Search
 

Anchor Management

Posted on November 24, 2014 by Ned Feehally

After another tip off from Jon I headed to Birchen, mainly to fight my way through the throngs of top ropers but also to have a look at a project. Jon tells me that everyone he had mentioned it to had dismissed it as impossible, but there seemed to be a few holds dotted about so I thought it was worth a look.

 

The problem is in between the arête of Lowside and Mark Katz's "boulder problem" The Brigand. It sounds squeezed in and the photo makes it look squeezed in, but it is a great independent line up some pretty poor holds. Start on undercuts, reach around to a right hand ripple then ride a heel and crab up a few more ripples to a pocket, and an easy finish.

 

(Photo: Ben Morton)

I had a session on it with Tom (Newman) where we both got reasonably close, but the sun came out and started to warm things up - not ideal when you are trying to stick to tiny nano ripples. We were both dead keen to return, but unfortunately for Tom his free days never quite coincided with cold, dry weather. I lucked out and found myself back there early one chilly morning and managed to finish it off just before the sun crept round onto the holds.

 

Sticking with the nautical theme of the crag, the frustrating nature of the on/off heel hook (and a love of bad puns) I've called it "Anchor Management". It felt like it might be font 8a+ ish.

 

A couple of weeks later Tom nipped back for a quick repeat - he used a different sequence as his gangly limbs didn't fit into the bunched heel hook, but they could reach a toe hook out on the arête. Either way it's hard, good work Gangle!

Continue reading →

Gritty Mauling

Posted on October 06, 2014 by Ned Feehally

I have been spending a fair bit of time wandering around the Peak looking for new problems recently. I've visited a fair few crags for the first time and occasionally it has taken me way off the beaten track. Strangely I found exactly what I had always hoped to find in the Peak almost directly on the beaten track, sitting just next to the path on the way up to the lower tier of the roaches. 

I have often wondered what would make the perfect gritstone problem. A great feature, immaculate rock, an interesting and tricky sequence, lovely hand holds that don't tear the skin, a good height and some pretty burly moves right on the limit of friction. I think this problem ticks all the boxes. I am not one for hyperbole but it really is good.

 

Ned's new Roaches 8a from Jon Fullwood on Vimeo.


I know this style of climbing isn't too popular on the whole (probably something to do with not being able to train for it indoors?) but I think it is one of the better problems I have climbed this year. If you fancy a proper tussle then I couldn't recommend it enough.  

 

Ned's new Roaches 8a FA from Jon Fullwood on Vimeo.

 


Unfortunately I have to come up with a grade for it. I am never very good at this bit. I think it felt as hard to climb as similar 8as and 8a+s, however I climbed it on a hot and muggy day and freshly cleaned rock always takes some time to settle down. For now I'll go with 8a. At some point I'll even come up with a name...

Continue reading →

Chasing geese

Posted on September 13, 2014 by Dan Varian

 

I’ve been wondering whether it’s just me and if my own tastes have been becoming more esoteric. In some respects it’s definitely true but i’d like to thing its because that’s where some real quality climbing is. If there’s one thing in climbing i love it’s being first on the scene in an area with classic boulders and experiencing it whilst it’s sleeping. When it comes to visiting unkown venues or places that don’t have any hard climbing established i never question myself anymore. 10 years ago i didn’t ask myself those questions either, it was always worth it even if it’s just to go somewhere different. That latter point is something which has been snowballing more and more with recent climbs. It’s been utterly brilliant climbing loads of new problems over the last 10 years, its also been just as fun repeating those of others. I guess this is my point in a way, i hope the development scene can weather the pressure of the way climbing media operates nowadays, much of local development is a slow process and finding classics can take years, yet inevitably these things end up sharing the same 5 seconds of fame as the rest of the internet now just to be forgotten. The consoling fact is that they exist and they’re amazing things to climb on when you find them nearby.

 

It’s a real privilege to have been born in the “bouldering generation”, we didn’t have the climbing walls that are about now, but like the generation before us with 90's sport and 80's trad. Pretty much all the best 8th grade lines in the UK have been put up post 2000, save for one or two. I would argue this is also a reason why bouldering has been popular in the last decade, as much of the excitement has come from many people riding on the back of a wave of interesting development. The fact that the golden goose is still turning them up in strange places just goes to show how rewarding it can be living in a country with such great little crags on our doorstep. Rock is a limited resource however and the days of new climbs will dwindle one day. All i will say is that it is an incredibly rewarding thing to get good at whilst it lasts. The last unknowns in a niche of a niche sport. It’s a bit weird but there aren’t many better rushes than walking round the corner and seeing that dream line, sat there like a sleeping leviathan. Difficult, intimidating, but possible. Waiting to breathe further life to the sport. I’d argue It’s even better when it’s somewhere you’ve been brought up as you have a more intimate connection with the landscape and the local nuances, a connection i always lose on holidays. On holiday i feel nothing other than a consumer of nice rocks most of the time, but i can certainly appreciate what it’s like for the locals there and the scene they have.

