Edition of 4/9/2003
From: Andrewr At Work (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: TR : Oh god, not Peel Crag, again.
Date: 2003-05-06 02:51:40 PST
Yes, Eddie and I returned there this weekend - although I suspect that we've nearly used up all of the problems that interest us and are within our abilities, so expect to see reports from Crag Lough soon.
That said, Peel Crag does seem to be sadly under-used. We were there on Sunday, when the weather was overcast and a bit windy at times, but not too bad. The only other group on the crag were a dozen or so people from the Boy's Brigade who spent the whole day climbing up and ab-ing down "Sunset".
While Peel Crag is a bit overgrown in places it does offer many lines that are good, if not classics, and it's a bit of shame that it is disregarded so widely.
Anyway, first attempt of the day was "Swing Up" (HS, 4b) which defeated me last time.
The climb starts up a wide crack, that is akward, if not difficult, to the top of a pedestal. From the pedestal a bit of a lean lets you get your left hand to the edge of an arete that juts out over a small roof. The "problem" is that the wall leading out to the arete offers nothing in the way of footholds - one has to grab the arete, crank across and get a left foot onto a high hold on the edge and rock over onto it.
There is a big psychological issue in that once you have got your left foot out you either have to complete the move or fall-off - there's no way to reverse it once you've started.
Having been up to the top of the pedestal before this presented no problems for me. Also I had a new weapon in my arsenal - Eddie and I had invested in 3 very small brass nuts, one of which, with a bit of a stretch, fitted neatly into a thin crack on the edge of the arete and stood a good chance of preventing me having a painful swing back into the wall behind the pedestal if I should fail the move.
Even so, it took a little while to get my head around it. I sat on top of the pedestal to have a smoke and then went for it; left hand out to the edge, right hand gripping a crack on the wall above the pedestal, left foot out onto nothing in particular, right foot alongside the left, left foot up onto the arete, right hand out onto the arete, tug ... and there I was, standing on the edge of the arete in a very exposed position and marvelling at how stupidly easy the move to get me there had been.
The next problem was that there was nothing in the way of pro on the arete and I made the next few moves up it trying not to think that only a chunk of brass about half the size of my little fingernail was protecting me from a very long fall.
Reasonable gear at the top of the arete made the last few moves to the top feel nice and secure. Eddie followed me up with no difficulties and was equally amazed at how stupidly easy the crux move onto the arete had been.
So, a bit of a one-move-wonder, really, but an enjoyable enough start to the day.
Next we moved around the corner to "Overhanging Crack" (MVS, 4c) which Eddie led. The route starts off on small holds, following a number of very green cracks up a wall. Eddie whizzed up here, but found the stances uncomfortable, requiring quick gear placements.
The cracks end in a small ledge (which isn't as good as it looks from the ground) before following a fine, curving, jamming crack up the side of the arete from the previous route.
Unfortunately, aside from the crack, the top part of the route offered scant hand-holds and was more than a little unnerving. Eddie made it to the top, but admitted to not having enjoyed it very much.
Following up, with the security of a top-rope, I found the top section quite enjoyable, but I wasn't required to show any boldness and could try a few more technical moves that would have felt very committing on a lead. I guess I'll have to go back and lead this one someday and see if I'm as happy to be brave when the rope is below me.
Next off I started up "Jester's Wall" (VS, 5a). The route starts up a corner crack before encountering a small overhang. The guide suggests lay-backing over the overhang, but standing beneath it the moves to do so looked a bit hairy. There was a fine #1 friend placement in the bottom of the overhang, which was wasted as I'd put my #1 friend in lower down the climb. I placed a 4 wire, moved up to look at the overhang, had doubts about the 4 wire, moved back down, gave it a gentle tug and it came out straight away. Shaken by this I down-climbed and resolved to try this one again with an extra cam and a better knowledge of the placements - but, most importantly, on another day :)
We moved along the crag to "Grooves" (S, 4b) and a gale started blowing. The route itself was nice, but the guidebook description as to how the top of the route should be climbed didn't seem to bear much relation to the actual rock that was available. The route was straight forward to start, climbing straight up to a sentry box, but then the guidebook talks about following a groove behind the box and making an akward move into a wide-crack.
By the time I'd reached the sentry box there was no sign of any of these features and the wind was so strong that Eddie and I couldn't really communicate about the route (I could hear him fine, but he couldn't hear a word I was shouting). In lieu of any alternatives I climbed straight up and over the box to finish, which was tricky but well protected by a sling threaded round a convenient tree.
