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 arête, 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)

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Four Days Bouldering in Can Boquet

Fed up of the Seemingly endless spells of rain and dampness that seem to plague England every time I free some time up in my busy life to just go climbing. I decided enough was enough and agree to go on a mad four day trip to Spain the land of endless sunshine. I and three friends jetted out to Barcelona with the intention of checking out the Boulders of Can Boquet and giving them a through going over. I didn't know much about the climbing before going out there but I got a copy of the topo and it looked like there was plenty to have a go at. One thing that I did come across was an area test piece called 'Biceps Power an 8a+. This seemed like the problem to test your self on and to try to climb out there. Only problem was it looked like an undercut power problem which is far from my specialty. One thing I did know was that this was going to be an intense trip.

Day 1:

We Landed and high tailed it straight up to the boulders. The first venue we checked out was Sector Nou, the home of the 'Biceps Power' (Photo right- T Simpson). I couldn't help myself, I was in no fit state to try it after just flying in, but my impatience got the better of me. After about an hour of getting nowhere, I finally figured out a sequence and did the moves. The only trouble was linking them before my skin gave out. I had another desperate hour of failed tries and long rest, before some how, by the skin of my teeth, sticking the crux from the start and battling through to the end. It was far from the smoothest accent I'd ever done. But I got the tick, and a good job too as I had ripped my thumb apart and had flapper style cuts to two of my fingers. It was very much a make or break moment for me and having got that done I felt my confidence rise and felt the pressure drop. I decided to just get as many good problems done as possible. Still feeling first day strong I quickly did a very cool 7c called 'Croquet Man'. Then in the dying light I headed up to try an 8a 'Tenacita Variante' on the recommendation of a local. On seeing the line I knew it suited me and after about 4 tries I'd done it from standing (7c+ish ) and followed by doing it first go from its logical sitting start. Not a bad first day! (Photo left - D Skoczylas)

Day 2:

On the morning of the second day we woke up to blue skies and sunny weather. We decide we would check out Sector Classic which is regarded as the other of Can Boquets main areas. On arriving it didn't disappoint. I warmed up then headed straight for the only 8a there 'Transporting' (Photo right - T Simpson). This looked very gritstony being a slight rising traverse on sloppy edges ending in a mantle on slopers. That done I relaxed even more and drifted around just climbing the best looking lines. Highlights included climbing 'Suc De Toronja Directo Sit' 7c a very classy looking slopey aerate and 'Delincuent Habits, a proud looking high ball arête line given 7c the guide but possible over graded?

Day 3

The weather forecast was bad for day three and the sensible thing to do would have been to take a rest day which the sensible climbers did. However me being me got up really early to beat the rain and arrived at the crag as the sun was just coming up. After a ridiculously poor warm up that involved climbing a 7b+ called Sex Apple. I headed straight to 'Gollum' a 7c+ back at Sector Nou (Photo left - T Simpson). It looked like another good powerful line. I gave it a few tries and quickly got the moves. The only trouble was my body was tired from all the climbing. Time was short with rain on it's way. But the conditions were brilliant and I knew if I didn't climb it now I probable never would. I took a gamble with a massive rest then on summoning deep reserves managed to top out just as it started to rain. The rain was almost welcoming and we decided to head to the beach and check out the tourist sites.

Day 4:

Mastergrip 7c Photo T SimpsonOn day four the sun was shining again for our last day in Spain. We headed first to Sector Classic where people wanted to finish unfinished business. I took a long time to warm up and try and get my, by now, broken body working again. I really wasn't going to get involved in anything trick but some how ended up trying 'Mastergrip' (Photo right - T Simpson) a ridiculously slopey 7c which I had purposefully avoided on Day 2, just because I didn't look possible! But once I’d tried it, I couldn't leave it alone not wanting to be beaten. Two hours later after battling with fatigue, Sore skin, bad sequences and sun, I managed to scrape over the top of the problem. It felt really hard for 7c and possibly under graded, but then again I was in no fit state to judge grades. After that I headed back to Sector Nou and finished off the easier problems there before splitting a tip and deciding enough was enough and that I really didn't want to climb any more as it all hurt too much. I had achieved my goal and climbed all the main lines in the two best sectors. Trip over we all had a hassel free flight back and landed in a dull damp England, which was all a bit of a shock after the nice weather of Barcelona.
So what did I think of Can Boquet? Well I have herd it said that there is not a lot there, the boulders are small and it's not worth the effort. To be honest I can see where people may get that impression from. If all you want to do is come and circuit climbs under 6c+ then you would be done in a day, unless you wanted to scrape around on the lower boulders. For me I found I really enjoyed pushing myself as the style of problems was such that they weren't just about power, but required subtlety as well, much like gritstone. As a place to come and climb at your limit there are some very nice harder lines. Because of the short nature of our trip we only really visit the two main sectors and that was enough as people found projects they wanted to spend time on. But just thumbing through the guide reveals there is a lot more to go and explore if you were here for longer. I certainly wouldn't mind if I ended up back here, so I'd recommend paying a visit, if only to stop off whilst exploring some of the many other areas in this part of Spain.