 

 

For two years now i’ve been engaging with a sporadic wild goose chase around my favourite stomping ground of northumberland looking for a mythical mega prow thanks to a teasing tip off from Steve Blake. Last week, at a particular low point physically (two black toes and a racked but light body. I caught a nasty gastroenteritis after competing in the best stagnant bogwater lowball girdling championship in history) i finally guessed it’s location. Dan Brown could write another crap novel with all the places Katie and I have been looking for this flipping prow (we’ve had a lot of fun on the way too). All i’ve had to go on was a photo which Mark’d got hold of on the NMC black market. luckily i could tell the sandstone type and a rough aspect and plants which hinted at a few locations. Sufficed to say expectations were high. What if the side i couldn’t see was covered in choss, or even worse, Jugs! Luckily the hype was pitched at a decent level, i’d say in the end it’s one of the coolest sets of moves on one of the best lines in the county, and northumberland isn’t short of massive lines. I got the stand last session and i’m calling it Star Slinger the stand goes at 8Aish but there’s more still to go below and around it, so in the great tradition of the one-upmanship of knowledge we wont be telling the internet where it is anytime soon, but you’re welcome to go hunting and find it in the real world.

 

 

Sometimes classic line’s are just waiting for their time, be it a nearby tree falling or the sea giving a helping hand.

 

Wilson 8Aish was one such line i’ve crossed my fingers for 5 years over. i first cleaned the upper section in 2009 but at the time it was almost impossible to start and had a death landing. The storms this winter pushed the massive block at its base to the best place it could possibly be and straight away i was on it, these things only happen once in a blue moon. I knew it was the best line on the coast. Its on the best st bees rock and the moves have a great blend of power and fear suppression. It will make a really satisfying ground up challenge to the best boulderers. Hurting yourself in the infra littoral zone with no phone signal is fairly ill advised though.

 

On another development thought experiment we decided to act upon some enticing pics John Watson put of some coastal bouldering in Dumfries, it’s pretty near where we live in Carlisle (in the grand scheme of things) and Micky, Katie and I have had 2 trips there recently and i can see myself going back for years to that coastline, The greywacke and raised beaches offer a huge variety of angles and holds on great clean rock and it’s a lovely peaceful setting. A real developers playground. We’ve put up quite a few problems there now but there are 3 classics that’d be brilliant anywhere. There’s a 7A+ish hanging scoop that has the best scoopy power palming i’ve ever done on a problem, really unique stuff which you hardly ever see, arete’s are ten a penny in this world but hanging scoopy bowls are somewhat rarer. More on this in the future i guess.

 


This blog is dedicated to “left of Ivan” a project i ripped a key hold off recently, which was going to be well fun.

Continue reading →

Eastwood - Stumble. Stop. Repeat

Posted on September 03, 2014 by Ned Feehally

A few years ago Jon Fullwood put up Lip of Fools at Eastwood, a classic E7 6c. It's an interesting route as it features physicaly hard climbing of about font 7c but with a ridiculously comfy fall onto baby bouncer style gear - bomber cams out right and tree out left. It is this sort of quirky route which gritstone is great for (Bransby protecting baron green back with a fence post etc...)

When I climbed Lip of Fools I went at it highball style, pretty much for the simplicity of it and because we had a lot of padding available that day. Also I was trying to do routes in a ground up highball style at the time and had got used to big lobs and sore knees. More recently the tree that provided the gear out left has fallen over. This means the only way to climb Lip of Fools now is to solo it, but it also means the crag isn't hemmed in by a tree any more.

 

The left hand side of the roof is split by a lovely flared green groove - a strong line indeed. After climbing Lip of Fools a couple of years ago a few of us had a crack at climbing into the groove ground up. We got a bit stuck, couldn't find any holds and generally got scared of rattling down the gap between the tree and the crag, pinball style. Jon and I had often talked about trying this groove properly and last week we finally chucked a rope down it and cleaned the minimal holds that were on offer.

After a bit of searching and head scratching we had found enough holds (well 2 of them) and enough footholds (only really one of those) and squeezed a sequence out of them. 2 small crimps, a cut loose and a huge rockover which only works if you can make a vague knee scum stick off a dusty foothold. After that it's easy to the top, fortunately as you'll be in trouble if you fall off from there.


