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.