Thursday, 18 November 2010

White Light - At the end of the tunnel

White Light is a climb with a bit of a history, well for magnesium carbonate anyway! It is the best looking line at the wave area by far. The odd thing is that on getting there you might well walk past it and never even notice it. Until that is, you turn around and walk back out. Then this prow of rock seems to have come from nowhere. You can’t help thinking to yourself WOW!

Now about its history, well I have a strong memory of being stood under it with Adam Wood. He was the first a think to seriously consider a line up it ‘He said it would be amazing staying on the prow’. I dismissed it as impossible and Adam thought he would struggle with the reaches. It was not until I had got stronger especially at crimping that I gave this ago. I remember coming back from a trip to Squarmish, feeling really good about my climbing and just doing it. Great White Light was born. The name reflects how I felt about my climbing and at that time, also it was the only climb that didn’t seem to lurk under the dark side of a roof. The crux involved three great moves which crimped, pinched then slapped up the right side of the prow to a jug on the right before moving back left and topping out. Great however I remember having conversations with people at the time, everyone agreed the moves looked great but they all would say the same thing it would be better staying up the left and not heading to the jug. I used to defend the line saying ‘But it’s the line of least resistance’. But deep down I agreed. I graded White light 7c+ which seemed fair at the time. By modern standards it might only have been 7c, but we’ll never know as it turns out. Whilst trying to repeat the problem to film it, I managed to pull off the main bottom crimp. I still have the clip. Now that sequence was impossible. I remember feeling devastated. I really loved that climb and it was by far on the most visually appealing rock line there. I remember being angry with myself, I became determined to re climb the line to save the problem. This would mean staying further left than before for the first moves which would be harder. No problem I’ll just get stronger?

The Death of White Light (Version 1)

After a Bit of effort I managed to re-climb it with a great sequence. White light was reborn!!! I graded it 8a. This involved a big move to a small crimp, a neat heal hook behind a tufa, a pop move to a pinch and then a big slap right to the jug. I remember really struggling with my feet continually popping on this which was frustrating. Enter into the story the next generation. Dan Warren spent some time at the wave and amongst other things did the second ascent. Not really news, but he did however find a new easier sequence than the one I had used. This involved a cool drop knee and a move to an undercut before slapping around to the jug. Dave Mason repeated the problem like this as well. I had a play and I remember feeling a little disappointed. It felt easier than my original method. I’m not surprised I missed it, I’ve never liked drop knees. A shame really as this method was probably only 7c+? I say was only 7c+ as it didn’t last. The undercut pulled off on someone and that was the end of that. I have to admit I’m not that disappointed as the end result is that my original method is the easiest again, back up to 8a we go! All this is great but it’s really just an aside, as both sequences made a beeline for the jug and holds out on the right. Voices kept whirring around my head ‘It would be better staying on the left’. Dave even mentioned it as obvious. It was clear the best line would be to stay directly on the left side of the prow.

It was only at the start of this summer that I finally got around to trying it. I was skint and really short on climbing time due to the birth of jack and in need of a project. I had a bunch of short sessions on it and got a sequence together. The problem was it was core sapping and easy to drop at the top. When I would add the sit start moves in I would just fail. It felt really hard! On the last session before it just got too hot I dropped it from the last move, but try as I might I just couldn’t get there again. I thought to myself something is not right? It just didn’t look as hard as it was feeling. I stopped for the summer as it got to hot.

I came back to the problem at the start of autumn for one quick session with Tony in the fading sunlight. I found I couldn’t string the moves together, Out of frustration I started to try other sequences, anything that came to mind, to tame the moves. It was obvious that if you could just make an outside edge move you would be able to walk your heal up on the right. And take out a power sapping series of moves. I tried but had no joy, it just wouldn’t stick. It was obvious this would be the key to really opening up the climb for me. Tony that day had brought out some new shoes he wanted us to try out. ‘Why don’t you try them on it, you never know?’ in the past I’ve always worn the same shoes and it was a bit of a superstition I had that I could only climb in that brand. So I didn’t hold out much hope. Pulling on from standing I tried, for a moment the outside edge stuck then slipped. I tried again and it stuck but I fell off higher up. A third time and I did it from standing and finished off the problem. This in one stroke blew my superstitions out of the water. It felt like it was the way, it was still a very droppable move but when it stuck it really worked. Only one problem, the shoes were half a size too big. So there was no way I could do the tension heel hook and edge moves from the sit start. I decided I would get the right size and then come back.

