The first four days had been, to be perfectly honest, a complete failure. It rained, it rained some more, and we had spent far too much money on Awesome walls. That would be bad enough, but on a trad trip it was just a joke. But the oracles had foretold of a time when water would not fall from the sky. “Madness!”, I hear you cry. While they are a good band they were not there, and I tell you the truth, there was no rain. We prepared in earnest for this mystical time-frame.
Wednesday – 5th day.
We committed to the standard thing, drinking coffee and ignoring food until at the crag proper, so as to maximize climbing time. We arrived and immediately I realised where we were, near one of the Peak districts finest natural formations: A Chimney. We corralled everyone into said corridor of rock, and squeezed ourselves out the tiny openings at the top and on to the plateau at the top. One can only experience first hand, the fun that this is, something relating to the hilarity, preposterous nature and difficult ease of the movements (if you have ever been in a chimney you will know exactly what “difficult ease” means). Off to a grand start, we began to group up and consult the guidebook on routes to commit to.
Now I have to admit, I had been selfish in directing the group to this particular spot, as I had a route in mind at this place. Now I had already accepted this trip would have to be focused on quality not quantity of routes. This small list of routes we largely aimed at those I had struggled to even second last time, after Prebble had led them. I wanted to see how far I had progressed, or at least how stubborn I was, since the last trip. For now all I will say is that the first route was Fit as a Butcher’s Dog, and that Kyle attempted it after I said “It’s on my tick-list for this trip.” This seemed enough to convince the man, as I laughed inwardly, knowing the true nature of the route.
Now, the teaching began as Kyle battled with a ledge, and Andrew laughed as his hands slowly froze onto the rope . Rooney began the instruction of Stephan, Andrew Kenny and Ciaran, taking them on a VDiff, with Stephan to make his first lead. I took hold of the master McNamara and Niall, and threw them at the VDiff crack slightly to the right of the chimney we had earlier climbed inside. All these things went stunningly, as I stole Niall’s nice camera to document them. After this, Niall and Andrew Kenny and Andrew Woods also got some lovely leads in, though I must admit I cannot remember what they were for the life of me.
Nice shots of Rooney’s…UNIQUE teaching style.
After Kyle had succeeded on this beast of a route, it fell to me, and I couldn’t wait. The reason Fit as a Butcher’s Dog is so hard (fun) i because of the start, a low roof with a crack in the center, with no good holds to mantle with. A true test of stubbornness and anger, and perhaps pain tolerance. I tried various methods, double fist jams, inverting, laybacking, shouting louder. In the end I don’t remember which allowed me upwards movement, but it did. Now I was on the ramp, I went through some lovely sloppy breaks directly up. Admittedly I looked longingly to either side, where I knew there were easier routes, but this was grit and these sloppers were practically jugs. An enjoyable scary finish and I had ticked a significant route off. Technically not even close to my hardest routes done, but as far as I was concerned a fantastic achievement to be sure.
After a couple more routes by everyone, we moved to the Robin Hood cave area, and got our trad on. General good routes were done, as well as Sir Ciaran’s first lead. Towards the end of the day we directed a young couple to the various caves available (we know what you were up to!), and afterwards Rooney and I headed over to another of these quality routes I dreamed of vanquishing, The Unprintable. Named for the guide, though I suspect the original name was The C**t, as the description claims “swearing helps”. The story with this route is far simpler in a way. It is an overhanging jamming crack with a short roof section which is the crux. I got to just below the roof, and crawled into the small hole, after finally figuring out where the proper rest was, I couldn’t figure out how to reach the crucial hand jam at the edge of the roof and so backed off, so here are some funny pictures.
Defeated once again, but what a way to be beaten, probably one of the most fun failures I have had climbing to be honest. Can’t wait to try it again one day.
Thursday – 6th day.
We ploughed up the hill, straight for the Unconquerables, as these were some bits of rock Kyle was eager to scale. When we landed it was a bit cold, so I spied a route I vaguely recalled looking at last time, and decided that the cold would be useful for the boulder start. Curving Buttress Direct, the start required magic and friction of grit, then an airy walk to the ledge, then a hard and scary mantle in the ever classic “Flat” style of Peak. After returning to the ground Kyle began the Right Unconquerable while Rooney saught the right hand variation of Curving Buttress. I guided the all other parties on to some reliable routes on Jammy wall (interestingly only one route has any jamming). As this happened we saw Kyle survive the ordeal of his route, and were happy he didn’t die.
We made sure the anchors were of a high standard, and I even got to teach anchors that required gear, not just a big sling over a boulder. I was pleased to see that all the inexperienced lot; Kenny, Niall, Ciaran, Stephan and McNamara made a generally good showing of themselves, all eager to learn and progress. Well done lads, we shall make Whillans and Browns of you all yet. At this stage, I must admit the day is a blur but for a couple more events. Rooney found a quickdraw in the chimney but was too fat/had tiny T-rex arms and could not retrieve it. As he went to get a stick, I raced into action. Laughing with evil intent, knowing full well that finders are well known to be keepers, I slithered deep into the recess and was able to grab the crag booty with ease (feeling bad later I traded it to him for a pint). After this a very strong Andrew Woods sped up the Right Unconquerable with ease, though the noises would say different. As I seconded I admired the good gear, and confidence to leave such large gaps between pieces.
Now round the corner was one of the routes on my list, a memorable one to be sure, called Telli. A beautiful piece of rock, and I do in fact mean that. A blank looking slab, stained darker down the center, dotted with small pebbles, just enough to make the moves possible. There is a break at half height for good gear, and a fun slab crux above that to the top. I placed the biggest cam I have (that’s right the DMM size 6, BD size 4) in the bottom break, then headed up the slab to the break. I made a small fallout shelter of two yellow cams, and two red cams. After calming myself a bit I got two horizontal jams in the break and threw my foot high into it, and performed a beastly rockover to stand. “Well I can’t get down now”, I remember thinking very quietly in my head. Now I pinched the two pebbles either side of me, stood on the one just above the break and stood just enough to reach the bad crimp on the left. Standing improbably further up, I reached the good crimp, and stopped freaking out inside my head, as I reached to the top and rocked-over on the top to safety.
As we headed to the shop to celebrate, the crafty Rooney, now wearing fake mustache, was again rejected by the shop assistants.
Rooney: 0, Shop Keepers: 4