At the third attempt the challenge to on-sight ten routes at Crookrise has finally been achieved by the intrepid team of John Brayshaw and Steve Wilson.
Meticulous planning and speed were the order of the day. With this in mind we reached the crag just before noon. Andy Hudson was up here somewhere – we had a quick look along the crag but with a strong wind swaying the bracken we could not spy him and decided to get started ASAP.
It had been decided to lead in blocks and I had the first three leads. First up (cave crack) and at only V Diff this seemed an ideal opportunity to get off to a quick start. To help us further we placed the belay gear before descent.
Some forty minutes it was not going to plan. I had already been up and down several times trying the crux and losing copious quantities of skin in the process before John suggested wandering off up Midget Morsel (MS) which shares the same start. This proved very pleasant and slabby. Of course all the stuff to belay off had been left in situ on the next route so much faffing about ensued. Still one in the bag at last.
Time to kill the bugbear of Cave Crack. It all proved quite easy next time perhaps even V Diff but better using the Pete Corrigan grade system of- ‘V Diff my ar..’
A lunch break ensued with the time moving rapidly on in to the mid-afternoon. After a nice lead up the slabby Shelter Stone (HS) time to see what John had planned for his three first leads. Well what can I say… It started with ‘Facade (S)’. John seemed slightly displeased with my suggestion that it was only 2 meters high and we finally agreed on 2 metres two centimetres. Surely more dizzying challenges would come, but no.. It continued on with two more climbs of similar stature. ‘A Vicious Slice of Mango (VS)’ was first, with a deceptively tricky first few centimetres. More energetic was ‘A Malicious Cut of Grapefruit (HVS)’ sharing the same tricky start which I solved second time by jumping! John tackled the route with much cunning employing a crafty heel hook while I went for a knee bar.
At last we felt at over half way the challenge was a real possibility. Johns meticulous planning had ensured three rapid climbs squeezed in to an overall height of some ten metres. My next two climbs were a little longer especially if you count the three metres of vertical heather at the top. Both were next to each other and started by a move on to an undercut sloping ledge. By now becoming more accustomed to the vagaries of Crookrise grading I decided to start up the easiest looking climb ‘Dirty Tackle’ – severe. Nice climbing (topout excepted) with juggy holds and plenty of protection. Now to the next door ‘V Diff’ of ‘Trivial Pursuit – less gear and harder climbing. I rolled on to the ledge holding on with a wedged foot above the level of my head, standing up now proved tricky but my final lead was done.
Wondering what diminutive routes would be next on the list we scrambled up a gully towards the back of cave. I feared the worst but it turned out to be a climb of more orthodox stature and indeed quite a good one with a nice move or two over the top block ‘Friction Slab (MVS)’. Here we also met up with Andy Hudson who had had a good if windy session at the north end of the crag.
One left – Jug Wall (HS). We ventured in to a claustrophobic void with an overhanging back wall of vivid green streaked with brown with the wind howling through the recess. This was our route – ‘with helpful holds’ said the guidebook. The helpful holds started as slippery and lichenous for the feet and rounded breaks for the hands, but soon began to improve. John made the error of trying to clean one of the holds, receiving a faceful of pungent lichen for his pains.
At the end we both felt slightly sad that the challenge was over as it’s been a pretty good one.