Saturday, 10 May 2008

Yorkshire Grit

On Saturday 10th of May, Mark and AndyG went to Almscliff in Yorkshire.

Looks idyllic, doesn't it? A pleasant little knoll surrounded by lush green meadows. It should be a wonderful venue for a little bit of bouldering, with maybe a few small solos on the side, and a chance to unwind after the stresses of the working week.

How wrong can you be? This is Yorkshire gritstone, the Devil's own rock, and despite the apparently tranquil setting, a place that lives on in the memories of thousands of tortured souls. Don't let the little bird deceive you, this place can strip the flesh from your bones. Come here at your peril and count yourself lucky if you only lose a little blood or maybe some skin from the backs of your hands.

The day started innocently enough with some pleasant warm up climbs on Low Man just past the Matterhorn Boulder. Fluted Columns 14m VDiff P1 Pre 1900 3* was pleasant enough and this was followed easily enough by Pinnacle Flake Climb 12m S 4a P1 Pre 1912 1*.

Then things became a little more problematic with Fluted Crack 14m S 4b P1 Pre 1900 which required the use of a no. 11 Hexcentric. After that the place started to reveal it's true colours with Square Chimney & Whiskey Crack 15m MVS 4b P1 Pre 1912 3* which started with a strenuous thrutch despite following the advice of the guide book and ascending in traditional "back and foot" style.

After a brief inspection of Pigott's Stride and a solo of a little slab around the west side, things got a little more serious with an ascent of The Traditional Climb 10m VS 4c P1 Pre 1923 2* which has an awkward move left quite low down.

Next came Demon Wall 10m HVS 5a P1 194 3*, the name should have been a clue.

This is what it looks like:

And this is what happened(twice!):

After that, all was lost. Despite a solo of Stomach Traverse 12m VS 4c P1 Pre 1894 by Mark, after the loan of a bouldering mat, and a final desperate ascent of Pothole Direct 10m VS 5b P1 1938 the place had taken it's toll. We were broken, beaten men, mere shadows of the climbers we once aspired to be.

Our hands will heal with time but our souls will bear the scars forever.