Thursday, 3 January 2013

Articles Moved

If you were wandering where the Skinny Dog's articles are, they have been moved to a new blog that will be updated regularily.  So if you are interested in bouldering in:

Mid Wales
Central France
North West Sandstone
Tasmania etc

Then follow this link

Cheers Owen

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Grab your Anston guide while you can

Well it's here in the flesh, full colour, laminated cover, a feast for the eyes, packed with juicy limestone test-pieces, all pre-orders have been posted, thanks everyone and now you can also buy copies from the Climbing Works, The new price is £9.95 and you can still order it online with free postage: Click here for link

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Pre-Order the Anston Stones Guide

It's time to get the Anston Stones guide to the printers, thought it would be a good idea to put a demo online and give anyone a chance to pre-order the guide. It will cost £8.50 including postage and consists of 48 pages of some of the best magnesium limestone the country has to offer.
Anston Stones Guide Demo
If you pay via the betaguides website you will be sent a PDF link to the demo only, Don't worry, we will send you a printed copy through the post as soon as the guide is back from the printers. the payment requires an address so the guide will be sent there.

Click here for link to pre-order the guide. Only 100 copies will be printed to begin with so grab one while you can. 

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Some of us live it, breathe it, eat it and dream about it. Others think dangling about off ancient geological formations is a bizarre way to spend the weekend. Bouldering maybe a minority sport but surely it's less disappointing than following a football team, more inspiring than going to the gym and definitely better than watching soaps or some kind of reality TV.

The best part is that all problems are relative to how hard you can climb. So someones warm up is another's project. You can get the same feeling no matter were you are on the grade scale.
This weekend saw a rare and and very social exception to this, with an old historical problem at Anston that Mike had found details of, called Umph and originally climbed by John Marsden. This involved climbing out of a small cave, back and footing before squirming out of a short hole, Described as ungradeable, the reason for the name and the grade soon became apparent, grunts and arms and legs everywhere, puzzling even the better climbers, brilliant, I guess some problems no matter how bizarre should never be forgotten.

Also at the same time we got the rest of the inset area sorted out for the Anston guide, so should be out in print by February, conditions are so good there at this time of year.

Lee Robinson - Right who's next to try Umph
Lee Robinson - Old school Umph exit
Tom Mills - New school Umph exit in darkness
Mike on The Assassin 7b+/7c
Matt Donnally climbing White Light 7c+/8a
Laura on Apprentice Wall 6c

Post and Pictures - Lee Robinson

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Days at the Earth Quarry

Grave Robber 7b photo-Dawid Skoczylas

After putting to bed projects at Anston Stones in my last Blog I felt at a lose end with not much time to travel and nothing to direct my energy towards. After finding and climbing at Levitthagg quarry climbing I decided that there was a strong possibility of more climbing in the Conisbrough area and set about one witch to check out any possibilities. Armed with a Smart phone, 3G signal and joined by my Dog, I decided to focus my efforts on the banks of the Don. I found lots of rock but none of it seem particularly suited to bouldering or inspiring, I had been out for ages and all I wanted to do was go home when I happed almost by accident on a small Quarry. The thing that made this quarry different was that the working face had collapsed and left some sizeable blocks. I scouted out two problems that looked 3 stars but didn't think there was anything else there. How wrong I turned out to be. The Quarry doesn't have a name it's that small, but it over looks the old Earth Centre so it’s become known as the Earth Quarry. Over the last few weeks after work, I have found myself going back there time and again with friends. Always managing to unearth and clean new lines and challenges. A lot of effort has gone into this place and now there are about 20 problems and Variations. It has become apparent also that what this Quarry lacks in size it makes up for in good quality rock. For me the highlight is a really nice sloppey rising arĂȘte, which I named Midnight Caller and graded 7c+. It is an area classic only being slightly spoilt by being close to a block. There’s a video below which show many of the problems developed including Midnight Caller. Most of the footage in this film is of the first ascent of the problems and gives a very good sense of the climbing there and the development.

Feed The Need 8a+ photo Dawid Skoczylas

The hardest line here is a very nice one move problem which is an eliminate but a very obvious one. It starts from a specified starting position and then dead point slaps a very poor slopey hold, with a much easier mantle finish. I had a brief session on this and basically worked out the beta but essentially didn't get close. Then I showed it to Dawid Skoczylas who I know can't resist dynamic moves we spent two sessions trying this line intensively before it finally went. On my third session in the dying light I managed to stick the move with enough control to get to the lip. I only just beat Dawid to it as he fell off very close before me and then made an ascent two days later also on his third session. We called it Feed the Need and agreed a grade of 8a+. I made a quick video of our later attempts and our ascents which is below. It really is a brilliant problem and landing the move is very satisfying, I’ve certainly never done a move like it, with the difference between success and failure being a very small margin. Brilliant fun and no give away!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Swiss Ticks and Local Hits

It's been a while since I've posted anything on here but life has been busy over the last four weeks. A new job and a new dog (Rest in Peace Vixen!) to name but two. But it's been far from quiet on the climbing front. First of all on the 3rd of April i headed out on a two week trip to Switzerland. I was really excited about this trip as i never get to go away for that long and i really wanted to try to climb well, so I'd set myself the goal of trying to climb 8b on a trip. As it turns out, despite less than perfect preparation on the lead up, I smashed that goal. I wrote a trip report for the moon blog which if you want to know more you can read here–%20Swiss%20Ticks-n-1002.html There seems little point in re-posting it here.

