Overview - First day back out on the rock in England, but very apprehensive as to how it would feel - Does bolt climbing take away the trad 'head? Does climbing on steep, juggy limestone for two months necessarily translate into improved ability on grit? Well Ramshaw doesn't strike me as the best place to start (given I've only been there once, and was convincingly mauled that time), but that's where Luke and LLew are with hot tea, so off we go. The day's one of those rare perfect-grit days, having been very cold overnight, but now is full of glorious sunshine across the crag. Perhaps it was Wizard of Ice at Mt Arapiles, but somehow jamming/crack-climbing now seems much easier/more obvious. Excellent.
Solo - Ouch, first route done as a boulder-problem warm-up, and I fall off it! Apart from the slightly damaged heels, it shook the confidence... A very nice line up small but very positive edges to a balance move around to the left on the architypical grit-smear. Scary finished too! Could do with having another star, and possibly be HVS, as I doubt any gear would hold.
Seconded Llew - Luke/Llew's first acquitance with cracks at Ramshaw, and hence was the usual battle for them. Nice easy route, though perhaps only HS as it's only one jam/thrutch move with gear galor... *shrug*
Solo - Though gear might go in, it seems best to just take a mat and a few spotters willing to catch you! Whether the arete can still be used higher up, or rather the pocket left is stepped in to, I don't think it makes much difference. Swing around the starting corner, stand up, then gibber to a reasonable positive top-out. Nice.
Led - I pointed out Crack school #4 to Llew/Luke as soon as we arrived, and they pretty much did a Monty Python "run away". So I led it. Heck, it's VS, and at that level, even I should be able to get up it. Tried to force myself to jam the start, by eventually gave up and reverted to lay-backing up it for two meters or so. Amusingly, I placed three cams a total of six times, moving each one over the previous as the crack widened. For a "pure jamming" test-piece, it was quite fun! Llew and Luke were both mauled seconding.
Bouldered - Didn't quite get the crux (pulling over roof), but did make it there almost onsight. Having done so, I then went and got a mat and some spotters! Sloth-style hanging start to a dyno for the jug, followed crimping with boat-loads of body tension, to gaston-pinch and that runnel on the lip. But then what?
Led - Okay, I've just come back from 4 months of climbing, but this felt remarkably easy... The gear is described as being "disappointing" in the BMC Staffs guide, but it's like climbing on bolts if you take a few larger cams! The "disconcertingly obscure crux" makes for good moves, and a terrific heel-hook final move. High in the grade? Perhaps I should do a few more before passing judgement.