Again Eddie was less than impressed by the climb. His belay point seemed to be in a wind trap and he was shivering by the time he started climbing, also, because he hadn't been able to hear me, he'd taken my uncertainty about the direction of the route as me being worried about the climb and so had been expecting me to take a fall.
We headed back West along the crag, towards the car-park and I stopped to do an on-sight solo of "Jackdaw" (Diff). The route was so stupidly easy that I really wished I hadn't bothered. There wasn't a single hand or foothold on the climb that was anything less than bomber and the whole thing had a "stone staircase" feel to it.
Eddie didn't fancy a solo and the route wasn't worth him leading so we moved to the route to the right of it, "Layback Crack" (V Diff) and Eddie led up there.
As promised by the guidebook the start of the crack was akward, made more so by one of the crucial footholds being extremely well polished and slippy.
On a top-rope I found the route pretty straight-forward, probably helped by the fact that it meets "Jackdaw" half-way up, so I'd just climbed the top section.
Anyway, with the sky threatening rain, we called it a day and headed off.
So, as I said earlier, there's probably not a lot more that we're desperate to do at Peel Crag, so in the future we'll be moving on to Crag Lough to see what it can offer us. Anybody happen to know if there's a short-cut there to save us walking past Peel Crag to get there?
... And those who said "Peel Crag" only get half a mark, because we went to Crag Lough as well.
Because of other committments this weekend (putting up decking in Eddie's garden) we could only fit in a Sunday evening climb. So we were in the Steel Riggs car park by Hadrian's Wall at quarter to 6 last night, with a view to climbing until dark.
The plan was to walk along to Crag Lough to have our first look at it, having exhausted our supply of climbs at Peel Crag that we were (a) interested in and (b) capable of climbing.
However, before we said our goodbyes to Peel Crag I had one bit of unfinished business to take care of; "Tiger's Overhang" (VS, 4c).
Tiger's takes a wall up beneath a roof and then goes round the roof on good holds (according to the guidebook and everybody else who has ever climbed it). Last time I tried it I couldn't figure out how to get out from underneath the roof to the good holds on the face above it and ended up traversing off onto "Tiger's Chimney" (VD).
However after my sucess on "Swing Up" (HS, 4b) last time we visited Peel Crag (see previous TR) I had spent a week convincing myself that all I needed was the courage to go for it and I'd be fine.
Eddie was a bit unsure about starting the evening with Tiger's as, apart from me failing it last time, we were both knackered after a hard weekend of lugging wood, digging holes, mixing concrete, etc. On top of this we'd never managed a successful VS lead at Peel Crag, which does seem to require considerably more boldness than, say, similiarly graded routes in the Peak.
However, I managed to talk him into it and I soon found myself roped up and making easy progress up the wall with the roof looming above me.
All to quickly I found myself standing beneath the roof, facing the physical and psychological crux of the climb. The stance beneath the roof is slightly uncomfortable and the roof is devoid of anything that looks even close to a hold good enough to get around it.
I got a good friend and an even better wire in and decided that things were as good as they were going to get and I was going to have to go for the roof. A bit of fishing around with my left hand found a good hold hidden at the back of hole high up on the wall. Grasping that for all I was worth I moved my right foot up to a high hold in the centre of the wall, leaned backwards and stood up.
I now had a secure position and a good view of the wall above the roof. The first of the good holds was clearly visable and an easy reach. I put up my right hand and got hold of it and then looked for something to do with my feet. Nothing seemed obvious so I stepped back down, beneath the safety of the roof.
I was now absolutely gripped. Knowing that I could reach the good holds had shaken me because it meant that I had no excuse for not going for it. Eddie shouted up to complain that it was starting to rain and I did, briefly, contemplate that as an excuse for backing off. However, a quick look around found what looked like a decent foothold for my left foot once I'd stepped up, so I steeled myself, stuck in another friend for good measure, cursed that the stance beneath the roof wasn't good enough to allow for having a smoke there and decided to go for it.
The hidden left hand-hold still felt good as I stepped up on my right foot. Ignoring, for a moment, the wall above the roof I got my left foot onto the hold I had spotted, got my right hand onto the good hold on the upper wall, stepped up further, reluctantly let go of my good left handhold and found myself holding onto to the wall, hanging backwards over an 18m drop onto a rocky ledge.
This position, while exposed, didn't feel as strenuous as I'd imagined and I actually felt quite relaxed. I did shout down to Eddie to ask what he thought I should do next, but the answer was quite obvious - I didn't fancy falling off backwards and I'd gone too far to traverse off, so upwards and onwards seemed to be the way. I quickly moved up, on the promised good holds, and got my feet onto the upper wall. With a final heave I found myself standing up on the upper wall, legs shaking and hardly believing that I'd done it.
