where it joins Fast and Furious. I felt utterly shut down on this but I now have things to work on and something new to train for.
As one of my nomics currently has a broken handle I had to team my working nomic up with another axe. I started off by borrowing one of Scotts Grivel Force alloys. I used to really like these but today, compared to my nomic, they didn't feel that great. This is probably partly down to me being so used to my nomics, and that Scotts axes were a bit blunt. I then had a shot with Sandys old Fusion, they orange ones. These felt quite good really and the lower handle being set back so far made them very easy to swap hands on. Hopefully my nomics will be repaired soon.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Torch Lite

Today I returned to Newtyle quarry with Craig Holden. Craig has been meaning to go dry tooling for quite a while now and he is very strong so should be able to get quiet good once hes had a bit of practice.
I started by remembering the moves on Torch Lite (M11). I managed the route in 3 sections. Afterwards I belayed Craig on Fast and Furious before returning to try Torch Lite again.
My second attempt of the day went very well and before I knew it I was past my previous best of linking from the start, the 8th bolt, and I managed to push on and get to the good feet and hooks and take a sort of rest. I struggled a bit getting to the final clip as I missed the hold a few times but I managed to stop myself from falling. I finally managed to latch it, clipped the bolt, worked my feet up high into a position where I could push off and went for the last hold. From there I could swing my feet onto the hanging slab, which I almost missed, and reach over my head to clip the lower off.
I was completely boxed after doing this I could barely untie my knot.
I'm really pleased to get this climb, and reasonably quickly. I think that was my 7th attempt every. I had two back at the start of they year, one after linking FandF recently then two attempts on Saturday, then got it on my second attempt today. I think my next objective will be DTS Spirit as it is nice and short.
After climbing TL I went to try and demo some of the moves on FandF to Craig. I got to the 6th clip and then got the rope hooked around my axe which cause me to drop it. I then took and dropped my other axe. When I went  back to pick them up I found that the trigger had snapped off one of them, which I wasn't too pleased about.

(these pictures are from my last visit to Newtyle but I didn't get any today, and I thought I should probably put some in here)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

I went back to Newtyle today with Andly Inglis, Helen Rennard and Neil Adams. I wanted to do Fast and Furious again and work Torchlite. I warmed up on Fast and Furious, which I managed to do on my first attempt, and then did it again for a bit of practice. Neil also managed to tick this off.
Neil and I then had a short break and went to see what Andy and Helen were doing on the Happy Hooker wall.
We returned to the Tube after this short break to try Torchlite. Neil and I watched Andy on it first who has managed to link up to the final move before falling off previously.
On my first attempt today I managed all the moves but it was horrifically dogged. On my second, and final, attempt I linked the first 8 bolts, just over half way, and got pumped. I was feeling quite tired earlier but I knew that after the 9th bolt the climbing go a bit easier and that I could fashion a sort of rest. I then dogged to the end.

Hopefully when fresh I will be able to get this. If I did it would be the hardest dry tooling route I have completed.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

... and back again

Today I returned to Newtyle with Scott G. I managed to send Fast and Furious on my second attempt after watching some clever footwork from Scott which allowed me to have a good shake out. After this we attempted a route on the Happy Hooker wall which felt really hard. We think it was either M8 or M7. It felt much sketchier than Fast and Furious. After a few hours sieging  this we returned to the tube where I tried Torchlite, I only made it to the 8th clip with a lot of effort, and Scott tried Torchlite and Fast and Furious. I'm sure he'll get Fast and Furious soon as he was very close today.
Apologies for a lack of pictures but it was only us two there today.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Magical Mica

