Category Archives: Peak District and Sheffield

Rounding off on Slopers

I thought i’d posted this and have just come to give the latest update in my life when i suddenly realised it wasn’t published… Originally written on the 19th September

 

It is now Wednesday and while the ache in my shoulders has now finally subsided – putting my down jacket on yesterday was still causing me to wince slightly – it has been replaced by tiredness after a long night of dealing with a sleepless 18-month old. It seems my little weekend trip is now most definitely over.

Once you come back from something like that, it’s inevitable to be asked how it went and i’m not entirely sure how to answer this time. Even two days on the grit, people are interested and in the past i’ve been known to judge my time away by the sends i’ve come back with. This time, that leaves me a little disappointed.

I had become very focused on the idea of Seven 7s on film and as i mentioned in my last post, once we’d lost the Friday it was an unlikely and tall order. The experience on Gorilla Warefare and Early Doors had left me slightly dejected but a quick send of Kiss Me Arsee 7a at Birchen late on the Saturday had renewed hope.

Again, i was left in the balance come rise on Sunday: the tents were sheltered and dry but a glance across to the next field could show driving drizzle. Not bad enough conditions to simply give up but not good enough to drive psyche.

So we did what all good Brits do in these conditions: we went for a sandwich and a cup of tea. Pack up reasonably efficiently, drive north, first to Calver and then on to the familiar Outside in Hathersage. In the time it took to eat and drink (and begin a conversation about Bob Dylan that would last two days) the ground had dried up enough to get us going. We were now psyched, despite Lewis’s fingertips so thin they were almost leaking plasma.

I’d prompted us in the direction of Cratcliffe, as i was keen for both Jerry’s Problem 7b and T Crack 7b and i thought the shelter may help us in getting something done. One or both of those problems would almost definitely make the weekend a success, especially if i could capture it on film!

On the way, though, the weather turned again. Little rain began to fall on the windscreen and i realised it was drier further north, where we’d just come from. A session at a crag we weren’t as keen for would be better than nothing at a crag we weren’t so the sensible option was to turn around and find somewhere nearer Hathersage, where there was no liquid falling out of the sky.

Yet. After so much faffing – in hindsight at least – we eventually arrived at the good old Suprise View car park with a view to hit up Millstone, only to look across the valley and see the familiar drizzle we’d been running away from had found us. Damn you, weather gods.

I figured shelter was what was now needed and so, as i have done many times before, we made the short slog into Secret Garden. I enacted my revenge on Lewis for his bushwacking exploits of the day before, unintentionally mind, as we ploughed through ferns taller then me, let alone my companion and eventually stumbled across the small scar that i’d first visited back in my undergrad days, all those many years ago.

Beachball 7a fit the bill for my plans and has been on my radar for very many years but alas, there was just not enough energy left in the tank. Much as with Early Doors i couldn’t have been closer without getting the tick, i was that close but that problem has thwarted me time and again. Everything else followed suit.

Looking back, the indecision of the weekend certainly contributed to our poor return in terms of climbs and the remarkably large amount of walking definitely didn’t help with overall fitness levels. Our pads were heavy and uncomfortable over such distances and it sapped the life out of me, the straps digging into my collarbones. In retrospect, having a more definitive plan and sticking to it would’ve probably yielded more success.

And that, right there, has probably tipped the balance on the verdict for the weekend. Poor trips are part of climbing, we have bad days and in turn, they contribute to make the good ones all the better. Being able to learn from that is what makes us better climbers, nay better people, in the long run.

 

A huge thanks to Lewis for coming along and putting up with me for the weekend! Here’s looking forward to many more in the future. 

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Burgered and Broken

With burgers in our bellies and Climb On now covering our fingertips, both my companion for the weekend – who, Mr annoying man at Frogatt is neither my son nor am i his “chaffeur” – and i are throughly wiped out after a day that saw us at three separate crags. Sadly, though, despite this valiant effort, my goal of Seven 7s on film now looks increasingly unlikely.

You’ll recall from my last post that we were hoping to head to the Lakes for this weekend but as i woke on Friday morning, i checked the forecast and instantly wrote it off: apololyptic rain and climbing don’t mix and no amount of wishful thinking was going to get us anywhere with this one.

So the decision was quickly made to head east and a surly disposition soon followed. Every time i try and go to the Lakes, i get rained off. Every fucking time.

