The Roaches
14-15 October 2000

We were staying in the Don Whillans Memorial Hut, a superbly atmospheric place partly built round a natural cave in the rocks below the Roaches. Saturday dawned dull and wet so after a lazy start, those present set off en-masse for a walk to Lud's Church which included an unintentional detour and some retracing of the morning's route. Then a quick cup of tea in the hut and the rain had just about stopped.

Don Whillans Memorial HutFor some quick entertainment before dark, five of us moved on to the Lower Tier Ridge (500 feet, "Moderate and above"), which was basically a scramble linking various easy boulder problems, made harder for those of us who chose to do it in big boots, but quite easy for those who wimped out and wore rock boots. Then it started raining again, and didn't stop until the next morning, when some of us decided to climb something anyway while the others set off for another walk.

First was Maud's Garden (VDiff). Maud has obviously got green fingers, as the vegetation on the slab was thriving, verdant green slime on every hold. Somehow I managed to slide my way up this to the big ledge, where I decided to belay. As the others came up (5 of us on a single rope!), I chose to give an object lesson in bad ropework, tying them on using random bits of rope, so that when I came to lead the next pitch there was no rope for me to lead with. Ten minutes later I'd finished sorting things out and explaining why I'd deliberately done this, just to show how it shouldn't be done, and it was on with the last pitch. Much more pleasant, ie rock-coloured and almost dry.

After lunch, we did a couple of routes just behind the hut. Prow Corner (VDiff) was much easier, due to its being clean and dry. I used the left hand crack; the others all used the right hand crack, with the exception of Carmen who managed to use both simultaneously.

Finally it was time for Simon F's big moment, his first lead, Prow Cracks (Diff). "Aren't Friends great," he chortled as he placed 4 bits of gear in as many feet, before running up the rest of the route, barely pausing to place a final hex. "Easy," was his verdict. "Bloody desperate" was the verdict of the rest of us as we thrutched, squirmed, crawled, and scrabbled our way up.

All in all, another excellent weekend in a unique hut. Can we go in the dry next time please?!?