Those not glued, either in person or via the nearest flat-screen, to the action from CWIF (Climbing Works International Festival) might well have ventured out onto the limestone crags for some action last weekend. And those that did probably found them in remarkable good condition. Certainly, the quintessential crucibles of Pennine sport climbing, Raven Tor and Malham, are now substantially dry – barring all the usual seepage lines anyways...


Mid March, to say nothing of mid May/June, can still yield baltic conditions; not so last week though when it was pretty mild. Malham on Saturday was, despite recent rain, in amazing nick – all the cat-walk routes were dry including Cry Freedom. Not surprisingly then there were a good few teams taking advantage of the early-season conditions.


Just so that you know, the latest in-vogue Malham route seems to be Unjustified (F8c). Taking the bulging wall immediately right of The Groove, Unjustified is reckoned to a Euro-style enduro route - here’s the math - a F7b (Something Stupid) leads into a Font 7b/+ into a F8a weighing in at F8c. Stuart Littlefair fanned the smouldering flames under Unjustified last year with (what is thought) to be the first repeat for some time. Earlier on this month, and capitalising on his fitness, Dan Walker stepped smartly in for a quick tick following a flying (and reportedly freezing) visit to a Osp.


So quick was his ascent that I wasn’t able to captured it on film – digital of course. I’ve snapped Dan loads in the past (see February in climbing 2010 as well as December 2009 PoTM but I sure missed him on this – turned my back for a week’s skiing and the job was done! Still last Saturday though I got lucky as Messers Cooke and Reeve obliged by demo-ing the crucial bits of Unjustified. I managed to get some ‘grab shots’ from the Catwalk - next time I’ll get try and aloft.


Finally, and I’m not sure I should spill the beans on this one, but a certain Mr Smith was seen aloft on Rainshadow (F9a) as well. Watch this space, it might be a wicked year...



John Cooke doing the fandango on the crucial bulge of Unjustified (F8c)


Paul Reeve on the headwall of Unjustified


Malcolm Smith in the Malham rainshadow that is Rainshadow (F9a)