It was a while before I got to go back with those shoes, but last Friday was that day. It was now the end of autumn. Magnesium carbonate is a magical place at this time, when the trees are thin and it lets in the light. I tried them out on the sequence and got them to work. Droppable but okay if the outside edge stuck and you got the heel in. I tried the sit down moves and they felt easy in the conditions. It was time. Second red point later White Light Direct was born. I think 8a+ is fair for this. But it’s always funny as climbs always feel hard when you can’t do them and then fine when you can. What’s more important is I now feel like I can silence the voice in my head. I think that’s it in the History of White Light. It’s settled down now and no more holds seem destined to break. Having said that maybe you could extend the Direct by ignoring the big ledge and highballing up on the left…… maybe it will go …… maybe this is too eliminate to bother……….?

Here's some eye candy, showing some of Magnesium Carbonates finest, including footage of Mike sending white Light Direct. Enjoy - Skinny!

Magnesium Bouldering Action from Owen McShane on Vimeo.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Seldom Seen Kid 7c+

This week on Tuesday night i finally got up the single piece of rock which has subconscious dominated my thinking for about 4 months. A great line just sat there in the middle of nowhere just minding its own business, knowing that one day it would be ignored no longer.

On one one of the very first recent bouldering visit that i made to Crowden this year, was up to Black tor. Our goals were to clean and climb on the good looking boulder left of Wolverine (A fantastic undergraded E4 5c route which would get more attention if it was anywhere else) and to ground up a HVS 6a route called the Pennine Way Variation, both can be found in the old kinder guide. All this we managed, however we couldn't help but notice the stunning left arete to this block. I had a quick go but it was pretty obvious that night that it was harder and scarier than it's neighbour. Also the difficulty and nature of the climbing meant that it needed cleaning on a rope. Then we left. Well its been playing on my mind.............A lot.

Last week i managed to nip up there, ab down and clean the holds. I even tried a few of the moves. This i found scary as i was on a grigri and it became apparent that on none of the moves you could take a hand off to chalk or pull through rope. Added to this at the top there is a real Chance of a barn door swing that would send you out of control on to some boulders. But it was cold in the wind and the friction was good, really for the time of year. I left and went away for the weekend with the family. I spent a lot of time thinking and wondering.

On Tuesday i returned after work with an old friend from Hull and 5 Pads. We warmed up on the Wolverine boulder which was pleasant and the friction was okay. The one downside was the midges, we just weren't quite getting enough wind and they were eating Andy alive. He looked at me and he said "we best go over there if you want to try this problem" I knew at that point that he wasn't going to be up for staying to much longer. I had hoped to ab down it again and clean the holds a familiarise myself with the moves, but these hopes slowly evaporated. So we hack over through the heather and set the pads up as best we could. I had three goes on the bottom balancey moves falling onto the pads. I tricked myself into thinking "that's alright that" maybe i should just go for it. Andy Jibbed it and I realised that i didn't have long before the midges drove him mad. Something inside my head switched, i suddenly really wanted to climb this piece of rock badly. I told myself that Andy is one of the best spotters i know and now is a good time. Next thing i knew I'd started climbing and made it through the bottom delicate moves and got a good layaway high up. I moved my feet up really high and slapped up the arete, then slapped with the right to a sloper. At this point i can remember really vividly noticing the right hand start to creep. I panicked a bit and looked down to jump off. I realised that getting on to the pads would be hard and that even a controlled fall was going to hurt....... a lot. I realised i had to fight this one out! Resetting my head and the hand i brought a foot up high and managed to get both hands higher before reaching for what i knew was a good edge. My left foot started to move on the smear i was stood on and just as it felt as it was about to blow i felt my fingers go over the edge of the hold. I will never forget the relief that went through my body. technique forgotten i hauled myself as quickly as i could up to some jugs at the top and just stayed there for ages quivering. Enjoying the moment and the adrenaline. Its one of the things i love most about climbing is that sense of just being happy to have survived and succeeded.

