Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A day of contrasts

In the middle of the traditional (at least for the last few years) May Monsoon in the UK it's easy to get demoralised and return indoors to the climbing wall. To counteract that I went out looking for dry rock, and hopefully a crag that can survive the downpours. Jon and I ended up at Willersley and while there was a fair amount of damp patches there was still enough dry stuff to keep us entertained. Willersley is a pretty unfashionable crag nowadays understandably getting overlooked with the immaculate High Tor nearby. Modern trends now see places such as Long Tor Quarry seeing the queues and one thing Willersley isn't is a modern crag. The keywords to describe the place would be big, butch, brambly and polished, polished, polished. Despite this I think it's rather fine. It's a place of character and the adventurous part of me is drawn to it's awkward, ugly struggles. In fact Willersley has a fair variety of climbs. We initially tackled Grasper a Dennis Gray HVS 5b from the 50s that climbs a wide crack emerging from a small cave. The guidebook gives it no stars and the description describes it as "a struggle from start to finish", it also has one of the most painful jams Ive come across, a fist jam that made my fingertips completely numb, all in all I thought the route excellent. We then changed styles and attempted Blessed are the Weak a 7a+ sport route there. The crux was wet (and pretty hard) so there was no tick but again it was a really good route that I'll definitely come back for. Willersley has had some access issues due to unsociable crag behaviour, and many of the top outs require care but its offers a great batch of memorable routes, particularly if the rest of our summer is going to continue like May.

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