I slotted in a good wire and then romped up the final wall to tie in at the spike that has been helpfully hammered into the ground at the top. I was still shaking as I shouted down that I was safe and lit up a smoke, but I'd done it and could happily move on to Crag Lough.
Eddie, worn out and without the adrenalin rush of leading, found the pull round the roof a bit stenuous, but made it to the top with no real problems. We packed up our kit and wandered off along the trail to Crag Lough - the rain had stopped, the sun was shining and it all looked good.
On the walk we got to see the western end of Peel Crag for the first time and, if we thought that the Eastern end was overgrown in places, it was nothing compared to the scrappy little outcrops that we saw. Nothing came close to looking like a decent line or stopping us walking onwards.
Our first look at Crag Lough did convince us that it is a superior crag to Peel. The rock looked cleaner with much less lichen and plant life than we've been used to.
We wandered past the first few butresses, sizing up routes as we went, and decided to stop at Hadrian's butress for our first climb. The chosen route was "Hadrian's Crack" (S), described by the guidebook as, "Superb, probably the best climb of this grade on the crag" and given 3 stars.
Eddie kitted up and set off up the first crack that the climb follows to a small ledge. Unfortunately he really was worn out and far from his best. He spent a long time standing one move off the ground trying to work out how to gain the ledge, given the lack of good footholds and the distinctly rounded handholds. In the end he did gain the ledge, but only after a few desperate, akward and strenuous moves.
From the ledge the climb follows a second crack and Eddie got into his stride and made easier work of this one, arriving at the top pretty quickly, although the final mantleshelf took some working out.
I followed up and found the opening moves both satisfying and elegant, making me keen to lead this one on a future visit. Eddie to is keen to go again on an occasion when he's climbing more like himself.
I quite fancied the next climb, "Hadrian's Rib" (VS, 4c), but it runs up by a chimney and cheeping that we'd heard when climbing suggested that there was a Jackdaw's nest with young in there somewhere. Not wanting to disturb any chicks we moved roud a bit further to "Ash Tree Wall" (S) for my lead.
The route gets two stars in the guidebook, but I was distincly less than impressed with it. At the start it seemed as if it got its severe rating because it was really a v.diff with no gear in it, but the climbing toughened up in the middle of the wall and, at the same time, a few reasonable placements appeared. However, I was still buzzing from my lead of Tiger's and this severe just really wasn't doing it for me. Rather than feeling like a star route, it just felt short, dirty and akward.
Eddie, well and truly worn out by now, didn't think much of it either. Finding the difficult moves uncomfortable rather than challenging.
It was a bit of a bum note to end the evening on, but with darkness rapidly drawing in we had little choice.
We'd just started the hike back to the car-park when the heavens opened and it chucked it down for the whole walk, stopping just as we arrived at the car-park. However, it didn't manage to put us off, we enjoyed our introduction to Crag Lough and will be returning there for our next trip. Personally I've got my sights set on a 3 star HVS - well, I can dream.
From: Andrewr At Work (email@example.com)
Subject: Photos from the weekend
Date: 2003-04-29 03:25:03 PST
As foretold Eddie and I managed to get ourselves to the Peak this weekend.
Our time to climb was curtailed by me getting lost at Froggatt (D'oh!), having to go and pull a car out of a ditch, lots of times spent in pubs and my wife and I having to get home to collect our darling daughter from my parent's house.
On Saturday we went to Froggatt where Eddie led "Sunset Crack" (VS) and "Heather Wall" (S) and I led "Terrace Crack" (VS).
On Sunday morning, despite rain, howling gales and coldness while we were breakfasting, we went to "Black Rocks" where I led "Lone Tree Gully" (HVD), which was damp and much more akward than it looked from the ground.
There are a few photos at;
For the record in this picture;
I am on the left, Eddie is on the right and the girls, left to right, are Helen and Elly.
Many thanks to Elly's other half, Pip, for taking the pictures and hosting them.
From: AndrewR (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: TR : Peel Crag
Date: 2003-04-18 13:52:26 PST
Eddie and I made another of our outings to Peel Crag this afternoon. Being short of time and long on other commitments we didn't get there until 1:30 and had to be away by 4:30 - or face severe stern looks from our respective other halves.
So, given the time constraints, we armed ourselves with a tick list that read;
Swing Up (HS, 4b)
Overhanging Crack (MVS, 4c)
Tiger's Overhang (VS, 4c)
The fact that we got none of these done is a tribute to our growing philosophy that having a guidebook only makes things worse.
