Sunday, 10 June 2007

Part 1: Change of lifestyle

What a week! Time away from my desk is always a pleasure, but this was a "holiday" with a difference. I've spent the last week carrying kit for HotAches as they ventured forth to film some more epic climbing. I even got to film too! It's always interesting to watch other people at work; the grass is always greener, as they say, and true to this, a HotAches job seems infinitely more exciting and rewarding than mine. Having said that, it's much harder work.... as I found out first hand.

We headed to the Peak District first. After a morning cruising around this pre-historic landscape, I was starting to think this filming lark was pretty good. Beautiful weather, some good company, the prospect of food and beer while chilling in the evening sunshine really sold it to me. Yeah, I could do this, I thought blithely.

Men at Work....?


Filming....feet firmly on the ground

Making friends with the locals

We spent the afternoon bouldering at Stanage Plantation. This was only my second experience of scraping my skin to the bone on grit. I had forgotten how hot England can be, although I'm sure that with my southern blood I ought to be able to withstand greater temperatures than we had on Saturday.

Now I know what all the fuss is about when I hear hardcore climbers talking about it being "too warm for grit". It's true. You just slide off, shaving off the last remnants of your fingerprints as you go. Since we didn't have a guidebook, I've no idea what I climbed: some easy stuff that I could do, some hard stuff I fell off, lots of heel hooks (and consequently a scraped ankle), a scary arete and some interesting leaps from the ground to a high sidepull that only a bit of "French-style assistance" (is that what you call it, Dave?) would overcome - a doubled over bouldering mat (well, I'm just ickle!). (Photos soon I hope...)

The Green Traverse was interesting. Tough, but interesting. If I'd had any skin left I might have made more progress, but my fingertips were redder than they've ever been (see previous posts!). Tired, sweaty, scraped and sore but very happy, we headed off in the sunset. Lovely.

Looking back at Stanage Edge
On Sunday afternoon we headed for Llanberis in north Wales, leaving glorious sunshine for an ever-blackening cloud. At the time I started to think that maybe England was the place to be, after all! Right enough, it rained heavily on the way, and it was raining (ok, just a teeny bit) when we got to Llanberis. But hey, this film crew lifestyle was still working for me. The first thing we did was stop at the Cromlech Boulders (in the rain) and find out what roadside polish was all about.

Cromlech Boulders
Continuing the theme of "filming is fun", we then realised we had Monday off! So we went climbing. This was another new experience for me: climbing on quarried slate. We started at Bustop Quarry. Given that I (still) had no skin on my fingertips, even the smoothness of slate was challenging the pain barrier. Monday was another scorcher (in Wales?? Yes!!), so my fingertips were visibly sweating. Does this happen to others or am I weird?? I got totally spanked by a 6c, which Diff and Dave both waltzed up with great aplomb. Sarah was working a slab of 7c blankness, so we had a shot at Geordie War Cry at F7a+. Dave led, boldly rushing in where angels were watching him carefully.

Of many possible excuses one might have needed on such a route, the fact that it was in full hot sun was definitely a big factor. I had a pop at it on toprope and just kept sliding off. No amount of chalk could counteract the sweatiness of my thin-skinned fingers and the heat of the day. But then, I'm not yet competent enough to climb 7a+ on rock I've never attempted to climb before. Having said that, it was an interesting route with some interesting and very bold moves on it. Definitely one to come back to.

Another tired but happy day. Maybe I was deliberately being lulled into a false sense of tranquillity....

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