The weather wasn't looking to promising for Saturday so I wanted to go to Newtyle and kick off my tooling for the year. I managed to partner up with Scott G after asking for people to climb with on facebook, as apparently not many people like tooling. We met Neil Adams and Jim Higgins there and even Simon Yearsley turned up later on with his dog Bob.
It was raining a bit so we decided to climb in the tube all day and get strong on Fast and Furious. The tube, for anyone that doesn't know is a dirty big hole in the ground full of mud. The mud forms as minerals in the slate weather to form clays. I think micas are suseptible to this but without looking through my notes I can't say for sure. I also figure this has some sort of mica mineral in it as it has been metamorphosed. Id guess at Biotite but without actually properly looking at it under a microscope I can't say for sure.
I have blogged about Fast and Furious earlier in the year the first time I did it. It has been quite a while since then, and I managed to borrow Greg Boswells fruit boots for it so it made everything easier. This time I just had my normal winter boots and no-one to tell me where the hooks were or how to do the moves. I had 5 attempts at it in total, none of them clean, although I got to the top on everyone.
My first attempt was quite poor as I had to remember where all the hooks were and where my feet should go. On my second attempt I managed to get to the 6th clip, although we miss out the first 2, before I pulled out too far on my axe and the hook popped. On my subsequent 3 attempts I got to the 7th clip before I fell. It is this clip I find the hardest as I have to use a very specific foot sequence to clip off.
Hopefully when fresh, and now that I know the moves, it should go down.

Tops off for power

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Tooling Around

I haven't posted here in a while so here is a bit of a catch up and a run down of what I have been up to.
Firstly uni has started again so Ive actually had work to do during the day so I can't just go out climbing all the time. Nights have started to get darker too which hasn't helped.
The climbing I have done has mostly been bouldering. I have bouldered in Edinburgh, Glen Nevis, Northumberland and the Lake District in this time.
In Edinburgh I have visited Agassiz rock and the Crags, I haven't really managed anything new at the crags, although I am trying to work the R-L variation on the Black Wall. I managed the high traverse at Aggasiz Rock in my only trip there. The high traverse uses high holds running L-R along the crag. It is quite pumpy and polished and I was pretty happy to get it done.
The EUMC Glen Coe trip saw me spend two days in Glen Nevis bouldering. Here I managed to tick a few easy problems and my first font 7b! It went down pretty easily, so Im not convinved it was 7b. The problem in question was The Right to Silence on the Cameron Stone.
Heather Hat Traverse (Photo Credit: Holly Spice)

Cameron Stone Campus Challenge (Photo Credit: Holly Spice)
On the EUMC Lake District trip I spent saturday afternoon at Gimmer Crag. I climbed with Joanna and we didn't take a guide book with us so we just climbed something which looked good. The route we did was D Route, which gets Severe, although I think it is abit harder than that. On saturday evening I met up with Pete Holder and Pete Hill (Pete^2) and headed to the Works, a dry tooling crag near hodge close, more in this later in the post though. On Sunday Joanna, Liyen and I headed to the Langdale Boulders. These are a collection of boulders very close to the road near Chapel Stile. Here I climbed The pocket (V5), The overhang (V5) and a number of easier problems whos names I have forgotten. I also tried a traverse line which starts near the overhang and crosses under the pocket and finishes around the corner. I was very close to getting this, falling off the easy finishing juggy holds. It is supposed to go at about V6, which I think was about right. Liyen was trying this with me and she was also very close to completing it.
V6 Traverse, Langdale Boulders (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)

Approaching the crack on D-Route (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
In the crack on D-Route (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
I have made a few trips to Northumberland recently, visting Doveholes and Bowden. The trip to Bowden was with the EUMC. I spent the day bouldering and managed to climb His Emminence (E4/font7a+), as well as a few easier problems and worked lots of hard things.
I have made two trips to Doveholes, one by myself and another with Fergus Cuthill, Tom Eadington, Liam Ingram and Sophia Borgeest. On my first trip everything felt very sandy but I managed to climb the sand bag traverse of Dont Look Down (font 6a) and sandy sand bag mantle shelf of Moorish Idol (font 6b). On my second trip I had a much more succesful trip. I managed to dispatch Sloper City (font 6c), Funfatatus Ejaculatus (font 6c) and First Contact (font 7b) without too much difficulty. I also managed to flash Nellie (font 6c) and the Sit Start to Stone  of Destiny (font 6b). This was undoubtbly my most succesful day to date in Northumberland.
Liam Ingram on Nellie
As well as plenty of bouldering my mind has been on the forthcoming Scottish Tooling Series. The first competition is on the 3rd November. I have been trying to structure my training at the wall around drytooling with plenty of smooth movements and fig fours. As well as climbing indoors I have managed to get a trip out to The Works in the Lake District, as mentioned earlier. Here I climbed Steves Corner (M6), and fell off the very top as a torque popped! I also attempted Bloodline (M10). It didn't complete it partly as I was out of practice with drytooling outdoors, partly because I couldn't see very much (all though that is a pretty poor excuse) and probably because I didn't really try as hard as I coudl have done. This failure has given me a few things I feel I should work on for the STS atleast. I will hopefully be able to get a couple of trips out to Newtyle before things kick off, and maybe some new picks for my axes. I really hope to improve on my second place this year, and seeing as I appear to be climbing much better than I was this time last year, I think I can give it a good go.
Bloodline, The Works (Photo Credit: Pete Holder)

