Sunday, 18 November 2012

Bouldering at Baslow Edge - another cracking day!

Today was the day to get on a boulder problem I've talked about trying for ages. It was back to Baslow, where I've tried the odd problem now and again, but never really explored the wider realm, trekking out to find the likes of Flatworld. But one thing I learned today, there are a number of truly brilliant boulder problems here, but they're spread out and can be tricky to find and approach. It takes some exploration, if you haven't been to the blocks before, to find the likes of Dirty Bitch, for example. I'll get to that boulder in a moment.

Anyway, as I said, I wanted to get on a climb I've thought and talked about trying for a while. That boulder was Flatworld. More specifically, the Left Hand (LH) variation, as this is the easier of the two (by one grade) and so warranted the first tries. Having warmed up, dangling off a few large holds, shimmying between them and stretching out a little, we made our way towards the Flatworld boulder. It was a cold crisp morning but, by the time we reached our destination, it was midday and the rock was starting to get warm. Nonetheless, I jumped on Flatworld and began giving it some effort. After six or seven goes, I started getting worse, I couldn't do a cut loose move, where your legs swing off a little before you plant them firmly around the arete, and I wasn't 'feeling' the climb. Cheesy term, but climbers should understand.

Me on Flatworld LH

It was time to move on, so we walked the six or seven paces back up the hill to Fatworld, a nifty little slab of two or three moves. It gets a relatively soft grade, but felt pretty stiff to me. Maybe it was the warm holds. After dispatching that, I moved on to try the tall arete climb that is Hurry on Sundown from the stand start. The guide said the stand was, arguably, the better problem, and so I worked this out in double quick time, with a little heart flutter of a lunging move at the top, before having a stab at the sitter. The sitter adds a couple of tricky (but boring) moves before you're into the standing position. I didn't manage to stick them and after four or five goes I realised I wasn't really that bothered and was only trying it for the tick - not the best motivator. Time to move...

My partner in crime wanted to try a boulder called Dirty Bitch - a relatively new addition to Baslow. I'd never seen or heard of it before, so I was keen to have a look. A little exploration around the Wellington Monument (the guide says the outcrop is immediately below the monument - total crap; it's off to the right of this) and we eventually found the overhanging face / slab upper. Three boulders occupy this little face - Fact Hunt, Whatever Doesn't Kill You Will Make You Stronger, and Dirty Bitch. The middle of the two is contrived and hard, climbing small crimps up the middle of the face when nice, decent sized holds are within reach both to the left and the right. The other two problems, however, are definitely worth seeking out. 

Dirty Bitch was first to drop. I was going for the Flash (always go for the Flash; it means you're trying) but found getting established on the slabby face above much trickier than I was expecting. After several tries, a random chap and his family showed up and he gave me a little beta on a thumb-sprag, gaston undercut, which worked a treat and after a couple more tries it was Sent. By the way, in my opinion, the top out is totally not worth it and doesn't 'make the grade' - it's dirty, overgrown and you've got to pull on dead branches and leaves, which is a tad unnerving. Get the break and traverse right off. Anyway, the chap that gave me the beta was trying Fact Hunt so this was next to taste my fingers.

And, by George, it certainly got a good taste. The start is a jump off a large jug to a decent crimp / pinch about five feet higher. Hold the swing, throw the left foot up, delicately place your hand on a micro-crimper, rockout and grab a huge ledge. Simple. And after several goes hitting the dyno and leaving several layers of skin on there, it finally all came together. Admittedly, I decided not to battle my way through the dead bracken at the top this time, and instead opted to traverse off left.

It was time to head off and find some friends, who had arrived at Flatworld after we had left. We went back in that direction but as we arrived they were leaving. Good timing, eh? Anyway, seeing as we were there, I wanted to have a couple more bashes at the Left Hand before the sun departed for the day. With winter here, climbing outside after work is out of the question, so I would have had to wait a whole week before getting back on Flatworld, so it was now or never... well, not never... six days. But you get the point.

Anyway, it was getting really cold and the sun was almost gone, but we laid out of the mats and I had a semi-decent burn on my first go. One more try, I said, and that's it, we'll go home. I gave it five minutes, but I was getting shivery, so it was time. In my head, I was saying this is a consolation go, just a final effort to solidify the moves so I could remember them for next time. Before I knew it, however, I was through the crux move (crux move for me was taking the left foot off the big hold and holding the mini-swing). Then I high-stepped my right foot onto the starting handhold, rock over and pressed my body into the wall and reached the top with my right hand. The top out was a little sketcky, but in essence I wasn't dropping off so I just threw my heel up and rocked over. And that was that... ticked.

My last post talked of a first for me - three seventh grade boulders in a day. Well, I did that again today, but with an added grade. The tick list is just below, for those that are fussed. But, the only other thing I want to say is this... Baslow must have one of the greatest concentrations of brilliant boulder problems anywhere in the Peak District. There aren't loads and loads of them, they're spread out and a little tricky to find, but they all seem to be Stars. Worth a visit, that's for sure.

Today's Ticklist:

  • Fatworld (6A+)
  • Hurry on Sundown (6B+)
  • Dirty Bitch (7A)
  • Fact Hunt (7A+)
  • Flatworld LH (7B)