Friday afternoon off, windy but dry forecast, Jaime and Dan keen for some bouldering, it all sounded like a good time to go and check out the Secret Garden. I was keen for some slopey horrors, but having cut the tips of both middle fingers my hand-smearing skills were somewhat impaired. I did manage to flash Chockstone and Beach Cracks, both of which were very bitey and required deployment of an incredibly large amount of try, given their V1 5b grades. That was about the full extent of my achievements for the afternoon. I did manage the first move of Beach Ball before realising that I could neither reach, nor hang the crucial holds. Oh well.
Look at all of the psyche. The problems don't stand a chance. Grrr.
The weekend forecast looked promising enough to risk a first adventure of the year into the wilds of Cumbria. Julie, Andy, Oswald and I stuffed ourselves with Mr Khan's pizza of win and drove up to the CC hut at Grange. It was raining on Saturday morning, so we mooched around Keswick for a bit, marvelled at some bizarrely sexy new lightweight plastic cams: http://totemcams.com/content/index.php?id=1&se=3&su=1242136075&ap=1242136429 and revelled in the many joys of Booths. After a quick tour of the Bowderstone things were looking dryer, so we went to Shepherds and got our crush on.
Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry...
I finally got on Kransic Crack Direct after thinking about it for years. It was pretty easy in the end, and plastered in some ludicrous holds. Then I followed Andy up the disgustingly overhanging crack of Finale. It was horribly pumpy when I seconded it 6 years ago, and it was no less pumpy this time round. Evidently I'm still a fat punter. Gutted.
Andy was oddly insistent that I get on a wet E1, but I chose to ignore his obvious damp sandbagging (ooh er) and ended up yomping up the very pleasant and well named Delight Maker, which was a good exercise in trusting good, but spaced gear. And the climbing was ace.
On Sunday the forecast was ace, so we resolved to drive round to Langdale and see what could be seen. On the way we devised a complex crag-selection algorithm, but then ignored it because it gave the wrong answer, so off we went up to Gimmer. We began with a traditional solo of Middlefell Buttress, then scrambled up to ash tree ledge and abseiled down to the base of the North-West Face. I was super-keen for North-West Arete after Oli had given it a hearty recommendation a while ago, and after a damp start and some navigational issues (owing to a lack of guidebook, and dodgy beta from Hobson) I made it out to the arete, where there was sunshine. It was most convivial.
The youth wanted to chase some grades, but as Kipling Groove looked wet he was persuaded that the lowly VS delights of F Route were worthy of his attentions, and lo, they were. What a route. I was tempted afterwards to get on Whit's End Direct for some E point action, but a combination of the lateness of the hour, the + after the grade in the guide, and some general lameness put me off. I decided a suitable consolation would be to try and climb as many of the other letter routes as possible before sunset.
Oswald was keen, so I ran up the lovely cracks of D Route and we were filled with delusions of Ueli Steck-like grandeur. Then we noticed that the other letter routes were rather more than 1 pitch. Oops. We managed A Route in 2 pitches before deciding that maybe heading down was a wiser plan than getting benighted on a Severe. Also Andy was in a girly strop because of some damp routes and a bit of a breeze and we didn't want to leave him stewing in the pub for too long. A grand finale of cheesy chips in Settle provided a great finish to a great weekend. May it be the first of many this year...