Biography: Part 2. The summer of 6b

Biography Part 2: The summer of weekend grit

Returning from an epic trip to North Wales, I now start to use words like 'epic', and 'gnarly'.  I am also 90%sure I know what a 'rockover' is, although I turn out to be wrong.  Pursuing harder climbs at the wall, I also get out on first grit with a couple of bouldering weekends. 

 Soon after returning from Wales, Juliet Scott invites me to come to the Peak District for a weekend camping and climbing, along with a load of us she has been coaching from Highball.  Faced with such a potentially awesome experience I overcook it the week before at Highball.  I put in an extra night's training and my elbows are painful and shakily weak when exercised.

Joe Lawson looks on as Ellis drives his tank.
I take Tanya and Ellis.  Ellis thrives, despite being only five, he joins in thoroughly, shouting 'JULES! I have found another traverse.'  Tanya does well despite having ridiculously big, borrowed, clown-like shoes.  She has good  flexibility and natural balance, I feel glad about the shoes as I canNOT have her burn me off.

We hit Cratcliffe and Robin Hood's stride first, going up some of the simpler boulder problems before I am set free to try T Crack: (font no chance yet); and Razor Roof (6c).  I am just starting to pull on Razor Roof when everyone else turns up and its time to go. I don't get it.

We head over to Burbage South and have a good old play amongst the boulders there.  I enjoy climbing a few of the easier problems on the tank boulder, Ellis enjoys driving it.

We have a nighttime barbecue and it pisses down.  

Razors Roof, 6c
The next day we hit Curbar.  By the point my elbows are killing.  I have learnt some technique over the last year, got a bit stronger in the muscle, but my tendons have yet to catch up.  When spotting I can barely hold my arms up above shoulder height and when I do, they shake and spasm like I'm raving.

Back in Norfolk I invest in some elbow supports: black neoprene.  I feel like a right knob putting them on before climbing, but they do the trick.  Over 6 months my elbow tendons strengthen to the point where they no longer hurt.  Then something else hurts instead, then something else...

August Bank Holiday weekend: we go up again with Jules.  This time I get my sister Alison and her man-mountain fiance Phil to meet us there too.  They arrive in her VW Fox: which is fucking tiny.  But only on the outside - within half an hour they have unloaded a 6-man Vango tent, a gas barbecue, set of chairs and tables, food and a dog.  Not a small dog either.  A lurcher called Nancy.  Apparently VW took their inspiration from the TARDIS, Doctor Who tries to drag them through the courts but of course he can never turn up on the right dates for the hearing ....

We stop off and pop into the Outdoor Shop in Hathersage for some last minute kit buying and to allow the weather to clear up.  As we walk in, I notice - literally - eight or nine people I know from Highball.  I notice them before they notice me which allows me to compose my face and just stroll past going 'Oh, allright Lee, allright Tom, allright Guy' as if I've seen them in the local papershop, while they boggle at me like I've landed from Mars.  Victory!

I go along with everyone bouldering on the Saturday, but my real purpose is to look after the Boy and the Dog Nancy.   We got to Burbage South again, same boulders.  This is where everyone from Highball has also gone along to.  I take the Nancy the dog and the Boy for a bit of a walk, and she knocks over Tom - Highball Assistant Manager-'s can of coke, which says 'Dude' on it.  He takes it quite well, and I resolve to buy him a new can of coke.  However I never see another one with 'Dude' written on it, so I don't bother.  He seems to have forgotten so far, I hope no one reminds him.

I climb one problem Pock Man, with one fall.  It is a scarily precarious slab but super satisfying when I get the slap to the top.  A  little while later it pisses down, and the midges come out.  Fair enough I used to live in Scotland , I didn't bloody realise these little fuckers live in England too.  We run for it, swearing, desperately trying not to stop.  My sense of humour fails when a panic stricken Ellis says he needs to stop for the toilet.

Back to the campsite and a barbecue.  I get talking to a gang of climbers from Spain, Alex, Hasier (strictly speaking a Basque), and Hasier's family.  Ellis is well trained and offers the Basque kids marshmallows.  The kids all head off and play table football while me and Tanya batter the drink.

The next day Tanya's unbelievable low tolerance for hangovers kicks in and she misses the day.  We all go to Burbage North, and I climb with Jules' husband Skel, who is shit-hot.  He top ropes me up a few mega classics like Knight's Move (HVS 5a) and Great Crack (VS 5a).

The next day is August Bank Holiday , and lives up to its tradition of having an absolutely foul weather forecast.  We bin it and stop for chips on the way out.