It is strange becoming a headpointer. Part of me feels like a fraud as I am claiming to climb something which it feels like I have faked. I mean practicing moves on a rope then climbing them afterwards can make it feel like you aren't actually doing the moves any more. Gritstone has a history of being about the head game but it feels like with preparation you are partly removed from all that. You don't have to think on the fly and freestyle the movement. You know how the moves should feel so you just aim for that, and when you are within a percentage of it feeling right you know it will work so you just crack on.

Anyway, I have never headpointed before, but putting up new routes kind of forces you into this style a bit. I am not talking about the multi day siege headpoint, I am talking about top roping it in sections then cracking on in order to preserve a little bit of the excitement and uncertainty you get from not knowing. 

 

Weirdly for August the conditions were great. It was cloudy and breezy as we figured out the sequence. We then pulled the rope and as we were sorting the landing the sun came out to spoil things. I had a couple of gos anyway but I was sliding about on the small edges and couldn't commit to the crux. Fortunately an hour later the cloud came back and it went without incident.

 

MVI 0282 from Jon Fullwood on Vimeo.

 

 

Difficulty wise it felt way harder than Lip of Fools. Probably font 7c+ climbing in a position where you really don't want to fall off. It is at a height where you can dangle and drop off in control (just) but the landing isn't perfect and the nature of the move means that if your knee scum slips or your foot pops mid move you will land on your back. I actually had one semi controlled fall where I found myself doing some sort of mid-air-deep-water-solo-style-flailing to try and right myself so I would land feet first!  Maybe if I had more body hair (like a cat) i would have had slightly longer to right myself and my back would be a bit less sore today!?

So font 7c+ at height. It is probably E8 7A in old money - which describes the difficulty quite well as it is such a short sequence. An easy slab, two 6C moves then a 7A move then and easy top. I think I'll call it Stumble. Stop. Repeat

 

In other news, Dan had a quick stop over at Ramshaw the other day where he repeated my new highball. He was actually on his way back from the deep water solo comp down in Exeter and managed to climb it just before the diarrhea and vomiting fully kicked in. Apparently a few of the climbers at the comp who had fallen into stagnant canal water have ended up with a dicky tummy. Who'd have thought... Still the comp looked great fun and gave Dan a good excuse, if a little long winded, to head down and ground up my route! Good work.

Continue reading →

Last few months

Posted on August 29, 2014 by Ned Feehally

It feels like Autumn is drawing slowly in now so I thought i would summarize my recent spring/summery goings on.

Back in April I managed to cash in on the last of the cold weather over in North Wales:

Compact Culture from Ned Feehally on Vimeo.

I had tried this years ago and failed, so it was nice to go back up there and get it boshed off. Partly to get a quality problem ticked off and partly to see the progress in my climbing (ability to crimp really hard) that this represented.

 

After this I played around on a few projects in the peak. First up was Big Willy Attitude at Stanage: 

big willy attitude from Ned Feehally on Vimeo.

 

 

I spent a bit of time at Eastwood with Jon Fullwood as it began to warm up. Jon has put in a huge amount of effort tidying up the crag and removing a load of rubble from the landings. Many of the problems now climb better as a result. Jon is a real hero of the Peak district - always out searching and developing, constantly tinkering and adding problems for everyone else to enjoy. Jon is also very generous with handing over projects to others as well - I owe many of my first ascents to him and his keen eyes. 

Anyway, enough of that. We spied a new one at Eastwood - basically a high level start to the Eastwood traverse. After much head scratching, crimping and double knee barring we cobbled a brilliant sequence together. It is probably font 8a, but maybe french 8b+reflects the difficulty a bit better as it is pretty long. It's called Bone Machine

 

After this it was off to Magic Wood. I have been a couple of times before and always came back feeling like I had been ripped off in thinking that it is a summer venue. Yeah, certain problems are coolish and the holds are generally positive so you can climb some bits, but if you don't get on with the heat then it just isn't fun! I got up some things but mainly got frustrated with the heat and humidity:

I was pleased to flash Jack's Broken Heart tho. I had always told myself I would "save it for the flash" on previous trips and it was good to finally step up to the plate and get it done, and not save it for another 3 years!

 

Since returning home I have mainly been training but I managed to nip up a project at Ramshaw one blustery day between showers. It is a great line on a lovely tall wall (just below Ramshaw Crack). It's a real treat to find something of this quality, at a reasonably popular crag that is still unclimbed (the photo doesn't really do it justice)...

 

It is pretty highball with the crux move right near the top - slapping from the thin crimp rail up to the chalked jug above. It felt round about font 7c. I top roped it and then climbed it above 2 mats (there isn't any gear) but now it is clean it is prime for a ground up ascent - get to it! 

As usual, finding a good name is often harder than climbing the problem. I'll come up with something soon...

Continue reading →

 
Scroll to top