(Photo Credit: Pete Holder)

(Photo Credit: Pete Holder)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Inchnadamph. Its Gneiss

For the past 2 weeks I have been on a field trip up in the far North West of Scotland. We stayed at a hostel at Inchnadamph, on the North shore of Loch Assynt. The region itself is called Assynt and is very interesting in geological terms. The rocks here show what happens when continents collide and the crust shortens. This is going on right now beneath the Himalayas.
The process which shortens the crust is called thrusting. Rock units get thrusted  on top of one another. The main thrust in the area is called the Moine thrust where Moine schist has been thrust upon the younger cambrian succession. This can been seen at Knockan Crag, near Elphin. There are lots of other thrusts in the area but this is the major one. At the end of the two weeks we had a mapping project around Cam Loch, which is near Elphin.
Despite my previous post saying that I wasn't going to get out and climb much over those two weeks its proved not to be the case and I managed trips to the Rhue Blocks, Ardmair Beach, Ardmair Ruins and Achmelvich beach.
My most frequented venue has to be Ardmair Beach. Here I have ticked all but 5 routes. The most notable thing I have done is Boulder Ding, at font 6c+, although I found Jumping Bristletails (font 6b) much harder.
On the trip whilst looking at rocks I did notice lots of things that should be climbed so I will hopefully be back in the not so distant future to add some new routes too.
Prior to the trip I managed a few days out. Firstly I went to Bowden in Northumberland with Joanna and some freshers. I spent most of the day bouldering but I did managed to lead Stretcher Wall (E1), which is well named. I finished the day by climbing Dog Eat Dog (font 7a).
Danielle seconding New Gold Dream (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
Later in the week I went to Limekilns with Joanna and Danielle Arnott, who has taken my old room in GBH. Here I climbed Marleys Ghost and New Gold Dream, both E2. Joanna had a good day and managed to onsight her first E2, Elgins Crack. She managed to make it look really easy aswell!
The day before leaving I went to North Berwick Law with Joanna and John DL. I climbed Necktie (F6b+), Dosage (F7a+) and ROWYCO (font 6c). I was very close to onsighting Dosage, but fell from the last move of the crux on my first attempt.
Dosage (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Back to school

I am leaving Yorkshire tomorrow to go back up to University (school). I know this is quite early but I have a field trip in Northern Scotland at the end of August. I'm not sure how much climbing I'll get done between now and the start of term so I think this is a good opportunity to sum up my summer of rock.
Ive spent most of the summer at home making evening trips to Almscliff and I know a fair few of the locals now. I have also been to Brimham, Caley, Kilnsey, New Mills Tor, The Roaches, Ilkley and Heptonstall. I can't mention everything ive done, there is a lot and it would just be a massive list, but I will describe any highlights.
My trip to New Mills Tor, despite being a bit wet, was good. I managed to climb Honcho (E4 6b), which is still my hardest lead. The route is a short, steep and bouldery and I got it on my second attempt. I think it was possibly a bit soft at E4 6b. I would be tempted to give it a high in the grade E3 6a.
Another highlight has to be my ascent of the Sloth (HVS, 5a) at The Roaches. I climbed it with Sam Capewell, who I know from Edinburgh. The route takes a crack through a large, steep roof. I have wanted to climb this for a while but was put off in the past as it looks really scary. It is an intimidating HVS, but probably only HVS.
The Sloth
Another highlight of the summer was when I on-sighted my first E4, 'Arries 'Ook, at Almscliff. The route takes a steep, unprotected slab to gear, some bulges and a long reach. The route suited me down to the ground and it didn't feel too hard once I committed to the initial slab. The route gets given E4 6a but I felt it was closer to E3 5c, and possibly slightly soft at that. The route was in my style so my opinion may be a bit biased.
Other routes I have done at Almscliff which were particularly good were Crack of Doom (VS), Great Western (HVS), Demon Wall (HVS), Birdlime Traverse (E1), Black Wall Eliminate (E2), Bancrofts Roof (E2) and Syretts Roof (E3). All of these, except Great Western which I led, were done ground up on solo.
Dolphin Belly Slap
I have also had a good summer bouldering. I managed my first V7 outdoors, Demon Wall Roof, which is as hard as Ive ever bouldered indoors. Other highlights include Dolphin Belly Flop (V6), Pebble Wall (and with sit start) (both V5), Morrells Traverse (V6) and Virgin Traverse Part 1 (V4). This is a selected number of problems I have done at Almscliff and by no means complete.
I would have to say that it has been a very good summer of climbing for myself and hopefully I can continue this into the next year at University and the up coming Winter season and Scottish Tooling Series. 

