Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Perfect Grit Day

Autumn is often the best time for climbing on the gritstone of the peak district - the cooler temperatures means that holding onto marginal sloping and friction dependent holds is much easier. However it is also wet in November so getting good crisp, sunny days is fairly rare! I was climbing at the Roaches in Staffordshire on Monday and it was one of those rare days when everything comes together - the weather, conditions and my climbing.

Those of you who have experienced gritstone will know that it requires a certain zen - an ability to see holds where there are not, trust sloping footholds and smears and often to have the confidence to commit to insecure moves a long way above your gear!

On the drive to the crag there was a hard frost on the ground and the sun was filtering through a thin morning mist, its rays illuminating the last golden leaves hanging on the trees. I new it was going to be a good day. After a quick play on the boulders I seconded Jim up Smear Test E3 on the Lower Tier. Some damp was clinging to the rock here so we made the stroll to the skyline area which catches all the sun going. We quickly dispatched San Melas E3 and soloed up the short but excellent Wild Things E1 before getting stuck into Wings of Unreason E4. This has been on my ticklist for a long time and features a tricky undercut start to get established on to one the most perfect grit slabs around. The meat of the route involves a jump to reach the top - I was stood on the slab for about 20 mins psyching myself up before going for it and thankfully catching the top - wild!!! Unfortunately the photos below aren't mine - I forgot the camera so found these on the net.

Jump from here to the top!

We then headed down to the Third Cloud and I led the beautiful Appaloosa Sunset E3 just as the light started to fade and the cloud rolled up from the Cheshire plain like the incoming tide. Perfection!