So apparently this sounds better if one writes a detailed account rather than a list, so an attempt shall be made but as many on the trip will know the days blur together, so the days me be……inaccurate. I also know many of you will think this essay excessive, however I have nothing better to do so the result is this.
Discussed the merits of MacGuyver and his amazing mullet with O’Hagan and Campbell, sleeping rough in my own house as I left all sleeping materials in Newcastle, then first climb of the trip.
Wrong Side of the Bed V9
Difficult lying start, traverse by a rolling motion on to the floor, face on floor to finish.
With the trip fully underway we hoped on the bus and began the long journey to Sheffield, filled with Super-Huns (Michael Campbell must make a full report) and driving south to get to the north. Landed at the campsite, set up the tent and fell into a fitful sleep, dreaming of grit and rice pudding.
Day-the first day of climbing
Walking up to Stanage, pestering Prebble by pointing at every rock on the way and asking “Is this grit?” and if the answer is yes promptly molesting the poor vulnerable stone, eager to get my first taste of gritstone.
Step-ladder crack VS 5a
My first lead of the trip and I’m back to my old tricks, standing on a ledge 1.5m off the ground, deciding whether to back off or not, but pride will not allow me to suffer any taunts on the first day and I manage to make it to the top.
Mississippi Buttress Direct VS 4c
Don’t remember much about this other than it being close to Step-Ladder crack on the crag, and sadly this may happen for several of my climbs (however not a comment on the climbs themselves, every climb was spectacular and distinct, but there were many of them).
Pixie VS 4c
A nice slopey grit climb, first bold feeling lead, though this was likely down to my poor gear finding skills early on in the trip.
Devil’s Chimney Diff
After being inspired by O’Hagan’s efforts and noises on Devil’s Chimney I decided to give it a go, ditch the gear as it looks like a tight squeeze. Thrutching, grunting and squirming goodness all the way, and some laughing at Campbell as his head was too big to fit at one point. I then contemplated doing guided tours with a commentary on the struggles faced by Michael at each stage of the chimney, sadly I couldn’t get the start-up funds together so the dream fizzled away.
Day over, 3 leads and 4 seconds, good day done.
Day-up the grade day
Start with a nice consolidation of VS grade.
Dover’s Wall Route 4 VS 4b
Nice bit of grit, suggested by Campbell. Very awkward but fun final couple of moves, reaching up to a prow shaped bulge that required a strategic cutting-loose to look over the top to find holds to drag myself over the top, in what would later be classified as a “classic Cadden top-out” as I was overall the least dignified top-out artist on the trip, never failing to provide amusement for casual observers taking their dogs for a walk.
First HVS lead of the trip.
Dover’s Wall Route 2 HVS 5a
Fun slightly overhanging finish, though the legitimacy of the finish could be questioned as i finished about 1 m to the right of the guide book’s description.
Pedlar’s Arete HVS 5b
Face-climbing-no-jamming-only-crimping glory line. After several down-climbs to scout out what little gear is available I select a nice pink size 1 nut and go up to place it as the second piece of gear, have to place it blind but no problem, scouted the placement at least 3 times and it feels snug. Climb on to lovely crimp rail, bit run out but no problem that nut is solid! Finish up well, then Prebble seconds up and delivers the news that it was….less than amazing, hmmmmm.
Pedlar’s Slab HVS 5c solo
Looks fun, the crux is low down with no gear for the route so it has to be soloed, try it a few times and down climb before making the last crux move. Later on feel like it would be a nice one to finish the day on, give it one try and if you don’t go for the move then walk away. Last crux move to go, want to down climb, unfortunately feet wont hold if I try to down climb, have to go up. Didn’t fall, finished route, good finish to the day. First Oops of the trip.
HVS grade achieved, Oop count so far: 1.
Day-17, a day of confusion
I will first say that the events of day 17 and day tomorrow are not a blur, however exactly which events occurred on which of these two days is.
Rusty Crack HVS 5c (Via Media VS 4c)
Beginning of the day and I think I’ll start with a nice VS to warm up as everything hurts from what feels like weeks of climbing at this point. After some down climbs from the low crux I eventually punch through thinking “that didn’t feel 4c, maybe I’ve lost the grit groove?”. After the crux a concerned President asked what we were on, then told us we were wrong and that we were on Rusty Crack, second Oops of the trip. Gear was plentiful above the start and solid too. A lovely finger crack layback to start the day.
Queersville HVS 5a
After the “warm-up” at Rusty Crack I decided to continue the run of HVS grade, after all, Stuart had just said something along the lines of “mumble…..lead Queersville, its scary but good fun and I reckon you could manage it”. So onwards I trotted with a scary mantle, a nest of nuts, one of which was some poor soul which couldn’t be reclaimed, and all the beta that fitted in my head at one time. It was later reviled that the encouragement to climb Queersville had been directed at Prebble and I had misunderstood, Oops number three.
