Thursday, October 4, 2012

The loneliness of the long distance dry tooler

Training for winter climbing has long been a challenging process - scratching around of old stone walls or under bridges, and more recently upsetting other wall users with hooky rubber band axes. The best training is offered by dedicated dry tooling crags but until recently there was a choice of two Newtyle (a 5 hour drive from Sheffield) or White Goods (a 2 - 2 1/2 hour drive). Luckily there is a little more choice with a new (by all accounts an excellent) venue at Hodge Close Quarry in the Lakes (still 2 1/2 hours drive from Sheffield) and Masson Lees near Matlock (45 minutes drive - yipee).

There has actually been a couple of routes for a 2 or 3 years at Masson. A short M5 and an upside down M lots. There has been a fair amount of activity recently and now the M5 has an M6 cousin, the M lots has doubled in length and become M lots and lots! plus there are two further lines drilled one completed (the left of the two) at M8+ and the other, when its been finished, should be around M7/7+.
Jon and paid a visit yesterday - behind him (click on photo to see full image) you can see the 20 quickdraws of the M lots and lots recently put up by Andy Turner and called Marginal gains - from the dark cave on the left it traverses to the far right hand lip of the cave. The two easier routes are to the left of the picture just right of the tree and the M8+ goes through the overhangs on the right of the photo.
 Heres Jon on the M5 - almost completely drilled like most routes but actually quite good as a moderate graded training route/warm up. I personally didn't like the M6 just to its right which is almost entirely natural but uses several natural threads which feel like they could snap at any moment. An axe in the face seemed an imminent possibility but I suspect it was early season wussiness.
I dogged out the M8+ (this is the first half) again totally drilled. I found it desperate for the grade and there were some moves I couldn't do. It would be at my limit if I was going well and I'm definitely not going well at the moment.

Newtyle and White Goods have a lot more to offer at the moment than Masson. But being so close and desperately needing to sort out my fitness I'll be back for more humiliation and sore arms at Masson soon.

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