Improbable mid-week limestone sport-climbing near Llangollen
Attendees: Duncan Zerafa & John Smallwood.
After a relatively quick and easy drive from Manchester, two climbers arrived for the further afield Welsh mid-week meet. A mixed forecast had perhaps put people off. It had rained very heavily just before arriving and the likely-hood of climbing anything seemed remote. Local climbers already there were abandoning their climbing, but the KMC duo felt it would be worth seeing if things improved. The crumbled walls of Castle Dinas Bran dominated the dramatic landscape looking along the rolling hills of the valley and made up for lost climbing time.
The trad climbing routes in the quarry at the eastern side were dripping wet and ruled out, however those sport routes which were on the western end were drying out quickly in the evening sun and breeze. So without the Clywd Limestone guide book several sport routes were started and some abandoned as the unknown grades became apparent. After checking the UKClimbing website the routes climbed might have been K9 5a*, Hotdog 4a* and Chocolate Fudd 6a+. But really we didn't know for sure, it didn't matter though and we enjoyed limestone sport climbing.
Next week Cow's Mouth Quarry
Sheltered quarried grit near Hathersage
Members present: Duncan Zerafa
Guests present: Ben Kolb, Andy Pierce, John Smallwood.
A warm, breezy and dry evening held promise for the climbing tonight. Lawrencefield Quarry looks quite similar to Denham Quarry with a small pool, sheltered by birch trees and long towering routes shooting up the walls.
John had arrived the earliest and partnered up with new guest Ben under Gingerbread Slab. The first route he led was the long continuous crack of Snail Crack VD*, seconded by Ben. This was followed by Ben leading Tyrone VS 4c* a route with an abseil descent, described later as "sandy, weird and awkward" by John.
Meanwhile under the Great Harry wall area Duncan was climbing with guest Andy, who had climbed the previous week with the KMC at the Roaches. First was a lead of the 3 star route Three Tree Climb HS 4b. It was noticed the three trees though have long since departed. Andy made a fine lead of Excalibur VS 4c** at the Pool Wall area. Your author whilst belaying espied massive wood ants benignly scurrying around his feet and over the ropes. John was now leading the long and meandering Pulpit Groove VD 4a**. Which combined crack climbing, traversing and an exposed finish. Also being his favourite route of the evening.
The cloudy canopy above our heads was becoming bleak and rain drops idly menaced. But there was still time for one more route. Ben flew up the delicate crack of Meringue HVS 5a* making very short work of it. Duncan lead the fine, fingery and bold Gingerbread VS 4b*. No protection until about three quarters of the way up at around 8m, but a really great climb.
With the rain starting to now take effect on the rock, quick abseils down aided us as we adjourned to The Little John pub in Hathersage to vote for next weeks crag. Presented to the voters were the three options of Wilton and Anglezarke Quarries along with the natural crag of Dovestones Edge. Recent KMC trips to the aforementioned quarries produced a landslide victory for Dovestones Edge. A longish walk in but worth it on a early summer evening.
Members : Duncan Zerafa, Helen Boothman.
Guests: John Smallwood, Patrizia Patz (Pati), Jim Duthie, Andy.
With the school holidays upon us this week, the late afternoon drive to The Roaches was pretty swift agreed the attendees. Those that had arrived, were greeted by a hot, cloudy evening and an idle breeze. Helen was climbing coincidentally with us tonight, getting back into climbing after a break.
The relative quiet of the crag meant you could pick and choose the finest routes at will. So with this in mind Pati and Jim had to have a crack at the classic of Valkyrie VS 4c. Jim had climbed it before, and so resolved to lead the first part allowing Pati to lead the airy second part. Pati thought the route was brilliant and exciting, even though she'd suffered from shaky legs before committing to the move from the big flake to the crease and onto the face. She later commented, "It's a lesson on rope management, which I don't have...".
Duncan on Jim's recommendation or sandbag depending on point of view, lead the Joe Brown and Don Whillans route, The Bulger VS 4c. Which was a particularly graunchy, awkward struggle. This was seconded by John and new guest Andy. Duncan followed this by a second of the bold Central Route VS 4a, initially leading it but backing off after rain left a serious chance of hitting the deck. John and new guest Andy teamed up to climb Right Hand Route HS 4c, Andy had got to lead his first route of the night.
Meanwhile the chatter below another Roaches classic The Sloth HVS 5a was beginning to come to a conclusion, the rain wouldn't affect the underside of a overhang. Jim had decided he would have a go after backing off in previous attempts. Jim lead the Don Whillans route brilliantly and tenaciously with support from Pati and Duncan beneath. Jim slowly built a web of slings under the roof before committing to a final attempt, which was touch and go for a moment before finally pulling though the overhanging roof to the easier crack above. The sound of applause rose up from beneath. Pati seconded it excellently too, shouting "Amazing!" upon completion. Duncan also seconded but spent airtime back down to the start after struggling to release Jim's cam in the overhanging roof crux section. Pati then climbed up for a second time and retrieved the stuck cam with coolness, before finishing again with loud encouragement from below.
Under the murky, dark skies, at quite a late point in the evening, a quick decision was made for next week. The light and warm June evenings recommended Lawrencefield, near Hathersage.
The best grit anywhere (JW)
Despite a showery day the Roaches soon dried out for a golden evening, unfortunately the weather dissuaded many folk so the KMC was represented by myself and Evan. Three pitches of trad and a fair few boulder problems were ticked. Pex Hill was chosen for next week's venue.
Dave, Emily, Mark, Trish, Al
The small group just managed get an hours worth of bouldering in before the drizzle set in.
Attended by Nick and Gareth, but only as ships that pass in the night. Some bouldering in conditions damp underfoot and underhand. Followed by dining and shopping?
Bouldees: Gareth Williams, Dave Shotton, James Williams, Nick Adamson, Al Metelko, Dave Dillon.
2 venues, 2 traverses, 2 new routes 'Elephant Crack' and 'Gateaux Men'.
Present and chattering: Nick Adamson, Dave Dillon, Gareth Williams, Al Metelko, Mark Ashley.
Dark by 4.30. Clouds cleared about 6. Wonderful clear night, shooting stars. Boulder problems and solos (to keep moving). Prolonged voting in the local (to get warm again). Various illumination from mob phones to small box with candles inside.