Blue skies, calm, and warm. It was a rather perfect start to a day climbing at Stanage. Howard, back in the UK for a month, had managed to organise four of us: him, me, Steve, and Chris. H&I left around 7:15, and drove up for around 10. Steve joined us by 11, and Chris a little later, after he had finished an impressive 6+ mile run with his son Jakob.
Having not led any routes since around 2010, and then only one or two, I was happy to follow first Howard, then later Steve, up routes for most of the day. We did:
- Grotto Slab (warm up – solo’d, Mod);
- Something else that I have forgotten;
- Flying Buttress Gully (VDiff);
- Flying Buttress (HSD 4a);
- Hollybush Crack (VDiff);
- Narrow Buttress (VS 4c);
- Pedestal Chimney (I led this one, Diff);
- and Zigzag Flake-crack (VS 4b).
The two later VS’s Narrow Buttress, then particularly Flake-crack were great fun, but at the top end of my ability. Flying Buttress, graded a little lower, was particularly good. All these 4+ routes were led by Steve, who was thankfully quite a lot better than the rest of us :-). Narrow Buttress I managed without a tight rope. Which was apparently more than could be said for H&C. (Ha!) But Flake-crack (‘awkward, slippery… and requires improvisation’) was really beyond me – I relied on the rope twice for this one. H&C both did a fair amount of muttering on the way up, but their improvisation was apparently better. Both made it up without needing the rope.
In between Narrow Buttress and Flake-crack, I led H up the much easier Pedestal Chimney. None of my gear placements fell out, and I set up two solid belay anchors at the top, even managing to tie in with a clove hitch in addition to a figure-of-eight knot. Quite basic, I know, but I was pretty pleased with it.
All in all it was a grand day. Thanks go to Howard for organising us.