Monday, 15 June 2009
A friend’s birthday party brought me to the Peak for what I thought was going to be a series of soul destroying bouldering sessions. Happily, I was mistaken.
The sunny weather presented the perfect excuse to eschew grit and try for the first time some Peak limestone.
We started out at a chilled riverside venue not too far from our campsite called Rheinstor. It wasn’t posh enough to make the new Peak District Bouldering guidebook, but it can be found in the old Rockfax Peak Bouldering (‘98). If you like pockets (or indeed, want to train finger strength) then I would say that it’s worth a visit. It only has 12 named problems, the majority of which are the bottom quarter of trad routes, but I found it fun to just have a go at whichever line took my interest and jumped off before it became too committing.
After abusing our finger tendons for a few hours, we decided to head to Rubicon and um… abuse our fingers a bit more. I’ve visited Rubicon a few times, but I was never able to climb there since it was half subsumed by the lake. What a great venue. I got A Miller’s Tale on my second try (argh – should have listened to the beta and then it would have been a flash!). I was quite surprised by this as I haven’t been bouldering outside in ages and the last time I climbed with any regularity indoors was last October. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and doing the odd easy problem here and there.
The next morning I was feeling rather tired and mostly just wanted to curl back up in my sleeping bag, but the sunny weather again guilt-tripped me into making the most of it. We headed to Raven Tor, oddly enough more as a reccie for future projects rather than to have a serious session.
After warming up on a few problems, I spied Too Hard for Mark Leach which is comprised of the end bits of Ben’s Roof. It was up my street; slightly powerful, juggy, but with a few interesting holds thrown in to the mix and some interesting moves, so I gave it a try. The throw for the penultimate crimp shut me down a few times, until I realised that I needed to lock more deeply and static it.
I was really not expecting to tick this problem as I am so far off my best it’s scary. I’m weak, injured, out of shape and completely distracted by life, but still it went in about 20 minutes.
I think that I found a bit of myself once again in a dusty cave. This trip put a lot of perspective back into my life. I wasn’t happy when I was mostly just climbing, but equally not climbing doesn’t work for me either. I’m now faced with the challenge of balancing the two in some sort of happy medium.
And of course I had to find one negative in this otherwise perfect weekend – if I’m climbing Font 6c with not much effort now, why the heck didn’t I climb tons better when I was in shape, argh!
To round the weekend off, we headed for Pleasley Vale near Mansfield. Again, this great little limestone venue wasn’t good enough for the current guidebook, but can be found in the Rockfax one. It doesn’t have many hardcore desperates, but what it does have is a lovely setting and tons of fun problems to try. It’s well worth a visit on a warm summer’s evening.
How to climb if you're short - get your feet as high as you can...
Lock and pop - et voilà!
Needless to say – I’m a Peak Limestone convert… and to think people travel all that way and only ever climb on grit :-)