Names have been withheld to protect the innocent, as well as the guilty!
We should have been going to Pavey, but Sunday’s meet eventually took place at Stanage after a last minute review of the weather forecast indicated that plastic could be off the menu with the Peak seeming to offer decent climbing conditions.
Five of us travelled down and were surprised to see another member of the CMC belaying atop Tinker’s Crack (and it is a tinker, especially if you’re tall!). This prodigal was last seen hauling on iron in the Dolomites, but the ferrous injection hadn’t blunted his appetite for grit as he’d already completed his third route before we were even geared up.
The prospective member in the group quickly set about trying to make up the route deficit by whipping up Castle Crack at a very speedy pace, which brought a greenish tinge to his partner’s face as he realised that he could be in for a hard time with this new hot shot.
The remaining three of us took a more leisurely approach to proceedings, although I was encouraged to delay my late morning snack in favour of getting a route in. Various reasons were put forward as to why I should lead, and never wishing to disappoint a lady, I set forth on a Black Hawk variation. Arriving at the top I understood why the prodigal had failed to comprehend my earlier shouts to him as the wind was blasting in from the west and creating its own version of white noise. Unlike the prodigal and the hot shot, my partners’ appetite for the grit appeared to be less finely honed, and one member of the team indulged in some rather unseemly behaviour by first performing what may have been an Argentine Tango on the traverse, then an impression of Toulouse Lautrec on the final ledge before topping out with a gasp.
I definitely needed sustenance after this but was disappointed to find that my carefully prepared egg mayonnaise sandwiches had inadvertently been left at home in the fridge. The hot shot offered to share with me his ready-made curry in a bag, but the very thought reduced my appetite quite dramatically.
Things deteriorated further on Black Hawk Hell Crack when ropes were made into taut bowstrings before one member, who has previously led this route in good style, resorted to direct aid at the crux. I was glad to be wrapped up in six layers and multiple hoods as, despite the cold, my cheeks blushed red at such sacreligeous behaviour from my seconds.
Further aberrations were noted on Cakestand where a serious amount of flanking was in evidence prior to the crux, but amazingly both my recalcitrant seconds turned into gritstone goddesses and performed the final committing high step and rock-over in fine style. Maybe there’s hope for them yet.
The prodigal departed at this point with eight routes under his belt, four of them at VS standard, which made our haul of two Severes and a V Diff seem rather feeble by comparison. The hot shot had been matching him though, with five routes in the same time period, so having burned off his original partner, who to be fair, left with a smile on his face, he teamed up with me for a final foray on Heather Wall. Meanwhile the girls sloped off on their own before the climbing police nabbed them for crimes against gritstone, but then succeeded in turning the tables by fitting in another couple of routes before the close of proceedings.
A challenging day in many ways, but a memorable one nonetheless.