Friday, 24 June 2011

Laaaaadies and gentleman... Welcome to the Dan Varian show!

So here we are again with more photos and some tales of high adventure.


To kick things off, a new problem hidden in the forest below Simonside.
I got a phone call from Dan about this bloc that he had found with a steep prow and no holds. The holy grail..! He was very excited so I headed up to meet him. The directions were a bit vague, but it's actually easy to find. Turn right at the pond and follow the edge of the forest for a bit, then wander into the trees.
The boulder itself is beautiful. It needed some cleaning to remove several decades worth of pine needles from the top, but it was dry, and that's a good start. It sits above the ground on small plinths of stone and has a hollow underneath. The perfect bivi spot. Sort of.
I arrived just as the sun started throwing some fantastic golden light through the trees. Dan had already done the problem, so he jumped on it for some photos, then began working the sit start.

Dan Varian on Awooga, 7c

Dan Varian on Awooga, 7c

The sitter had to wait for a couple of weeks, but there's nothing like getting eaten alive by midges and having a camera in your face to motivate you. Just get the problem done so you can get the hell out of there.

Dan Varian on Awooga SS, 8a

The 'helicopter' move at the top

You can see the video of the problem here:

Badger's Cove

I had a trip out with Dan on his home turf recently (no, not Brampton) and he took me to Badger's Cove where I photographed him on the rock-hard 'Dandelion Mind'. It's steep!

Dan Varian on 'Dandelion Mind', 8b/+

Dan Varian on 'Dandelion Mind', 8b/+

Dan Varian on 'Dandelion Mind', 8b/+

There was some dangerous brushing going on as well. Two mats doubled up, and wobbly ladders that only just fit. That's asking for trouble:

"Stop taking photos and hold the f***ing ladder"


Back up north, there have been some interesting goings-on up at Callerhues. Nothing new, but get this: Second Born is clean and in prime condition. Not only that, but it has just had it's second ascent in 26 years! Unbelievable. 

Who hasn't been to Callerhues and looked with longing and admiration at the super-burly, steep, overhanging crack of Second Born with it's intimidating, bouldery start? Who wouldn't want that on their tick list?
One problem though. It's always been filthy and the crack has been filled with moss for as long as I can remember. All it needed was a little care and attention from Nic Ward. When I was up there with Nic and Rob (see previous blog post), Nic spent the afternoon digging out the crack and cleaning it up. While Rob and I were doing photos on various routes, it was raining soil over at Central Buttress. Amazingly, the crack dried out in about an hour and Nic had a bit of a play on it before we had to go.

I spoke to a few people to find out if it had been climbed since Bob climbed it in 1985. I had talked to Bob about the route ages ago and I remembered him telling me that no-one else had climbed it around the time he did it, which was unusual as all that squad were climbing pretty hard. 
It starts to make sense when you consider that it's 'old-school' Northumberland E5 6b, made even worse by the 'Callerhues Factor' where even the VS routes are E2.
Rob reckoned it's fair at E6 6c.

So, after making a few phone calls, I'm pretty sure that this was the second ascent, unless anyone else knows any different?

I know parts of this are a bit vague (sorry), but photos and more info coming soon...

Dan was psyched to get up there and check out the lines. I haven't seen him so fired up.
First of all he flashed 'Scar Tissue' (see photos from the last blog post), and it was a full-on battle at the end.
Just to get the full tick, he finshed up The Thoroughbred.

Dan Varian on The Thoroughbred

Rob and Ged had done Sheer Temptation, so knowing that was clean, Dan decided to jump on it. As far as I'm concerned, it's the line of the crag. Another amazing Bob Smith route, first climbed in 1979.

Dan Varian on Sheer Temptation, E4 6b

Dan Varian on Sheer Temptation, E4 6b

As you can see, it's pretty highball!
Dan thought the climbing was fantastic. Rob had already raved about the quality after cleaning it up and getting on it.
So anyway, I know that several people have Second Born in their sights. Now that it's clean for the first time in over 20 years I expect it to get a few ascents this summer.
Here's one of them. Onsight.

Dan Varian on Second Born, Callerhues

Dan Varian on Second Born, Callerhues

Simply awesome.
Just seeing these two routes get climbed was exhilarating. I felt like I'd climbed them myself!
I can also confirm that both of these routes are mega-classic with superb climbing.

This blog post isn't all Beastmaker though. Katie was up at Callerhues with us and she wanted to do the prow of Golf War, 6b+.

Katie Mundy, Golf War, Callerhues

Katie Mundy, Golf War, Callerhues


I had a trip up to Bowden with Paul Carruthers. I had persuaded him to get on Pulp Friction and have a few goes at doing Working Class. He's already done it, so no pressure...

He warmed up on Child's Play, before giving Pulp Friction a go.

Paul Carruthers on Child's Play, Bowden

 Considering how warm it was, I couldn't believe how close Paul was to doing Pulp.

Paul Carruthers on Pulp Friction, Bowden
He was falling off the slab going for the last hold, and you can't do that very often as you lose a lot of skin.
Here's a couple of photos from Working Class. We'll be back up there, wont we Paul..?

Paul Carruthers on Working Class, Bowden

Paul Carruthers on Working Class, Bowden