Dawid Skoczylas made a nice little video of the trip:

Can Boquet Bouldering Near Barcelona from Robin Müller & Dawid Skoczylas on Vimeo.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Tintwistle Knarr Boulders - The time to reveal

Over a period of about a year i have been slowly re-developing the sadly long forgotten and neglected boulders to be found below Tintwistle Knarr quarry. I have had some truly special days up here with close friends who i have managed to convince that the long hard slog up would be worth it. During this time i have cleaned and climbed some truly great climbs. This has included Acopella 8a, Straight No Chaser 7c, and the Lone Ranger 7c+ and loads of other cool lines on fantastic boulders.

But there was one project that always eluded me, an obvious hard sit start up a mini arete to an old classic really cool porthole problem. I always told myself that this would be the final problem I wanted to do before making the boulders more public. You know by looking at it that if you can just get one hand good in porthole then holding any swing and toping will be fine. Only trouble is there are no real holds below it. I've tried this line almost every time I've been up, but never really seriously, always just being chilled out about it.

Recently i wondered up there with a friend after not trying the line for months and managed to send it. It's funny how sometimes it's just like that. It came down to good conditions and remembering to try something different. I'm going to call the line The Enigma and it's around the 7c+/8a mark. (It may be easier but then I never could grade.)

If your after something different and your up that way, then head to these boulders, the climbing really is quite good and theres a big circuit of all grades. To find them just walk directly down the scree slope from the quarry. Keep going until you nearly fall over the edge of the hidden boulders.
The topo can be found below.

Photos- M Hyde.

Tintwistle Knarr Boulders - Topo

Tintwistle Knarr Boulder

Top Boulder

1. Nikita 7a – Start sitting in the pit from a specified starting position left on the undercut right on a gaston hold at the same level. From here cross over to the slopers and use these to get the left arête

2a. Nikita Righthand 7b - A harder variation finish. Instead of getting the left arête Cross over again to get established on the slopey layaway and get the top of the boulder on the right

2b. Leon 7b+ - Start with the left on the low sidepull and the right undercutting the right arête. Make a hard slap up to the crimp in the crease, then left to the good slopey sidepull.

3. La Femme Slab 5+ – Climb up the centre of the small slab using some great large pebbles

4. La Femme Fatale 7b+/7c From a sitting start climb the left side of the arête all the way to the lip to finish with a grim mantle. Has a very bad landing.

4b. Top Slab 5 - from the boulder underneath climb the line left of problem 4.

Pit Boulder

5a. Soul Deep 6b+ - From a standing start right in the bottom of the pit climb up the centre of the wall

5b. Soul Deep Sit Start 7b (soft) - From a sitting start in the pit bottom, left on the big pocket and right hand on the arête. Make some stiff locks to get established on the stand up

5c. Deep arête right 6b+ - From the standing start in the pit bottom, pull on and then move to the right arête. Can also be done from a sitting start at 7bish
6. Soul arête left 6c – Again from the pit standing start pull on and traverse to the left arête and finish up this. As before this can also be done form the sitting start at 7bish
7. Serial Thriller 6a – From the ledge step right and climb the front face of the boulder using only that boulder for hand and feet.

8. 5 – Climb up the left side of the right arête. Can also be done from sitting

9. 5+ - Climb up the centre of the face. This too has also been done from sitting.

10. 5 – climb up the left side of the face.
Bottom Boulder

12. Fire Fly 6c+ - Start from sitting on the low sloping crimp. Climb up the wall just to the left of the arête

13. Small Wall 4 – From a sit start climb up the short wall

14. Layaway wall 6b – From a sit start at the bottom of the arête pull on, more your right foot around the boulder and then climb up the undercut layaways to the top of the boulder.

15. Mr Brightside 7a – From the same sitting start this time follow the arête leftwards staying low to get the lip. Once here mantle the arête on the left side.