Saturday, 4 August 2012

'Arries 'Ook

I had quite a good day yesterday. Joanna came down on to Yorkshire on Thursday evening and on Friday morning we set off to Almscliff. I started and managed to onsight my first E4. It was called 'Arries 'Ook, which is quite fitting really. The route was on the south wall and took a delicate bold slab up to a good rest and gear before some steep, juggy, well protected roof and then an easy top out. It suited me quite well I think. Joanna had a good go at it and managed the slab which I found hard clean, despite a bit of faffing around. She fell off the bulges but I was quite impressed.
Steph Solomon joined us in the evening. She had never climbed outside before, and only climbed inside a long time ago. It was raining to start with so we sought shelter under the Virgin Boulder and played around on the traverse. She gave it a very good go and I was really quite impressed with her effort on it. We went to climb on the Low Man where Joanna and I lead up a few routes, which Steph seconded.
I ended the day by having a go on Wall of Horrors. I didn't get any further than the mid height break, which felt really slimy thanks to the rain earlier. It was also dark so I couldn't see any foot holds.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Demon Wall Roof

Tonight's trip to the cliff has been one of my most successful yet. I started off by leading, on sight, my hardest route, Whisky Wall (E3). It wasn't technically hard, only 5b, but it was run out and sustained. Oli Read belayed me on this, which took a long time, and him and his friend Rich seconded me.
They then had to leave so I went up to the Demon Wall to try Demon Wall Roof again. After a few attempts to get solid on the moves I decided to have a quick burn from the start just to see how far I got. I managed to stick the toe hook, moved onto the under cut, then managed to twist my foot into the crucial flake foot hold and then topped it. I really didn't expect to get it on this attempt but I put everything into it and it went, so there are no complaints here. This was my first V7 outdoors. I'm also not sure if I've got many indoors, if at all.
I was on a bit of a high and wandered around trying new problems, although I didn't get any of these.
I attempted Tea Spoon on the North Face of the crag. This is a V8 with an awkward looking mantle at the top. I didn't get very far on this. The foot holds were a bit slimy and the whole area smelt a bit like a public toilet.
I then went on to try the Virgin Traverse and got some useful beta on it from some locals. Despite the beta I was bit tired, and it was bit too dark, so I didn't manage it.
I'll be back for more of my Almscliff fix.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cliff life

I'm starting to make quite a lot of trips up to Almscliff. It has got to the point where I quite often know someone at the crag, so I can go and climb with them. Tonight was no exception and I met up with Alexis YB and Gareth Pilkinton.
I started off the night by climbing with two new people, Carl and Charlotte, who were bouldering in the West Cave area. I managed to climb Hanging Rib sit start (V4). After this we moved onto Flying Arete (V3). I have tried this a few times but today it went on my first try. We then moved up to the Black Wall where I climbed The Nose (V3). It was good to climb with Carl and Charlotte, as they both seemed very good. I was very conscious about trying to keep things nice and techy and not do too many strong moves.
I then went on to work Demon Wall Roof (V7) and managed to reach and hold the next hold. My back was hurting so I couldn’t bend in the right ways to get my foot in the right place for the next move, but hopefully I should be able to do it on my next visit. I then climbed Crucifix Traverse (V4), in both directions, to finish the day.
This has been one of my best days out at the cliff. Hopefully I will have more soon. I was climbing too much so didn't take any pictures though.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Dogging in Yorkshire

