2 March 2016

The Hokey Cokey

Louis rising out of the heather.
In, out, shake it all about. Or rather, out then in as things went this weekend with regards climbing venues. Things kicked off on Saturday with a trip out into the wilds of Nidderdale to check out one of the discoveries made by the Unknown Stones crew, Gatehouse Crag. Louis made the shout, tempting me away from a day of domestic bliss and household chores. However, we do both have a habit of getting lost on the way to the crag- our escapades in Lancashire when we tried to drive across a reservoir being a great example- and true to form we ended up spending a good 45 minutes driving around in circles on the edge of Dallowgill Moor (in my defence the map on the guide does have a misleading arrow on it). A few directions from farmers later we parked up and started the gentle walk, coming across fellow climber Richard and his young son heading the opposite way having succumbed to the cold weather. A shame as it turned out Gatehouse would be ideal for the smaller boulderer. In fact it seemed ideal for anyone really, having consistently good problems in the Font 3-5+ range. It also turned out not to be that cold either, with the south facing rocks and nearby woods providing some pleasant shelter. We made a start on the far left of the main wall and the hours flew by as we worked along to the right, ticking off a lovely spread of aretes, walls, sitters, jugs and smears. By the time we reached the final bay we were ready for a sarnie, and nearly out of time. We hadn't even got to the tempting looking boulders by the boundary wall, nor delved into the adjacent woods where further delights lay waiting. These would have to wait for another day.

 If you'd designed a bouldering crag you would struggle to have come with anything quite as perfect as that provided for us by glacial melting at Gatehouse. Odd, then, to spend the following day at an indoor wall specfically designed to do just that, as I headed over the Pennines for the opening competition of the Manchester Depot. Indoor climbing has come on a long way in the last 10 years and the new Depot sets the bar pretty high with a state of the art bouldering behemoth. The comp was a great showcase of what the Depot team have acheived, managing to fit in hundreds of people, 30 qualifying problems, a world class competition wall, and still have plenty of space left over. Plenty of friends had made the trip over, and it was great to cheer on local heroes as they tackled 3 fiendish looking climbs. Another great day out, albeit far removed from the previous day. The sound of pumping house music was about as contrasting as you can get to the call of grouse bursting from the heather, and the industrial estates of Trafford Park certainly hold less romance than the moors of North Yorkshire. However, both have their place in the wonderful world of bouldering, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to returning to both.
Dave Barrans getting horizontal, Men's Finals.

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