Grade wise I reckon its worth 7c+ if only for its seriousness. E7 might be a better grade but i don't know route grades that well to know for certain. It also might be easier in cooler weather but I don't want to go up there again to check. Its probably the most scared I've ever been or at least it comes close. But a lot of that could be the circumstances. Whatever I'd rate as one of the best highball line I've done in the peak. But it will never see much attention because of where it is which is a shame. But if you made the effort you would not be disappointed. I'm going to call it the Seldom Seen Kid, partly for this reason but also because of a chat i had with a friend who no one seems to see much anymore.

Below I've included a topo to this area of Black tor, i posted a map showing the general locations of the blocks last month.

1. Vague Arete 6a. The left arete

2. Baby Wolverine 5+. The centre of the face a harder variation can be done just right.

3. Crowden Girls 7a+. From a sitting start on the two edges slap up the vague rib. easier from standing

4. The Arete 6c+. From a sitting start climb up the right side of the arete.

5. The Arete left hand 7a. From the same sitting start after the first move move around to climb the left side of the arete to the top.

6. The Groove 7a. Climb the grove eliminating the arete and the flake hold out right.

7. One Arm 6c. from a sitting start not using the blocks on the right. Climb up the flake holds. About 5 from standing

8. 4. Traverse the lip of the boulder behind. A slightly harder direct start can be done moving off the good break to the top
Just up and right is a boulder set into the hill side

9. Slap Problem 6b. From a low start slap up the right hand block.

10. Technicians Day Out 7b. Climb up the right side of the arete to slopers. Involving a slap off a toe hook. Do not use any of the boulders jammed in the crack.

11. Means to an End 7a. From the undercuts climb directly upwards to the lip of the boulder staying left.

12. The Crack 5+ From the same start move right to the good rack and then follow this up.
Up over on the left of the Wolverine boulder is another big boulder. On the left side of this is a campus problem which starts undercutting with feet on the slab. to campus up on edges to get the lip. the traverse off left. This Is Thugs Day Out 7b
Going right from the Wolverine boulder you find a pit. This has a good problem up the wall on the left. It starts stood on a cleaned boulder with a choice of rubbish edges and makes a pop into a pinch hold in the groove. Holding this is the crux, if you manage it get the slopers above and mantle to grab a tree. This is Phantom Lights 7b+.
If you carry on around and up the hill you come to really good highball problems only spoilt by a heather top out.
13. Seldom Seen Kid 7c+ Climb the left arete of the block.
The jewel in the crown!
14. Pennine Way Variation 6c. Climb the centre of the slab with the crux being rocking over the lip low down above a falt landing. very good despite the name.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Angry Love at the Weasel Stones

This Saturday 3 strange things happened:

1. O let himself be convinced that climbing on moorland grit instead of limestone would be a good idea. On a hot summers day. He was not alone bringing a bunch of the Liverpool climbers with him.

We decided to check out the bouldering at Black tor, heading to the weasel stones to warm up before getting to the good stuff.

2. We spent most of the day in that one area.

3. Si who had been un-intentionally tricked into coming along didn't moan!

This was all strange because i had dismissed them as being a bit rubbish. Turns out i was wrong.

What resulted was a very chilled out and enjoyable thorougher going over of the weasel boulders. Everything was repeated (accept Playing with Fire) and a lot of good new stuff was unearthed by the eagle eyed boys. Nothing earth shatteringly hard but just what was needed on a hot day. The result is a bunch of nice mid grade problems which are really quite pleasant and really add to the circuit of problems now found in the area.

