Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Back in time for tea

The weather was looking good everywhere this weekend so after much umming and arrring I decided to drive down to the Peak district with James Lismore, Mark Olsthroon, Joanna Lisowiec and Joseph Stearn. We all stayed at James's house near Chesterfield.
On saturday we awoke to some quite foggy conditions but went to our crag of choice, Millstone, anyway. Millstone was once a quarry. The rock quarried here was used to make millstones, amongst other things. I started by climbing Embankment 3 (E1 5b), which is a steep slab with a finger width crack up it. I found it hard going to begin with as I had never really finger jammed before, but once I got used to it I found it abit easier. Joanna seconded in good style until she reached the top cruck, which is climbed on lots of small pinches. She did it in the end and we moved further along the ledge which the first pitch finishes on to do the second pitch of the route. I had never done a multi pitch grit route before, and I usually wuss out of doing multi pitch trad routes, but the huge belay ledge made it all alot more friendly. The top pitch was over pretty quickly and we met Joe and Mark on the top, who had just climbed Great North Road (HVS 5b).
Joanna seconding Embankment 3
We all returned to the ground and I belayed Mark on Embankment 3. He unfortunatly fell, after getting pumped whilst trying to place an extra piece for gear, but did it fine after that.
It was my turn again and I decided to have a go at Time For Tea (E3 5c). The route takes a thin finger crack till about 2/3rds height where it runs out and you have to traverse off to the left using some small crimps. The guide says "place enough gear, then some more, and make scary moves to the top of Embankment 3". I tried to jam some gear into the top of the crack but I had placed what I needed lower down so decided to make do with an "OK" wire and a dubious micro wire. After quite alot of hesitation and chalking up I made it across the traverse and brought Joanna and Mark up after me. From the top I watched James fall off Embankment 4 (E1 5b) a number of times.
Time For Tea (Photo: Joanna Lisowiec)
It was Joannas turn to lead something next so I pointed her towards a number of nice looking VS's, although they all looked quite poorly protected. In the end I convinced her to give Embankment 2 (VS 4c) a go. After a few failed attempts she addmited defeat and let me climb it instead.
I was happy to see an old face when we returned to the base of the crag. Clare Muir, a university friend who had graduated last year, had just turned up with a group of her Sheffield based friends. It was nice to catch up and find out what she had been doing, alot of travelling it turned out. Joanna and I joined her and Malcolm Scott, the brother of Frances Scott, who is currently at edinburgh, for a boulder. With some helpful beta from Malcolm I managed Technical Master (font 6b), a lay back arete problem.
I finished the day by leading Embankment 4, which I found quite hard.
We all returned to James's house for food, we cooked bolognese together, and merinque with strawberries and cream.
On sunday we climbed at Stanage. We parked on the road side outside of the plantation parking, to avoid paying. Joanna and I headed up to The Strangler area and Joanna began by climbing Pizza Slab (S 4a). I then tied into the bottom of The Strangler (E4 5c), and attempted to make the precarious lay back moves up the arete. I couldn't find a way through it so I down climbed, removing gear, and decided to save it for later in the day when it was abit cooler. I instead climbed Tower Face Direct (E2 5b), which had a tricky move standing on a pebble, but was over quite quickly. Afterwards I climbed Fairy Steps (VS 4a) and followed Joanna up Hot Spur (HS 4b). Joanna and I decided to go down to Hathersage to try on shoes and have a drink, and head back up when it was a bit cooler.
The Strangler (Photo: Joanna Lisowiec)
Tower Face Direct (Photo: Joanna Lisowiec)
Joanna on Hot Spur
For the walk back up to the strangler I only took what I needed which were 3 cams, 2 slings, a harness, shoes, helmet, chalk and 2 quickdraws. I didn't really need the draws I just like having them. Joanna was very nice and carried the rope. I tied back in and set off up to the crux arete of The Stangler. I worked out the moves for a while, trying to decide on the best foot sequence. I had to really convince myself to go for it. I knew the gear was good and the moves aren't too hard. I made a couple of decent attempts which I reversed back to the good break. After composing myself I made my final attempt. This one was going to be all or nothing. I worked my feet up the blank slab and my left hand up the arete. "I can make it. If I just reach out my right hand. Oh no my feet..... TAKE". I came off and took a large head first fall off the slab ending up underneath a small roof. Joanna did a good job taking in the slack, as I could have fallen much further.
It was starting to get late so after some food in Sheffield we made the long drive back up to Edinburgh, returning at about 2am. All in all a good weekend!

And thanks to James's mum for providing us with beds to sleep in, tea to drink and food, which I really wasn't expecting :)

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