Back to the Roaches

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“Weather looks good in the Peak, shall we go?”

In a continuation of the ‘wettest, warmest winter in Llanberis since time began’ we escaped to the Peak District this weekend for some winter cragging.

We rolled up at the Roaches around 11pm and jumped straight into a comfortable roadside Bivvy.

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A zesty refreshing morning beverage

We awoke to incredible weather; soul-warming winter sun and cool frictitious rock. Perfect conditions then, to get elbow deep into one of the many crack lines that we had so far neglected on every trip to the Roaches.

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Stefan sifting through the guidebook in idyllic winter sunshine

After a brisk warm-up on the Valkyrie, we hopped up the stairs to Saul’s Crack, an HVS jamming testpiece that had spat me out with ease a year ago. Looking up into the meat of the route – a hand crack corner leading into a little wide roof crack – I remembered myself on it last year, plodding up the initial slab only to be stopped dead as I tried to awkwardly lay away from the corner, my feet spinning out from underneath me and dashing me on one of the many edges below. I had walked away embarrassed, following in the pub with the go-to excuse “Ah well I just can’t do jamming”.

Back, with generously taped hands and a fresh approach, the hands jams felt incredibly secure (if a little cold!) and the wide crack in the overhang took a fist jam that I was easily able to hang all my weight from. It was a wonderful feeling, coming back to a crag I’d visited so many times with what now felt like a secret weapon. I cackled to myself as I pulled through the overhang – never has an HVS felt like such a personal victory!

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Stefan on the crux overhang of Sauls Crack – another 3 Star Roaches classic

We continued the day jamming our way up Choka E1 5c, and climbing Hawkwing – topping out to sunbathe/ sleep in unexpectedly warm sun (grit truly must be the most comfortable stone!)

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The only way to relax after jamming up the slimy fist crack of Choka E1 5c

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With conditions so good and spirits so high – I returned to finish off an old enemy, The Ascent of Man E3 6a. Previously I’d bouldered up to the break but had bottled it at the first sight of the scary slab moves leading to the topout.

This time, I came back with a rope and a determination to close the account. I committed to rocking up on the pebbles, and teetered across the slab to a decidedly awkward top out, shouting my satisfaction/ relief across the lower tier. Its a total micro-classic, punching alot of climbing into a small piece of rock. I wonder if I’ll highball it one day, american style?

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The end of the physical crux on the Ascent of Man – and the beginning of the psychological crux. Micro Classic!
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Past me: 0
Present me: 1

And as a bonus here’s some early morning icy shenanigans:

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