26 March 2014

Venture Fourth - Peak District

Derbyshire, Hope Valley, Thorpe Farm Bunkhouse, 21-23 March 2014. 8 climbers, 2 crags, and a cheeky climbing wall as well.

Okay, so there were a couple of things I took from this trip.

The Big Tick

Dave may have found himself back on home turf, but I - notwithstanding laying my hat where I please - call Yorkshire home. Where one friend bid me join him at the site of many a touristy scramble, and where another took me under his wing at a site that had loomed over my landscape yet remained unvisited until climbing came along. Brimham and Almscliffe were followed by Caley, Shipley Glen, Slipstones, Widdop, Crookrise, and clearly show that Yorkshire is a fine venue.

Northumberland followed soon after, as Bryn's holiday cottage provided an excellent base to strike out to Kyloe, Doveholes, Hepburn, Rothley and more. We've made several trips, and will hopefully make many more.

Next up was a geographical jump, over (or under) the Channel, to France, to Fontainebleau. France seemed pretty dull to drive through. Fontainebleau was magical, and felt truly rewarding to even attend.

Curious then that The Peak District took so long to get the big tick of attendance. Why? Can't really say. Things just didn't come together that way. But something about the slow start to this year's season (fair weather style...) saw Louis prompt a trip, and then there we were. Stanage Plantation and Burbage South Boulders were the spots, both scatterings of boulders beneath grand edges of rock, like dystopian walls erected to split societies in two. For my part, glad to fall on the side of the climbers.

The Adventure

Dave has covered the technical side of things in his post, and rightly so, but mine was more of a dive-in kind of experience, and one that heightens life from the mundane that I imagine so many go through. The adventure started on Friday night, as I hooked up with Bryn and Cosmo to take in The Depot's Winter Bouldering League final round (Rob was along, too, but sadly couldn't join us for the whole weekend). A fine atmosphere, and a great warm-up for the weekend, it was the fact that we had decided to cram this in alongside the big trip that made it work. Winding up the plasticy climb with the knowledge that we were striking out in the dark to greater things made for much excitement. A fine drive down and acclimatisation with the bunkhouse - with Geoff welcoming us - finished our preparations for the task at hand.

I'd been to Derbyshire twice before, in touristy fashion. Possibly in 1994 with my parents, and possibly 2004 with my then-girlfriend. Fine times, each, but I hadn't even seen - from Castleton, granted - the ridges of rock that would deliver a true appreciation of the area - I suspect it won't be a decade until the next visit. Getting started, and excitement, adventure and endeavour were key. The joy of piling into the car and targeting the crag, the pleasure of catching up with our climbing buddies, and of more of them catching up with us. For me, a steppy slab and a crimp-to-mantle that Dave B pushed a gram of me up as I gamely clung on following a reach and slip (I then repeated unaided and cleanly). Even being rained off brought its curious rewards, unicycling back to the car, then making the most of things with a pub trip and intrepid walk from the bunkhouse. The less said about how adventurous things drunkenly got in the evening, the better... Though I'll never look at tables in the same way again (because I'll want to climb around them).

Suffice to say, many of us were quite delicate by the time we reached Burbage on Sunday. All self-inflicted, of course, and this led to a hazy atmosphere among the rocks. Some decent problems, but the focus was... blurry. We were there a while, but many of us got closest to the rocks by lying on them, and much of the climbing was fairly genteel. Not Dave P, obviously, but you can read his post for that story.

"How was your weekend?", I was asked at work on Monday morning. It was amazing, I adventured through plastic, rock, beautiful scenery, and alcohol with a group of fine friends. Thanks for asking, but I very much doubt that I'd swap it for your weekend.

Derbyshire told us what was what.
My favourite problem. Doesn't look much, does it?

Burbage, wide.

Burbage, tight.

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