What made it slightly worse was the relentless drizzle we found ourselves taking with us from North Wales right to the campsite. We ran into Ben Brandsby in Outside in Hathersage – a friend of little Lewis, who introduced me – and at one point, his reply to the question of where would be dry was “The Works will be dry…”

We found a nice site near our intended crags, pitched camp and went shopping for food. Still the drizzle fell and soon nightfall with it and with that, we found ourselves in the local pub, me nearly falling out a couple of pints, hours and a hefty pudding later.

At this point, the idea of filming us completing Seven 7s and compiling a short movie was unlikely but i was undeterred and this morning, after a bit of a lie in, we awoke and i chatted with a woman for whom a tin-foil hat would’ve been entirely appropriate – “you’re not Jewish are you?” she asked me while watching me eat a bacon sandwich before railing on our collective decision to poison our bodies with meat and wheat and pretty much anything else! Soon we were heading for the quick-drying Curbar.

Trackside was my very first 7a back in April 2006 and for a little while, i’ve wanted to repeat it. It seemed fitting now was the chance, with another huge life-change just around the corner. Lewis ticked it first (today that is, he was five back when i got it the first time) while i eagerly filmed from a distance. Then it was my turn, along with pretty much anyone else who was passing. I’ve been flashing 7a outside lately but the retro flash most certainly didn’t and after the first attempt, i was clutching my thigh before i even hit the ground, cursing my aging and creaking body. It’s still sore nearly 12 hours later.

Still, a repeat did indeed follow, as well as a stunning photo of a new friend:

Feeling buoyed, we headed up slightly to finish off an old project line, Gorilla Warefare 7a. I’d set up the tripod before i set up the pad and quickly realised the reason i’ve always been put off is the large rock right underneath the finish. However, a more direct finish, Early Doors 7a+ avoids this and was now well within my capabilities. Or at least i thought.

I’m not sure if i bottled it or ran out of juice, i’ll have to watch the video, but in my experience, if you’re asking that question, you could’ve finished it if you really wanted to. Sadly, either way, it was not to be and with that went our last realistic chance of Seven 7s in a weekend.

We packed up, bickered slightly about the route ahead before Lewis led us across a non-path through chest high bracken and seriously broken ground and i got the hump. We traversed the bottom of Curbar crag, missed the path we were looking for and before we knew it, were at Froggatt.

I wasn’t really that inspired by the routes Lewis not aptly threw himself at, never really being sold on crag problems that finish half-way up the wall and still grumbling internally at being led somewhere like this without any discussion. Still, it’s his trip too and it was only fair to let him crack on. Eventually i wandered off to see if i could see something that did insprire me nearby.

What i saw didn’t inspire anything other than hurry. The Peak District is a laregly flat (remember where i’m from) area that allows for a lot of vision for miles around and a few miles away, you could make out the rain falling from a very dark sky. Suddenly very conscious of quite how far from the sanctuary of our vehicle we were, i wasn’t about to suggest we started on a different problem; i was suggesting we quickly run away.

Lewis finished up nicely and we packed up and took another beeline back to Curbar. We still didn’t find that elusive path and made an impromptu descent down some more sketchy and broken ground with more bushwacking, this time with rain gently falling on us from above.

Still we made it to the car largely dry and unscathed and with the sky now clearing. It was only 5:30 and that offered either a very long evening of not a lot or a chance to get another crag in. We opted for the latter.

I thought the walk in to Birchen was shorter than it is but it is quite easy and largely flat. Annoyingly the problem i had in mind was at the far end of the crag and after a gut busting route march, we made it.

Kiss Me Arsee 7a didn’t give up easy and manages to hide her beta well. What’s more, with a whopping 1 seven filmed so far, the camera battery died and we were left with a mobile phone instead; oh well. That largely didn’t matter as i seemed to inexplicably stick two very slappy moves to slopers and soon found myself topping out my second 7 of the day.

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After a long trudge across the top of Curbar to Froggatt, where @lil_lewis_climber made some nice repeats of old classics (#photo coming soon) we made a hasty retreat, watching some ominous black clouds heading our way. But while we did get rained on a little, it really wasn't much and was still early when we got back to the truck. So we made an equally hasty beeline for #birchenedge and this little beauty: Kiss Me Arsee 7a. I've been flashing 7a back home but this was a fight and she didn't give away her beta easy. Still, there was just about enough juice in the tank for one last and off the day #peak #peakbouldering #bouldering #bouldering_pictures_of_instagram #grimpeur #escalada #escalade #climbing #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbinglife #climbing_is_my_passion #weekendaway Thanks to @lil_lewis_climber for the photo

A post shared by Chez de la Bloc (@edwards.pete) on

And that brings us to now: sitting quietly in my tent while Lewis is crashed out in the tent next door, exhausted from our day’s exploits, sat on my laptop, bloggin away happily. I did marvel for a moment about how far technology has come, that i can connect my computer to the internet in a tent in the middle of nowhere, until i remembered i did this up an almost uninhabited Alpine valley back in 2010* . Still, my tent has an electric hookup this time. Funny how things move on.