Here is now the updated list of problems found in this area.

1. Playing With Fire 8a
From a sitting start on two crimpy layaways make a stiff pull off the floor to slap to the okay crimp and use this to get the top. Gritstones answer to Sway On!!!!

2. One Move 5+
From the good edge in the centre of the boulder pop to the top and pull over.

3. 3
Step off and climb up the big slab not using either arete

4. Angry Love 6c+
Sit start with both hands matched on the big layaway on the face of the boulder. Using this and a heel hook lock to the arete and finish up this.
(Picture right of Smooth Pete catching the arete)

5. Technical Love 7b
Sit start again matched on the big layaway on the face of the boulder. This time traverse rightwards not using any of the big holds on the ill defined lip of the boulder. Use only the low holds to finish on a flat jug over on the right arete of the boulder. Quit technical.

6. Magic Love 6c
Start from sitting with specified starting holds. Left hand on a small side pull in the cave, right on a low crimp pinch on the face right of the arete. Move up to the shoulder hold then go for the top. (Picture right)

7. 4
Smear up the left arete of the slab

8. The Left Slab 5+
Smear up the slab just left of centre

9. The Right Slab 6a
Smearing up the slab just right of centre is a bit harder

10. 3
Smear up the right arete of the slab

11. Don’t Dab Arete 6b
Start from sitting with specified starting holds. Right hand on a small sidepull in the cave, left on the arete. From here climb the arete staying on the right side all the way. Good moves which are spoilt by the closeness of the boulder behind but still worth doing.

12. The Mantle 6a+
On the boulder just behind and left of problem 1. Start from sitting and climb the right arete using the big ledge on the right to a tricky mantle.

13. Atari 7a+
From a sit start slab up the two arêtes until you get to a sloper on the left. Use this to swing around the left side and finish up the heathery top out.

14. The Weasel 6b
Start from sitting in the pit with the left on a low undercut pinch and the right on a higher edge. Pull on then using an intermediate go for the good ledge.

15. Manchester March 5+
Start from sitting at the right arete and follow this leftwards, then continue traversing left along the good ledge to finish at the left side of the boulder.

16. Loves Stroll 5+
From a sit start at the left arete follow the lip rightwards around the prow to rock out on the right side.

17. The Groove 6a+
Climb the attractive looking grove from a sit start. Start with both hands on low holds below the lip

The next two problems can be found in a pit slightly higher up.

18. Si’s Problem 6a
From a sit start on a boulder jammed underneath lock out and around the small roof.

19. Friend of Ours 7b+
Climb the attractive looking wall and arete from a sit start (Left hand arete, right hand low undercut/layaway). A hard pull on is followed by a very tricky dynamic move to catch a high diagonal edge just below the top, which is probably English tech 7a. An easier move follows and then top out.

Friday, 2 July 2010

A Bit of Black Tor

After work i' decided to check out a good old slab problem i climbed a very long time ago. It was still there and it was even better than i remembered. It was cleaned and climbed again and even given a name, The looking Glass, a problem well worth seeking out. here is the info plus some other problems that got done earlier this year including the very hard Playing with Fire. Which is best described as gritstones answer to Sway On!

There are a few areas located in the Crowden Valley these boulders lie just above the Pennine Way as it works it way towards Laddow rocks shown in the map to the right.

Weasel Boulders

This is the easiest area to get to and is an obvious collection of small boulders set just back from the Pennine way

1. Playing With Fire 8a
From a sitting start on two crimpy layaways make a stiff pull off the floor to slap to the okay crimp and use this to get the top.

2. One Move 5+
From the good edge in the centre of the boulder pop to the top and pull over.

3. The Groove 6b
Found on the Boulder just behind is an attractive looking little groove. Climb this from a sit start in the centre.

4. 3
Step off and climb up the big slab not using either arete

5. The weasel 6b+
On the back of the boulder is a pit climb up the wall from a sit start in the centre

6. 4
Smear up the left arete of the slab

7. The Slab 5+/6a
Smear up the centre of the slab. Variations are possible, climbing staying left is easier further right is harder.

