Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Southstone rock: a local cliff for local climbers

If you don't live in Worcestershire and climb the following is likely to be of very little interest. You have been warned!

Frost crystals on the walk up to Southstone

Southstone Rock (pdf of the guide available here for a quid) has a bit of a shitty reputation even amongst local climbers - it is definitely not somewhere you would recommend climbers travel to visit, but it is a geographic oddity - flowstone limestone popping up in an odd place. It has also always been a spooky place as well - deep in dark wood, with strange religious or perhaps even occult paraphernalia left in one of the caves when I first went there some decades back. A place where an older England; of fear and superstition, brutality and ignorance, feels not so far away. The next steep stream system down the valley is called "the Hell Hole" according to the OS map.

Southstone's main face and the left-hand subsidiary buttress

Anyway I walked past the cliff yesterday and was surprised to see that tree clearance had taken away much of the 'deep, dark woods' feel, and a lot more light will now be falling on the cliff.

The main face containing the crag 'classic', Madonna's Groove, HVS 5a

The rock is still its old swiss-cheese-am-I-really-brave-enough-to-put-my-hand-into-that-deep-pocket?-self that Southstone veterans will appreciate, but at least when some previously unknown-to-science deadly spider bites you, you can fall off and lay there gasping for your last breath in warm sunshine rather than the deep, forest shadows. So that is nice...

A far left buttress with obvious overhanging bouldering potential

Years ago I soloed and recorded a bunch of micro routes there, normally climbing up to where I could grab some kind of tree at the top, stick a sling around it and then abseil back down. Re-visiting the cliff now, most of these now look to my contemporary eye as obvious, easy, highball boulder problems. There are also many buttresses that are not particularly high that look to offer huge amounts of bouldering potential.

The back wall in the 'canyon' - potential short sports routes using natural threads

So I reckon any adventurous boulderers in the West Midlands, looking for first ascents, could do a lot worse than bring their pads, brushes and some sturdy gardening equipment to Southstone in the spring time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Extreme weather warning!

I'm in England and there is an inch or so of snow, so of course all blogs posts will be delayed. We apologize for any inconvenience caused and completely unnecessary Wire references.

Happy Christmas Y'all!

When the North East wind doth blow there shall be a wee bit of snow and bloody Baltic temperatures!

Back in da' rather bucolic hood.

Ramblin' wid my homies.

Yo! Omar comin'! OMAR COMIN'!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Finland, NATO and terrorists

I spent a lot of time at the start of week commenting on the Stockholm terrorist attack to the Finnish media. Of course they all ask the unanswerable questions like "will there be a terrorist attack here?" For various reasons my answer has evolved to "not likely, but you can't say that it is impossible"; so it was quite surprising to hear the Finnish president say mid-week that it is only a matter of time before there is a terrorist attack in Finland. But by the end of the week, YLE reports the government doesn't agree with the President and is saying that the risk of terrorism is low, although they note that:

"...the embassies of large Nato members may become terrorist targets"

Which is odd, considering that whole not-being-a-NATO-member-saves-you-from-the-terrible-terrorists thing doesn't seem to be working so well for Sweden currently.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


All you gaiter-haters out there - yo! You know who you are! With your little elastic boot straps on your softshells - thinking you look sooooo dope, sooooo fly. Well you don't, cuz'. You look like you've got wet feet, fool. So to all my nylon lower legged homies out there - still rockin' it old school - this one is for you. You know what time it is - dry feet time!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sore shoulders

But some good climbing today. Thanks to Diana and Toni for coming out; Diana for belaying and Toni for getting photos for an upcoming review. Below is some geezer in posh coat quite scared on his first steep bit of ice of the winter!