Flying Buttress Direct HVS 5b
A combination of photos and being told it was a Stanage must was all the encouragement I needed, though reassurance that the crux was well protected helped greatly. After nest building to rival a pigeon, I was then saved from future rope drag by Thomas reminding me to extend the cam in the roof, which was much appreciated. This was the last rational thought I had that day before my brain imploded, all other thoughts were then derivatives of “I’m Alive!”.
Crack Thing Campbell’s Variant (not a real climb, but a good thrutch all the same)
Some strange and dark recess of Stanage called to me, it seemed an obvious route, but in the guidebook the route marked didn’t delve into the depths enough for my liking. I sought to rectify this and began the decent into darkness. The first attempt resulted in wriggling out of a small hole at the back of the roof crack, however Michael was a tad more ambitious than I. About half way between the opening at the back of the crack and the edge of the face there is a thin “opening”, more of a widening of the crack than “opening”, which was larger than Prebble’s head. This of course indicated a path, a destiny if you will, that Michael took upon himself to fulfill. Were he a more American man he might have said something like, “Duuuuude, this like, totally sick line must be freed, lend me your chakras as I do some warm up yoga”. Thankfully he is not American and got on with it, but the age old problem of Michael’s head size stood in the way. As a smaller-headed individual I gave it a go, though for about 10-30 seconds I became significantly…….stuck. And in that moment I thought “I’m going to suffocate to death on a route that isn’t even in the guide book….”. Thankfully I coughed a smoker’s cough and slipped through slightly more appreciative of open spaces than I had gone in with. +1 Oops.
At the end of the day the Oops count was 4, and the amount of sunburn on the back of my hands was that of a man who had lathered them in cooking oil.
Day-Tomorow, or possibly day 17
Namenlos HVS 5a
Worthy of the stars, lovely finger crack with ring-locks to start, with a bold and delicate ramp with some hard choices between handholds and gear, followed by a short chimney and a perfect start to the day. In my opinion a brilliant climb, not reflected in the length of the report only because there were no mishaps.
Symbiosis HVS 4c
Bold at the top and a lovely slab climb. Perhaps not a fun as Namenlos but still good, was very impressive to watch Michael lead it as I think his first HVS lead (well done sir!). Wind at the top gave both of us some bother.
Marmalade’s Lost Start…….solo
Oops again, was heartily reprimanded for it by Thomas and rightly so, shant be doing anything similar any time soon as I hope I’ve learned my lesson. That is all.
All in all my leads were fun but not as impressive as Cambell on Symbiosis and Prebble on Telli E3 6a. Oops count at the end of the day: 5.
Day-Froggat day, possibly Thursday
Sunset Slab HVS 4b
Sadly the mind goes blank, other than to say it was very bold and that again impressive to see Michael lead it afterwards as his second HVS lead (once again, congratulations sir!).
Tody’s Wall HVS 5a
I was pointed at this and told that there was a silly rock-over move as the crux, my style, it was destiny. Comical mounting of the first block was finally overcome and all that was left was the rock-over of legend. After this was complete, it proceed to a beautiful crack with many a fingerlock, layback and hand jam (though I will deny any accusations of actually jamming, merely using unusual layback techniques).
Chequers Buttress HVS 5a
Very fun, somehow managed to thrutch the chimney rather than use the obvious crack. I then proceeded to ignore the guide book and Thomas’s instructions further by traversing left using the handholds as footholds to the arete. The arete felt more exposed than it was, simply as it seems to hover over nothing.
Day-last of the climbing, last of the suffering, last of the hands and last of the Ale.
The goal of the last day was to equal Thomas and I’s unrepeated 7 routes (sans solos) in a day and go for not just the grades, but the best quality climbs of the grades.
Cave Arete HVS 5a
Sadly this is another route which will be poorly reported due to my failing memory. The best I can recall is that Prebble came up with some overly complicated reasoning as to why the red nut goes everywhere, and that the belay is in a cave and thus was perfect as this was the sunniest and hottest day of the trip, so I avoided the worst of the sun for a while.
Whillan’s Pendulum and Black Magic HVS 5b
A lovely lanky and bouldery start, followed by slopey grit breaks. Sadly another victim of my bad memory. It was, however the only climb I had to queue for. What is this place? An indoor wall!?!?!
Good Friday HVS 5b
I can honestly say that 20% of the reason I did this was because I wanted an HVS tick, 40% because the face looked so perfect and delicate, and 40% was because Thomas had pointed out how fitting it was to climb Good Friday on Good Friday. Lovely hand-traverse with smearing feet, then a hard rock-over to begin delicate climbing non-existant holds between breaks with good cams in the breaks.
Highlights of the trip? Consolidation of HVS, watching Michael Campbell get his first two HVS leads, belaying Thomas Prebble while he climbed several impressive climbs, pie, rice pudding and being to tired too eat at one point (clear indication of climbing hard enough). Total Oops count: 5.