Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Stanage Ton

A couple of years ago, after a remarkably productive day soloing at Harborough and Windgather with a stinking hangover and a sprained ankle, I decided that soloing 100 routes in a day was the kind of thing that I ought to do at some point. I also quite fancied soloing a vertical kilometer in a day, which might be harder at obvious soloing haunts like Birchen, Windgather and Burbage, but should come for free with 100 routes at Stanage. As an added bonus, this would also avoid the rather unaesthetic faffery of driving between crags. A previous effort was aborted due to midges and broken feet, but it seemed like a challenge worthy of my current level of climbing skill. After a failed effort to drum up any willing companions, I found myself sitting at the far right of the Popular End at 10am on Monday, putting my rock shoes on.

I followed the same pattern as my previous attempt, soloing all the Mods and Diffs, including a few in descent which I knew were reasonable propositions, with a few VDiffs (and the odd Severe), especially on the taller buttresses to keep the average route length up.After 19 routes I was already feeling tired and not overly optimistic about my prospects, but I got on with it. After 40 routes a well timed spot of drizzle forced me to have a rest and a spot of lunch (a particularly fine goats cheese and chorizo quiche). I'd resolved to bring a pen and paper with me so I could record the routes as I did them to make sure I didn't miscount and end up on 99, which was a great plan, since it forced me to take short breaks every 10 routes or so to write everything down, which I think saved me from any kind of mental fatigue. It was also nice to have a regular excuse to take my rock shoes off.

Beyond Mississippi Buttress the crag loses a bit of height and there are plenty of easy routes at around the 10m mark to get the total ticking upwards. I was starting to think it might actually be possible, and when I passed Dover's Wall, where I'd given up before on 68, and could still walk, I had a celebratory handful of Haribo to spur myself on. The next, scrappy, section of the crag has a good number of short easy routes, so I was up to 80 by the time I reached the Unconquerables. Here the Diffs and Mods start to thin out and the VDiffs all seem to be proper thrashy chimneys. I tested one of these out - ODG's Chimney. That was a bad move. Some time later I emerged from its verdant bowels substantially chastened and boasting considerably less skin than before. I vowed to stick to the Diffs, even if that meant I had to walk all the way to the far end of the crag.

Eventually, after a lot of wandering around, I found a cluster of insignificant Diffs that took me to 100. I found the energy to solo one more route (with a star no less) just in case, totted up the total height of all the routes to check it was over 1000m, and hobbled back along the top of the crag towards the now rather distant car.

So, 101 routes, 1023m of climbing, 22 chimneys, 20 cracks, 2 clefts and 49 stars. Not a bad day out. I could do more, I think. Next time I might be tempted to ignore the height and just see how many routes I can manage in a day. Or try and collect stars. That could be fun, and would probably involve a fair bit less greenery...

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