Tuesday 27 December 2022

Boxing Day at Horseshoe Quarry

Horseshoe Quarry is up in the peaks near Stoney Middleton; this was our first visit, inspired by Myra on fb. Boxing Day was looking sunny - it was, all day - and we had nothing else that needed doing then, so we gratuitously polluted our way up for two-and-a-half-hours in the car; climbed; and returned, via coffee at the Moon Inn. What I hadn't taken the trouble to realise was that it is the centre of mid and lower grade sport climbing in the Peak with many good routes between 6a and 7a, and a few below. And really there aren't all that much below. Though since we were one of only two parties there, we had our pick of what we wanted.

You'll find it easily enough, not far out of Stoney; there's a little parking lane; here FWIW is a pic showing the lane turning into a track towards the quarry. Here's a general view looking Southish; it is a beautiful area. The Main Wall is off to the left; you see its beginning.


Below: part of the Top Quarry (I take my names and grades from the RockFax guide). You get to this up the little track from the main area floor you can see in the pic above.


We did Luke Skywalker, 4a, roughly in the middle of this picture; about 7m high (pic: D on the route, belayed by M). This area has been recently re-bolted and the top anchor points are of the cutesy put-your-rope-through-without-deroping type, which is nice. However, it was very cold, in the shade: the day was about 4 oC, and this rock hadn't been in the sun at all, E's fingers were quite unable to grip (not entirely helped by her technique of hanging around wondering what to do with running commentary; as D said "less talk more climb") so we swiftly decided we needed to be in sunshine to survive.

The rock is limestone; I think it would have benefited from being bone-dry instead of mostly-dry as it felt a little greasy.

So over to the sunny side but still at the top; we decided that the line of Greedor (#26; 6b+) looked entirely plausible, but substituting the "obvious" crack up the center of the face for the arete, because we were none of us ready for 6b.


The only slight fly in this ointment was that there seemed no good reason why, if our theory was correct, the climb wasn't graded and in the route book; nonetheless it looked lovely, as you see, so we pressed on - or rather I did, as it was my turn to lead. All went fine until just before the final crack, with pro from a mixture of Greedor's bolts and friends / wires; but the last crack was a little bolder than I'd really wanted, and perhaps more importantly was a little bit loose. Which made topping out exciting; the rocks either side appeared stable but the one in the middle was distinctly loose, but you need not fear it any more, for D toppled it in passing. There's also no good belay over the top.

Below: pano taken from the Top lateish in the day of the Main Wall area. half-left you see the triangular grass ramp which is the right border of Chocolate Blancmange wall.


Next : we wanted to be down in the main area, and also wanted to stay in the sun. So we headed down, intending perhaps to top-rope something beyond our abilities to lead. But then we found Chocolate Blancmange Wall which is about the right grade, and in the sun:


And somewhat later, the sun setting, E climbing and D belaying:


The path up there is soil and steep; there's a fixed rope which is rather helpful. We're on The Cake Walk 4b 25m, although that 4b seems to be an average of 4a and 4c from the BMC page. From that pic it looks quite featureless but isn't: there are no big holds or ledges but lots of little ones; none very positive or friendly but the angle is fairly friendly. Given a height of 25 m but actually a few meters less, so fine for a 50 m rope. Speaking of which, we were on a single 50 m half-rope, which E - who has recently done a sports climbing course - assured us was fine. I'm a little dubious about that, but maybe.

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