Peaks Trip report

by Calum McClune

Many a plan was made for Friday, mostly with the plan to head indoors for a few hours (the weather wasn’t great), but due to late leaving and hangovers everyone got to the bunkhouse by 7pm at the earliest. Jack G and co ran to the shops to get food for the evening, a delicious stir fry. I would give credit to our cooks but I’ve forgotten who they were (I’ve since been informed it was Tim, Gemma, Emma, and Ella so thanks!) and by this point the drinking had begun all over again… At this point I should explain I spent the majority of the weekend drunk or hungover, so the evenings blended together a bit. I’m therefore somewhat relying on Jack Goodfellow’s recollection of the evenings. This evening not a lot happened other than a chair was strung from the rafters, and the only explanation I could get out of anyone when asking why was “Because.” We are climbers so it’s not exactly the weirdest thing that’s ever happened. Everyone retired to bed around midnight after thoroughly pissing off the neighbors with our music.
Everyone awoke at 7am to the beautiful sound of pots banging against pans. Except me, because I was the one banging those pots and pans. The weather was reported as good! When we looked out the windows this wasn’t reflected very well by the fog. Unsure but determined we crawled out of bed and over to Stanage driving through immensely thick fog. I’d earlier said the beauty of the Peaks District was the ability to see the crags from the road, this statement was now biting me and everyone was making sure I was aware of it. Arriving at the carpark a small group of boulders split off with most of us heading up towards Flying Buttress. Arriving at the rock face the fog was still very apparent with visibility down to 20m at the max. The groups split off eager to get climbing. Unfortunately, during this break away, I lost sight of most of the climbers and thus have no idea what most people climbed. I’m aware a couple of people did Flying Buttress (HVD 4a) and enjoyed it. I think. Not really sure. I do know Tim began leading Jitter Face (HS 4a) and most certainly did not enjoy it at all, effectively soloing it. Tim’s first freak-out of the weekend.
As climbers reached the top across the crag gasps and “holy shit look at this” were heard. In the 10m of climbing we were above the clouds and the views were stunning. Many a new profile picture and cover photo were taken throughout the day, we even got a new one for Ella!
Still somewhat (read very) hungover, but not wanting to miss the potentially epic pictures I committed to climbing Flying Buttress Direct (E1 5b (or HVS 5b, God only knows the true grade)). After conquering the slab and moving into the overhanging section I fell on a poor cam. By some miracle the cam didn’t pop and I lowered down ready for a second attempt. First trad fall!! Although Tim maintains I barely weighted the gear, let alone fell. For some reason a small crowd had gathered at the base of the climb after everyone was seemingly bored of climbing already… Either that or just really, really, cold.
Henry and Bertrand were attacking a few climbs over on Black Slab. As far as I can work out they did Macleod’s Variation (VS 4c) and Hargreaves’ Original Route (VS 4c) as well as Christmas Crack (HS 4a) but please correct me if I’m wrong.
I’m now going to give up trying to work out who climbed what. If you’d like a cool climb you did in here, let Ed know.
I had a second go at Flying Buttress Direct it and sent it with relative ease this time. Upon topping out, I wanted to do it again. Damn is it cool. Tim then had a go at seconding but fell at the overhang and was unable to get back on the rock. Bummer. Mike went on to actually second the route and enjoyed it just as much as I had. The views were still stunningly pretty, to the point I wasn’t upset about belaying for nearly 30mins in 4°C. Upon returning to the floor the crowd had begun to disperse, maybe lunch was over?
Tim wanted to lead Christmas Crack (HS 4a), so he did. Phil led Pedestal Chimney (D) seconded by Gemma. Richard then dragged Emma Davies up the route and then got the rope caught. After a quick solo it was free. Julian led Robin Hood’s Cave Gully (D) with Phil soloing around and about for support which Gemma promptly seconded.