 

(*may not have had internet through my phone, may have just written it and posted it later, too long ago, can’t remember but i’ve DEFINITELY done this before in a tent somewhere.)

Frozen Out

You have good sessions and you have bad sessions; that’s just part of life. It’s about balance and comparison – if they were all amazing, that would just become par. What’s frustrating is if those bad sessions come when you’ve driven nearly three hours, half way across the country…

I’ve bouldered in the cold before, many times, and yes, it does help the friction on the rock slightly but i’ve also been derailed by it as well – most notably in Switzerland in November 2012! This Sunday was one of those trips. We went to the Roaches, on the request of my friend Pablo, heading over full of psyche and enthusiasm, ready to have a blast at Tetris 7c and buzzing from the short dry spell we were right in the middle of. The stage was set for one of those days that you remember for a long time.

But i hadn’t really anticipated it was going to be one of those really cold days. The thing with these days is to try and keep the psyche going and get on the rock as much as you can – get warm, stay warm. And that was my problem, i just couldn’t get going. We started on Trust 7a: a tricky mantle onto a steep-ish slab where your only option is to place your feet carefully and trust them. It didn’t appeal and while i could do the first couple of moves with ease, i just wasn’t feeling it.

I soon got straight onto Tetris but found myseld spat off unceremoniously – like an old-time tobacco chewer in a Western. And with that, my head went down. I sat down and smoked a cigarette, got up to spot, smoked another. Very occasionally i put some shoes on and had another blast but they were token gestures at best, getting colder and colder and rapidly losing psyche, struggling with the problem at best. It soon became apparent that 7c wasn’t going to go in a session (it was optimistic from the offset!) and while i knew i should get on something else, something easier, when it started to snow lightly, i knew i was done.

I did feel very bad for Pablo but to his enormous credit, he didn’t let my pathetic attitude affect his climbing. He gave Tetris a damn good go and towards the end of the day, got back on Trust and nailed it like a pro. We left shortly afterwards, my respect for my companion even greater than it was before.

It wasn’t all bad: it was very nice to be outside on rock again, irrespective of how the performance went. It was also a stunning day and a great one to drive 300 miles or so (even if we did get a flat tyre on the way home…). But most of all, it was brilliant to spend a day with a guy i originally met randomly at the cromlech roadside boulders and who has become a good friend of mine.

The following day, i headed back into that same pass, this time alone. I’d been delayed by sorting that tyre from the night before and trying to overcome the lack of psyche from Sunday, but eventually Tess and i took the long trek up the hillside above Ynys Etws towards a problem know as Lotus. In the film Stick It it was given 8a, in the guide gets V10 (or 7c+) in reality, it’s fucking brutal. It’s a traverse from low left under a roof and requires a lot of pads and with only one with me, i was restricted to trying a move or two at a time. Even then i struggled.

But it was first session and i did tick off a couple of other problems and top out on a rock climb. It didn’t matter what it was – for this week, it was enough, that was my victory. Now Thursday evening, it’s forecast to rain again tomorrow for another week and it turns out, i didn’t actually tick two established climbs. It didn’t matter.

It just goes to show that sometimes, it’s not about how hard it is, it’s not about the grade. Don’t get me wrong, ticking hard lines feels better than sailing up easy ones but sometimes, it’s just to be out tasting success. I coached another session that Monday night; my third coaching session in two weeks and i worked with that group absolutely contented with my two days of bouldering. Funny how it goes sometimes.

Or Maybe Not

Erm, well, yeah, i didn’t go home. Not that day anyway. I did wander into town and get plenty of Christmas presents for various different people and then got back to the house, packed my kit in the car, said my farewells and buggered off. Okay, Rich had said before i left that the rock was pretty good in places but hadn’t really filled me with confidence. Still, if i had to drive past the crags on the way home anyway, i might as well stop and see for myself – it’d be rude not to!

It had to be Stanage; i needed somewhere close to the road but somewhere that caught the wind to dry it off a bit. Somewhere like Burbage Bridge wouldn’t be worth my now very-limited time, surely still being a bit wet, while Plantation was out with sunset about half an hour away. Well, to be honest, it didn’t have to be Stanage but it seemed as good as anywhere, the Apparent North ticking all the right boxes. Besides, that’s where we’d planned to go so why not.

