Thursday, May 16, 2013

Two things you should know about the Peak District

As I start to prepare for my return to Sweden I've begun reflecting on the last week in England.  These 10 days in the Peak District was my first time bouldering in Great Britian and served as a scouting trip as from the beginning I wondered whether it would be any good.  It actually only took a couple days to realize I'd like to return for a second more substantial trip.  My time here has been eye opening in a number of ways and I thought I'd share the two most important things I've come to realized about bouldering on gritstone.

  1. The climbing doesn't suck.  Before coming to Sheffield I was under the impression that gritstone offered a handful of amazing climbs and vast quantities of turdy problems and hard (but unimpressive) traverses.  Much of the footage I'd seen from the area seemed to focus on either very hard climbs that were far from inspiring (small and/or sideways climbs) or very bold sends of routes that blur the line between highball and free-solo.  I had admittedly also seen a few amazing climbs that would certainly get me inspired but it's hard to justify a trip for just one or two good problems.  Fortunately within a couple days I realized the Peak District is more expansive than I realized and contains a fair number of amazing climbs I'd never heard of.

    In addition to have a fair number of great problems the gritstone tends to climb extremely well and even some of the less than impressive looking climbs become quite enjoyable.  The climbing is awesome and it is a place with something for everyone from bone-crushers to newbies.  The style of climbing has been described to me as "humbling", strength will only get you so far and you better have good technique and know how trust your feet.
  2. The weather does suck.  England has a bad reputation when it comes to weather and it is well deserved.  We have been rained on everyday and even experienced hail a few times.  While I have managed to touch a fair bit of dry rock it takes motivation and patience.  It can be exhausting trying to take advantage of the brief windows between showers and if you aren't willing to go out at 0500 in the morning you might miss the only dry spell of the day (yes, I did go out bouldering before 0600).  The safest bet seems to be going to a windy crag and finding a cave to hunker in until the rain blows over and then alternate between hunkering and climbing as the weather gods toy with you emotions.

    Unfortunately for me having a 3 year old in tow is not very conducive to quick sessions at blustery locations and I've had to pass on a few opportunities.  While Hammie is generally very cooperative I can hardly expect her to be overjoyed about shivering in the rain at 1900 while her dad desperately tries to send before the rock becomes sopping wet.

    Considering how bad the weather is I'd still say the climbing is worth the risk but one needs to be flexible and  I recommend good rain clothing and a lengthy book (or something else to do while waiting out the rain)
Here are a few pictures of from the Cubar area

Patrik sowes his flexibility

Lina getting a taste of gritstone

 Patrik on one of Cubar's best, Gorilla Warfare

A beautiful woman on a beautiful slab

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