Monday, 14 September 2009
SUNNY LAKES VS'S - 12th/13th Sept '09
About a week ago, I received an email from one of my winter climbing partners, Matt Griffin http://www.sandstonemassiv.blogspot.com/ asking if Andy and I fancied a weekend down in the Lakes for his 30th birthday climbing do. We were quite keen as we'd talked about going to the Lakes at some point over the summer, so this seemed a good a time as any. We'd had fingers crossed for good weather, what with the Lakes being on of the wettest places in Britain and we were rewarded by the best weekend of sunshine that we've seen for over a month.
RB was going to come down too, but woke up on Friday morning with the beginnings of a head cold. Her Dad was pretty busy with stuff over the weekend, so it didn't look too much like RB was going to get a rest down there, so we came close to cancelling our trip. She perked up by later in the afternoon though, so we figured that if she dosed up on Paracetemol she would be fit enough, and if not then at least Andy could climb with the others if RB was too weak to climb.
The drive down was as terrifying as I was expecting it to be, what with Andy's driving on all the narrow, windy country roads, especially seen as it was dark by the time we arrived in the Lakes. I swore that if we were ever going any place like this again, then I would be driving! Mentioning that RB suffered from travel sickness and might puke up, seemed to make him slow down the speed on the corners a bit though.
We were dossing at Ed's house and arrived there, after a slight detour (ie we got lost!) to find a gorgeous old farmouse that Ed has done up himself. It was lovely, low ceilings and raftered roofs and best of all a huge barn complete with climbing wall and a special problem that involved having to sit and swing in a hanging chair, try to reach a trapese type bar that was hanging from the ceiling. Then from the bar, you had to reach a rope swing and from the rope swing, latch a rounded volume on the climbing wall. Nobody has ever managed to complete the problem and I think only Dave Birkett has managed to get to the rope swing. We spent around half an hour playing on it, and never once managed to leave the hanging seat!
We met Matt at the Old Dungeon Gill carpark at 8.30am, which I thought was quite late, but actually seems early for these southerners, as we were practically first up to Gimmer Crag. Oh what a slog up though! We should have gone directly up the hill, but instead took a detour underneath Raven's crag and slogged up the side to traverse under Gimmer, and then had to walk down and round to find the route we wanted to do. I'd heard that the route called The Crack was a fantastic VS, and pictures of it on UK Climbing.com had certainly inspired. We geared up quickly, to beat other folk who were now starting to arrive. Andy led the 1st pitch, which involved a jamming crack (which was actually really nice) and then a tricky traverse leftwards and onto a ledge. I led the 2nd pitch and gave myself a fright when my foot slipped whilst trying to do the 'Mantelshelf' move. I'm not sure what happened, but I was think I was overstretched to reach a wee side pull in a horizontal crack and as I was trying to get my foot up, my other foot slipped. I slithered down the rock, giving a squeal and then managing to grip onto a good handhold to prevent myself from falling completely. Phew, that was a close shave! I needed a moment to calm myself down, talk myself out of backing off and then carry on with the route. I made the move and then came to a standstill at a powerfull move over a bulge. Surprise, surprise, I couldn't reach! I had to make a blind pop for a hold, praying that it was good, which it thankfully was. I set up belay in the wrong place however, and held things up for the party below us which ended up with Andy leading off on the 3rd pitch, and the couple below us arrving at our stance with nowhere to stand. So the girl who was to lead on, had to hang around and wait. RB sussed the crux quickly and seem to fly up, whilst I struggled to trust my feet on a small and polished hold, from having slipped earlier. The rest of the last pitch was fantastic climbing, really sustained and thoughtfull and never letting up in it's technicalities.
Andy led North West Arete after that, which I didn't like all that much. The arete itself was nice, but the bit below was really scrappy I thought. We ab'd down after that route, and by then I couldn't be bothered climbing anymore, so sat and took pics of Andy and RB climb a VS called Asterix. I regretted not climbing it after, as it did look very good.
We then zoomed straight down the hillside, dashed back to Ed's to get Matt's birthday present, then back to the ODG for a bar meal and a quick drink. The bar was too busy and noisy and antisocial me couldn't handle the noise, so we headed back down to Ed's for a couple of glasses of red, then bed.
Sunday saw us meet the guys at the Stickle Barn carpark to walk up to White Gyll. The guide had the walk in as a slog up the Gyll, taking aprox 851 steps, RB counted 857. We passed Slip Knot at VS and I thought it looked amazing, but Andy was keen to do either Haste Not or Gordian Knot, so we carried on up the hill. Matt and Co, were on Gordian Knot, and we discovered that Haste Not had a serious traverse on it, not a good idea for 2 seconds. A bit of an argument ensued, with Andy wanting to wait till the guys had finished Gordian Knot and me wanting to do something quick and easy whilst we waited. Andy said he was quite sore, so then I thought we should wait, but Andy had changed his mind and thought we should climb. Aaaarrgggg!! Much heated discussion followed, ending up with us agreeing to do a Severe called Slab 2. Andy ran the 1st 2 pitches together and I was supposed to lead the next pitch. I hadn't enjoyed the previous pitches though, and didn't like the look of the next pitch, so we had to faff with the ropes to organise things so Andy could lead the rest of the route, oooops! In retrospect, we should have really gone back down to do Slip Knot and just do that route, as by the time we finished the Severe, slipped and slided down the horrible scree gully descent, had something to eat and wait for Matt to finish the crux on Gordian, time was getting on.
RB was determined to lead the 1st pitch of Gordian however, and she totally cruised it! It was solid VS, and pretty awkward and run out in places, and pretty damn impressive for her 2nd ever VS lead! I wasn't too happy with her belay set up however. One sling was bommer, but I thought the other sling she'd placed was pretty marginal, so bunged in a cam as a back up. Andy led off on the crux pitch, which traversed easily rightwards to a bulge, and then up a steep crack. Owen shouted up that you could use the arete at the side of the bulge, but RB went across too early, and had to use some foot trickery to get over the bulge.
'I'm not sure I did that properly,' she said, much to the amusement of the folk below who said she seemed to cruise it effortlessly! I ended up bridging over the bulge and found it fairly easy, but strenous once you figured the moves. The crack above was amazing! Really technical climbing and just the sort of thing I love.
I led the last pitch, first trying to go up a steep wall too far to the right, but then moving left and finding jugs. Pumpy to place gear, but woohoo, steep and jugtastic! The top bit was easy but flowed really nicely and in no time at all, we'd found the much easier descent down the Easy Rake. Flew back down to the car, back to Ed's, then the long drive home. I was far too nervous of Andy's driving to manage to sleep in the car, but RB crashed out immediately, back to feeling pretty rough with her cold.