I didn’t carry much up there, with the lack of time continually slapping me on the back of the head. Shoes, chalk, guide, that’ll do. Off we trudge, Tess enjoying being able to run free without fear of repurcussions, and my hands feeling very cold at just being out in the moorland. This was a token gesture, a quick walk to the rock to make myself feel a bit better at my hasty departure. Besides, after that deluge the other night, it was never gonna be good.

Imagine my shock when i arrived, dropped my pad and found not only was the rock dry but conditions were actually perfect. Like really perfect. Cold, crisp, dry, you couldn’t ask for better! I jumped straight at Hamper’s Hang 7a with a few others already there, instantly starting up some conversation and making a couple of friends. I wasn’t there long, about 40 minutes all told, but enough to realise that to bail now would be stupid – after sitting it out and now having perfect “connies”, leaving would render the whole trip a waste of time.

So back to Sheffield i went, walking in on the others to looks of surprise. A few text messages later and i had someone to climb with the next day and settled down to read my book while the others watched the as-bad-as-it-sounds film, Robo Geisha… Next morning (after an awful night’s sleep) and i rose, packed again and heady off to meet an old friend, Foxy.

The venue was the same as the previous night – Stanage Apparent North, where Foxy wanted to try Cornflake 6c. To be fair, it is tricky, with a really poor hold for the crux, and i managed to half-skip it, bumping from there to the top. Foxy tried, harder and harder but after a while, we decided to move on.

To be brutally honest, i didn’t get much else done, especially after realising quite how long Hamper’s Hang is! We finished on Slopey Traverse 7a+ which almost relented but not quite, leaving me with another project. As the sun began to set, i packed up, said my goodbyes and headed back; a successful session finishing off a successful weekend.

Tactical Retreat from my Tactical Retreat

I’m going home. No offence to the lads, it’a been great seeing everyone again but i said last night (after hearing repeatedly that it’s quite pleasant back in Wales) that if the roads are wet when i get up, then i’m off and with water dripping from the washing line, i can’t help but feel if i stay because of a good forecast, i’ll end up thinking “what the fuck am i STILL doing here?!” tomorrow morning.

The car hasn’t moved since i got here, as we walked to the Works yesterday afternoon, and Tess could do with a bit more room to roam than in the middle of the city. The only question is whether i make use of the abundance of life here and go Christmas shopping before i head back. To be honest, i’m not sure i can even be arsed with that.

To be honest, there isn’t anything else to say, such is the nature of the last 48 hours but maybe that’s not a bad thing. The main reason to get away was to get away and i’ve had a good weekend, despite not doing anything i’d hoped. Half the reason for ever leaving home is to appreciate home a bit more and i’ve certainly done that. Tom’s house is the equivalent of what Jonny Dawes and Paul Pritchard were doing in the 80s – heating never on, just enough second hand furniture to get by, next to nothing in the kitchen, certainly not enough to make a nice Sunday roast. After being cold the night before, i went to bed last night with my watch by my side to measure the temperature and woke finding it to be 15C. That’s not cold! and maybe i’m getting soft in my old age and missing sitting in front of the fire in my nice cosy house. I certainly won’t mind going back to it!

So yes, i’m heading West across the Pennines until i get back to the mountains. Hopefully tomorrow will be nice and i can get out on some Welsh boulders, or even go and scout out some new ones that have been suggested. Either which way, it’ll be good to be home.

Wet Grit Again

This weekend was supposed to be a good old grit trip to clear the cobwebs before starting my new job. By 10 o’clock last night, i was just glad to be off the road. After being detoured by the second crash i’d seen, watched the wipers going full tilt for a good 40 minutes and several occurences of aquaplaning and the Traction Control light coming on, the only thing i could think was “what the fuck am i doing?!”.

Needless to say i awoke this morning to the sound of cars driving down wet roads and instantly realised that any optimistic hope of getting out on rock was clearly out the window. Still, i’m out of the village for a couple of days and catching up with old mates, about to go to the Works for an indoor session. I’ll meet up with an old friend from Wales too, Vicky Foxy, so it’s not all doom and gloom. And there’s an optimistic forecast to follow, and a rugby match to watch this afternoon…

This isn’t anything new, i’ve been here like this before; so much so that the lads have started to decide that i’m the bad omen that brings the bad weather. Well, nuts to them, last weekend was good at least!