Peak District Trip Report

by Charlotte Graves

We began our journey to Gradbach with a staggered start—Matt’s car heading off bright and early, followed by the minibus in the late afternoon and the rear brought up by Lydia who left at 6pm. The minibus, a novelty for us SUMCer’s, was much appreciated and those travelling in it enjoyed a lot of leg room, sugarsnap peas, The Gaslight Anthem (among other artists, unfortunately excluding the Mamma Mia! soundtrack, much to Clare’s disappointment) and general banter. The vibe in Lydia’s car however was very different as they travelled back to the nineties with an old ‘Now that’s what I call music!’ album. The late cars arrived to be greeted by a faintly smoky bunkhouse, as those in the early car had managed to set off the fire alarm within 5 mins of arriving due to a faulty fireplace. After calming the alarm and fixing the fire, the intrepid early car decided to get in a bit of afternoon bouldering which was very cold and included a problem made much more difficult by the presence of a solid ice puddle in one of the jugs. The bouldering mats had pride of place in front of the fire, warming themselves nicely, steaming away. It wasn’t until later, however, that Matt realised he had placed his a little too close and his mat now sported a bit of a hole. We eventually all trooped up to bed where some of us spent a very cosy night together.

The BUCS team woke bright and early and had breakfasted and left before the rest of us even opened a sleepy eye. After defying the administration’s best efforts to not allow us to compete once again, the team smashed BUCS and came 21st of 51 teams overall. The highlight for many, however, was not the competition but a particularly nice dyno that provided much entertainment. On their way back, Jonny broke the record for fastest speed on the Gradbach road, getting up to 80mph before spotting some ice and pooing himself a bit. Don’t worry he was fine.

The rest of us decided to walk to the Roaches and after breakfasting and taking a lot of pictures of the map on the wall, set off, bouldering mats in tow. It was a beautiful frosty walk through forest and heathery moorland, and we finally made it by sharing the load and asking directions from a confused local. Due to the cold, most people decided to boulder, leaving the brave Ryan, Henry, Chris Lyus and Meinertzhagen the only trad leaders. I helped Chris and Hannah consolidate their leading skills by helping them choose routes and checking their anchors, but they already knew what they were doing and didn’t require much help at all. We ended the day on a personal favourite of mine, “Inverted Staircase”, which Chris led. I also accidentally sent him up the wrong start, which was a bit tricky and provided an impressive beginning to a good route. I think both enjoyed the fun second pitch as well. We came back to find the BUCS team had joined the boulderers and were attempting a nice problem called “Joe’s Arete” on the upper tier.

We were grateful of the fire once we got back to Gradbach after a long cold day outside and enjoyed good food and Nick’s home-made crossword in the evening. Everyone was knackered so we had a bit of an early night in order to be fresh for Sunday.

Next morning we breakfasted, cleaned and packed but unfortunately our form from the North Wales trip did not hold and we were a little late leaving the bunkhouse. Nevertheless it was still early and there was plenty of climbing to be done before we headed home. The conditions were similar to the previous day, perhaps a little colder, and the majority of people bouldered whilst others went off to do trad. Some impressive ascents were squared away by various members including a nasty offwidth boulder problem, a highball V2 called “Three Pocket Slab” and an impressive balancy V4. We also made friends with some climbers from Brighton University and shared our bouldering mats and beta with them. Then Greg arrived and there was much rejoicing.

On the trad side, Will took Lydia and Andrew up a VS with a wonderful(?!) overhang finish, Hannah and Chris continued to improve their trad skills, and Zara got stuck in a hole. After extracting her, we headed back down to the cars, said goodbye to Greg and began our journey home which was filled, for those in the minibus at least, with Bruce Lee facts and Chuck Norris Jokes. That man has a crazy amount of chest hair.