International Climbing Superstars
Crawling down the M6 in heavy rain and traffic, god I wish all these pricks would just fuck off and let us get to the crag already. Pat's driving, I'm knocking back the beers. Finally we arrive at the Roaches. After bunging all the gear in the hut and meeting all the others we hike round the crag to check out some routes by headtorch. Elegy. Commander Energy. E2s. I was a million miles away from E2 in Wales, but like I said, who gives a shit about that? Raining all the fucking time. It never rains in the Peak District does it? I'm a bit pissed now. I tell everyone that I'll be leading all these nails hard routes tomorrow, I'm sure they're well impressed, and rightly so.
Back to the hut, more beers, fucking hell I can't wait...
Now it's Pats turn. He wants to lead the Sloth, that massive roof crack that I did last year. With my totally non-selective memory I tell him it was completely piss, I basically could've soloed the bloody thing if I was that bothered about it.
So he climbs up to the roof and chucks a sling around that big block, down to the resting ledge, up down up down, I'm falling asleep down here on the deck. I could've done it 10 times by now. Finally Pat mans up and commits to the roof, cranks round to the lip, places a hex. He tries to get a hand jam, fails, and then falls off.
Pat searches in vain for the 'massive fucking jug' I sort of remember being there
But he nuts up, eventually sinks the jam and pulls through, and at last it's my turn to climb. I might do it no feet just for a laugh, seeing as I'm seconding and all that. But when I get under the roof it's actually really fucking scary, I'm shitting myself. So I keep my feet well on, swinging desperately from hold to hold. Jolly up to the lip, quick hand jam, reach up and bang, it's in the bag. That's what I told Pat but I CAN'T GET THE FUCKING HAND JAM RIGHT. I'm hanging upside down, strength leaking away, weakly slapping at the rock and slobbering everywhere. I sort of manage it in the end but still, fuck me, that was horrible.
It's my turn to lead an HVS now so I do Saul's Crack. I find this one fucking hard work as well. It's obvious that I need a full days climbing before I can lead some E2s, so tomorrow I will get straight on them and show everyone how it's done. Tomorrow.
The horrible awkward crack of pitch 1
Hand traverse higher up. I climb in this pose all the time, and you never see me move, you just blink and I'm somewhere else...
I struggle up the smeggy initial crack. It's because this route is too easy for me to properly engage with, it's not worth applying my talent to. Hand traverse some flakes into a trench belay by a massive tooth of rock, up comes Pat. He doesn't look too happy with what is still to come.
Looking out from the ledge, flailing leader just out of shot
Pat reaches the bottom of the tooth and says he can't find the hidden foothold that makes it piss. What the hell. I found it easily when I did it. Still, he manages to do the tricky rockover move onto the front face of the buttress, and then finishes up the easy slab to the summit. Now it's my turn. I strip the belay and gain the top of the tooth, then start the downclimbing. God it's actually really fucking hard. I wedge the left side of my body into the crack, right side hanging uselessly. My feet scrabble in vain for purchase. There's claret everywhere. I'm in agony. This isn't VS, it's E5, it's all gone tits up...I cannot, for the fucking life of me, find the hidden foothold.
I bet it's fallen off. That must be what's happened. My foot thrashes around in space, finding nothing. I scream to Pat for a tight rope. A crowd of people watch in amusement, I wish they would all drop dead. I eventually find the hidden bloody foothold and burst into tears.
Found the fucking stupid fucker
The well protected final slab
I mince up the rest of the pitch leaving a nice trail of blood all over the route. At the summit Pat and I just sit there shivering and muttering, comparing battle scars. I tell him we must've gone the wrong way and done an E5 instead. We fuck off to the pub and more beer. I reckon I'll be fine for some really hard stuff tomorrow though, it's not like you have to downclimb hidden footholds on every fucking route here, right? I'll be a new man in the morning. Now whose round is it?
Pat leading in the freezing wind
Tomorrow comes. I'm not feeling so good now. But I have to try something hard anyway, it's what I'm here for. The forecast is wank so we get started early, knocking out a couple of easy routes, ominous clouds rolling in across the moors. The wind blows, it's freezing cold now. I read through the guidebook, hands numb, Elegy or Commander Energy. Fucking hell, I've got to do at least one of them, I've got to try-
It starts pissing it down.
Thank fuck for that.