070813 Birchen

Overview - I do love the idea of ticking whole crags (up to E2 at the moment), and Birchen is the probably the easiest place to do so outside of Harborough. Today's tally was 37 climbs (so only the notables are mentioned here), mostly onsight solo... That'll tire you out (even if they are only 10m tall), and I'm now happily dead. First time I've visited Kismet buttress, which is a great buttress , but Oceanic and I quickly finished the possibles there off and moved on to do battle with Midway. I tried to continue the ticking afterwards (I think I only have about 10 left now), but had just run out of energy to the point that I couldn't even face another VDiff slab...

Device (HVS 4c):

Solo - The first route of interest, starting from the right, leads to a slight off-balance lay off the upper crack and then a scary top out. I wouldn't think there's any gear to speak of, but probably still a soft touch for the grade.

Nelson's Nemesis (3* VS 4b):

Solo - Great route - steps out into nothing are always thrilling, and even the huge polishing doesn't detract too much. Probably low in the grade.

Horatio's Horror (2* HS 4a):

Solo - I'm not sure this isn't every bit as good as the previous route, the only difference being the added feeling of exposure on Nemesis - the moves are just as good on this one!

Cook's Rib (1* E1 5c):

Led - I decided to put a rope on for this one, even though I then decided the single cam I placed wasn't worth it... There are probably great nut placements, if you can be bothered to find them. Avoiding the aretes with your hands isn't as hard as the description might imply, but certainly avoiding a toe-hook is nigh impossible! A nice few moves, and correctly graded, though not sure that gets it a star. Steve seconded (and did the crux facing the other way).

Implosion (HVS 5c):

Solo - Quite a reach, but only after that do the problems begin!

Midway (E1 6b):

Led - I tried this few years back, and remember it being appropriately named for the battle it gives. Walk up the lower slab, place gear in either corner under the arete (not one in the middle), then fall off the move above the roof as you like. Steve had a go for ~30min, then let me proving that a) the fall was safe and b) he'd found the right solution. I spent another 30min before giving him a chance to fall off properly, and finally succeeding first try on the next round of attempts. The solution that I think we tried last time was to gain high cr*p slopers on the right and step up left to a horrendous rockover. This time it was high sloper with the left and a right heel-hook. The 6b grade is right (as is E1), but it's more dependent on body shape and hence solution as to whether it's an easy or hard 6b move.

Knick Knack (E1 5b):

Solo - Most overgraded route I think I've ever come across. Solo, I didn't even pause up this, and the gear in the upper section has to be brilliant. HVS 5a/b at best.

Sail Buttress (2* HS 4b):

Solo - Done almost without thinking about it, talking Rosie up Ratline. I think this is a great route, especially on solo, for the same reasons as H's Horror or N's Nemesis, i.e. the step out into nothing. Relatively easy either side, but both stars are deserved just for the two moves out from the ledge.