Monday, 24 November 2014

Cold Climbs

It's properly winter now. The Coca-cola advert is on TV and the first Christmas songs are already starting to make an inappropriate appearance on the radio. Sacrilegious. Anybody that starts buying presents before December 23rd is probably over-prepared in my opinion! Anyway! Winter also means that getting outside to satisfy my obsession is hampered by limited day light and slow drying rock. This usually means dreams of adding sought after Extreme graded routes to this years 'ticked list' slowly fade away into drizzle clad nightmares.

That route will just have to wait for next year...

Making the long trip to the crag and finding your desired line with a big dank stain of icy water dripping down through it is somewhat disheartening. Only the most ambitious masochists will be undeterred and this was especially evident on a recent trip to the Grit which was blighted by freezing fog and heavy overnight rain. After walking over to Froggart through the drizzle and finding seemingly every route totally soaking it looked like the day was going to be a total write off... Until we spotted the chimney! It would be a waste of a nice day to do such an awful route on a sunny one so really this was the ideal opportunity to give it a bash.

Ed Tonkin busting a gut on English Overhang (VS 4c).
 His t-shirt was white before he started! (Photo credit Mike Stewart)

Reaching for the surface! Shortly before this I had to take my harness off
to fit through the final squeeze!

Ian Stevens reconsidering his priorities in life.

The route of choice was called 'English Overhang' and is most defiantly deserving of its VS (very severe) status! After undercutting a rotting flake with numb fingers one had to launch up the constricting chimney of whom's walls were covered with a fine veneer of green slime (as well as an inch of water). Apart from the obvious sacrifice of skin and dignity it was actually quite an interesting route! Day saved!

The other option at this time of year is of course just to go for a lower grade. Frozen fingers and a weak sun are usually enough to convince most to climb below HVS. However thankfully there are a whole host of routes of where their low grade does not dampen their appeal even slightly. Demo Route (HS 4b) located in the far reaches of western Cornwall is possibly one of the best routes on Granite you'll find anywhere and is a great example of this. Its got it all; from steep face climbing to overhangs and even a cheeky chimney! Its always a pleasure and gets better and better every time I climb it!

Pulling through the overhand on the superb Demo Route (HS 4b)

Jed seconding up the preliminary flakes

Getting stuck in on my favourite type of climbing

Finishing in the evening sunshine.. It's bloody freezing!

So there really is no excuse. Rain, snow, cold or just hungover.. get out there and go climbing!

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