This post refers to me falling off a lot of things recently.
You may be glad to know I did manage to do over 100 climbs in June, 115 in total. The last of these came at Aberdour and Wolf Crag. July began with a trip to Auchinstarry quarry where I climbed lots of very nice routes including Midas Touch and Gold Rush, both E1. Auchinstarry was the start of my falling off where I took a reasonable fall off Promotry Direct (HVS) when my foot slipped close to the top. It was perfectly safe and I easily managed to finish the climb afterwards.
Whilst being back at home I have been joined by Joanna and a few other friends from Edinburgh. Before this though I went to Almscliff with Katy, where I climbed Franklins Green Crack (VS) and Overhanging Groove (HVS).
On the 12th July I made my way to the Roaches to meet up with Sam Capewell where we bouldered around a bit and I led the super classic and intimidating "The Sloth" (HVS). It take a crack through a large steep roof. I decided to climb up to the roof, place gear, then climb back down to a large ledge where I would allow my arms to recover the quickly climb the rest of the roof. This tactic worked and I quickly dispatched the roof.
The Sloth
The weekend after Joanna, Oliver Millington, Naomi Hatto and Lukas Solanka came down and I met them at Almscliff on Saturday evening. That evening I climbed "The Great Western" (HVS) with Joanna. TGW is one of the classic routes at the crag and I was glad to finally get it done. Through the week I made a number more trips to the cliff climbing Dolphin Belly Slap and Syretts Roof, both V6, among other things.Both of these took lots of attempts as I never got everything completely right, like my thumb was in the wrong place or my feet slipped.
On the Sunday we went to Ilkley where I climbed a few nice things including Fairy Wall (E2) and a number of boulder problems and I soloed a few routes too. 
Reaching for nothingness of Fairy Wall
Midweek we made our way to the peak district with the intention of climbing at the roaches. Unfortunatley it was very wet there so we went to New Mills Tor, which is perma-dry, for some undercover routes and bouldering. Here I managed to climb Honcho (E4 6b) on my second lead attempt. This is currently my hardest clean trad lead.
We ended the week with a trip to Heptonstall and Almscliff before I dropped Joanna off at the train on Sunday evening. Heptonstall was in fact the crag which gave this post its name. I tried Demerara (E4) there which takes a line up two cracks on the steep main wall. I fell of this repeatedly, and didn't manage to get it clean, although I did get to the top of it in the end.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A productive June

June has proven to be quite productive for me so far. I have climbed a lot, and worked a fair bit and got my results back, which I did quite well in.
I have managed to climb 95 routes, according to my UKC logbook. These have been from Reiff and Skye in the North of Scotland, see my previous blog post, to Heptonstall in Yorkshire. I haven't really done any spectacular on any single trip so these trips haven't merited their own post.
After the road trip I made a trip up to the Salisbury Crags with Joanna, where I repeated the Black Wall traverse and climbed a few easy routes in some of the smaller quarries to the right of the South Quarry. Whilst doing this I re-aggravated my finger injury, which was starting to feel a lot better.
The next day Joanna, Madeleine and I went to Aberdour. The intention was to go to Limekilns but while driving across the Fourth the weather to the west looked much worse than that to the east so we decided Aberdour was a better bet. Here I led Pain Pillar Proper (HVS 5a) and Guismo (VS 4c), while Joanna led Lilly (S). It was a nice day out despite a rain shower as Joanna was starting Lilly.
Aberdour, Gismo (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
On the 13th June I decided to head home and on the way stopped off at Bowden where I climbed a number of boulder problems including a flash of Scooped Wall (font 6b) and working The Lightbulb (font 6a).
Since being at home I have managed a few trips to Almscliff and a day out at Heptonstall and Widdop with Sarah Lund. Highlights include everything I did at Heptonstall; Thin Red Line (E1 5b), Bulls Crack (HVS 5a) and Fairy Steps (HS 4b). Fairy Steps felt about right for the grade but Thin Red Line and Bulls Crack felt hard with TRL being a proper E1, and a very good one too. I can't think of a better route of that grade which I have done.
At Alsmcliff I have climbed lots of very nice routes and problems, and also had to quickly learn how to jam whilst soloing. Highlights have been; Crucifix (sit down) (V4 6a), Crucifix arete (V3 6a), Wall of Horrors (start) (V3 6a) (flash) and Central Climb (VS 4c).
Almscliff, Zig Zag (Photo Credit: Katy Rudsdale)
Hopefully the rain will stop and I will be able to make it to over 100 routes this month.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Skye and the North West

