As I headed south west to Sheffield to meet Michael and Thu for a last ditch effort to get on the only formations to escaped me on this trip. My thoughts drifted from the enjoyment of driving the beautiful 520 diesel BMW provided by Thrifty Car Rentals Hull……thanks Debby. I was thinking, I would not be a globe trotting climbing bum, if I did not pay homage and my trad dues on some fine British Gritstone.
I couldn’t help but think about my friend Mike Moore back in Australia. He said “You have to climb grit before you leave the UK!” This statement has been with me for the last three months and today was possibly my last chance until next time I was here. I was super keen and a little apprehensive, however I knew it had to be experienced.
Pulling into the car park at Stanage and looking at the grey cliffs that lined the rim of the valley was a wonderful sight. There were hikers, bikers, climbers and paraglider’s sharing this amazing place and having their individual and very personal escapes from the working world. The wind was perfect, the temps a little warm and the midgies were absent.
Being the thoughtful and very caring humans that Michael and Thu are they asked me if I wanted to jump straight on the sharp end and lead a route. I wasn’t ready to jump straight in the deep end and lead my first gritstone route as the warm up. I was however keen to warm up. Michael led the route effortlessly and made it look rather simple.
How naive was I? 🙂
This was new stone and I was tentative. I seconded the route and felt a little awkward at first but settled in quickly.
I decided it was a good idea to lead something and chose a very easy route to avoid me getting into trouble or have a bit of an epic. Tying in and racking up felt a little weird as it was a different gearing up. Cams and nuts and slings and screw gates everywhere and the cliff was fifteen metres high…………stepping up on to the rock my foot slipped on the heavily polished footer and I panicked a little….saying “Jesus Christ its polished!”
I placed my first piece and I was off. Settling into the route took another two placements. I didn’t know that I was having so much fun until I looked down and realised……..I was trad climbing on grit in the Peak District….This is legendary stuff. I was loosing my grit virginity and I was loving it.
I do have to say that Michael and Thu are fantastic support when you are doing any sort of climbing, but today they were wonderful……..”Good Humans”.
It took me a little time to build the anchor at the top of the cliff, but I took my time and had placed three bomber pieces. I had setup the anchor now and felt safe, stating this to my friends below. Thu seconded the route and we wondered back down to the base of the cliff. I ha place my gear well with the exception of one…..It was flared out (technical speak). Its great to get critical feedback with this sport in anyway shape or form.
We did another couple of routes and the sun slowly faded from sight. The wind was dying down and this meant midgies would appear soon. We decided to head back home and have dinner and an early night. The Chilli Con Carne was fabulous, the company wonderful and the climbing was super.
Mike and Thu, thank you for making my last UK rock day fantastic. See in Kalymnos next year for some more fun in the sun.