16. Underpass 6c – From the left hand block under the roof pull on with the hands and feet on this block only, undercut out to the lip and mantle.

Small Boulder

17. Small Wall 4 – Use the big holds to climb up the front face on the small boulder
18. Small Arête 6c – From a sit start make a tricky move to get established on the arête. Short but sweet.

Tree Boulder

20. Overhanging Arête 6c – From a sitting start follow the arête rightwards then up

21. Straight No Chaser 7c – From the specified sitting starting position of left hand on a low pinch and right in the big pocket. Slap directly straight out of the roof and finish up the arête

22. Dream Chaser 7b – From a sit start with the hand in the pocket and right at the bottom of the arête. Follow the arête left until it is possible to rock it. Do not traverse to the big holds on the left and use these to top out, doing so is easier.

23. The Groove 4 – Climb up the slanting groove

24. Thin Slab 7a – Climb up the thin slab direct staying off the groove footholds

25. Pocket slab 6c – Climb up the slab just left of the arête using the good small pockets. Keep off the big footholds to the right.

26. The Arete 5 – Climb the arête on its left hand side.

27. Deforestation 7a – Climb the arête on it’s solely on its righthand side being strict (Only using the arête and not the good holds on the left side).

27b. Deforestation Sit Start 7b – This time form a sitting start.

28. The Porthole 6c+ Starting with both hands in the porthole climb directly upwards.

29. The Enigma 7c+/8a – From sitting start with left hand on the arête head up and around to the porthole probably morpho.

30. The Porthole Traverse 7a – Starting with both hands in the porthole traverse right an finish up the mini prow

31. The Rib 6b+ - Climb up the vague rib, Can be done from a similar sitting start as for 29 at 7b Finishing up problem 30 instead is 7b+

32. Easy Wall 5 – The wall above the deep pocket can be done from sitting at 6a+ish?

33. Pocket Wall 6a - Climb the wall up to the deep shot hole

34. The Hanging Arete 6a? – Just to the right from a sit start climb up the hanging arête

35. Way Down 3 – Any way up the slabby wall to the right of the arête. Also the way down.

Slab Boulder

36. Easy Slabs 3+ - Various ways up the easy slab

37. Left Slab 6a – Starting at the bottom of the slab head up the left side to get the left arête.

38. Right Slab 5+ - Starting at the bottom this time head directly up the right side staying off the right arête. Using this is a grade easier.

39. Back Side Arête 6c+ - From a sitting start climb up the right side of the arête. A grade easier form standing.

40. Back Side Slab 6a+ - Climb up the slab just right of the arête.

Big Boulder
41. Overhanging Arete 6a – From a sitting start climb the left arête.

42. Left Wall 6c – Climb the wall just right of the arête directly

43. Seam Wall 6c+ - Climb the centre of the wall using the seams
44. Two Pocket Wall 6b – Climb up the righthand side of the wall staying left of the arête and using the pockets
45a. Right Arete 5 – Climb the left hand side of the arête

45b Debstar 7a – Start at the right arête and traverse left staying low to finish up problem 41.

46. The Big Slab 3+ - Climb up the high slab anywhere it all feels high and scary. A direct sit start mantle can be done at about 6b+

47. Whispa Loudly 7a+/7a – Climb up the right hand side of the left arête, highball
48. The Ramp 6c+7a – From a sit start on the shelf climb up and rock onto the slab. Can also be linked into problem 47 at 7b?

49. The Dark Side 7a/7a+ - From a sit start at the right hand side of the overhang, climb up to the good holds and head for the good flat hold on the arête. Can also be linked into problem 47 at 7b?

50. Midnight Monster 7b - Start as for problem 49 but climb the wall staying right of the arête on the wall to the top of the boulder. Highball and a very bad landing awaits. The standing start reduces the grade to 7a.

51. Broken Moon 7a – From a standing start climb up the series of layaways passing a broken flake

52. Hard Moon 7cish – From a sitting start at the right hand vague arête (Left on a layaway, right good edge) move up to thin holds then move left to the broken flake and finish up. Avoiding the issue.

53. Acopella 8a – The true line finishing directly instead of moving left, using a great conditions dependent slopey slot hold. (The top has been cleaned since the photo was taken)

Satalight Boulder

About 100 meters right of the big boulder are two boulders leaning against each other forming a pit below them.
54. Lone Ranger 7c+ - From a sit start with right hand on a good sidepull, slap up slopey holds to get a good jug and an easier finish. Use only the block for the feet. hard Up the face to the right has not been climbed.