A fine crag (Photo: Andy Stratford)  

A fine crag (Andy Stratford)
My nut key after Jim had laid his healing hands upon (Andy Stratford)

Evening Meet: Shining Clough

Shining Clough midweek – 14th July 2021

Members: Andy Stratford, Jim Symon, Rory Marsden

Prospective member: Caroline Gay

An excellent forecast for a moorland crag, and my first summer visit, having climbed Shining Clough icefall and two ice routes on the crag this winter with Gareth.

The walk in is notorious for the path being hard to both find and follow, and tonight was no exception – once the waterway of shining clough itself is crossed the path just does a disappearing act leading to 30 minutes of hardcore heather, bracken, and boulder bashing. Jim and I arrived at the crag, perspiring gently at about 4 ish and I was immediately struck by the striking crack and arete of 24m long three star VS classic, Phoenix Climb.

Jim decided to warm us up on the adjacent 3 star classic Severe of Via Principa. As ever Jim made short work of the 25 metre route Following up, I was engaged with some fabulous rough grit, unpolished despite many ascents (well, many for a moorland crag), following strong natural features. It had everything; exposure, cracks, jugs, gear wherever you wanted - an absolute joy and with doubt worth 4 stars - if fact, I'd say the best single pitch grit route at that grade I've ever climbed.

Rory and Caroline arrived just as we were arriving back at the base, Rory keen to lead it himself after listening to our enthusiasm. On reaching the top Rory’s grin was a broad as mine from his lead on Via Principa – Phoenix Climb VS was also amazing – with some brilliant jamming in the lower part and a wildly exposed arete near the top.

Somehow, I managed to get a nut stuck as part of my belay and after both Jim and I tried to free it to no avail I resorted to bashing my nut key with a small rock which put a tiny bend in it. Jim stretched out his healing hands to give my wonky nut key some loving attention, one gentle bend was all it would take to…. Snap it in half!! Thanks Jim!!

We wandered off to Pisa Buttress, it was Jim’s lead. Pisa Superdirect was the chosen line – yet another 3 star route, and again, it proved to be worth every one of those stars. Jim made the first section look easy as usual, but the overhanging crux did cause a little pause for thought…. I followed up and was super impressed with the lead – what a tough route!

Rory and Caroline went on a mission looking for V diff or severe on a ‘less trodden’ part of the crag and ended up new routing and gardening for the rest of the evening!!

The steep wall/slab on the right of Pisa buttress had a nasty looking off width called Stable Cracks described as ‘’a good straightforward introduction to the crag’’…. So, in other words a total sandbag! I grabbed my larger cam and set off on the mission.

‘’Sorry Jim’’.

I called, as the third large lump of vegetation hit his head as I gardened my way up, casually trashing my clothes and skin. One of the off width sections required udging of the cam upwards as I squirmed uncomfortably behind it, twisting nefarious parts of my body into the crack, in fact I reckon the first ascensionist was swearing about how they could ‘’stable a bloody horse in here’’ when they came up with the name! I made it to the top – sweaty, filthy, and bleeding mildly. Next time I’ll pay more attention to the route name.

Four mega routes and we decided we would call it a day, after all, there was the matter of the walkout!

Andy Stratford
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