Thursday, 11 March 2010

Lakes Weekend - Potentially Epic.

It didn't quite live up to the hype that i thought it might, but it certainly had some moments!
We started off, picking up Huw from St. James Hospital where he was in attendance of a mate, i remembered thinking that i didn't fancy that being a 'warning' for the weekend ahead.
We flew to the Duddon Valley courtesy of Dunc, Iron Maiden on the Ipod and hilarious banter, we then had fun and games following some choad who couldn't drive up Wrynose Pass.

My plan for the weekend was the reason behind it being 'potentially epic'. As it turned out, The Manchester Uni club were also in town and i had arranged to meet Franco at Scafell crag at 9am for some winter climbing - possibly FA's. My mission was walking to Scafell from the Duddon valley or persuading someone who actually climbs in the club to come up to Scafell with me!
Thankfully, Tom Nichols and Gareth Uglow - two lads i hadn't climbed with before were psyched for winter action and Gareth had a car!
We drove around to Wasdale and arrived at the base of Scafell Crag at 8.30. We hung around a while waiting for Franco. But eventually, i decided to just get some climbing done so we jumped as a three on the uber-classic Moss Gill, IV/V,5.

I started up the first pitch and after some nice gully work, traversing moves and an overlap, i arrived in a cave with a thread where i decided to belay. Nichols came up and carried on to below the first crux wall, bringing myself and Gareth up.
Gareth set out on the tricky looking wall and look his time on the ascent, me and Nichols were both cold and some climbers arrived at the same belay. Gareth had a belay under the massive chockstone of the Collie Step and brough myself and Nichols up - i could see why Gareth took his time on the ascent i found that pitch particularly tricky and it was a damn good effort for his first mixed line!
The Collie step was between us and the Ampitheatre. I can't remember if there was a discussion, but i ended up on the Step and was soon clipping the in-situ gear and then began to try and make the step left with leashed axes, i found it tricky.
I ended up lobbing off and landing in the gully below - which was a bit of a shock as i didn't feel that bad a milisecond before!
I jumped back on it after everyone took shelter under the huge chockstone! The thinly iced slabs were a first for me, having never crossed such terrain before but second time around i didn't make much of a meal of it and i plodded up the georgous Neve into the Ampitheatre. I looked up and the only line of weakness i saw, was the horrendous direct finish! Thank god you don't HAVE to finish up that!
I brought up the lads off a rather tenuous belay, but they didn't have any issues navigating the Collie Step and i ended up getting the last pitch up the IV,4 escape from the Ampitheatre - which i felt abit guilty about as i did 3 of the big pitches on the line.
Franco never did turn up, turned out he couldn't get a lift from any of the Manchester boulderers, but i'm extremely happy with what occurred on the day. We also met Kate Silverton on the way up to Scafell Pike for Sport Relief. It's not all bad.
After hilarious banter and feeling ill on Saturday night, sunday proved to be less epic. I teemed up with Tim Elson, again a lad i hadn't climbed with - but i knew we'd get on when he soloed up the first few metres of the first route of the day at White Ghyll and lobbed a cam in when i asked for a belay. Fair to say the day was laid back ticking some very nice E1's, such as Man of Straw, The Palestinians and Do Knot Direct.

It all got interesting though when we decided to get on White Ghyll Eliminate. I wasn't exactly looking forward to this hard looking line. I've certainly done easier looking E2's!
Tim soloed up to the belay and i followed and then started making excuses about how horrendous the overhanging, soaring crackline looked. I don't like very pumpy problems and i didn't think i had enough in the tank to do it.
I got on with it, placed a nut and looked at the crack. Not what i expected. It looked like a hand jamming crack from below but looking at it here, it was barely finger wide. I slotted a poor feeling finger jam in and pulled up to place a left hand finger jam in and started looking for footholds...which were less than plentiful.
I tried to go for a hold, which was being partially blocked by an In-situ wire, but i didn't commit enough and ended up slumping onto my rock 5. I was disappointed to say the least as i felt i had it in the bag.
Second go from the footledge below i went at it exactly the same way and this time my fingers went beneath the insitu wire and into a small incut/jam thing. I pulled up and clipped the wire and carried on up jams and jugs to the ledge above. I wasn't even pumped!
I couldn't believe how different a climb could feel from how it looked and Tim lead the final 5a pitch which finishes with utterly beautiful moves up a nicely positioned wall.
Baisically, i expected a thuggy, pumpy and slightly commiting (in so much as "do i keep pulling or stop to place gear") kind of climb, but i ended up finding a powerful, tenuous one mover on fairly steep terrain. It's a very good route and well worth doing.

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