Limestone pick n mix

I’ve deliberately dialed down the blogging of visits to familiar “holes in the ground” – there’s only so much you can say about Harpur Hill and the Stoney crags, and one crumbly sports route looks much the same as any other. However, here’s a quick mash-up of the last few weeks to give you a flavour of the variety of limestone climbing available and highlight a couple of spots that you might not have visited (or re-visited).

Hall Dale (aka Helicopter Quarry) is another of the Matlock quarries that seems to have gone a bit out of fashion – shame, as its Spectre Buttress lays claim to being perhaps the best bit of rock in the Peak.

The stepped band of overhangs provide obvious cruxes but the slab / wall climbing in between is also really involved and remarkably unpolished. Entry grade is 6b (and not over-bolted) and there’s not much elsewhere in the quarry that’s much easier, but it’s well worth a (re)visit especially on a hot day.

Pandy Quarry, near Mold, isn’t too far from Manchester for a day trip and would make a great stop off on the way to or from Snowdonia – ideal for rescuing another wash-out in The Pass.

It’s a pleasant, open spot, only a few minutes downhill walk from the parking (limited) and has about 30 well-bolted routes all in the 6s. This one is Alyn Wall, 6b (probably). Recommended.

Back in The Peak and an ad-hoc WhatsApp-inspired (definitely not a…) Rucksack Club meet settled on Shady Staden for the hottest Wednesday evening on record (OK, that’s a made-up statistic, but it was toasty). A nice round and covid-compliant 6 of us gathered to bask in the coolth and had a grand evening – ticking some of the usual classics on the Joint Effort Wall but also exploring some of the newer trad additions on Box Recess Wall. Surprisingly good quality now they’ve settled down a bit (Helen recommended Open the Box, VS 4c). No pics I’m afraid, and if you do decide to explore then be warned – John was charged by a cow on the approach.

More trad, with a visit with Jake and Helen to Two Tier Buttress in Chee Dale. Jake warmed up on Mad Dogs and Englishmen, E3 5c, which brought back memories of my lead of the route about 25 years ago. It hasn’t got any easier, but remains a very fine climb. He then threw himself ground-up at Spizz Energy, a 3* E5 Fawcett test-piece from 1980. He just missed out on the onsight but made no mistake on his second attempt. My struggles on a top-rope confirmed the “absolutely nails” assessment.

Tough off the deck…

Tenuous and snappy holds on a looping down then up traverse

… and a desperate rock over through the final overlap.

Side-note – it’s a real sign of the times that neither of these 3* routes was chalked but the neighboring newer bolted lines were plastered AND polished.

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