Thursday, 28 April 2011

Spring Sunshine

For once a bank holiday that had decent weather! A couple of days of it were spent sorting out the garden then on Sunday we were heading over to the Lakes, initially to Gimmer, then it was decided on Dow before we eventually settled on Pavey Ark. Nice, south facing and wonderful bubbly rock.

Surprisingly even on an Easter Sunday the NT car park at Stickle Barn was only half full - we parked in the field in front of the New Dungeon Gill hotel, cheaper for one thing and not a stupid, don't have the right money and we ain't giving change sort of price that the NT car park does. Then it was the steady slog up to Stickle Tarn.

There were a few teams on the crag but it turned out that no-one was heading for our intended routes, at least not yet, so Alex and I set off up Capella, a surprisingly recent find at E1 and a very good sustained route in to the bargain. Steve and Mike were doing Arcturus to our right, the two routes share the same first belay. I was a bit nervous leading at times but soon got going and found the top bit of the first pitch easier than I'd remembered, having struggled previously. Alex didn't want to lead the second pitch (also 5b) so I headed off again and got myself all wrong on the start before wandering up the final slabby walls and grooves.

Once on Jack's Rake we wandered up to the start of Golden Slipper, one of the classic Lakeland HVSs, simply brilliant climbing on lovely rock. The main pitch is a bit bold though so not one for a nervous leader. Having done this several times, including soloing it, before I reckoned that Alex would enjoy it more on the lead than simply following. A couple of friends had turned up to do Aardvark - an E1 with a stiff crux move then delicate rib climbing so I had a bit of a chat whilst Alex dispatched the first pitch. A quick changeover on the commodious ledge, she took her time on the main slab but figured it out without too much fuss. By now Mike was leading Poker Face, another good route. The top pitch is an anticlimax and it would have been better to abseil off but we took the long walk round in rock shoes - ouch!

After a bit of (late) lunch and recuperation and we headed over to do Rake End Wall. I'd only done this once before, solo, and couldn't remember anything about it. Suffice to say, the first pitch is bold and the belay is behind a large loose flake with strenuous moves just above at the start of the second pitch. I think we were both a bit jaded in the heat and although only VS it felt just as hard as Capella.

By now it was getting on so we headed down to the Stickle Barn for a pint and then home.

Wednesday afternoon saw Simon and myself heading up to Great Close Scar hoping to get out of the cold northerly breeze. As it turned out it was a good choice, in fact it was almost too warm! After four routes of variable and debatable quality we'd had enough. Still need to go back though.

Now we just have to find somewhere quiet for the coming weekend to get away from all the Royal Wedding awfulness - I simply can't stand all the toadyism - the papers and TV channels seem to be trying to outdo one another in how obsequious they can be. OBNs to the lot of them!

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