Thursday, 23 April 2009

Time to change

I had no idea that changing the clocks could change the weather in quite the way it did this year. It was as though somene flicked a switch, quite literally.

Having decided that it was asking a bit much of myself to fit in two days climbing and all the other things I needed to do, we took a decision to climb one day and do other stuff the other day. Dithering, as usual, I opted for Saturday at home and Sunday out on the rock......until Guy phoned. Our lazy morning in bed was interrupted by the dingly ding of text messages and phone calls. Guy said he was going to Kyloe, so I said, could I go too, Guy said yes, then Diff said he might come too. Suddenly we had a little party going!

We scooshed down the A1 and got a bit of a shock getting out of the car. How cold?? Bracing? More than..... it was baltic. Hard to believe that it was nearly April and we had travelled south. What a day to choose trad.....

Climbing in duvets. I was very glad of my down sweater.

I am ashamed to say that the last time I attempted any trad was a couple of weeks ago at Bowden I fell off. First lead fall, and I'm so ashamed of it, I'm refusing to divulge the grade. This time, I think the only reason I didn't bail this time was Guy and Diff egging me on. First up was Tacitation, a classic of the crag. Diff talked me through the gear placements just by looking at the route from below (I have very little trad experience, unlike him). Despite being pretty gymnastic, the first move wasn't that hard. A little tricky for someone my height, maybe, but nothing to complain about. Guy put on some fantastic faces when he came up second. Chin out and, trying hard, he complained loudly - lots of hot air as far as I could see. He had no trouble at all.
Guy hopping up the first move of Tacitation VS 4c

We did have trouble staying warm, so next up was some soloing of Severes. We couldn't (or wouldn't or just didn't) make sense of the guidebook other than to establish we were on on of Eeny, Meeny, Miny or Mo. It was nice to trot up something very easy. It's very satisfying, and probably pretty good for your head. I opted to go up with the rope so I at least had a backup plan if I freaked. I didn't freak and, after chucking a couple of cams in, even went adventuring up an overhanging crack. I had no idea what grade it was, and no idea what I was letting myself in for, but went for it anyway. There was good gear and the holds were all decent. Even more satisfying! I think it was the top half of Christmas Tree Arete Direct. Who knows. Who cares. It was fun.

Finally deciding it was too cold for much more, Diff hopped up Gagarin's Groove. Guy picked out an MVS somewhere close to the holly tree, which looked pretty straightforward from the ground, but was green and slimy and off balance when we got on it. Nasty.

Eventually we gave it up for being too cold when it started to snow, and headed home via the Bluebell Hotel in Belford.

That night, the clocks changed...... and so did the weather.

Amidst car troubles, and a lot of rearranging, six of us paid a visit to the Dovehole boulders on the Sunday. It could not have been more different from Saturday. Balmy sunshine and a warm spring breeze made it warm enough to climb in t-shirts. It was blissful.

Dan, Sarah and I had a good crack at an undercut problem on the Monkey Face boulder. Dan and Sarah made short shrift of it, but it took me a little more effort than that. I put it down to my advanced years, although that's possibly the lamest excuse I could have ever come up with.

Dan then came rushing over saying he'd found a really good problem for us. Unfortunately, it was a little bit heightest, but with some growing, I managed it.

Roz, who has a significant height advanage on me, had a bit of an issue with this problem. Her chin had a close encounter of the scraping kind whilst getting to grips with the top out.......

So much so that she needed a lie-down afterwards.

Collectively I think we wore through a lot of skin, but we had a great day. Spring finally seemed to have arrived, a real turning point in the year. I can look forward to not worrying about being freezing cold the moment I spend more than an hour outside.

Team Sunshine at Dovehole