070302 Stanage Popular

Overview - Another blustery day, although it was gorgeous during the morning whilst I was finishing off the latest revision of a chapter of my thesis. Ted was out with a few of the Sheffield crew, so I headed off to join him at Mississippi Buttress. The idea of "ticking Stanage" continues, trying to pick low-grade routes I haven't previously done as warm-ups. Ted and Mark got up Morrisons and Mississippi Variant Direct in the meantime, and there were a few E1s in the area I hadn't done, so on to those.

Warm-up routes (VDiff - HS, all solo):

Fallen Pillar Chimney (VDiff): A terrific bridging chimney, although the gear would have to be a fair distance away for leading...
Fairy Castle Crack (VDiff): As opposed to the previous one, avoid this!
Fairy Chimney (1* Diff): Nice move at half hieght, then used as the decent.
Balcony Climb (1* HS 4b): Tricky moves into the upper cracks, plenty of gear if needed and deserving the star.
Balcony Cracks (1* S 4a): Tackle direct or bridge? Niether feel great, but the upper section's fun!
Scoop Crack (1* HS 4c): Easy lower section, either jam (worth VS) or side-step left the right (4b), then finish easily. Odd.

Pixie (VS 4c):

Solo - First of the serious routes for the day, and felt a little too eliminate for my liking. With Mark sitting atop the Buttress, I made the comment that there must've been an easier way to do it, but VS 4c is probably about right. Defintiely lacking in the star department!

Balcony Buttress (3* S 4a):

Solo - Stunning solo, but I don't think it would have quite the effect leading it. The bottom's all nice S 4a, but leaving the final ledge takes some commitment, and on a cool windy day it feels very "atmostpheric"! Not sure it's even as easy as 4a, but that could just be the exposure. Deserves all three stars, though.

Rib and Face (VS 4c):

Solo - Waltz up the rib, then stand on the ledge starring up the face... er, slab... er, face. It's slab climbing at it's steepest, and requries good balance to moves between the breaks, though all the holds are there if you find them. Probably deserves a star or two, but I was concentrating too hard to notice!

Acheron (2* E1 5b):

Led - Chris did this one last summer, and I always thought it was the hard one of the E1s on Mississippi Buttress (obviously Dark Continent is...). Nah, it's a good balance move to stand up in the first break, a simple step on to the arete, then another balancy move to reach the positive break (first one's not great) and gear. The arete step is 5b, and gear is at your feet before you start the sequence, so it's probably dead-mid-grade E1. Wish the difficulties went on a bit longer though - this kinda felt like a cop-out of an E1! Ted seconded.

Still in Limbo (E1 5b):

Led - After Acheron, I was itching for something more. And got it. The small low roof is crossed directly via good crimps and pulls to better holds. However, standing up requires all the grit-ledge-skills you possess, as there's nothing on it. Perfectly flat (yes, that means the "wobble block" has gone). The few moves above that large break are strenuous in the extreme for your forearms (move non-positive rounded breaks), but finally you return to technical wall climbing and top out. If the first and last 3 m were put together, you'd have a 3* HVS. As it is, it's now going to be my ultimate sandbag for putting new E1 leaders on. But giving it 1* E1 wouldn't actually be too far off... Ted seconded.