Monday, 26 April 2010

Esk Buttress - Central Pillar

Finally, i would be tradding in the Lakes with Ewan 'wales is the best, i like sheep' Russell. This was a chance for me to convince the most psyched climber in Leeds, who incidentally has a car, that the lakes is a very pleasant distance from Leeds and well worth the effort more than 'now and again'.
The weather was very, very dry and it had been for days. I mused about Gimmer, Pavey, Dow but decided that (when i heard Franco and Luke were going to try the Cumbrian and that the approach across 'the great moss' would be in good nick) Esk Buttress was the best bet. A stunning piece of rock, with some classy lines the main target for me being Central Pillar (E2 5b***).
We rocked up in beautiful conditions, sun beating down and a slight breeze. Ewan and I pretty much instantly racked up and jumped on Central Pillar.

Ewan lead up to the stance shared with the Cumbrian and i followed up 'getting back in the Rhyolitic groove' after far too long on shitty Gritstone.
Then, guidebook read i climbed the first 5b pitch that is described as being 'a great pitch to second'. I expected boldness, what i found was bliss.
A well protected easy crack leads up and right to a small ledge, where a couple of moves up leads to a peg runner. Clipped, i was set to follow a couple of grooves up to a ramp. I knew the crux was to come and it mentioned in the guide about a 1.5 cam placement. I came to the conclusion, quite quickly, that this was probably the only gear between the peg and the stance.
Anyway, i started what i had seen on the UKC pages as a 'monster runout'. Nice flowy moves, leading up a couple of grooves, to what could be called an overlap. I pulled through, probably 10metres? up from peg, and while reaching to a small edge noticed a perfect 1.5cam placement to me left.
Shot by Ewan of climber making his way up the long 5b pitch on Central Pillar.

What i thought here was a bit bizarre really, in hindsight. I spurt out "Well, it wouldn't be E2 with that..." and proceeded to climb up to the stance, my lonesome pegrunner some distance below.
Up came Ewan, and he quickly and efficiently despatched the second 5b pitch, a lovely small pitch pulling steep terrain on positive edges and buckets. The following 4c pitch up the undercut flake, is a real shame. The climbing is too short! If this was a long pitch it would be brilliant! I'd have probably enjoyed it even more if i wasn't in urgent need of a toilet break - but i manned up and stretched my leg across the wall to the foothold!

Shot by Ewan of climbers on top pitch of Central Pillar.
Anyway, we wandered down off the top and at the bottom i attempted to go to the toilet. This was a disasterous event. I will not go into details, as i barely understand them myself but nothing happened, except i developed massive pains in my bowel region. It felt like a knot.
I hobbled back to the bags and Ewan, Huw and Alec and said 'i may be some time'. However, the pain very quickly increased to quite agonising proportions.
I laid at the bottom of Esk Buttress for about 2 hours? trying to find positions that were comfortable. I found a small amount of comfort in 'massaging' the area (read violently pushing it). I was actually quite worried. In my state i wasn't going anywhere and i couldn't think of how to get back to the car? After a couple of hours though there was a noticeable improvement, in so much as i could hobble around crunched over.
Me in Agony, as the lads laughed.

Found this vid which i'd forgotten about. Quite funny, the odd hilarious comment. enjoy.

Me in pain at Esk Buttress. from Dave Warburton on Vimeo.

I spoke with Ewan who agreed to carry my rope back to the car when they finished climbing, so i left my heavy gear at the crag and proceeded to stumble my way back to the car. I felt ridiculous, i'm glad it was Eskdale and not Pavey or somewhere busy!
I squelched my way back via the 'dry' Great Moss and the hills inbetween. I laughed to myself about the guide description "Esk Buttress, despite it's isolated position can be reached quite painlessly..." Yeh Right!
I fell over a couple of times just because i couldn't lift my feet and eventually after what must have been 2 & 1/2 hours, i rested by a river below the gate. After about 20minutes the climbers who had also been at Esk passed by on their way home. We chatted and they were from the Manchester group, told me that Franco and luke had gone to East Buttress on Scafell (can't blame them like, it looked ace!) and that they had a hut in Duddon.
I started to wander back and noticed a definite increase in health! I expected for something to happen like a huge passing of wind or a massive urge to go to the toilet but nothing, i just became more and more normal.
Arriving at the car about 40 minutes later? I found, amazingly a Flat tyre! I felt pretty OK now and set to work getting the tyre out and finding the wrench and stuff. Unfortunately, Ewan's car didn't have a wrench...
Ewan, Huw and Alec turned up and we asked at the farm but soon turned our attention to a few figures walking down from the path from Eskdale. AS it turned out, it was manchester folk and soon Franco and Luke turned up.
Luke had a wrench in his car and while i chatted to Luke, the wheel was replaced and we journied down to Duddon to the manchester hut.
Anyway, Central Pillar is well worth the effort, and as Victor Scott said - "you'll not forget Central Pillar" - that's for sure! If you climb E2, go and do it. I'll have to return in a few years when i'm stronger and get on the Cumbrian! That would be nice.

Oh, and if anyone reading this happens to fancy telling me what might have been wrong - I felt fine, no headaches or anything. I'd drunk water and tea as per any other day. I'd eaten carbohydrate rich food, Cous cous in the evening before and then pasta in the morning but i've done this before without ill affects! And, i did pass a small amount of wind, but nothing extraordinary and when i went to the toilet it was normal! My thoughts were that putting off resulted in a blockage, but again, i've put off plenty of times in the past and never experienced this. Perhaps just a weird turn, sent to tell me Wales IS better than the Lakes? Next weekend will show me the path maybe?

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