Archive for October, 2010

A quiet valley in the lakes

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

The october meet in Dunnerdale managed to catch the last of the indian summer before it mutated into the november freeze. Dunnerdale was a new venue for me. I had only heard of the main crag, Wallowbarrow, as a Wet Weather Alternative so was not expecting anything too much. After this meet I am surprised the valley and crag are not more popular. There is no lake, and no big peak, I suppose that's why it doesn't get the tourists, but it's a beautiful, quiet place with lots of mossy woodland, little crags and rocky streams.

Wallowbarrow crag itself turned out to be a friendly-feeling little stunner. The routes are multipitch but not high – under 60m – and mostly in the low to mid grades. Because the crag starts high on the hill overlooking the valley they feel much bigger and the views from the belays are gorgeous, the friction is excellent, the protection mostly good and it catches the afternoon sun so we were climbing in T shirts.

Angela at Wallowbarrow

On day one Me, Angela, Rob, Julie and Pete B went to Wallowbarrow, where Angela did her first multipitch lead. Unexpected entertainment came when we sauntered back to our gear in the gathering twilight, only to realise my headtorch was still hanging on my bunk. Luckily the moonlight was bright enough to cast shadows, making the walk back through the woods a really nice experience rather than a pain in the arse.

The mood changed completely as we walked into the pub – the whole of the meet was in there and Annie was in full cry. Staggering back to the hut I discovered there are advantages to being little – the cars were all full but Andrew kindly offered to put our gear in his boot, I then realised I was small enough to curl up inside with the sacs so got a ride back amongst the gear.

Next day…
Simon and Carmen had visited some obscure crags for a change. They recommended Seathwaite Buttress, so me, Donal, Pete the Pie and Simeon set out to find it. We arrived, but werent sure we had – the thing appeared to be auditioning for a slot on Gardener's World. We peered dubiously at some nearby slabs, which looked even less promising, then decided this was the right place before also deciding it looked about as inviting as the Stabbers Arms on a wet Tuesday.

After more dithering and pondering, Rob and Pete B arrived, so we left them to be the guinea pigs and headed back to sunny Wallowbarrow where we met Simon and Carmen again. Rob and Pete reported later that the crag was fine once you passed the first 10 metres of moss and incipient rainforest, but I dont think I'll be going out of my way to find it again. On the other hand I will happily go back to Wallowbarrow – it's a lovely little crag and far nicer than I expected from a  "Wet Weather Venue".

Armscliff sandbags in the sun

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Finally after several disappointing weekends a gloriously warm and sunny Sunday came along. Despite its thuggy reputation the grassy meadows round Almscliff make it a very child friendly location so we took full advantage of it, and there was a picnic atmosphere as climber after climber was lured out by the warm sun. While the adults took turns to remove the skin from various body parts, the sprogs showed us the future of climbing on the various mini boulders scattered round, Pia in particular showing early signs of giving dad a good run for his money when she gets older. Other kids present included Iain Everett and Liz's son Joshua (in uber-cool shades) and Poppy, Ali's daughter, now taking regular climbing lessons herself.

Giggle of the day was definitely South Chimney Layback, with Sweary Ian, Dean and myself demonstrating the use of a human pyramid to overcome a cruxy start. (Ian, I'm hoping you have photos of this to post). I had wondered at Rob's choice of this notorious sandbag for a warm up, but who was I to spoil everyone's fun? A definite jamming baptism of fire for Dean, but not to be put off he later ticked off his first trad lead, on Low Man Easy Way. I got to tick off my Z Climb project and the day was also a first for Iain Everett who despite being a well seasoned limestone climber had never been to Almscliff before.
Embarrassing Adults present: Rob, Iain Everett, Liz Moreno, Sweary Ian, Peri, Dean, Dave Shield, Ali, Ann Freund, Jenny Tweedy, Astell
Cool Kids: Joshua, Pia, Poppy