Anyway, we dumped our gear at the foot of "Swing Up" and had a look. The route starts off the same as "Easy Crack" (VD), following a crack to the top of a pillar, but then it moves left onto an arÍte which is followed to the top. Both from the description and looking at the climb it is obvious that the crux is gaining the arÍte.
I set off and gained the top of the pillar with ease and had a look at what the guidebook playfully describes as a "long reach" to get onto the arÍte on the left. Getting a handhold on the edge of the arÍte was easy, but footholds were in distinctly short supply. The only option seemed to be putting a foot on a small, lichen covered, bump on the wall and trusting it with all of my weight while I swung around to get a decent foothold on the arÍte.
My gear to that point was bomber and plentiful, but there was no placement on the arÍte that could be reached from the pedestal. This meant that my foot slipping off the bump would result in a short, but painful swing back into the wall behind the pedestal which, amazingly, wasn't padded with nice soft cushions in case of such an event.
I put my foot on the buldge and it slipped off. I used my foot to point out the buldge to Eddie (who was wondering why I was standing around idly instead of damn well doing the crux) and it slipped off. I put it on more carefully and it felt sort of OKish, but by that time I'd decided against it.
Rather than waste time humming and hahing about a crux move I probably wasn' t going to do I carried on up "Easy Crack", which provided a couple of nice moves and wasn't a bad little climb, really.
Eddie followed up and, after a little trouble finding an elegant way to gain the top of the pedestal, had a look at the crux move I'd declined. Being 6'3" he could get a toe out onto the arÍte from the top of the pedestal, but admitted that he couldn't have put any weight on it.
We downclimbed a gully to the right of the route we had just done and moved a few metres to the left to check out "Overhanging Crack". The crack doesn't really overhang, but the bottom looked green, slippy and difficult to protect. We quickly decided to move on.
Arriving at the foot of "Tiger's Overhang" it looked quite impressive. The climb follows a wall underneath an obvious roof and the guide simply suggests you climb the wall and then bridge across to reach good holds above the roof and pull up. It fails to mention that, from the base, the gap to bridge across looks to be about 10 feet wide.
We seemed to be about to discard this one when somebody said, "Nah, I could lead that". A few minutes later, laden with gear and tied in, I realised it was I who had said it. Damn this highly specialized form of Tourette's Syndrome :)
The wall gave no real problems, except a few wobbly holds and a surprising lack of really trustworthy gear placements (with the exception of an in-situ wire, which is so deep that only the loop protrudes and which will still be there when the sun becomes a red giant and swallows Peel Crag along with the rest of the planet).
Arriving underneath the roof confirmed that the gap was too wide to bridge, but obvious footholds and handholds suggested that one could bridge from the middle of the wall to either the left or right hand side.
The guide offered no indication as to a preference, so I had a look at both. On either side I was well short of reaching anything on the wall above that could even be called a marginal hand-hold, let alone the big ones that the guide suggested where there.
The only viable option seemed to be to bridge to the right of the roof and use a hand-jam in a crack that splits the roof. Unfortunately this crack was rather taken up with the 2 friend that I had stuck in it and wasn't taking out for anything.
With no little sense of relief I traversed right onto "Tiger's Chimney" (VD) and followed it to the top.
Eddie, seconding, who has a reach that makes an orang-utan look like a T.Rex, also couldn't find a route round the overhang. I did invite him to try, as I'd placed no gear in the chimney, so he was free to follow whatever route suited him.
He followed my disgraceful traverse right.
As we were down climbing the same gully as before I noticed that a party were just finishing on Ulysses (VD), which I led last weekend.
Divesting myself of the rope and the bits of gear that I was carrying I set off up this route for quick solo.
The route follows a crack up a narrow slab and, I find, feels quite exposed, but enjoyable.
I arrived at the top while the previous party were still collecting their bits and bobs and felt much better about the day, actually having done something that I'd set off to do and had fun doing it.
Our time was up, so we packed everything into rucksacks and headed off for the day - pausing only to watch a second start of "Overhanging Crack" and make it look easy. Maybe next time.
However, next weekend sees Eddie and I at Froggatt and I am determined to lead "Tody's Wall", having laughed at enough other people on the crux. I might send Eddie up either "Sunset Crack" (if I'm feeling kind) or "Sunset Slab" (if I'm not). I have this dream that we'll end the day with "Three Pebble Slab". However, as I've led it before Eddie will have to do the honours :)
If you never see me post again then you know that I decided to lead it.
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