The seasons are shifting, once more. Can you feel it? You should. The air is tingling, from the mountains to the hidden valleys. The winter chill has lost its bite, old fangs blunted on the fresh steel of spring sunlight.
Since my last entry, a whole season has passed without comment. Although I did manage a brief escape to the warm haven of Andalucia, for the most part I remained to witness the winter take possession. This is probably a good thing. Paying homage to the shift of nature reminded me that balance is just as important within my own life.
|Walking into the base of Frontalés, El Chorro.|
Now, however, the spring is raising its head. Trees pump sap, green shoots spring from the ground, and plans start to form in the back of my mind. Wilder places are calling.
From a climbing perspective, at least for me, the spring heralds the chance for harder routes. Say what you like, I can’t climb hard with frozen fingers. Aside from one glorious February day in the Dinorwig Slate Quarries, chilly winds and near freezing conditions had prevented any tougher challenges. Despite enjoying pottering around the gritstone over the previous weeks, I wanted a different experience; to feel the intensity of hard gritstone climbing.
|Pulling through the upper bulges of Last Tango in Paris, E2/5b.|
|Enjoying a frosty ascent of Crescent Arete, the best f5+ in the Peak!|
The 6th and 7th of March heralded an unprecedented rise in temperature, bold sunlight breaking through the cloud and offering up potential. Needless to say, I made the most of it. Keen to test my head after months of climbing indoors, I set my sights on a lesser travelled route on Froggatt Edge, ‘Science Friction’, E6/6a. After cleaning and working the route briefly on top rope, I set off for the lead. Bold, tenuous climbing up the left arete of Sunset Slab led to a final terrifying lunge for a sloping seam and, thankfully, better holds beyond. Incensed with my victory on what was only my second E6, I headed round the corner and made short work of ‘Silver Lining’, E5/5c.
The following day saw me returning to Froggatt, having been literally blown off Curbar edge by chill winds. Froggatt, however, was a sheltered haven of sunbeams and perfect gritstone. Continuing in the previous days theme, I decided to tick off the route to the right of Silver Lining, an E5/6a called 'Origin of Species'. I’ll let my logbook entry for the route speak for itself…
'Almost too bold. Technical but steady slab leads to a very sketchy final move - a micro cam on the left finally assuaged my concerns, and the deed was done. Excellent.'
|Above the crux on Origin of Species E5/6a|
|Neil taking in the Peak District sunset after a long day of climbing.|
It seems my head is in the right place, sure enough. Time to start making plans…
P.S. I finally found somewhere peaceful to write. Stay tuned!