Monday, 2 December 2013

Time Flies 1

Time flies when you're having fun. The first month and a half of Uni has breezed by. Freshers seems a distant memory, though the flu lingers on now and then. The weeks after are a blur. I had my doubts over moving to Sheffield. Even such minute change, for a creature of such repetitive habit, is not often welcome. During a hectic first week I did little but drink and flail in the Works. After Unknown Stones it was good to have a cooling off period, to forget climbing and just enjoy the fun. After fortuitously bumping into Katy and Rob the hunger for the grit soon returned.
Armed with a huge stake and sledgehammer we headed to the rarely dry Burbage South Quarries. The walkers who saw us wandering the moors that day would be forgiven for thinking we were planning some kind of pagan crucifixion. The stake sunk into the heather-clad ground and so the fun could begin. My intention was to try one of Pete's creations, Inspiration Dedication, which climbs a slightly overhung wall on positive crimps. The only thing about this route reminiscent of Gritstone is the potential to deck onto a boulder from 9 metres. After drying the holds and working the moves it was a smooth lead. This really is a rough diamond, perhaps a little better than its older brother French Kiss.
The crux of Inspiration @Rich Sharpe.

Pre and post this day were some nice evenings spent at Millstone. Katy and Rob on form with ascents of The Bad and the Beautiful, whilst I dabbled in some esoterica, climbing two of the least well known E6's in the Peak. Golden sunshine till 7 seems distant now as I glance to the window and see darkness setting in at 4 O'clock. I never remember the downsides of Winter.

One of Gritstone's main faults is its size. The Promontory at Black Rocks has no such problem. If life were fair this 20 metre ships bow would overlook a perfect moorland plateau, miles from civilisation. Luckily for the lazy its sits in a dank, Carlsberg can-filled wood just outside Cromford. Rising up the right-hand side of the Promontory is an enticing line of pockets, some small, some large. Linked they create one of grits most aesthetic sculptures. Seb's psychobabble on Meshuga is one of the lasting legacies of Hard Grit. Coming into the season alot of those I spoke to had this route top of their winter list. It has been top of mine since I did the neighbouring Hard Grit classic Gaia, a year ago.

Last year I could barely link the route. What a nice feeling of progression it was when this year I was linking it steadily. It boils down to two moves. The slap and the rockover. A fall from the first has been taken, all be it with painful consequences. A fall from the rockover is likely to be a messy affair. After two sessions this year I was ready. The next good day I would do it. There followed two weeks of rain and warmth. At the time it seemed an age, a real indication of how much I wanted this route done. On the next dry opportunity we made the regular pilgrimage to Cromford. Dad came out to belay and the lead itself passed without incident or hesitation, full immersion. I have to thank Rob and Katy in particular for helping me to get this done. Without a car Black Rocks is a long way from Sheffield!

"The Move" on Meshuga

What's next? is a question I've heard alot in the past few weeks. I had no idea. One wet day Katy suggested putting a rope on Knockin On Heavens Door. This route had somehow slipped my winter target list, and without her keenness I'm not sure I would have bothered. One time a few years ago I walked up to Curbar with a shunt and tried it. It was around 25c and the backs of my legs got sunburnt, optimism and naivety are rarely a good mix. Two years forward and another gamble was taken on the weather. On a day when the rest of Sheffield sheltered in the wall we headed out to Curbar. It was only for top roping but the few goes we snatched on the route felt like a steal on such a grim day. Sometimes optimism works out. After Katy and Dave's Super Sunday at Black Rocks, we had Majestic Monday.

A day of near perfect Gritstone weather. Not a cloud in the sky, 6c and windy. The kind of day you wait all year for. The history of Knockin is chequered. I choose to use the cams below the lip out left. These "protect" the route though you're still likely to face a nasty fall from the crux moves. The way I did it seems logical to me, I'd be angry with myself for avoiding gear and then breaking myself falling off. The route itself felt like velcro on this perfect Grit afternoon. The lines at Curbar always seem special to me, perhaps as they're the first routes I ever knew existed. Later that evening in the fading light we watched Jake climb another of Curbar's gems; The End of the Affair. A great day. 

Second half coming up.

Stretched on Knockin.