Tuesday, 29 May 2012

King Line!

Well, the walk-in's a bitch, but there's gold at the end. A stunning prow with incredible climbing. A true King Line. 
Where The Wild Things Sit 7c+ had it's 2nd and 3rd ascents by Tom Newman and Dave Jones last weekend.
I went up as soon as I'd finished work and Tom had already done it, but he repeated it a few times for photos. Each time he came back down he had a massive grin on his face and delivered more superlatives about the quality, declaring it "truly world class" and "one of the most impressive lines in the county".

Tom Newman on Where The Wild Things Sit 7c+

Tom Newman on Where The Wild Things Sit 7c+

Two points of contact... Tom Newman on Where The Wild Things Sit 7c+

Rob Fielding climbed the standing start after being tipped off by Simon Litchfield, and recently Dan Varian made the first ascent of the sitter. I remember Graeme Read raving about the prow after a Tosson cleaning session and reckoned it was about 8a. Obviously he was talking about the sit start and he wasn't far off as Dan graded it 7c+, which Tom and Dave agreed with. There's an important point to mention here: No starting blocs for feet. That doesn't make it an eliminate - up here we call that 'the ground', but you know how some people are...

Tom said, "Basically I saw footage of Dan Varian doing 'Where the Wild Things Sit' on the beastmaker vimeo and instantly wanted to go try it. This climb is the only thing worth doing at Tosson but that's what makes it special. It is situated near Ravenseugh and the scenery overlooking Northumberland is breath taking. That, combined with good people and rare nice British weather, made it a highly satisfying day out".
You need reach to get up the sitter. I can only just touch the holds on each side of the prow. Micky Stainthorpe was there and gave it a few goes. Although he could hang the position, the arete was digging into his neck and he couldn't move, which made me remember Dan had actually graded it 'morpho 7c+'.

Lower Tosson. You can see the Wild Things bloc on the left

And here's Dave on the beautiful prow.

Dave Jones on the third ascent of Where The Wild Things Sit 7c+

Dave Jones on the third ascent of Where The Wild Things Sit 7c+

As ever, it's good to hook up with Martin Smith who I think was actually here to drink Earl's beer rather than climb. Martin, ever the professional, had made sure that he was colour co-ordinated with the bouldering mats and the background. Not like these amateurs wearing a blue t-shirt against a blue sky :-)

Martin Smith on Where The Wild Things Are 6b+

Micky Stainthorpe on Where The Wild Things Sit 7c+

I think I've known Tom since he was about six years old and just one of these amazing little kids you see at the wall going round climbing everything. It's great to see that he's now on the GB Bouldering Team and built like a brick shit-house. And if there was ever anyone who actually deserved an OBE for services to sport, it's his mum, Jane, who is truly wonderful.

Tom Newman getting the guns out on Where The Wild Things Sit 7c+

Tom Newman on Where The Wild Things Sit 7c+

There are a few people who are excited about getting up there, so let me just dampen that enthusiasm by showing you the walk-in. It's further than it looks. I'm only complaining because I had so much gear. I'm sure if you just have a pad it's no problem. Hell, I've been bouldering up behind Sandy Crag and it's grim getting up there.

The route to Lower Tosson. Don't go direct.

Looking over to Ravensheugh from Lower Tosson

So, my plan was to stay up there and get some photos of the sunrise, but it was the sunset that evening that made it worthwhile.

Northumberland sunset

Here's the view looking up to Ravensheugh at 5am the next morning... Still, you have to be in it to win it, right?

Looking up to Ravensheugh at sunrise

I'd already been giving some thought to County 'top ten' lists and a while ago there was also a thread on ukBouldering about King Lines of the UK which made for entertaining reading and I can't argue with most of it (towards the end of the thread anyway).
I tried to narrow it down to five, but this is in no way definitve and will probably change when Dan climbs a couple of projects.

1. Where The Wild Things Sit
2. Queen Kong
3.The Magician's Nephew
4. Arc Royal
5. Scar Tissue

Bubbling under: Red Dragon, The Magician, Eyes of Silence.

You could probably just include Queen's and that would make it easier. I'd also thought about lines like Reiver, Preparation H, The Crack and World Line. If The Magician was in, arguably you should then include lines like Dulcinea.
Despite Reiver being absolutely amazing, I was struggling to get it into the top. Dan said  that if Reiver was in Fontainbleau, people would travel from all over the world to climb it, but there it is behind the pinnacle at Ravensheugh with only a handful of ascents.
Red Dragon? Yes, it's awesome, but look at the bloc from the other side.
Scar Tissue over Eyes of Silence? Eyes might be better climbing (if it's clean), but stand back from the crag and there are two lines that, for me, really stand out. Scar Tissue and Sheer Temptation (E4).
As I said, this list might change by next week.

I also have lists of routes (sad, sad...). The King Lines mainly consist of Transcendence and most of Simonside with a couple at Wanney as well. Oh, and Master Blaster Direct. And Barbarian... More on that another time.

On another note, here are a few photos I took recently at ASBO12 at Climb Newcastle.

Add two grades if you're climbing with a stormtrooper's helmet and can't see.

Alison Monks levitating

That's no moon...

Karin Magog

Micky Stainthorpe

Adam Watson

Sidonie Graham

Libby Barrow

He's a bit taller than he looks in the films.

I obsess about photography in all its forms and recently I've been thinking a lot about climbing photography. I should really say 'photographing climbers' as 'climbing photography' is a phrase I struggle with for various reasons. I've had a couple of experiences recently that have made me define what I'm doing (for the better).
I might write something about it.
Maybe next time.