15 April 2012

"The Shipley Glen"

1998 and I'm meeting my future in-laws who live in Bingley. They let slip that they are off dog walking at Shipley Glen. "What the Shipley Glen?" I exclaimed with the excitement only a climbing nerd knows. I think they thought I was winding them up. I think they still do.

No joke though the Glen had featured in the climbing press and that same day I dashed off to pay tribute. I hoped to find Dennis Gray dressed in Adidas Tracky bottoms sat on a throne of rough hewn grit staring moodily at those dark satanic mills. I had to make do with a burnt out Ford Escort and some crude graffiti. I worked my way up a few bits and bobs that day The excellent slab of Reach for the Sky sticking in the mind. I have been filling in the gaps ever since.

The Glen fills that awkward niche between big boulders and small crag much like Bell Hagg in the Peak. The landings are often poor and you can find your self high and sweating all to easily.

Today I went for that crimpy 6B traverse near John I have been bothering for a good year or so. I warmed up on some favourites from the last few years then got stuck in. It was dry as you like and maybe six degrees and I danced across the traverse like I was a boy again. First go no drama, every crimp, edge and smear finding its mark, the expected siege evaporating before it began.

This was a problem, if a serendipitous one. Then I saw Glen ArĂȘte all 30 foot of it looking at me in the early morning sunshine. I was sucked in, I had decided I really wanted spotters when I had ago but why not?

My next conscious thought was with my hands 2 foot below the top, when like a fool I looked down. The ground looked a way off and my mat looked small. The spell broken I slithered back down to reality. With some spotters and a second mat over that back breaking boulder it will be a nice highball in a few weeks.

Wandering down the edge I tried and got the groove of Smear which I crimped. The pleasant undercut Prow, a poor mans Red Baron and the aptly named Nicely which was until the final mantle where I nearly cocked it up. This seemed like a good time to stop.

Birds sang, a pack off dogs barked but no human face broke the serenity. I headed off to the Mother in laws to refurb her bedroom. Now though the thought of the rest of the day inside even on this sweetest of early spring days seemed fine after my moments in the morning sun.
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