Feeling very brave I began up Yosemite Wall (E2 5b). Another crowd gathered (there seemed to be a lot of lazy climbers for this weekend). The initial crux was tackled rather easily with a selection of gear. Then the fun began. Putting a somewhat shitty wire in on the right led to an extended sequence of slopery moves with serious decking potential towards the top. I got a bit scared. Then scared the crap out of Tim and those below when I did a dodgy mantle right at the top of the run out. At this point I met a scared Bertrand who had been climbing Queersville (HVS 5a) and had reached the same ledge just around the corner. After a second to catch out breaths the only way was up. Turned out the top section of both climbs let up a fair amount towards the top especially as I avoided the El Cap finish (E2 5b) because ew. Tim thoroughly enjoyed seconding the climb having no worries with the extensive run out. Henry also had fun seconding Queersville but decided he was glad he didn’t have to lead it.
Assorted climbing continued for half an hour or so until the light faltered. At which point we realised Phil, Julian and Gemma were not back from their adventure. As we were about to go searching they emerged from the fog and retold a truly terrifying story of Phil going horribly off route from Balcony Buttress (S 4a) onto Exit Stage Left (HVS 5b (with perhaps a bit of E1 to finish)). Gemma couldn’t do the final bit so pulled on a sling and unfortunately there was no time for Julian to have a go, who instead went on a soloing adventure… But they survived, so hurrah!
We were back to the cars well before dark having learnt our lesson in North Wales. Phil, Tim and I went back to the shops after learning the previous days shop hadn’t actually covered the whole weekend. Once back at the hut Tim and cooking team threw together an amazing Chili that went down a treat. Somewhat helped by taking til 8pm to be ready and we were all starving. And then the drinking began with earnest. Bows and arrows were found. As were Go Carts. That’s all I’m saying on the matter.
We awoke to everything looking very wet. No pots and pans this morning as my head hurt too much to be banging them… After hours of faffing and finally getting the hut clean we headed to Burbage North. Upon arriving the rain restarted. Then stopped. Then restarted. Then stopped. So we said sod it and went to have a look. After walking to one of the furthest areas we could, The Sentinel, no one felt like doing anything that exciting. A top rope was set up on Black Slab (VS 4b) and a lot of messing around was done. Julian climbed it on his second attempt. Henry found a weird, direct start variation. I Johnny Dawes’d it (LITTLE HELICOPTERS!) and many people just had a wander up.
Jack Goodfellow soloed Present Arms (HS 4c) almost by accident while helping out Tim who was freaking out a little due to the lack of gear. Jack then went around again with Ella for fun. Everything was a bit green, wet and gross. Richard attempted to lead Green Groove (HVD 3c) which was as green as the name suggested and skated down a few meters before promptly giving up.
Not to be deterred by the conditions Tim went for Now or Never (E1 5b) despite never having lead a HVS. After a bit of up and down at the starting flake Tim got to the ledge after a really weird mantle. Looking up at a very balancy, technical and green slab Tim gave up and abed off an improvised anchor in neighboring Green Groove. I felt stupid so had a go myself. Also conquering the flake without much difficulty got to the ledge and said fuck this. The top section was horrifically slippery and for once can’t call Tim and wuss for bailing. I bailed up and out Sentinel Chimney (HVD 4a) which was extremely green.
Other climbing was going on over right but once again my view was blocked so if anyone did something really cool let Ed know and it can go here. Phil and I got bored of the cold and damp around 3pm and called it a day. We headed indoors to Awesome Walls and it was suitably awesome even though we were both knackered. I don’t have a clue what happened thereafter but I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend! Sorry for a somewhat lacking report, sightline in the Peaks isn’t that great, and make sure to contact Ed if you want a mention!
Bouldering the pinnacle of climbing, if you disagree please let Ed know. Saturdays bouldering with me, Jack and Abbey was great fun, climbing at plantation. Starting off easy to warm up we then moved to a slab with a big dyno which felt above what we could do, sadly. Moved on to trying a load other stuff none too hard. Good day in all view was one of the best I have ever seen to be deprived of vision by the fog, then to come out to witness a sea of cloud with rich blue sky can’t be put into words how amazing it was.