The weather has gone totally bananas! Last week we had sub-zero temperatures, Monday morning getting in to work on the bike was an exercise in keeping the speed down and the cadence up. By Wednesday it was back to shorts!
Carrying a few niggles for some reason at the moment - a sprained thumb on left hand and a sore index finger, feels like a tweeked tendon, on the right. Still things like that don't stop activities.
After a bit of horse trading Mike and I ended up at Almsliffe on Saturday. Now Almscliffe isnt' my favourite crag, in fact it's probably my least favourite Yorkshire grit crag. No real reason for this, perhaps it's the "it's the greatest crag in the universe" plaudits that I'm reacting to, or maybe it's the fact that the decent jams in the cracks are so far back that you can't see your feet, whatever, I do try to avoid it if possible.
The wind of Friday night had died down so we started on the south face, the usual winter pool hadn't formed so it was quite pleasant. The starter for VS was Black Wall which I hadn't done before. The moves were all quite easy but the trusting of gear and the effort in getting it in, the wall leans quite a bit, meant it felt hard in the cool temperatures. Mike then wanted to do Blackpool Boulevard which is a counter diagonal to Bird Lime Traverse. Given E1, the moves are all straightforward, if a little pumpy due to poor footholds, but the final few feet are ungradeable being a stomach squirm along a break!
Then it was round to the NW face, a quick run up Central Route where I wish I'd brought a double set of big cams before Mike had a go at Z-Climb Eliminate. He spent a bit of effort getting the crucial wire in before lowering to the deck and pulling the ropes. Next go he cruised it into the wide crack above and climbed steadily to the top. Following I found the moves on Central Route harder than the supposed crux even though I'd led them just 15 minutes before!
By now it was getting windier and cold so we decided to finish on Great Western, supposedly the only four star route in Yorkshire, in reality it's the most overrated climb around, it isn't even the best HVS at Almscliffe! Fortunately the group of loud swearing youths had moved on so things were a bit quieter. By the time Mike had finished leading I was frozen. There probably isn't a move above 4b on the route if you get things right, getting the gear out was harder as a few of the cams had walked. Mike had taken the right hand finish and it has to be said that it's in a spectacular position for the grade, similar in exposure to the moves to the pedestal stance on Mur y Niwl.
No-one to climb with on Sunday so a bit of general housekeeping, plus it will give my fingers time to rest.