Friday, December 11, 2015

Finding Worthy Rocks: First Ascents in Dartmoor National Park

As my friends are well aware, I was not too psyched about the move to Southwestern England.  I generally judge an area by the quality, quantity and potential of the local climbing and it was safe to say that Exeter is a downgrade in every way from my home in Gothenburg.  Fortunately I quickly stopped whining about what I left behind and started exploring my new home and realized there is a decent amount of rock to be found at my "local" area of Dartmoor National Park.  

Those that know me are aware that I like the process of searching for boulders almost as much as I like climbing them, and since everything in Dartmoor was new I had plenty to keep me busy.  I went to work systematically visiting every area, ticking the local classics and searching for anything that might have been overlooked.  Using various online resources, local beta, satellite images and detailed maps I started trekking to every area that had even the remotest chance of having climbable rock, and while most of these missions were met with disappointment I'd occasionally stumble upon something worthy.  

Well, the productive outings have started to add up and not only have I collected quite a few projects but I've also added 15 new problems with some of them being among the best in Dartmoor.  So here are a few pictures of some of the new problems and there is certainly more to come.  I have come close to exhausting the areas closest to home but there is still plenty on the far side of the moor.  

The majority of climbing in Dartmoor is on rocky outcroppings called "tors" like Greater Rocks (foreground) and Hound Tor (background).  While all of these tors have been climbed at for years (they are hard to miss) there are some obvious problems that have been overlooked.  

One such overlooked problem is at Easdon Rocks and only two meters from the classic Easdon Arete.  It goes from a sit using a "nonhold" under the roof and then navigating the slopey lip/arete to the top.  I called this one Overshadowed.

While the potential up on the open moor is limited there are several wooded areas with clusters of boulders hidden in the trees.  I've had the good fortune to meet some kindred spirits that have been exploring the woods for years and they gave me a tour, saving countless hours on my part.  Thanks to Tom Rainbow for showing me around and pointing me toward this project, which I called Lazy Colon.

A little arete I found hiding in the woods and brushed up.  I do try to seek out the best stuff but not every fa I do is going to be an area classic.  Sometimes you got to find the "best of whats left" and I can say being in England is teaching me to make do with what I have.

 Lustleigh Cleave is a large wooded area that has the most potential of the Dartmoor areas and where roughly half my fa's are, including this gem.  Over the Mountain is one of the most enjoyable and surprising new problems as it started as a nice option for a day out with my sun and turned into a minor obsession.  It took me two days to just figure out the beta and I hauled my son back roughly 8 times before putting it together.  The climbing is pretty unique for Dartmoor and packs a lot of climbing into a small space.

Here's a shot of the crux underbelly of Over the Mountain

Here's another new problem in Lustleigh.  I brushed this one up while supporting a friend on an adjacent problem and Mikey and I sent it one after the other.  Another problem worth doing if in the area.  Hey Mikey, what did you call this one?

Perhaps the best problem I've put up in Dartmoor is also in Lustleigh and climbs the face of "the project boulder".  Yankee Doodle Dandy is essentially just three moves with the last one being a big dyno.  I did do this one by myself but it's not recommended as pads and spotters will prove helpful.

It's always nice to visit areas you've marked on your map and find someone has done most of the work of cleaning the boulders.  I later found out who had developed this little area and informed that I was the first to do this little dandy.  I called it The Gift and want to thank Dave Henderson for cleaning it up.

Another sweet problem Dave had cleaned up was this slopey traverse he called Snaresbrook Snake-charmer .  He started from a jug in the middle and I added an extension that sit-starts all the way left.

This one is actually still a project (one of many) but I've figured out all the moves and at some point I'll get back to it.........

Friday, December 4, 2015

Wrist Rocket (aka Triple Threat Arete): Little Cottonwoods Best Problem?

Wrist Rocket is an amazing climb in Little Cottonwood that is a contender for best in the canyon.  I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a crew there as it does require a few pads and/or a solid spot. Also a big thanks to my buddy Kyle for prepping the top and spraying me down with beta.  

It's also worth noting that the name of the problem can cause some confusion as it also goes by the name Triple Threat Arete.   I'm not actually sure which name is "correct" but it is a great problem regardless.

Ben pulling on to the start of Wrist Rocket

The start of the problem is straight forward fat-boy climbing with big moves to big holds and lots of foot cutting.

Ben eyeing the last dyno before entering the crux lip encounter

Here Kyle and Ben attempt one method to do the crux that uses a small crimp to the right and standing up.  I prefer the alternative of matching the arete and doing a balancey mantel.  When your foot is on the lip the hard climbing is done but you still need to keep it together for 15 feet of slab climbing.