April Peak Performance

Another Impromptu IMC Posse descends on the Peak District

Guy Reid – April 2009

Take a free weekend and some free people, add a couple of days of reasonable
(although good is better if you can get it) weather and spice with conversation
to your palate, ice with a thick layer of routes to tickle your fancy and there
you have it – the recipe for a great climbing trip.

I began with “a trip out of a hat”, Mike B followed with “ you beat me to it”;
Martin said he could fire up ‘The Beast’ but a seat in a car would be preferable
and Clare S confirmed she’d be outside Outside in Hathersage at 9am on Saturday
morning. Lastly Eddie from Bury chipped in that he’d join us just for the day
and agreed to find us at the crag.

I picked up Martin at 1pm on Friday and knowing that Paul McC had already written
the tune we started off on our long and winding road.

Bar Hill wasn’t too bad but we were warned about long delays from J25 to J29 on
M1 and at 25, noticing the traffic slowing dramatically, we drifted off into the
hinterlands; our original intention of a couple of routes at Birchen before bed
turned into a dash of limestone and we purred toward Wildcat. Along the way we
overheated but with Martin “The Mechanic” Stevens on hand we discovered the
fault, reconnected the fan and despite losing a looong half hour still reached
Matlock Bath in time to enjoy Lynx (HS4b, 4b **) before heading on to Hardhurst
and a well-earned cup of tea.

Saturday morning 9am and outside Outside there was Clare – and by half past we
were standing under Heather Crack VS 4c ** with me thinking, “oh, that’s steeper
than I remember”.

And so the day began.

In no particular order (because I can’t remember names so think yourselves lucky
you’ve got them at all)

  • Lancashire Wall VS5a *
  • Green Wall VS4b *
  • Manchester Buttress HS4b ***
  • Gargoyle Buttress VS4b **
  • Black Hawk HS4c **
  • Black Hawk Hell Crack S4a ***
  • Capstone chimney Diff *

I backed off Z Crack VS4c * feeling bruised and exhausted but knowing that I
would be back there one day; fitter, stronger and ready for another tussle. And
I racked up for, and then scuttled away from, Grotto Wall HVS4c and In Earnest
HVS5a each time thinking that a route with some . . . any . . .gear in sight
would be preferable.

Mid-morning Eddie found us and enjoyed a few routes before he headed off at about
4pm just as we came across Des (a locum surgeon who had been at Ipswich Hospital
and climbed with us at Copleston for a few months earlier this year).

The day ended atop Green Wall at about 7.30 with an agreement that I would text
Des Sunday’s destination – when I knew it.

Returning to the hullabaloo at Hardhurst was quite depressing after such an
excellent day, but the din did eventually die down.

Sunday dawned bright, clear and crisp, the sun sparkling off the morning frost.
By 9 the sun was high, the frost had melted, my tent was down and Clare and I
were in the car heading to Baslow. Where? You say. Yes, Baslow.

Martin had waxed lyrical about it the previous evening so a decision had been

As we pulled into the parking bays below Curbar Des pulled up and together the
three of us went exploring.

Baslow could best be described as a string of small buttresses that have to be
accessed individually by walking along the top of the crag and dropping down;
there is no real path along the bottom. The routes are generally short. We had
decided to head for the far end and then work back toward the car during the

The crag is west facing and gets the afternoon sun, at the far end we dropped
down out of glorious sunshine into cold shade. Not an inspiring start I’m

We saw a nice line, Larceny HVS5a, but decided to warm up on something easier and
come back after. Rough Wall Climb VS4c* at 6m is more like a boulder problem and
as such has very little gear though Des’s WC Zero 5 gave me the confidence to
move on up. Interesting, but over all too quickly. Back at the bottom, in the
shade and cold, we went back to Larceny, which at 12m was more like a climb. I
personally enjoyed it though Clare was not so sure – her fingers too cold to
feel the holds.

A change of venue was needed so we found Martin and Mike, made arrangements for
later and by noon, having managed to park in a packed Surprise View car park we
were in a warm, sun-dappled, sylvan glade – a virtually empty Lawrencefield.

Tyrone (anything between VS4c and HVS5a) warmed us up and then Excalibur VS4c***
rounded the day, and the weekend, off with a pump in our forearms and a smile on
our faces.

Clare, Des and I smiled, shook hands and drifted off following our own paths
homeward. Mine took me to a pint of coffee and a slab of flapjack at Outside in
Calver, and tales from Martin and Mike about their day at Baslow (great by all
accounts). And from there Martin and I hit the road for Suffolk leaving Mike to
browse in Outside for a while before he too headed South.

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