Early season grit and determination

Martin Stevens – May 2010

Friday April 16-Monday April 19 2010.

Friday morning started far too early with a 6am departure heading for the Peak
District. Adrian drove non-stop to Hardhurst Farm. Mist on the A14 gave way to
pleasant sunshine in the Hope Valley and to let the day warm up we chose to
pitch tents and brew tea. With impeccable timing Andy and Dan arrived. Text
instructions to Dave were, ‘look for the four Vaude tents in a row and we’ll see
you at Bamford’.

Before long the happy team of five were enjoying the delights of Bamford’s rough
grit. I have recollections of a fine ‘first of the season’ lead of ‘Ammo’ by
Dave, being pleased with a solo of ‘Sunnyside’ and a roped ascent of
‘Moglichkeit’, of seeing Dan committing to horizontal contortions on ‘Adjacent
Slab (Direct)’ before slinking off onto ‘Hypotenuse’ to circumvent the
problematic crux and of the sheer pleasure of being outside on gently warm
gritstone in superb conditions. Andy & Dan later talked of ‘Green Parrot’,
‘Vertigo’, a couple of instances of ‘leader discretion’, ‘Bamford Rib’ and ‘Twin

Making a full day we walked away about 7.30 and got back to the campsite to meet
Martin H. and Guy who’d had limestone adventures at Wildcat, including ascents
of ‘Golden Yardstick’ and ‘Nine Lives Wall’. Ian turned up having travelled by
train and Bob made his own way from parts northern.

A cold night, certainly frosty and a reported -3C.

Saturday promised good things weather-wise, and apart from a gentle wind blowing
chill air from the north it didn’t fail to deliver. We all headed for Burbage
North and started out at ‘The End’ and gently worked our way back towards the
bridge. Perhaps it was the weather or something in the water but there was an
outbreak of easy soloing on the amiable blocks and slabs before ropes (and in
many cases helmets too) were produced. The winter had taken its toll, despite in
many cases plenty of wall sessions and there was more than one or two slips but
all minor and uneventful and in a couple of cases I understand shrewd
mountaineering judgement (and a certain amount of cowardice disguised as such)
was employed in deciding not to continue with some lines. The winter too had
taken its toll on some kit – one does kind of expect the lobes of a cam to move
when the trigger is pulled rather than a mere flexing of the cam stem. Being in
extremis at the time didn’t help the quality of the language used to express
displeasure at this state of affairs.

Good ascents of ‘Rose Flake’ (mixed degrees of success here [Ignominious
retreat in my case – Adrian]
) and ‘Greeny Crack’ (some ascents less
incident-free than others, I’m told), ‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘The Fin’, ‘Amazon
Crack’, the ‘Studio’ climbs, ‘April Fool’, ‘Wobblestone Crack’ (a tricksy,
slippery early foothold caused some consternation), ‘The Be All’ and the
splendid ‘Brook’s Layback’ amongst routes attempted. [I thought it would be
good to try latter route in big boots. Floundering is the apposite word – Adrian

Another late finish for some – others made it to the café before closing.

Sunday started cloudy but with the sun valiantly trying to break through after a
warmer, due to the cloud-cover, night.

Complex packing and gear options as decisions were made as some planned to stay
until Monday and send excess kit home with those planning on returning that
evening but eventually cars were loaded and the teams scattered to varying
crags. Adrian and Dave took Ian under their wing as, ‘it was time he learnt to
lead’ and headed to Birchen along with Bob and myself. Andy & Dan headed to
Stanage for a visit to Stanage End, taking on ‘Crab Crawl’, ‘Cripple Crack’,
‘Marble Arete’, ‘Old Salt’and ‘Cosmic Crack, their day highlighted by
‘Steamin”. Martin H. & Guy headed off to Ravensdale, where, once having found a
parking spot (why do 4×4’s need three parking spaces?), they managed ascents of
‘Conclusor’, ‘Mealystopheles’ and ‘Impendent’ (accurately described as
“gritstone jamming on limestone”).

Bob and I managed an easy day with ascents of ‘Sail Chimney’, ‘Trafalgar Wall’,
‘Emma’s Dilemma’ and ‘Victory Crack’ before Bob headed homewards. Joining forces
with Dave he and I managed ‘The Prow’, ‘Tars Wall’, ‘Stokers Hole’, ‘Emma’s
Delusion’ and ‘Promenade Direct’ and saw Adrian do very well on ‘Barbette
Buttress’ before he & Ian headed home, Ian having popped his leader cherry with
‘Yo-Ho Crack’ and ‘Tar’s Arete’.

We made the most of the day and managed bit of crag-swag too. So well did we
manage to make the most of the day we managed to miss last food orders at the
Travellers Rest by a mere 2 1/2 hours! Andy, Dan & Guy managed to find an Indian
dining experience of some note in Hope – a mix of fine linen and plastic cutlery
with construction site ambience was reported.

A rainy night didn’t auger well for Monday and three full days of climbing had
taken its toll. Overnight rain and a damp, grey start to the day, with a
corresponding lack of enthusiasm saw us slow to get started. A café breakfast
was followed by loading kit for four, and four people into Andy’s car.
‘Gear-shop (Direct)’ was followed by ‘Tea & Cake’ and an easy journey home.

Many thanks to Andy for organising and to him and the others for a grand weekend
and an excellent start to my 2010 season.

Thanks also to those who contributed detail and corrections and who otherwise
assisted in the cobbling together of this article.

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