Spring was well and truly in evidence so Andy and I headed for a first taste of Brit outdoor rock for the season. Where else but Stanage, Queen of The Grit?
It’s always a bit of a shock returning to Grit to remember quite how short the routes look – and equally important not to be fooled: They really pack in a lot of climbing!
We immediately blow my suggested plan for “a gentle reintroduction” by warning up on Congo Corner, HVS 5b – it’s perhaps the archetypal 3* HVS with a bit of everything: tough, slightly bewildering start up thin jamming crack; clever meandering around stiff overhangs; teetery traverse back right (hint: you want your hands in the break and some big cams); insecure mantle; and balancy reach for a juggy “horn” on the arete. All that fun packed into about 30ft! Here’s a bloke doing the start:
Andy upped the game with Mississippi Direct, E1 5b, a tenuous start to the classic route
Then I did Dark Continent, E1 5c, with an ungainly struggle through the first roof
Followed by a L-O-O-O-N-G reach between breaks (hint: left hand jam, palm up, left foot smear, right foot in the break and then REACH with right hand for a decent pocket) as illustrated below:
… Then hold your nerve for runout but easier climbing through the final breaks.
Andy continued the theme of upping the ante on eliminates, with the somewhat squeezed-in The Mersey Variant which makes use of blinkers to force you into some really tough moves:
That was a good hint to draw the escalation to a halt and start on the downwards part of the grade pyramid – faster downwards than I planned as I backed off Acheron, E1 (thin move a LONG way above gear!) to sidle across Lousianna Rib instead, and Andy finished off with Centre Stage, HVS 5a.
An outstanding day in perfect conditions (12C and T-shirts at the bottom, blowy on top) and further evidence that tufa tussling sports fitness will take a while to translate into trad grit performance – but at least I’ve made a start!