Joanna and I decided to drive up North on Thursday night thanks to a favorable weather report. We drove to Cairngorm mountain where we stayed for the night. The plan was to climb Crystal Ridge but the weather on Cairngorm wasn't great so we drove further North to Huntly's Cave, near Grantown on Spey. Huntley's cave is a small Mica Schist crag which is improbably steep at the grade. I imagine the mica schist, which is a metamorphic rock, would have in a metamorphic aureole around the igneous intrusion of the Cairngorms, although I haven't checked this. Here we climbed a nice multi-pitch route called Diagonal (VS 4c), Central Crack (HS 4b), Cave Direct (VS 4c) and Double Overhang (HVS 5a). Double Overhang takes a corner crack which passes through two overhangs, and looks much harder than it turns out to be.
Double Overhang (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
That evening we drove to Skye. There was lots of very low cloud when in the Great Glen but this lifted as we approached the coast. Skye was cloudless and dry. There was even a little bit of wind to blow the midges away, so it was almost perfect. The EUMC meet to Skye was this weekend too so we drove around campsites trying to find them. We failed in finding them but we did join a beach party in Glen Brittle which had a fire and bag pipes and everything. Later on in the evening we drove to Neist and camped next to the road. We got a leisurely start the next day and arrived at the car park at Neist point at about 10am. Neist Point is a series of impressive sea cliffs, which are over looked by a light house. We climbed at the Financial Sector, which is above a raised beach. The routes here require a 30m abseil to get to the bottom of them. We only climbed two routes, both of which I lead, which where Security Risk (E1 5b) and Venture Capital (HVS 5a). Venture Capital takes a line up two parallel cracks which end in a small roof and Security Risk takes a very crimpy line up a groove, which is harder than it looks.The rock here was Gabbro, which is a very coarse grained plutonic rock. This combined with the relative remoteness of the crag, so it didn't get much traffic, meant that the friction here was amazing.
Security Risk (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
We had big plans for Sunday so we decided to move on to Elgol, which is another sea cliff but at the other end of the island. Elgol, unlike Neist, is composed of Jurassic Sandstone, which is much softer. This produced lots of interesting flaky features but made everything seem a little less solid than Neist. To add to this the rock is covered in a sort of grassy sea lichen. This lichen gave the name to the first route I did, which was called Hairy Mary (VS 4c). This route takes a series of crack up a steep wall of rock. Whilst at the crag we found the rest of the EUMC group, so we took Catherine Marsh along for the climb aswell.
There was enough time for another route so as Joanna's route was taken I decided to climb Veritas Splendour (E3 5c), which takes a steep roof around an arete and then after a short way up the left wall off the arete you swing back round onto the right wall and to the top. Liam Ingram had done it earlier in the day and he told me what to expect on it, which apparently wasn't too much difficulty. I found the steep bit not too difficult, except a long move into a crack around the arete. The hardest part for me, or at least the scariest was the top of the arete, which featured an insecure move, all be it to a massive jug.
Hairy Mary (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
Veritas Splendour (Photo Credit: Joanna Lisowiec)
That evening, after dropping Liam Ingram and Catrin Nichols off at their campsite, Joanna and I drove to Reiff, which is another sea cliff North of Ullapool. Reiff is composed of Old Red Sandstone. Whilst stood at the bottom of the crag I could see features such as turbidites which suggested the rock was deposited at the bottom of an ocean.
Joanna had the first lead today and climbed Jim Nastic (VS 4c). After this I led Clam Jam (E1 5b) and Bank of Scotland (E3 5c). Afterwards I also soloed a number of HVS's. We were quite tired from our trip by now and decided to head back to Edinburgh, as the weather wasn't looking quite so good for tomorrow.
 I'm sorry this is so long but we did do quite a lot!