Raven Crag Langdale and Gate Crag Eskdale

June 19, 2008

I’ve been under the weather recently. A cold that should have gone days ago has persisted like a worn out Labour government.

Last Tuesday we fetched up at Raven Crag again but our planning went wrong. During the usual last minute phone call session, West Raven somehow became Far East Raven, and so half of us were at one crag, and the rest of us at another.

It’s all a bit of a blur really. Partly because I’m reporting it a week later, partly because I wasn’t 100%, and partly because the ****ing midges drove me crazy.

We climbed Baskerville. Tony T led, Sue followed, and bitten to bits I climbed last. I don’t have the guide book to hand, but from memory, it’s more polished than is comfortable. We’re talking Langdale Marble. The crux is tricky anyway, but in my weakened state I couldn’t find the strength to pull up on dodgy slippery footholds. After four attempts, on a rope, I managed to find a way to sort it out.

Sometimes I love that feeling. 20 metres up, unsure of the gear, aware of the next move but unsure how to make it. Eventually realising that a commitment is required that’s slightly bolder than my tenuous perch affords, then making the move. Bending my body into an unfamiliar position, but at the same time realising that it’s the right way to go, the only way to go.

That night I just wanted to get off the exposed ledge that I found myself marooned on. Huge relief when I managed it, and completely unsatisfying.

We climbed something else afterwards, but for me it just wasn’t happening.

At the weekend we planned to go to Hare Crag in Eskdale. Got up early on Saturday as we had a party to go to in the evening. I’ve mentioned before that sometimes you just have to turn up and see what the weather is like when you get there, despite what the forecast might say. This one didn’t work out. As we drove over towards Eskdale it was obvious that the whole area was blanketed in rain. We did an about turn and went to Kendal wall instead – enjoyed the session anyway.

Similarly, this Tuesday evening we set of to Eskdale again, this time with Gate Crag as the target. We’d looked at it a couple of weeks ago when we were climbing on Bell Stand, and noticed that it was bathed in the evening sunlight.

After parking at the church we headed up to the crag. It gets steep as you approach it, and the last ten minutes is spent hopping over boulders and thrashing through bracken.

The weather wasn’t on our side (it was spitting with rain when we parked up) and still not feeling strong, I set off to lead a Severe on an arete. Lichenous rock, poor gear, and  a howling wind that threatened to pull me off the rock, all combined to lead me to abandon the climb ( and a dodgy number 3 nut placement) and back off.

We walked over to where Frank and Tony T were attempting Waving at Trains (VS 4c) to find Frank in the final stages of downclimbing. Around 10m up he’d stood on a dodgy flake, and put a hand out to test another flake which would permit the next move to be made. It came off. A lump of rock weighing perhaps half a hundredweight flew down towards Tony. Fortunately, he’s an attentive belayer, saw the rock coming, and dived to one side. The missile hit his rope, coiled on the ground, and cut it in two, exploding around him and disappearing into the bracken below.

After all that, there’s only one thing to be done – retire to the pub for a pint.

Looking forward to feeling fit again and climbing in sunshine.

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