Saturday, 28 September 2013

Not Straying Far From The B5289

The start of last week marked the annual meeting of great minds that is mine and Oli's annual climbing holiday. Sadly a combination of dissertation work and Oli spending most of the summer swanning around the west coast of America meant that it was curtailed to only 3 days in Borrowdale, but there are worse places in the world to be. The weather forecast was fairly obliging, although it was somewhat vague when it came to predicting the cloud level, unhelpfully suggesting somewhere between 200 and 800m, encompassing almost every crag with a greater or lesser degree of probability. Oli had also broken his little toe in a tragic surfing accident a few weeks previously, with an unknown impact on his ability to climb.

Undeterred by any of this, or a very late start on Monday, we opted for the roadside delights of Shepherd's, the Lakes' answer to Tremadog, where a quick bimble up the surprisingly not totally shit in spite of the polish Brown Slabs Corner confirmed that Oli's toe wasn't too debilitating. So I sent him off up Brown Crag Wall, another ticklist VS, to check he could remember how to lead. Turned out he could. After romping up the actually quite good top pitches, we decided that the other ticklist VS at that end of the crag looked like it was 85% moss, and headed to the CC hut for bangers and mash. And whisky. Far too much whisky.

Would you trust this man?
Apparently drinking most of a bottle of whisky (a very, very nice 12 year old Hibiki in case you were wondering) leads to some kind of epic hangover. At least it does now that we're old men. Fortuitously Oli had forseen this problem and bought bacon and eggs for breakfast, which improved matters significantly. The cloud was still looming ominously on the hillsides above, so we stumbled back to Shepherd's and decided to ease ourselves into the day with some topological non-triviality on Donkey's Ears. It was ace. Two through routes, a very traditional VDiff thrash and the sun even came out briefly at the top. Lovely. A quick tick of Kransic Crack followed before we felt sufficiently recovered to attempt some kind of silly girdle traversey nonsense. My pitch started up a 4b crack that was suspiciously desperate for 4b, followed by some bold moves up suspect rock with no gear, then a bit of a shuffle leftwards for a few metres and a downclimb to a belay. All very daft. The rest of the route linked pitches of other, proper, climbs, so was altogether more sensible, although Oli found the direct finish to Ardus quite exciting. Apparently back-and-footing is quite painful when you're not wearing a t-shirt. Arf. The day's final route was Shepherd's Chimney, which the guide warns is 'noted for its pitch 3'. In fact it wasn't a chimney, pitch 3 was fine and the unheralded pitch 4 was where the stars were at.
Making the prosaic into the EPIC!
After a day of VSs with not substantial toe-related issues, I persuaded Oli that we should head up to Black Crag the next day for a go at The Mortician and Troutdale Pinnacle Superdirect. So obviously the valley was filled with mist the next morning, making everything a bit wet. Bah. So we went to the still very roadside Quayfoot Buttress, which was still damp, but at least a bit less out of the clouds. Eventually it dried out and we had another good day. The Crypt had a filthy looking first pitch, which we avoided, but the top pitch was good. Morceau had a very ferny looking first pitch, which I didn't avoid and which was actually not that bad, and a brilliant second pitch traversing right across the headwall (not one for a busy day). The Mound was a lot better than it looked (just as well) and Mandrake was still as classic as ever. Bo. Then it was home time. Next time, we'll hopefully be allowed to venture further than 100 yards from the main road...
Deutsche leaf

1 comment:

  1. With that injury, it's surprising you didn't have to toe him up the routes.