Wow, 10 days since my last blog and England is starting to flood, seriously! We have had so much rain it is starting to become funny, in a “going out of my mind” kind of way. I cant even remember what I have done until a few days ago, it is all just blurring into a boring, soggy haze.
Finally, the weather was forecast to be good for the 15th and so I made plans to head back to Cratcliffe. Surprise, surprise, it was pouring when I woke up in Manchester but after a quick call to my Mum, I found out Matlock (nr Cratcliffe) was dry with blue skies. I left a sodden Manchester with hope for a good day but with every mile of wet roads that passed my hope faded. Cratcliffe looked grim, huge seepage lines were visible from the road and the air was warm and humid. A walked in hoping for a miracle but on arriving at the Groove, I found the rock green and scrittly. I decided not to try the groove section so not to regress on my last session but to ab the line and try the upper arête (looks about E6 6c) as well as finalise what gear I need for the crucial low protection. Conditions were horrendous and no amount of chalk or brushing seemed to have any effect on the slime. I tried in vain to climb the top arête but only succeeded in bashing my knee as my foot flew of a high smear. Down I went to work out the gear and found it a lot trickier to place than I thought it would be. Eventually I worked out the best combination, two ropes, some sliders and a ¼ and ½ wire, not bombproof but good enough, especially for micro wires. I was ready to pack up but decided to give the lower groove one try just to see if I could manage the easier moves in the bad conditions and was amazed to find myself quickly at the last move. I couldn’t understand it, all the holds felt poor, but I just sempt to be sticking to the rock. I chalked and brushed the holds and tried again, falling again on the last move. I became very psyched at the thought of climbing the whole crux section in one for the first time, then it started to drizzle! I tried my best to keep the holds dry and had a few more close attempts. My finger felt raw from the crucial pebble, one last try before I sacked it off. I brushed and chalked the holds, abed to the start and pulled on. The satisfaction of latching the last hold for the first time was great, even though I wasn’t on the lead. I worked my way up the rest of the wall and stripped my gear.
I really don’t understand what happened today, Grit is a strange, mysterious rock and just when you think you are beginning to understand it, something crazy happens and messes it all up. I am pretty confident that I can do the route. The long range forecast is good for next week and I have a film company coming down to document what happens, but if England is its usual mixed up self, it will probably piss it down all week… - JP