0507 Earls Crag

Overview - You would think that this small crag could be climbed out within a day at any one grade, but returning to it proved that there are hidden gems spread across the length of the crag. Probably one of the best days I've had out in a while - for some odd reason the first lead of the day (Erasor Slab) caused the biggest problems. The following day (complete with mandatory hangover) was spent at Caley trying boulder problems, Mr Smooth (6a V3), and soloing about, Central Route (2* VS 5a). Earls Crag is where Alistair earned his name of "Epileptic Octopus", whilst scrabbling up Sour Grapes.

Mousehole Slab (VS 4b)

Solo - A repeat from the previous visit. A single slab rockover to reach better holds. You can get a cam in the central pocket (Three Pebble Slab -esque), but it really isn't worth it (as long as you don't mind the solo!).

Arete (E1 6a)

Solo - Another repeat, and probably more V3. Very fine sharp arete, and the move after mounting it is beautifully balancy. Only in the bouldering guide, as it's next to Rat Au Vin, and it deserves a few stars...

Erasor Slab (2* HVS 5b)

Led - Led as a warm-up to the direct finish, and I made a complete hash of it, even with a perfect cradle to fall into.

Fishladder (E1 5b)

Led - Aparantly combining Erasor Slab with Fishladder makes a superb 3* E1 5b. It doesn't. Fishladder is just pointless. It's an offbalance rockover to get up to the ledge (facing a drop off the the previous route, hence the E1), then an uninspring ramp. Sam seconded both, and agreed.

Erasor Slab Direct (1* E2 6a)

Led - Erasor slab is a great bit of quarried grit, and the near-mantel to stand up and finish direct is a brilliant 6a that I did without really thinking too hard. Odd that, given I spent a while sweating the easier version on the HVS! Sam seconded.

Problem Rib (E1 5b)

Led - I love aretes. Even more when they have all the hard moves low to the ground. Gear is above all the difficulties, but still worthwhile placing, otherwise the topout will feel rather exposed. Sam pointed out that my method (rocking up onto a pebble on the arete) was total overkill as the more obvious move was about two tech-grades easier (5a, whereas my version was probably 5c), but it felt sooo good...

Awkward Crack (S 4b)

Solo - just to kill time whilst looking for more fun routes.

Pedestal Wall (E2 6a)

Solo - Very much a high-ball boulder problem, as I doubt you'd avoid the grass bank even with gear in the break, so solo it is. Keep your body flat to the wall and rockover up to the ledge. It is good enough.

Sour Grapes (2* E3 6a)

Failed - Getting into the first scoop is hard, but only Alistair could make the next reach look easy. I came off three times before giving up, and have no shame in admitting it was a mental failure. How many times to do have to fall onto gear to trust it? Might have just been the end of the day! Al had a hard time retrieving his gear.