Not been doing a whooooole lot of climbing as of late. Reason being i’ve moved back home to the sunny Midlands where i’m still awaiting the arrival of my alpine gear before i dare to venture into the vast wilderness of the nearby mountain ranges. I’m joking of course. The area immediately south of Birmingham is perhaps the 2nd worst place in the UK for climbing (1st place going to East Anglia – congratulations). I don’t have a car either so it rules out getting anywhere quickly or with minimum fuss.
In spite of this i have managed a couple of weekends away since coming back from Stirling. I met up with my mate Dan who lives near Manchester with his ‘missus’ (he doesn’t like the word fiancee – but thats what she is – congrats) at the start of July to head to Wales for some hardcore mountain trad and maybe the illusive first E4 on-sight (oo err). Alas it was too late when we realised we were still in the UK – shit weather capital of the world – and so we spent the weekend dodging showers in the slate quarries before madness (and Dan) drove us first to the muscle beach film set of Parisella’s cave (returning via the Beacon climbing centre – which is awesome, unlike the new Redpoint centre in Birmingham) and eventually back home to Dan’s a day early. Still though we managed to scare ourselves in the roof-tile quarries, on-sighting the classic Seams the Same (not hard but pant-ruiningly bold) and Comes the Dervish (soft through decades of traffic but AMAZING).
We of course, like all beaten heroes, vowed to return and set a date for the last weekend in July. Unfortunately the bad-luck fairy was annoyed cos of all the ‘bless-you’s’ brought about by hayfever and so conspired to ruin the trip for us yet again. I’d best set the scene though. The forecast for Wales didn’t look amazing for the friday so we decided to sack it off and climb on some Yorkshire grit before boosting through to Wales early saturday morning.
We went to Ilkley and didn’t have a great time, getting shut-down on some of the classics like Tufted Crack (hard for E1 judging by Dan’s unlucky lob – given that he’s pretty handy at them [E1’s i mean not cracks]). I had wanted to try the famous Wellington Crack (E4) but it looked greener than grass (though apparently it always looks like that – i’m just a pussy and shit at crack climbing too!) but decided to try something more my style so we got a rope on Deathwatch (E7)! (Don’t laugh you’ve got to try these things!!) After trying that for 20 mins i was no nearer to wanting to lead it though we did figure out a different way of doing the crux (cos the sequence from ‘Hard XS’ is too hard for me!).
Dan decided he was bored and went to solo the classic (basically every bastard route at Ilkley is a classic!) E3 Sinister Rib. Well now Dan is a good climber and bold with it but i don’t think he’d climbed E3 before and so to try an on-sight solo was in retrospect a little keen! He set off confidently and was going characteristically strong until about 10 metres up, with not much for feet and even less for hands, he found himself in an irreversible position. Cue the ‘oh shit’ moment. With little options left he jumped…because he’s nuts! I managed to semi-field him but wasn’t able (lets be honest he’s the better part of 12 stone and was coming down at a rate of knots from 10 metres up!) to fully catch him and he landed very heavily on his left ankle. Ouch!! After convincing ourselves that it wasn’t broken he managed to drive back from Ilkley to his place just outside Manchester (about 30 miles?) skipping gears – 1,3,5 like a campus board for all the gym rats out there – as it was too painful to go through them normally. Our medical expertise were put into doubt after it transpired (when he FINALLY went to hospital) that he had fractured his heel and fibia. Ouch again!!
So i’d like to finish this post by wishing my mate Dan a full recovery as soon as possible (he’s getting married in October and has a stag-do in September). As for me i’m fit as a bloody fiddle but bouncing off the walls with boredom. I’m off to Mallorca for 3 weeks in a few days. When i get back i’m going to learn to drive and buy a car. If i’m not wheeling about by October….kill me (if i havent done so already).
Oh yeah and Dom if you’re reading this……are you alive still?!? (Actually that answers itself really)