After not climbing much rock in the conventional manner (I have been dry tooling lots, due to injury) for sometime. Nik, myself and a friend James headed off on a Uk road trip for a week, a few weeks back.
The plan was to do some climbing, some walking/scrambling (for Mountain Leader Quality Mountain Days) and for Nik to maybe get some rides done. We headed first to Ogwen Valley - Wales, then Borrowdale, The Lakes and then finally to The Peak, Derbyshire.
The weather was its changeable self in Wales, but I did get to do something I have not done so much of there......climb. On the first day we managed a handful of short multi-pitch routes on Little Tryfan. The next day saw James and I head off for what was meant to be a 3hr walk in, ascent and return on a near by seldom frequented crag. This went very wrong, after giving up trying to find the start of the route in the undergrowth. We opted for another.
We completely missed this one as well, but were rewarded with a fluttery and balancy slab with no gear for about 30ft, a heather terrace, a really nice traverse with a very interesting mantle shelf, a belay on a ledge made of heather, two love little over hangs once cleaned and an airy rock over into a mantle shelf, 30 meters of crawling through heather to a tree belay and then a walk off through yet more heather. This may be a new route, will need to contact the climbers club.
The following day we did a very nice walk, although the winds were high and took in some ridges on the Carneddau and finished the walk in sunshine and that night drunk a 13 year old bottle of Rioja, that was amazing.
The next day we headed to The Lakes and took our time. The first day in The Lakes saw a lazy start and a short walk for Nik and I as I had hurt my knee during the walk on the descent. James hit the Bowderstone and wasted himself. During the walk Nik and I took in Castle Rock and the quarry at the top, a strange little spot. We also found a Lakeland Slate Quarry called Dalt Quarry, with a good variety of short slate sport climbs. We also found an undeveloped and not on the map slate quarry, that I shall be talking to the BMC about. That night Nik and I wondered back to Dalt Quarry to send a couple of the routes and the slate was lovely. The routes interesting even if short.
James joined us to have a looked at the quarry and shortly after we headed back to the camp and then to the pub.
The next day we headed to Wodens Face near Bowderstone Crag in Borrowdale. We climbed some lovely Severe's and VS's on good rock in a great location, but we ran out of time before I could get on an E1 arete I had been eying up. Next time, for sure it is a blunt exposed arete with an interesting looking finish, called Soxon.
That afternoon we headed off to The Peak District, it was time for some grit. We arrived at the faithful Hardhurst Farm Campsite to bump into some friends. We had a chat some dinner and then the obligatory pint of Farmers Blonde at The Travellers Rest Inn.
The next day James and I headed for Burbage North to get some time on the grit on a bunch of short routes. Whilst Nik had planned to go for a ride, but her neck and a good book kept her in the warmth of the van. James and I managed to rack up about 20 climbs each, by soloing a whole bunch up to and including VS 5b, we also added in on the lead an HVS 5b and E1 5b, before calling it a day. This was James' first HVS and E1, nice one.
The next day we headed to High Neb on Stanage Edge, where Nik and I did a few of the nice routes. Nik was seconding to get her head back in the game and so she didn't have to worried too much about her neck and being on the lead if it started hurting more than it has since the damn car accident back in January. We chose some really nice routes that were more balancy than thuggy and just enjoyed the sunny days climbing. Later in the day I got on a route called Jeepers Creepers and proved to myself how weak I am at the moment, taking 3 attempts to pull through the roof. When I did so I found it still a struggle, I need to get stronger.
That night we headed to Glossop for Simon's pub crawl on wheels. We had decided not to stay too late to we would not get too drunk and so we could climb the next day. It was a great night out, however, Simon either likes walking in circles or his urban navigation is complete rubbish.
The next day was the final day of the road trip. Froggat would be the crag of the day. Nik went for a short ride, while James and I headed in to climb. James had decided to get on Tody's Wall and had a fine lead. Manchester Uni were at the crag as well, but they are a great bunch and we had a few laughs with them and encourage the freshers on.
I had chosen an E2 that looked like my type of climbing and slab arete combo with low gear, ground strike guaranteed. :-( After cheering on some freshers on a route sharing the first few meters and looking at the climb for a while I was hooked on the climb and really relaxed. This bodes well I thought and off I went. Arriving below the crux and placing a few runners, stepping down a bit I took a rest.
There were several moves at around the same tech grade making it a bit more sustained than expected. I worked out the sequence and then committed. The first few moves felt better than expected, the next one a bit thinner, the next hold a rounded crimp and very rounded edge of the arete, but I felt good. Without warning my left foot popped, I stayed where I was, this was good news and in my head even with a couple of tricky moves left, this climb was over. I made the next few moves carefully reached for a very rounded top, got my left foot high and moved to the top of the route.
I was very very happy with this, I bounced around on top of the crag. A just reward for my patience, after racing to E1 several years ago when I started trad climbing, bad weather, bad timing and string of injuries has keep me off climbing on real rock for any period of time. But the week had gone smoothly and my headed was very clear and calm on all routes and my stamina greatly improved. I put a lot of this down to the dry tooling and chalk climbing, where you don't want to make a mistake and I have learnt to keep myself calm and focused.
All in all, the week had been nice and some rewards received. Nik had even managed a few climbs and a ride without hurting too much, but still has a long way to go with her recovery, but at least now she knows she is on the mend.
A very happy climber, that can't wait to get back on the rock.