Sunday, 9 August 2015

Re-writing Yorkshire Climbing History

A couple of quick highlights from my recent Yorkshire road trip. In each case I found the guidebook descriptions to be completely wrong, and have made the relevant adjustments below. You're welcome.

Great Western HVS 5a - Almscliff

One of the all-time classic routes of the country. The guidebook will tell you to climb the obvious corner crack, hand traverse the horizontal break into a niche, then finish up the exposed right hand crack to the top. This is wrong. What you must actually do is this;

Climb the corner crack, as per the guide, then at it's top place a nut. Fail to adequately extend this runner because rope drag is fun. Then, commit to the hand traverse and get pumped fiddling around with a cam placement. Continue scuttling sideways to where an obvious line of huge jugs lead up into the beckoning niche. Ignore this unsporting cop out. Instead you must continue traversing leftwards, on ever-worsening holds and foot smears, into the horrendously overhanging jamming crack of Western Front (E3).

Gaze rightward in horror at the now distant cam that is your last piece of protection. Note the ground crunching pendulum fall you will take when your knackered arms eventually give up and let go. Shriek hysterically at your belayer. This is his fault. It's the guidebooks fault. It's everyone's fault but yours. With the very last bit of strength you have, wedge in a cam, any cam, and slump onto it. By now your bitter tears should be cascading nicely down the rock to the ground below. Lower off, sulk, then climb the route correctly. Belly flop onto the summit a broken shell of a man. Congratulations, you've just ticked a classic!

The Diedre E2 5b - Kilnsey

A compelling and traditional route, tackling the striking corner line. The easiest climb on the crag. The guidebook will tell you it is soft for the grade. In the same way that water is technically 'soft', right up to the moment you fall hundreds of feet onto it, and explode into lots of little red pieces.

Pitch 1, 5a. Climb the corner via a series of hollow blocks that have no visible attachment to the cliff itself. Protection is placed behind these blocks. Falling off will inevitably cause the whole lot to come tumbling down with you underneath. Every hold that looks good from below will be terrible, and every hold that looks terrible in fact does not exist. When the corner steepens, make irreversible moves onto the vegetated right hand wall. Spend a long time getting desperately pumped gardening for holds you will never find. The various flowers and tufts of grass will poke you repeatedly in the face until your every orifice is dribbling mucus. Blinded by hayfeaver make the final grovelling moves to what the guidebook hilariously refers to as 'a ledge'.

Discover that the ledge in question is an inch wide foot rail on an otherwise vertical rock face. Here you must build a hanging belay. Spend a good hour poking wires into flared seams and cracks behind loose blocks, resisting the growing urge to get your belayer to phone for a helicopter. When you eventually find something vaguely solid you will have no choice but to trust your full weight upon it. Should this fail, see the previous comment regarding an avalanche of plummeting rock with in-situ climber.

You are now dangling helplessly from an equalised cluster of directional pieces. Bring up your second into this unfolding nightmare. 

Pitch 2, 5b. The hard bit. You will not be able to see the leader once he has cleared the initial bulge. Blindly feed out rope and hope he doesn't fall off. Once he reaches the top it is your turn. Dismantle the belay and climb up to a steep corner. Ignore the obvious stack of juggy blocks because they all move, and will all detach from the cliff and hit you in the face should you so much as breathe upon them. Instead burrow upwards on the absence of holds into a hanging tree. Get scratched to ribbons as you prune your way higher. Here a steep crack leads around an overhang, the first of many cruxes. Commit to a desperate layback sequence, get stuck, pull every muscle in your left arm, then fall off. Dangle in space kicking the rock and saying the word 'cunt' over and over again.

Eventually pull through to a good hold, and contemplate a desperate rising traverse left to reach a tree. Execute the hardest boulder problem known to man to reach said tree, and discover the final and most evil test of them all. You must now traverse back right to regain the corner. However there is no protection against a pendulum fall, thus cocking it up will result in you catapulting into the right hand wall of the corner and probably breaking all your ribs. Burrow deeper into the foliage of your haven. Consider starting a new life as a tree dwelling creature, living off rainwater and bark.

Here your climbing partner must either mollycoddle or shame you into committing to the traverse. A series of nerve-shattering moves on holds that will never be good enough may lead you at last to the sanctuary of the corner. Finish easily to finally reach the top, beset with agony and mental trauma. Give up climbing and/or kill yourself. 

Every single fucking route on the crag - Malham Cove

Polished to buggery, upside-down holds, and it's all way too fucking difficult anyway. Go to the pub instead you useless fat shit.