Last weekend I have headed out for anther climbing venture at the Peaks, a familiar venue of The Roaches. All three of us wanted to have a go at leading, and since I wasn’t sure what to get on with, my climbing buddy has suggested giving Valkyrie a go.
Weather on the day started a bit cold and gloomy, but towards late lunchtime, the sun has finally popped out from the clouds. The area was a bit busy with climbers and walkers but with such a big venue everyone could find something to get their climb on. We started with my friend Rachel leading on a lovely Heather Slab on the Upper Tier. I think the climb was either S or a D around 3a grade with a star against it. Very nice and a good warm-up for the day. Then, we went onto Damascus Crack not too far to the right, with my friend Tonys time to lead. This is a two-star HS 4b in the Maud’s Garden area. The climb started quite nice with a few jams in, but the top where you have to go over the roof was a bit challenging for me so I did depend on the rope a bit too much.
Valkyrie route from Western Grit: Rock Climbing Guide.
After the second climb, we moved down to the Lower Tier to check out Valkyrie but unfortunately, there was someone on it struggling a bit with one rope. My climbing buddy then decided it will be a good time to explain some rope work bits on the traverse part of the climb while taking an example of how not to do it from the other climbers. It all made sense and I was excited about my turn to lead.
Since we didn’t want to wait around, we did squeeze another climb in and by the time we were done, Valkyrie was all mine 😀 Rachel was the chosen one to be my second.
Valkyrie is a top50, 40m 2 pitch VS 4c climb, consisting of some crack climbing, good slabs, balance traverse and even a bit of hanging about if you are not so good at using out feel like me. You can see the route in the picture above. I think within the first 5 minutes of climbing I have started to reconsider my decision that I can lead this, but I did push through.
I will mention the few key points that I have found tricky or easy about this route:
As you start to get over the small roof you need to face the right wall and using your feet and back to get over a small ledge which you can sit on. Some gear there in the upside-down crack on the roof.
Since this is a 2 pitch climb, I wasn’t shy with gear at all before the first pitch. Loads small cracks you can fit your 0-3 DMM cams in.
Just after you get on to the main face of the wall, spearing and getting the feel a little bit higher will help to get through the first scary move up. There was no gear placement below or above me in small groves and the last clip was on the right face at the traverse.
Since the route is going around the corner, flipping the rope over the rocks as you go is crucial. If you don’t flip it, rope drag will make it hard for you at the last push going up as there is not much gear and if you fall it would not be nice at all.
Keep some 3 to 5 size cams for the belay at the top. There is also a nice sling placement on the left at the top of the crag. I used a halfed 2 m sling and it was plenty. Maybe keep a 120mm or 180mm sling for this.
Crossing over after the first belay means you have to go up and around the outside of this shark fin-like rock before climbing down. There is not much to place your feet on, but the handhold is really good. I then have jammed my foot in the crack on the left side of the fin and put a nice strong 120mm sling over the fin. I used a lockable carabiner to clip my leading rope onto it.
Climbing with 2 ropes makes it easier for the second to go up. After the first belay point, decide which is your climbing robe and which one will your second climb on. Don’t clip your seconds’ rope at all after the first belay.
After 3 hours I have finally topped out. No falls and plenty of experienced gained from only that one climb.
The whole experience was just very intense for me. I took my time between making my moves, and I’ve committed to them 100% as I didn’t want to risk a fall. This made me look at leading a bit differently. Knowing when I can take a risk, not thinking about the fall, especially on easy but intimidating moves.
Big thanks to my friend taking some of these amazing pictures. So glad this was captured for me to see ❤