Sofa Surfer Direct 8b Photo - David Skoczylas

A little video which show all of my hardest sends can be be found below. I like the video but it is spoilt by the fact i lost a lot of quality in the editing and posting and i don't have the time to redo it.

Since getting back I've been out a lot on the Magnesium Carbonate, or Magnesian limestone as I've been told is its official name. This is mainly due to the lack of time, i can climb there after work, but also i love my local venues and the rock type, most of all i love the peace and quiet.

First up whilst out climbing with Ned who was trying Fire in the Rain and Dave Mason at The Wave area at Anston , i cleaned up and climbed a righthand finish to Black Crow (7c+). This rather than going left and climbing the corners (or lamely just dropping off) takes on another roof using a rather good heal to hand move and a bit of power. Black Hoe 8a is the result and is quite a quality addition.

Secondly I managed to track and spend a nice session down at venue that the Copley brothers started to develop before jetting of to pasture new, you can read their exploits here It turns out its Levitthagg Quarry close to the Sprotbrough wall developed by Mo. It has some okay problems that are a bit small and over graded , as well as one really good prow that the boys left unfinished. I managed to do it finishing directly up, rather than rocking right onto a big shelf. This gives a really nice problem which I'm going to call Lightworker, just because there is already a problem called into the light. The grade is around 7c+ish and i even got a nice little vid of the first accent:

Thirdly i climbed a project on Woody's rock at Anston Stones. I don't tend to climb on this buttress as it is very slow to dry and as such it has more or less been forgotten with no one showing any interest in it, which is a shame as there is one really very good roof climb on it. One of the main project lines on it i had abandoned about three years ago as being too hard and too out of my style. I went back to look at it and see if i could capitalise on all the dry weather we had recently and it turns out i was almost able to make the crux moves. Spurred on i spent another two session on it and managed to piece the moves together. On the Fourth session after resting with good skin and in good conditions i managed to get the red point. which i am very happy about as it shows me i am making gains in my weakness. I'm going to call the Line Vanilla Sky and suggest a grade of 8a+/8b, but it could be easier as i was climbing out of my preferred style. I have put together a little video which shows the problem nicely:

Monday, 14 March 2011

Fire in the Rain 8b+ at Anston Stones

Recently I finally had that elusive perfect go and succeeded on what feels like a long term project at Anston Stones. I’m going to call the line 'Fire in the Rain' and suggest a grade of 8b+. It is essentially the full left hand continuation of an existing 8a+ line called 'White Light Direct'. There is a bit of a story behind this bit of rock and i wrote about it in a previous post which can be found here: . To pick up where that left off; it seriously niggled in the back of my mind and a month later I found myself on a ladder cleaning the holds on the left and working on the moves. (trying the line in the December snow photo T Simpson)

The full line now takes an amazing line up the left side of the arete and is severely overhanging all the way. This line now has a proud highball feel to it and In my opinion by far the best line at the venue with some great moves. If I was to offer a criticism it is slightly eliminate you have to stay strictly left under the roof all the way keeping your right hand on the poor arete holds only, and your left on the left most holds. This is not as bad as it sounds as when you look at the rock this seems like the obvious challenge and bailing out early feels like just that! The picture right shows the holds i used (not in order), anything right of the red line is on the side wall and therefore out.

Numbers Rundown

Here are some comments on the grading as clearly this will raise a few eyebrows. Well for starters I feel like I have been building up to this climb for a long time. If you read the link you will get a run down of the history. But basically 'Fire in the Rain' starts sitting as for 'White Light' which you have to climb with my original 8a sequence (Hard White Light?) to allow you to eliminate the side wall holds on the harder version. There is an easier method which is still climbable despite a hold breaking that is only 7c+ but you are forced into using a good edge and a jug just above on the sidewall, which lead naturally right into the corner. Instead you have to stay left and make tricky on/off heal hook moves to get to a good slopey crimp. This is essentially 'White light Direct' which is about 8a+, which goes up for a juggy ledge on the side wall a bit further along the arete. This is called 'Direct' as the logical finish for this is to climb up the right side of the arete rather than right to the corner.

'Fire in the Rain' stay left and involves a further tricky dead point and another tenuous heel hock move were you have to move your hand to a poor hold. After spending some time on the problem i think this is probably the hardest move. After this some basic locks get you right to the top of the crag. Linking all of this together was both hard and very frustrating as the more I would try the more I got frustrated with the on-off nature of the moves. After the start which finally felt powerful but fairly secure you have to make a series of moves where at any point you could just slip off. The most frustrating thing was the final heel hock move!! (Trying to get the top heel to stick photo T Simpson)

So bearing all this in mind with the top being quite hard in its own right with a very tenuous move it makes sense that this climb is at least 8b but I think its move than a one grade extension. Also for me it felt like one of hardest and certainly the most frustrating climb I've ever done. It certainly is a lot harder than Keen Roof or Serenity/Serendipity and took me a lot longer to climb in total, so I really think it’s worth the plus. Recently the variations have been tried by a couple of strong climbers and that left me happy about my logic and that I’ve not lost the plot. ‘Fire in the Rain’ certainly feels very hard but in a different way to normal power style problems, where it is usually just about getting stronger in a basic way, something I feel makes this climb a bit special!

(A different perspective of the problem photo T Simpson)