One sunny mid-January morning, two naïve but enthusiastic boulderers from down South West ventured NORTH. They had a wonderful time climbing hard gritstone in the Peak District, in perfect crisp conditions with winter sun that warmed their backs. Sam was thrilled to have climbed Brad Pit and Amber climbed a 7a roof. At least, that was how it was supposed to go.
In real life, we basically just went for a bit of a ski, a walk and went home again.
It began with some treachery from the weather forecast. Promises of glorious cold sunny weather for Sunday had been broken; on the actual morning the BBC's cheerful sun icon had been replaced with a gloomy grey cloud. We ignored this and went anyway, because this was our climbing trip, and it couldn't be bad weather, and because shutting your eyes means no one can see you. Duh.
Things went very smoothly to begin with. We ignored the mizzle. We ignored the rain. The snow drifts were exciting. Getting to snowy Hathersage was exciting. It was only when we started driving up to Stannage that exciting got a bit much. The road progressed from a slight slushy covering to a thick layer of icy snow, reminding us of how rubbish we and the car were in wintry conditions. Most of the nearby drivers and walkers gave us a wide berth as we skittered excitingly about the road.
Some really nice people, sensibly equipped with winter driving know-how, or Landies (sp?!), or both, stopped to help us with useful suggestions in reassuring northern accents. Things nearly ended really badly when we got out of the car to have a chat, and explain ourselves, and thank them, and the car began to slide down the hill on it's own, but super-Sam managed to jump back in and turn it into the hedge as the nice people looked on in some disbelief. They returned us to the safety of the main road as quickly as possible, and were kind enough not to laugh to our faces.
The grippy black tarmac and cessation of sideways movement emboldened us, and we stopped to venture up a hill (on foot), and then back down when we noticed the insidious snow creeping down, all silent and slippery. My shoes proved as useful in the snow as the car; I slithered most of the way down on my bum, which proved far more effective brake than the car's. We tried a second 'walk' in the relative safety of the urban environment, and had a delightful wander round some park on the outskirts of Sheffield. Then we went back south, where the snow hadn't ventured, and visited Frances and Will who cooked us dinner and made us feel much better about our failures.
This pretty sucky climbing story does actually feature some climbing. We managed a quick boulder at the centre in Coventry. Indoors, where we should probably stay. Probably won't though...
A massive shout out to the lovely folks who helped rescue us. Might see you in the summer - the climbing conditions might not be great, but at least there'll be no ice...?