I was full of good intentions on Monday to do some work, but then the forecast looked sunny and Matt was keen to meet up somewhere on his way back from North Wales so my resolve crumbled and we arranged a rendezvous at Helsby. It was only on the way over there that I remembered that the crag faced a bit North, and wondered how dry it had been in Cheshire recently.
When we arrived at the crag it was clear that there was some residual dampness hanging around in places, and some ominous patches of luminous green mank, although most of the crag seemed dry enough. Hmm. Not optimal sandstone climbing weather, but I'd driven a long way, so I resolved just to avoid pulling too hard on any holds.
In keeping with recent strange developments I led the crag's classic bold VS slab, which was a bit worrying scrittly. Then climbed Agag, which the guide promised to involve "sustained laybacking and jamming", but there was emphatically none of either anywhere. Bloody Chris Craggs. What does he know...
Matt 'enjoying' Cloister Traverse
I wasn't too psyched for anything else. Eliminate 1 looks brilliant, but not when it might be a bit damp. Matt, however, being the renaissance man that he is was keen for a ridiculous Severe girdle traverse which started and finished on the ground. Top stuff. Maximum sillyness and a little bit of green-foothold induced terror at the end ensued.
After this I felt that the crag was trying to tell us to piss off, so we went to check out Frodsham. More to see what was there than to actually climb anything. It's a funky little collection of buttresses in a very pleasant setting, although much of it occupies that hinterland between highball bouldering and short routes. A good place to go with a lot of mats and a large posse of spotters on a sunny evening. I soloed a pleasant wee Severe to earn my first new crag point of the year, and we headed back to the cars.
Frodsham - like The Churnet on a hill