Wednesday, 20 June 2007

#6: Back Bowden in the mist

Chris and I decided to try to make use of the long days by going to the County last night. Not stopping at Morrison's in Berwick is definately the way to speed up the journey. It only took about an hour and a half to get there, giving us about three hours of climbing.
The Harr was definately in on that North-East coast, and the whole Bowden/Kyloe area was wreathed in whispy grey. All very Wuthering Heights.
We headed to Back Bowden, Bowden's far less-frequented sibling crag. Its a nice wee place, but not as friendly as Bowden - darker, broken in places, not the best landings, and did I mention the slime?
It all started well with Chris soloing Hazelrigg Wall - a wee HVS 5b. Its a highball problem, but you wouldn't want to fall from the top so I think the grade is appropriate. I pleased myself by soloing Pinup, the E2 6a next to Hezelrigg Wall. I'd tried it before but didn't feel strong crimping the bizarre nipples through the overhang. This time it seemed much easier. Maybe I'm crap at grading things, but I'd say its more HVS 5c. You could fall from the crux safely enough, and if I got it second go it can't really be a Northumberland 6a! Like its neighbour you wouldn't want to fall from the top but it's a jug-fest so thats unlikely.
I went to try The Sorcerer (E1 5C***), but this time couldn't hold the long move on the starting boulder problem so gave up. A bad excuse I know, but it was dark under that roof, making it harder to measure where I was aiming for. If you don't know the move I mean, its BIG. The holds are really good, just far apart and it's steep. Instead I went to try The Witch, a three star E2 5b. Now, the weather hasn't been great recently, and its a dark, sheltered crag, but why is a three star route at that grade so filthy, wet, and slimey? I got through the crux and into the top flake, but the pump, the dodgy gear, the wet flake and the slimey footholds all conspired against me. OK, more excuses and I'm abit annoyed at myself, but I backed-off with about three metres of climbing to go. Arse. I'm going back during a sustained period of DRY weather to do it, with lots of zero cams.
Chris later backed-off Bottleneck Crack (MVS 4c) for similar reasons - dirt and slime. I think Back Bowden is mainly used for bouldering nowadays, like Kyloe-In, so many of the routes (especially easier ones) don't get any traffic and become minging. Its a shame, but what can you do, besides climbing everything with a big brush.
Ach well. It was good to be out and about, and Pinup made the trip worthwhile for me.
No photos this time because it was too dark and misty and the flash just picked up the water vapour. Great.

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