Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Spring in Yorkshire: Something for Nothing and True North

I thought I would bring you all up to date with what I've been up to over the last 2 months or so on the Yorkshire sport crags. Since mid April and pretty much as soon as both crags properly dried out, I have been heading to Malham and Kilnsey with some unfinished business in mind. High up on my list of projects were Pete Dawson's Something for Nothing 8c at Malham and True North 8c at Kilnsey, both of which I had been involved with since 2014.

The crux of True North 8c at Kilnsey (Pic: Sam Pratt). My old, duff method!
By early April, I was making good progress on one of my projects in the Cave, In Hell V12 but I made the decision to cease attempts on that for now and divert all my energies into sport projects. My aim was to capitalise on a sustained period of bouldering and deadhanging since November last year. In Hell will always be there and is one of the driest problems around so it was an easy decision to make, even though I had been close, falling off 3 times after the flake match on Rockatrocity. Only one way to find out if I would be fit enough for Yorkshire, get involved! 

I had had some good burns on Something for Nothing back in November when Pete did the first ascent, getting halfway through the crux sequence by the last bolt. However, there is a savage crank off a 2 finger pocket to a distant undercut on the crux and this always stopped me cold trying it from the ground. With this in mind, my first objective on day 1 this year was to try and get the key link climbed from the 6th bolt of Cry Freedom (before the 1st crux of that route) to the top. On a half day off work with Al belaying, I shocked myself by climbing this link on my second day back on the route. This piece of climbing must rate 8b+ and only leaves the small matter of the introductory 7c of Cry Freedom leading to the undercut shakeout at the 6th bolt to link in. I felt way better than when I was last trying the rig in November, game on!

The crux of Something for Nothing 8c at Malham (Screengrab from video footage)

Barely able to contain psyche in between visits to the crag, I started the familiar process of trying to batter the route into submission. It took a few more visits on strategic half days off work to get it in the bag. I found that the stopping point on all of my redpoints was standing up into the crux undercut that you cross through to with your left hand off the 2 finger pocket. I must have had about 7 redpoints (2 a day) reaching this point before I finally managed to creep over the line and stand up to quickly reach over for the sloper which marks the end of the crux sequence. With Rich Waterton belaying it was an incredible feeling topping this one out, the end of 4 year saga! 

Video of Something for Nothing 8c

So, one down and my thoughts turned immediately to Kilnsey where I had already had a few sessions in late April refreshing the moves on True North. Kilnsey in April is not for the faint hearted and several baltic sessions were had where the only respite from the bitter north wind was hiding in the car inbetween burns. Iain McDonald kindly held my rope on a few occasions where I didn't have a belayer and, desparate to keep momentum up and with nobody keen to freeze their asses off, I rocked up at the crag on my own, a big shout out to him!

Nearing the top of True North (Pic: Sam Pratt)
I have blogged about my efforts on this one twice previously for those interested in a bit of background to the campaign:

Blog from 2015 attempts            Blog from attempts last year

So, without rehashing what I have already written about, I will just add that this time around, I was very lucky in that the crag co-operated in kindly remaining bone dry from mid April until early June, a period of 8 weeks, which to North Buttress regulars is almost unheard of. Regular sessions on the route on saturday and sunday coupled with the fitness I had gained from my Malham stint soon resulted in me getting up to the last move again, a highpoint I had last reached in August last year. The whole season was ahead of me this time, which made a massive difference mentally. Knowing that there was plenty of time to finish the route off even if it got wet, only left the small matter of actually climbing it, easier said than done!

Hanging out on the last bolt of True North (Pic: Sam Pratt)
I kept on with the sequence on the last move I had tried a lot last year, involving a deep right foot dropknee onto a low fin with my left foot still on the glued block. Unfortunately, I kept getting spat off as the recoil when coming out of this dropknee was savage! I was able to link through this fine from the Full Tilt belay and it was doable, although not every time, from the kneebar by the 5th bolt on Full Tilt. As soon as I tried it from the ground though, even after 2 full days rest and a perfect go where nothing went wrong, I was still getting shut down. When my falls off the last move (including last year) went into double figures, I knew it was time to change things up a bit.

Reaching the 'eyes' on True North (Pic: Dale Comley)

I reverted back to a sequence that Will Kelsall and Tim Palmer had told me about involving taking the crux crimp with my left hand and slapping straight for the sloper below the finishing jug with my right hand. Although this was a powerful slap, it had the merit of being quick, involving only 2 moves as opposed to my old method's 4, plus even fewer footmoves. I had tried this method last year but had discounted it as being too powerful.
Steepening up! Stretching for the glued block on True North (Pic: Dale Comley)
The first time I tried from the ground with the new method was way better than last year and I immediately knew this is the way it would go down. I had a very close couple of goes where I tickled the sloper twice on the day when Pete Dawson sent it first try (a totally awesome effort!!) I knew I would have a good chance the next saturday as long as the route was dry. After a final light session doing routes at Manchester Climbing Centre on Wednesday and 2 full rest days on Thursday and Friday, I headed to the crag on Saturday morning trying to keep focused. 

Approaching the crux on Mandela 8a+ at Kilnsey (Pic: Kris Suriyo)
On my first go, I felt really good, the best I have ever felt on the route. I was amazed to finally stick the sloper from the ground and thought surely, this is it! Unfortunately, I couldn't find the small, white toe hold needed to stand up and roll over to the finishing jug and I dropped off unexpectedly, utterly gutted! I forced myself to recompose and had 90 minutes rest. I went back to the car to keep warm and gather my thoughts. On the second go, I had in mind that I had done Something for Nothing on my second go of the day so knew it was possible. I didn't feel quite as good as my first try but soon found myself at the last move. I gave it everything I had and grunted my way up to the sloper again. This time there was no mistake and with the last ounce of energy I had left, I rolled over with my left hand into the jug, it was done!! I was ultra focused on the still tricky, balancy rockover shared with Urgent Action and then took my time on the final groove. Clipping the belay was a massive relief after the efforts of the last 4 years and brought to a close a big investment in the route. I was too far down the road to quit, the stuggle must continue to the bitter end!

                                          Video of True North 8c

Over the last month, I have enjoyed briefly being project free at the crag. I ticked Mandela 8a+ the other week, which was a long term ambition of mine. 
New project time! The lower crux of Progress 8c+ at Kilnsey (Pic: Kris Suriyo)
I have also started to make inroads into my next project, Jerry Moffat's 'Progress' an 8c+ 10 meters to the left of True North. This one remains a lot drier than True North and perhaps suits my natural style a little better, being more fingery. Until next time and good luck on all your projects out there! 

Powerful moves by the 4th bolt on Progress (Pic: Kris Suriyo)

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