Monday, 2 June 2008

Thou Shalt Not Climb Today...

...or "130 miles to Alien Rock" might be a better title for this post.

In our great wisdom, based on past experience, we chose to disregard (by not reading) any published weather forecast this weekend. On so many occasions have we trekked o'er vale and hill for some climbing, only to be thwarted by the weather. How often have we said in great disgust, "but the weather forecast said..."? How many times has the forecast not come true?

Saturday, as we all know, was a beautiful day. Cloudless, warm, nay even hot! I had promised myself that on Saturday I would make a start on the stack of domestic chores that is rapidly accruing, with the promise of some climbing fun on Sunday. I deliberately chose not to read a forecast, thinking that if Saturday was this nice, Sunday couldn't be horrific. How wrong was I?

Having packed 7 boxes of books at home, and spent some more time moving furniture and tidying, I was restrained at Saturday nights' festivities. I had a good sleep, packed my sack quickly and was ready to go. Caroline picked me up and we headed south, determined to do some trad. somewhere in Northumberland. It looked a little grey, but we commented that yesterday's heat would have made the rock sweaty and slippy. Bad conditions, and all that. Any self respecting climber knows you can't climb when it's too hot, right?

Little Spots
Just past Torness some little spots appeared on the windscreen. There was quiet. Caroline looked at the road. I looked at Caroline. We agreed it would pass, and carried on.

The further south we got, the heavier the rain got. We couldn't see the sea, let alone the tops of the hills.

"This is ridiculous, we might as well turn back, now. Nothing down here is going to be dry." This by the time we got to Grantshouse. So we turned back. The rain got heavier. We thought of Andrea who had gone out west for some sport, of Iain at Kilnsey, of Sarah on her way to sunnier climes, of Diff and the boys at Dumbarton....all (probably) basking in sunshine. And where we we? On the A1 in the rain. Hmph. We also remembered Andrea saying that Sunday would be nice out west. She had read the forecast.

Long discussions ensued as to whether we should drive for another 90 mins to Dumbarton, 2 hours to Loch Lomond, 60 minutes to Limekilns (I don't like Limekilns, says Caroline) ....we resisted calculating how long it might take to reach Kilnsey or the south of France. We concluded that going to Alien Rock would probably result in a slating ("why aren't you outside??") and that we'd already spent enough money on fuel. The only sensible option left was a trip to Ratho. At least nobody there would recognise us and give us a hard time for being indoors at the weekend. All the routes and the bouldering would be new to us, and we could have a Sunday treat of some "window" shopping in Tiso's. Yesss.... (we are girls after all, and we do like shopping, even though we vehemently deny it at every possible opportunity. Note, Window shopping. We had spent all our money on petrol.).

No power
So we trekked to Ratho, round the bypass, in the rain, thinking that at least we would get some stamina training in, if not any decent trad. The car park was surprisingly empty. Our previous concerns that rain=mobbed wall evaporated (unlike the rain) and we cruised as close to the entrance as possible.....only to be stopped by a damp, forlorn and very apologetic member of Ratho staff, who told us that the building was closed. Thieves had been digging into the floor overnight in order to steal the power cables. Since there was no power in the building health and safety regulations dictated closure. You must be kidding.....

Once, twice...three times unlucky?
We laughed, oh how we laughed. We had to explain why to the nice Ratho lady, that we had driven (by this time) 120 miles to Northumberland and back, and had still done no climbing. Sheepishly, we retreated to Alien Rock, expecting it too to be mobbed (rain+Sunday+Ratho closed surely must=busy), but it wasn't. As it was we had a pretty solid afternoon's training. We did feel marginally stupid turning up with 50 litre rucksacks, a full rack and 3 ropes, but the hundreds of 7-year olds there probably thought that was normal for hardcore climbing chicks like us.

We were mildly consoled by J's comment that Alien Rock wasn't busy because most people didn't have our dedication to their sport; they'd gone out, got wet, sacked it off and gone home.

We, on the other hand, drove 130 miles to end up at Alien Rock.


wee0ne said...

Only 130 miles?
My weekend was 400+ miles (costing somewhere in the region of 70 quid in diesel*), over two days, just to check some paperwork....

It cost the aforementioned 70 quid in fuel; two breakfasts; four lunches; 8 bottles of cold juice; four ice creams (Saturday only); and a good dozen coffees.

[*] Have you noticed the cost of fuel? In three weeks it has risen from 118.9 a litre to 128.9 a litre... and that's ASDA-price! (Interestingly, Jet up at Perth was cheaper than ASDA-edinburgh; which was cheaper than ASDA-Dunbar...)
Any increase in fuel leads to a triple-increase in shop-prices (or loss of profits somewhere): Manufacturer has to get the goods into the factory; Wholesaler has to get from manufacturer to their store; Distributor has to get from Wholesaler; and retailer has to get from the distributor: three increases in the base fuel costs for transporting something from A to B,

Dave MacLeod said...

I sacked off northumberland for several years after a run of 6 trips in a row on consecutive weekends just like that - go all the way down at not insignificant expense and time for it to tip just as you reach the crag. I was so determinted to lead this route (it was called, quite aptly, Off the Rocks) I kept going. I did it on the 7th weekend and didn't go back.

Edinburgh must be a frustrating place to live as a climber at times. Good effort for making it to some rock (well plastic) in the end!!

PS: more cake recipes on the blog please! With all my trips to the Ben I can get away with a lot of cake right now and wnat to make the most of it.

donald said...

I dunno, I guess I just thought that most people that read it will see it though scottishclimbs, which is basically all about rock climbing, so I guess thats why I would say not strictly climbing related. That said, it wouldn't stop me blogging about things not climbing related.

Your day sounds interesting as well!!