Birthday Climb – North West Girdle, Almscliff

I usually try to grab a memorable climb to celebrate my birthday with. Sometimes these are epic / exotic https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2019/09/01/outer-space-eldorado-canyon-and-a-memorable-birthday/

Often they’ve been at Gogarth https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2017/09/01/flytrap-on-gogarth-north-stack-birthday-adventure/

Or involved a “tick” on one of my various to-do lists https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2020/08/31/gordale-take-2-light-and-deliverance/

2021 was never going to be a year for birthday cake on a portaledge, and the weather at home didn’t really encourage a mountain hit, so it was a good opportunity to tackle another of my remaining Hard Rock gaps: the North West Girdle of Almscliff. Happily, Jake could fit me in for an after-work rendezvous at his local crag.

Not looking too promising on arrival:

It’s quite a voyage, as you’d expect from a 200ft route on a 50ft crag. Here’s a rough line…

… and of course, being Yorkshire Grit, it’s a full-body workout from start to finish, taking in some wild situations in its 4 pitches.

It starts up Z Climb, an in-your-face old-school VS, that had me thinking “if this is 4c, what are the 5b pitches going to be like?”.

You then start the rightwards quest along fat, slopy breaks (large cams advisable, Big Bertha was brought out of hibernation for the occasion!) taking a first stance in Parson’s Chimney.

Jake following pitch 1

The next leg of the journey has you crossing Big Greeny and making a tenuous stride onto The Pulpit…

… before heading up to a cramped stance at the top of Long Chimney. The capping roof above was particularly welcome as the drizzle had turned to rain. This was my launch point for the crux traverse across Wall of Horrors, a particularly apposite name given the amount of pigeon crap on the key holds, but at least the steepness was keeping the rain off. By the time Jake followed into Great Western, the sun was breaking through.

Fab views from the top and thoughts turned to another route…

But the weather had other ideas and we’ll have to return another day for Wall of Horrors and Western Front.

That cloud had a silver lining as we were in the pub before last food orders, and Leah was able to join us for beer and cake – another birthday and another Hard Rock route ticked off. Happy days!

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