Monday, 19 October 2015

Tarantula & Terrace - One Lime, One Grit (video)

What is British limestone to you? To me it's small holds, sharp crimps and a friction coefficient of polished steel. The total opposite to gritstone. In close proximity to Sheffield, we have both in abundance, which works well for the climbing community at large. Cold winters are the time for grit while sweaty summers lean towards the lime.

Do you ever feel like you're being watched? Autumn in Burbage Valley

Autumn falls in the middle. Depending on your proclivities, you could go grit or lime, lime or grit. Or even mix it up and do both! That's what I found myself doing on the Saturday just passed. I'll start with the first.

Nuda's Tartan at Alport, on the other side of the Chatsworth Estate, is small, out of the way, and nestled between some of Britain's best gritstone crags. Why would anyone go and climb there? Personally, because I like steep climbs, and Nuda's Tartan has two brilliant steep limestone problems. They're worth going out of your way for.

The steep Nuda's Tartan roof at Alport

The guidebook lists several problems on the small cave-like structure. But I think there are two distinct lines - the lip traverse, called Meltdown (7B), and the roof, called Tarantula (7C). The boulder that takes the location's name, Nuda's Tartan (7B+), is squashed in the middle and often gets mistaken for Tarantula. 

I climbed Meltdown about a year ago and finally returned to climb Tarantula on Saturday. The guidebook describes it as "another vague line" but this couldn't be further from the truth. The guidebook, incidentally, has drawn the line oddly on the picture, which probably explains why many mistake Tarantula for Nuda's Tartan. If you stay under the roof and avoid breaking out to the lip of the cave until you hit the jugs at the end, Tarantula offers some great, powerful and technical roof climbing. You don't join the traverse until the very last two easy moves, on large holds.

Tarantula (7C) at Nuda's Tartan, Alport

The key to Tarantula is a big throw off a small, right-hand undercut to a large, left-hand pocket next to the tree (see picture above). The climbing before and after this isn't too difficult, but the sequence to get the undercut, throw for the pocket and hold the swing to match, gives the problem it's difficulty and ensures it's standout and independent. The one thing I will say about the beginning moves, ensure you have a good pair of toe-hooking shoes, and bring your pain tolerance. Same as the lip traverse, the limestone is coral-like in structure, with lots of little, sharp details that make it painful to climb on if you don't get the holds right.

Autumn 2015 in Burbage Valley

After climbing Tarantula, we went off to Burbage North that afternoon to meet friends. Leigh-Anne had a project there and, suitably happy with my morning's climb, I was pleased to go on spotting duties. Of course, it's Burbage, I love Burbage and I love the bouldering there. I couldn't keep my climbing shoes off. The conditions weren't great, with lots of water on the ground and little wind below the crag, but we had a grand old time.

Leigh-Anne on the brilliant Solitude (6C) at Burbage North

After trying a few bits and pieces at the Bridge and then on the main crag, we eventually found ourselves next to The Terrace (7C). I had done this climb before, on a couple of occasions, but it's brilliant, short and powerful, and as the other two were trying it I thought why not. I was pleased to get a quick couple of laps on it - the first with a slight but unsatisfying dab so I did it again for good measure.

The Terrace (7C) at Burbage North

Out of the two problems, I have to say Tarantula felt significantly harder than Terrace. I could get into a whole new blog on the difference between them in terms of difficult, but I don't have the patience or inclination. What I will say is grades are sometimes totally redundant, so take them with a large pinch of salt. Both boulder problems are superb and worth climbing - that's what is important. Below is a short video of my climbs, if you're after some beta:

One final note: On arriving at Nuda's Tartan we discovered two discarded plastic bottles. It is highly likely they were left by climbers, as there is no through path for walkers and no other reason to visit the little cave. This is disgusting. I am very proud to be part of the rock climbing community but this sort of behaviour is shameful. TAKE YOUR RUBBISH WITH YOU! 

Take your rubbish with you when leaving the crag