8. 3
Smear up the right arete of the slab

9. Atari 7a+

From a sit start slab up the two aretes until you get to a sloper on the left. Use this to swing around the left side and finish up the heathery top out.

The slab

Just before the Playing with Fire Boulder there is a faint track leading up a little hill just off to the left. This leads to a wall which if you follow will bring you to the boulder.

1. The Looking Glass 7a+
The Very Classy slab climbed in the middle starting from an undercut just left of the arete.

2. The Arete 6c
Climbing up the right arete is also good.

High Edge Boulders

These boulders offer some great problems, but on some of them the ground does slope away spoiling them a little. They can be found high up on the left side of the crag of Black tor.

1. The Mantle 6c
From a sitting start climb up the slopes and mantle the lip of the boulder.

2. The Traverse 6b+
From the same sitting start traverse the shelf rightwards and finish up the arête as for the next problem

3. Escape from Monday 7a
A direct sitting start to the left side of the right arête. This involves a a hard move to get the good layaways on the left.

4. Twins 6b+
Climb the twin aretes staying on the left side of the right uphill arête.

5. 6a
Just right of the crack climb the wall from a sit start using layaways.

6. The Ill defined 7a+
Climb the ill defined arete on the right from an awkward direct sitting start. This leads to a tricky mantle at the top.

7. 6b
Climb the wall from a sitting start up the edges

8. The Fin 6c
Climb the striking right side of the fin arete feature from a sitting start and not using the wall behind for feet.

9. The Wall 6a+
Climb the centre of the wall from a sitting start.

10. Right Arete 6b+
From a sit down start again climb the right arete and wall just left

That will do for now I'll post the details of the stuff on the right hand side at a later stage..........

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Sprotbrough Days

Sprotbrough, Sprotbrough? What the flippin heck is that all about i hear ypu say! Well Mo Owfield was rumored to have climbed a 7c+ here for a start. One evening the boys decided to go take a look and we were pleasantly surprised by what we found. A classy looking buttress which was obviously neglected but showing signs of previous clawings. A hard evenings cleaning later and this beauty was re-released from the undergrowth. Its like Gypsy Buttress on acid! A couple of sessions later and this is what we found.

1. High and Dry 7b+
At the very left hand side of the crag, climb up the highball wall with the undercut start which leads to some crimps on the face.

2. Shelf life 7a+/7b
Use an obvious pinch to get into a position to slap for the left end of the good shelf and a finish using the tree roots. (Left hand finish possible going left of the tree?)

2a. Half Life 7b+
This is a left hand variation finish on Shelf life. Only use the right hand on the left edge of the shelf, and climb up the wall finishing just left of the tree.

2b. Shelf Life Direct Start 7b+/7c
Climb direct up to the middle of the shelf. Not using the good pinch/undercut on problem 2, or the good layaways on problem 4.

3. Shelf Life Indirect 7b/7b+
Use an obvious pair of layaways to get some sloppy holds just right of the right end of the shelf. Then slap left wards to the shelf and finish as before.

3a. Shelf Less 7b+/7c
Start as for the above problem but instead of slapping to the shelf. Slap a flake just right again and finish directly using a heel hook on the shelf.

4. Mo’s Undercut 7c+ (Soft)
Use the obvious pockets to gain an undercut and make awkward moves to gain the top.

There is potential for another problem just right revolving around a diagonal edge and a crimp which are close together somewhere in the 8’s

5. All Strung Out 7c+
Just left of problem 7, use a big undercut and make a big span to small edge with the right hand. Use this to gain a layaway as a gaston, then lock to the top.

6. The Upstart 6b
From a low start gain the good holds and then the top.

7. 5+/6a
Just right of the last problem the wall can be climbed via a side pull pocket from a low start.

8. Further right is an okay wall with some good warm ups on it (about 5+) and a trickier line on the right just before the ivy at about 7a+