Loads of Plan A.
(No photos this time, there was naff all to see)
I always get really interested in the mental and planning aspects of climbing, the psychology and decision making. Recently, at Glenmore Lodge, I was introduced to the idea of not having one Must Do goal, which could drive you right onto a charmlessley avalanchy slope. Flexibility was the key! but not even having just a plan B in reserve, instead having loads of Plan As, equally good, for when the weather and avalanche risk want to fuck about.
So when me and Sam looked at the weather for our Scottish winter trip we were not -immediately - dismayed. Yes! The winds did look shit! But we had options...
By Thursday we were considering 7 different climbing areas - not venues mind, but whole areas.
Cairngorm: out because of the wind, blizzards and what we felt would be developing avalanche risk. What good, forward-thinking, mountain-rescue untroubling chaps we are!
Glencoe and Lochaber: same.
We met up at Mansfield with ice-axes and crampons which almost certainly won't be used. We also have the - controversially borrowed - club ice-screws and deadman. Some concerns had been raised about our ability to return this in time for the official club winter trip. We took them anyway.
At Sheffield, in Lee's house we considered further options via the internet.
'Right. Snowdonia. Weather looks .... come on ... come on.... shit.'
'What about Gogarth? That's usually loads better than Snowdonia,' suggests Nikki. 'Try a rainfall radar map.'
We look at the blue shaded map. It is hard to distinguish sea from land.
'Lleyn peninsula? Tremadog?'
Soaking. Nikki starts to giggle.
'We could go to Cornwall? Sea cliffs. Commando Ridge.'
Soaking. And windy.
I pull out my trump card: I brandish my underused Northern England Rockfax, which frankly needs more dates written in biro in it. Lee's girlfriend Becky also gets excited about North Yorkshire.
We check the weather, it looks good! Then it updates during the time taken to look at the crag map. Clearly, whatever algorithm is behind the met office forecast doesn't mind changing its mind. The forecast deteriorates like a crashing airliner.
Is there anything left? Well, we are in Sheffield, so it wouldn't be ludicrous to check out the Peak.
It is the best forecast of the lot. One teeny tiny shower roundabout 10ish and we should be fine, nice stiff breeze to dry the rock.
Friday morning: the forecast holds. Its dry, its bright, its breezy We have a leisurely start and truck over to Outdoors in Hathersage. Sam is delighted to find out that the majority of components of a full English are gluten free, and the tomatoes in my bacon roll are perfect - slightly blackened and grilled the fuck out of.
As we park at Stanage the weather comes in: it is the anticipated shower.
'Lawrencefield? Its more sheltered?
We park up at Lawrencefield and Sam changes into his climbing gear while I slump in the front seat. This shower looks a bit tastier than the forecast. The rain comes in fucking sideways. Sam shakes out his waterproof trousers and they billow out like a windsock. Not a handhold could stay dry.
We have a bit of a cry and then decide that the least we can do is head over to the Roaches. Our logic is this: the weather front will have come from the West, then will clear quicker, perhaps the bastard has already stopped chucking it down. Or, because the Roaches are to the West, maybe the Irish Sea and the Atlantic will stay all fluffy in cloud form before the great mass of the Pennines lifts it cools it and drops it on the Eastern grit.
Worth a shot. We drive over and guess what. It is actually dry and climbable, although the wind is Game of Thrones cold. We have a climb, and then Johnny Dawes sells us two books and a DVD.