070905 Stanage Pop

Overview - A Wednesday following two days of interviews had to be reserved for some easy crag-ticking, and after a near-aborted start, we headed off for the usual stomping ground of Stanage Popular. Again, in contrast to the name, there were a few others pairs out, but hardly enough for any pair of neighbouring buttresses to both have ropes on. PeakDJ (Dave) seems to be out and out as frequently as I am, so we paired up again with good results. The afternoon was blustry and cool, reuslting in good conditions for the rock, but a slight damping of spirit - however, as the evening got going, the clouds cleared, the wind died down, and it became one of those evenings that you live to be out climbing on. Just brilliant.

Stringer (HS 4b):

Solo - Not much to comment on; the first of the warm-ups for the day.

Titbit (VS 4c):

Solo - Another "good for jamming" route that I would never consider jamming on... Nice lay-off moves instead.

Muelsi (HS 4c):

Solo - As with other comments, this is really a boulder problem (with an interesting move on the lower arete) into a diff, and a walk off. Perhaps even S 4a?

Kenneth (VS 4b):

Solo - Quick a bit of mantelshelf practice.

Robin Hood's Staircase (VDiff):

Solo - For all the descriptions about this being a downclimb, I thought it was quite a neat way up - though it definitely wouldn't be well protected!

RObin Hood's Staircase Direct (HS 4b):

Solo - Another quick tick, though I'd warn folks not to wander too far left, as I did - it gets bit harder there!

Rubber Band (1* VS 4b):

Solo/Second - A brilliant VS traverse that heads out into a situation that feels like a VS shouldn't. Before starting up, I spent the leading time staring up Constipation, which looks possible... Perhaps I should do an E3 or two before trying all these good-looking E4s! Rubber Band could deserve another star.

Ellis's Eliminate (3* VS 4c):

Seconded Wendy - However bad the guidebook writer's use of apostrophies might be, this ends up feeling quite a bit harder than the previous route, as the final move onto the arete is a tad surprising. I remember Paul taking a real swing off this a few years ago, and now wonder how he managed it... I'd say 2*, but the rest is right.

Desperation (3* E1 5c):

Led - Wow, is that an absolutely perfectly named route. A V2/3 boulder problem into a reasonably hard E1 - Doesn't that make it an E2? Well, perhaps, but it's certainly the hardest E1 I've even done up to this point. At least the landing's good for the boulder problem, and the gear's then good for the next hard move. I'd wager that most people will find the problem start harder than the actual crux, but then the first 2m of a climb never seem to impact the grade, do they... It's hard enough that I'm not sure about the stars, but the moves are certainly all quite good. Dave seconded.

Agony Crack (2* HVS 5a):

Seconded Dave - Interesting first few moves until you realise there's more there than meets the eye. The roof and upper crack are far easier than they appear at first, though trying to place gear between under the roof and the top may not be advised! Good stars and grading.

Robin Hood's Innominate / Harding's Finish (3* HVS 5a):

Led - The initial route is great in itself, especially from the direct start. All the moves up the initial wall feel great, and, at the point of reaching the stance, the roof seems insurmountable at the grade. Finishing feels almost as good as Gargolye at Bamford, and it definitely one of the best experiences at Stanage. Dave seconded.

Whillans' Pendulum / Black Magic (3* HVS 5b):

Seconded Dave - An initial long reach followed by the aponymous pendulum, after which there's a slab to match Hargreaves'. Good route overall, but I'd definitely remember the large cams, otherwise the top section is going to feel incredibly bold!

Ice Boat (1* E1 5c):

Led - And I thought E1s couldn't get harder than Desperation... Well, this could be considered harder. Certainly the hard climbing is all before gear, the landing is horrible, and the moves are harder than the boulder problem start of Desperation. At mid-height there's bomber gear, with a 5a move or two above. Warning: from the breaks, move up and trend right to hit the arete at the top, don't try to move right to the arete, then up - you'll make life very difficult if you try doing it that way!

Easter Rib (2* E1 5b):

Seconded Dave - A lovely little E1. Fairly easy for the grade, but requires confidence. Put a couple of larger cams on your harness, wander up to about half height, place gear, then figure out the 5b sequence. Great climbing all the way.

Rusty Wall (1* HVS 6a):

Solo - Finally found a solution to this one! There's a horrible slopey pinch for the right, and any sort of jump makes the move much easier, but there are a number of possible static solutions. Most involve simply trying to stand on anything above the initial obvious foothold. The rest is good fun just like the rest of the wall. Correctly graded, despite feeling easy 6a once the right solution is found, it'll take a while to find it...

Hollybush Crack (3* Vdiff):

Solo - This has to be the best VDiff in the Peak. Terrific huge holds all the way, allowing bridging / laybacking / any other technique you fancy to be used. One of the those routes that simply allows you to flow up the rock. Great.

Via Trivia (HVS 5b):

Solo - One of those ridiculous grit eliminates. Between Rusty Crack and Via Media is a thin section that can be climbed ignoring both cracks. It can be made as hard as you like, depending on just how much you want to eliminate above and beyond the cracks.

Bishop's Route (3* S 4a):

Solo - Another of the low grade RockFax 50-best that I've never done before. Nice route, and plenty of obviously interesting variations, but doens't hold a candle to Hollybush as an interesting eclimb.