Climbing! Good grief, it was about time. So, dragged out by the irrepressible Howard, we left the house at the ungodly hour of 7:30 on a fine Sunday morning, picked up young Viv, and drove for 2:30 climate-destroying hours up to the Peaks. Where to? Stanage, youth, of course. Popular end, naturally. Persons of the party: Me, Miriam, Miranda (8), Vivien (9). Daniel (12) mostly climbed with Howard (antique) and Louise (lets not do any more shall we) and survived a fairly full-on day; also Carl and Marcus and a late arrival from Helen (not as-in-Viv). Howard happily had his magic bag of old Whillans harnesses, and even enough shoes for D, E and V. Plus his usual patience and enthusiasm for instructing and infecting beginners. Thanks!
We British aren’t very well off for mountains, alas. And Cambridge is about as far as you can hope to get from decent rock in the UK. So the nearest to us are the various edges of the Peak District, of which the largest is Stanage Edge. It is a bit like the picture above, continued for 4 miles (except not quite, because that is some of the best bits). I often think how weird all this is – if you travel to any old bit of the alps – Grenoble, Ecrins, Stubaital, wherever – you’ll find vast areas of vastly superior climbable rock that no-one even bothers with because there are better or more convenient bits just round the corner. But (somewhat like the beauties of Bonsai trees perhaps, of Chinese ladies feet) the contraints imposed lead to wonderful climbs. Not that I’m capable of leading (or even following) the best of those. The pic above shows the Black Hawk area. The chap only just off the ground R-ish is on Black Hawk Hell Crack (which my guidebook assures me is a Severe, 2*, I lead 15 years ago); slightly R of that is Blizzard Chimney (just above Miranda’s head, and trending into the corner hidden by the prow) a humble Diff (1*) I lead today. And very pleasant it was too, though Darling Daughter got a little sad at the difficult move at 2/3 height. The blue chap on the far L is probably on Black Hawk Bastion, E3 5c, and he is welcome to it.
A bit further L is Flying Buttress, and the chap here is on the classic 3* V Diff called, with great originality, Flying Buttress. The slab is very pleasant, and there is even some gear; the crux is getting into the open corner just L of his helmet, and it is rather harder than it looks (or has any right to be on a V Diff; that is the troulbe with V Diffs on Stanage and indeed gritstone in general; they have “traditional” grades that don’t always correlate particulrarly closely with their difficulty).
And so a final Moderate to make the girls happy: so good, they both demanded to be allowed to do it twice, and we indulged them.
Now, all we need to do is train the children to stay for a curry in Chesterfield and all will be perfect.