We set off with the best intentions. The 10 car convoy voyaging up north, beautifully planned and organized - only to be well and truly scuppered by the abominable traffic. A great start. Despite arriving several hours later than planned, Jon's positivity did not waver. The weather reports may have suggested otherwise, but Jon maintained his iron-clad trust that the weather would hold off...
The next morning: rain. Lots of it.
Plan: stay indoors :(
In an attempt to pass the time with something more valuable than Hugh talking us through the entire Arcteryx catalogue, the trad leaders were given the task of introducing those unaccustomed to trad climbing with the somewhat minimal rock that was available; bed frames, cabinet doors and hand cracks were the best that we could do. Even an abseil of roughly 50cm was established. Credit to anyone who managed to teach or learn during this time.
Rain update: stopped!!
Plan: leave ASAP
With bags prepacked and ready to go, everyone bundled into whichever car could get out first, and a rigorous bouncing up the rocky tracks, we were on our way!
At this point I will hand over to Hugh, edited (corrected) by Beth for a run-down of the adventures of the bouldering crew:
“The first foray into bouldering occurred on the Friday night with JW attempting to put up a first ascent of some super top secret route. However, all that was gained from this mission was JW insisting his ankle was fine for the rest of the weekend and a questioning of Hugh's spotting skills.
Saturday saw a hardened group of warriors, who weren't here for rest days, head off to Curbar for some classic grit bouldering and were joined by BUMC alumni and Peak District Yobos, Jon and Emma (not that one or that one).
After a spot of light rain in the morning, the residual moistness of the rock delayed the group’s start but at least they got to whirl their arms around for a bit longer.
Hugh achieved his yearly quota of top outs on the very first boulder of the day. We are all so proud of him. After this success he promptly spent the rest of day "deliberately falling off things" or so he claimed.
After the warm-up routes, attention turned to harder stuff and the group migrated over to Bad Landing boulder, where Thomas H, fully earning his "strong fresher" badge, made a quick ascent of "Bad Lip" (f7A) and was close to sticking the extension "Late Junction" (f7B). Normally, this would be no big deal but it was the first time he had bouldered outdoors or so he claimed….
Jamie also sent "Bad Lip", although "Late Junction" was a few holds too far - one for another day and another beanie perhaps. Beth and Hugh pulled onto the start of the route, only to discover the holds were actually better than the f4 they had climbed about half an hour earlier…
Once our intrepid bunch had got bored of these particular rock shapes, they trudged back down to the now dry Trackside boulder, where Emma continued to work her nemesis Trackside.
Jamie, Thomas H and Hugh were introduced to the charming "Strawberries", only to immediately regret this introduction, whilst Sam and Joe spent some time investigating the various mysteries of the "Three pocket Wall".
After they had grown tired of this particularly large rock, our boulderers split into two. Sam, Joe and Hugh went off to investigate Crescent Slab - well Sam did, Joe and Hugh mostly watched cause why would you climb a slab of your own volition?
The try-hards ventured further (about 10 metres in fact) to Gorilla warfare, where Thomas H made a flash of the rock's namesake. Jon also climbed this, however I am ignorant of how many attempts it took. Not that it matters, since the yobo has climbed it before in his youth, before he had facial hair and muscles.
By this point the light was fading so we made our way back to the car.
Due to ~faff, two trips were needed to ferry people back. Fortunately, this meant Jon had ample time to show Hugh his new car while Emma and Beth chatted about more interesting things. It was blue, possibly? It was definitely car-shaped.
Despite this, we still made it back before the trad people and got to take full advantage of the empty washing and feeding facilitates. And, most importantly, watch smugly, safe in our superiority, as the those on their rest day trudged back in looking thoroughly cold and miserable.
All in all, a good day topped off with wine – perfection.”
As for the hardened trad climbers….:
Upon our arrival at Stanage, an investigation into the rock condition was conducted -
The verdict: wet. As expected :(
Plan: wait for the wind to dry it out.. By teaching anchor building.. to trad newbies
The day began (finally) on Vdiffs and severes, with many venturing up their first ever trad routes and putting their new found gear-removal-knowledge to the test. While we were all very grateful to the wind for it's remarkable turnaround on the rock condition, it did rather stick around and made for some delightfully cold belays with very little hearing ability beyond the 5m mark. Warm layers were very much the name of the game; the more you had, the better - unless you're Amy and you own the biggest, softest down known to man. As the sun began to set, all huddled round the iconic roof of flying buttress direct. The route took a fair fall or two, but the climbing did not stop there; the sends continued well into the evening, and remarkably, unknown-as-lost gear was found!
Once everybody had suitably refuelled, it was time for the true activities of the day to begin. Of course, with it being the eve of Halloween and all, this was no small feat. With costumes...somewhat regrettably pulled on by some and proudly squeezed into by others, accessories fixed into place, and re-fixed, a touch of eyeshadow here and there (or a lot), it was time for a big swig and the grand entrance. What gathered in the hall was a rather peculiar collection of fairies, animals and goodness knows what else. Special mentions go to the sailor, Powerpuff girls, 80s climbers and banana complete with face paint. It was quite the spectacle.
With everyone properly dressed, it was time for the rules to be laid down and the games to begin. What began as friendly matches quickly became a championship round in order to decide our lead man and woman who would be selected to rival against the fellow hut dwellers - also known as Durham University. Despite their distinct lack of costumes, or ~vibing~ to jungle, they were welcomed to the hut with friendly sportsmanship. Once the games began, however, this was promptly forgotten for a quick and effective win of the women's match; Claire reigned victorious. The men's match was much less of a simple affair, with a split-second finish, the honour belonged to Durham, although that's not to say Tom hadn't earned his fair keep - it was not quite a fair matching, and quite frankly facing a man twice your size in a Sailor style crop top and knee highs is quite something in itself.
Once those with any common sense had since retired to bed, it was time to whip out the trusty cereal box - for what is widely regarded as a fun childhood game - just now on steroids. As the box quickly decreased in height, splits, squats, lunges and some sort of sitting position(?) were trialled for their effectiveness at allowing the participant to pick up said box with their teeth. Emma Hill triumphed over the now minuscule sliver of cardboard, stood on 3 gloriously soggy bouldering pads stacked on top of one another. An unusual and somewhat trivial, but impressive skill to possess.
The next morning:
But first, breakfast; unlike the joys of freshers trip, waking up to a full cooked English (thank you Phoebe!), each fended for themselves in the kitchen. Foods ranged from camping basics to stacked plates of decadence. Luckily no one managed to burn the place down and we survived to see another day - although apparently Mr Jones may or may not have set alight a cardboard container of custard the previous evening, who knows? certainly not me.
After much deliberation, the Climbing Works was decided as the rain shelter of choice, but of course, not without a pitstop at Outside to fawn over all the soft fleeces and pretty jackets, it was a struggle to restrain ourselves for the sake of our wallets. On arrival at the centre, a sofa with quite the array of injuries was established. Watching on fondly from the sidelines we witnessed walls being conquered, problems sent and blocs crushed; a solid session to end the weekend.
Big thank you to everyone who lead and I hope you all enjoyed the weekend :)
- Emma Wilkes