Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Back to the climbing

As if you could ever have enough of looking through those photos of Bolivia?
Well, closer to home there are still some lines waiting to be done. You don't have to go off into the desert in a 4x4 and I haven't seen any llamas' hearts hanging from the washing lines in Belford.

As reported elsewhere, Dan Varian has climbed the groove to the left of County Ethics.
'Black Triage' goes at 8a. After the initial struggle to master the crux, Dan got up it on his first go at stringing all the moves together. Good job he'd remembered to clean the top.

Dan Varian on 'Black Triage' 8a, Back Bowden

It was very dark, so there might be more photos to come.
I know of at least two other people who've been on it, so the second ascent might come in the next week or two. I've already had a 'mid-session' text from Back Bowden about the smallness of the holds!

Hangman's Rock sits on a steep hillside above Old Bewick, overlooking the River Breamish and the Cheviots. Chris Graham discovered the potential of this boulder in early 2008 and put up a couple of fantastic problems. It's well worth the trip to do them.
I went up there on a very grey, dark day with Chris and Adam Watson. Adam hadn't been there before and he was psyched (as always) to get on the problems. We kicked off on Jeux sans Frontieres 7c which has a hard sit start. It took him a few goes to get his legs bent into shape for the start, but it didn't take long.

Adam repeating Jeux sans Frontieres 7c

Adam topping out on Jeux sans Frontieres 7c
Chris Graham, Jeux sans Frontieres 7c, Hangman's Rock
Chris Graham, Jeux sans Frontieres 7c, Hangman's Rock
After 'warming up' on this, they both got on the sit start to Paranoia, another three star 7c. No problems with this, and done in good style without using the block... ;-)

Chris Graham on Paranoia, Hangman's Rock

Hangman's Rock

Over at Back Bowden again, I got some photos of Katie Mundy on Barbestelle 7a, up on the top tier. There are some amazing roof problems up there and they don't see much action. They're all a bit hard for the grade, but then again, aren't most problems that are horizontal?

Katie Mundy on Barbestelle 7a, Back Bowden

Katie Mundy on Barbestelle 7a, Back Bowden in lovely black and white.

...and on a mid November day that was almost too hot for climbing, here's a photo of fearless Matty Forster. A future trad-hero in the making, he started up a rare on-sight solo of On The Rocks E7, but his dad persuaded him it wasn't a good idea. Maybe next time.

Matty Forster on South Arete 6a+

Natasha and I hooked up at Bowden for some photos on another weekend that wouldn't have been out of place in the middle of summer.

Natasha Allan on Second Leaning Groove VS 5a

Here are two different views of The Scoop:

Natasha Allan on The Scoop, VS 4b

Graham Hadaway on The Scoop VS 4b
Graham moved up here recently and I'm looking forward to introducing him to some of Northumberland's finest.

Over at Kyloe, here are a couple of photos from what was definately a winter's day. Cold and dark, but good company, and who can ask for more?
Not very good for taking photos though...

Neil Colquhoun on Gargarin's Groove HVS 5a
Chris Morrish on Slab and Groove VS 5a

After spending a bit of time contemplating 'The Jump' over the descent scramble, we marked out the distance on the ground and decided it was too close to call. It was therefore upgraded from an initial assessment of J4 to at least top-end J8 as it is most probably a fatal landing. The jump at Ravensheugh pales into comparison when compared with this massive gap and uneven runup. Despite all this, we still had to gently persuade Chris that it wasn't a good idea.
The only person that I know of who has done the jump is Neil Anderson who refused to grade it. He has also done the jump naked and I have the photos to prove it.

Here are a couple of photos from just before my South America trip which I forgot to post. It was up there with my worst Northumberland midge experiences, so I think I was trying to block it from my mind.
Up at Curtis crag, I photographed Russell Clark on the E3, 'Shot in the Dark'. It must be one of the steepest E3 routes in Northumberland. As I write this, I can't think of anything else around here that is steeper. The gear isn't bad though, but the rock quality isn't the best.

As Russ made his way up through the grooves, disaster struck as a piece came away. Tom who was belaying wasn't in the line of fire, and I managed to get a couple of blackmail photos as Russ came off.

The fall...

The shower of debris a moment later. "Below"!!

And finally...
Some photos of Howlerhirst and Great Wanney that I took a while ago, but I've only just got round to sorting them out.
It looks like there are a couple of specks of dirt on the sensor in the first photo, but they're actually Peregrines so I left them on. I was at the crag for hours watching the sky unfold as the clouds came in. Very apocalyptic, and fantastic for photos!


Great Wanney


  1. Wow! What amazing photos! I'm a beginning climber myself. I have friends who are absolutely crazy about climbing who are planning some patagonia trips later this year. I still haven't decided if I'm going or not yet though. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. Hi Kevin

    Thanks very much. I'm pleased you like them!
    If you've got the chance to go to Patagonia you should go. It'll be the trip of a lifetime.
    Let me know how it goes.