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Churnet Newness

Churnet Newness
December 20, 2010 -  Peter Whittaker    

My friend, Tom, got a bit of a tip off about a new crag that had potential for some new routes down the Churnet Valley, we were warned about overgrowth so went prepared with bow saws and psyche!


We decided to go and investigate. With some de-navigation and a nice warm up of rhododendron bush whacking we managed to find the crag. on first appearances the crag had good height to it for the Churnet, but it was lacking any kind of lines and quite broken.

However we walked about another 30metres round the corner and found an absolute mint looking buttress, with a sharp steep overhanging arete on the left and a 7 foot horizontal roof  through the middle. We spent the rest of the day clearing alot of rhododendrons and chalking and checking out the routes.

We came back a few days later with some better conditions and more time to get on the routes. I had worked out a bouldery sequence for the steep arete I had been trying. Tom had, had trouble working out a sequence for the route he was trying as it involved a massive reach and one of the biggest cut looses I've ever seen. Anyway after not working out anything suitable on the first day, he then dreamt up another sequence that night. I had the same thing happen before, but they always involve footholds which aren't actually there, or actually impossible moves. however much to his surprise his dream sequence worked!!! that must be a first.

Anyhoo Tom manged to send his route first, with a smooth ascent of the right arete of the roof. he named his creation Captain Cut Loose for obvious reasons!! and reckoned it to be around E7 6c.  After collecting some rhododendron cuttings and covering a tree stump with some pads i managed to make a better landing, for the hard highballable start of my route. I managed to get the difficult lower arete on my fourth try then ran it out on the slopey but easier headwall. I called my route Pieces of Eight and thought it to be around E8 7a. However it can be made pretty safe with a good deal of padding, and may come in around very hard E7 if done like this.

Really good day, with two cracking new routes. it just shows there are secret little buttresses still out there you just have to go and investigate and put the time in to prepare the locations.


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