Apologies for not updating my blog sooner but I seem to have been really busy these past few weeks so I've lumped the past couple of months in together. Most of our time has been spent at Kilnsey which seemed to stay reasonably dry during the showery weather. I've been working a bit extra as well during the summer holidays so we've been mainly driving down for the odd day as opposed to stopping over in the van. We started off being keen on the trad and reclimbed some of the classics such as Central Wall and Claws. We also added/replaced some of the lower-offs and fixed gear, and cleaned off some of the harder routes. I abbed and cleaned Ken, which was a rather pokey E5 6a directly up the wall right of The Diedre. Steve had led it years ago and talked me out of it at the time, now I know why. It was quite serious in it's lower half with some hard 6a climbing in a potentially groundfall situation, then sustained 5c/6a climbing above with some small gear. There was certainly no-one queueing up behind me to do it, despite it being clean and chalked.
We both top-roped High Octane, a superb E6, both hard and bold. I flashed it on a top-rope but it was very sketchy as it was pretty filthy (it's certainly a few years since it was climbed), so it would have been a rather committing lead as the gear is small and spaced. Unfortunately it got wet again before I got it head-pointed so is now rather dirty again. Something to add to the list to do next year. I was then drawn onto The Thumb (F8a) after being inspired by seeing Dal on it. I'd tried it previously but had felt that the long reach over the lip at the end was a bit beyond me. I couldn't do it Dal's way which was almost a jump but I found that by getting my feet over the lip whilst still holding the undercut I was able to almost lever up onto the sharp crimp, then bring my right foot in and pop out to the jug. However, it felt pretty desperate in isolation and I spent several days falling off this section on the red-point before finally dispatching the route. Although I've climbed routes with higher numbers this for me was probably the hardest route I'd done and certainly tested me mentally – I was very pleased to do it. Steve also red-pointed it on the same day so we decided a break from Kilnsey was needed and so the following weekend we met up with Dave and Mary in the South-west. We'd forgotten how long the drive was – 8hrs is hard work, but we were rewarded with some good weather and tides. Saturday was spent at Lower Sharpnose, nothing too stressful. I enjoyed Out of the Blue E2 6b, Fay E4 5c (which I'd seconded back in 1992 but never lead) and Break on Through E4 5c. The next day we headed down to Pentire, this is somewhere I'd wanted to climb for ages so I was quite excited. We started on Eroica, the once classic E2 which is now E4 6a and quite committing since the demise of the peg. I was up and down a couple of times before going for it. We were both a bit disappointed with this route and didn't think it deserved three stars, maybe two for it's classic status. Next I was super keen for Darkinbad (E5 6a) since that was the route I'd really come to do, however we were faced with a dilemma. Steve also wanted to lead it but didn't feel in the mood that day. Fortunately, Mary came to my rescue and offered to second me. She'd on-sighted it earlier (in excellent style) and was happy to do it again. There wasn't much daylight left so I decided just to lead the first pitch then finish up the top pitch of Eroica, then do the top pitch next time with Steve. I really enjoyed the route and found it more of a challenge than I thought I would. Face climbing is usually my forte but most of my trad climbing this year has been on sustained, well protected routes, so being faced with committing rock-overs above RP's was a bit different. However, the time restriction meant I didn't have a chance to dither and all went well. I was really pleased to get it done.
The rest of August was fairly non-eventful. Kilnsey got quite wet again and I didn't feel very psyched. However, by the end of the month I decided to get back on Le Lapine and see how it felt. The same move was spitting me off again, mainly because I was so stretched that I was losing the tension required. I managed to find a different sequence though involving dead-pointing into a tiny undercut then building my feet up for the move to the sloper. There seemed to be some mileage in this so I decided to persevere with the route – sticking with the shorter, power routes isn't good for my ticklist but I'm sure it will help me in the long term.