Members: Dan O'Brien, Roger Dyke, Ding, Mark Ashley, Helen Boothman, Mark Pilling, Ian Crook, Stuart Hurworth.
Guests: James Duthie, Anna Fournier, Clare Hodgeson, Andy Pierce, Sebastian Q (sorry forgot the surname...)
It is always a little off-putting to arrive at the bottom of a route to find the remains of a wreath laid at the bottom of it – those of you who have been to Windgather will recognize this sentiment from the seemingly permanent memorial at the bottom of Portfolio. More disturbing, however was the realisation, about halfway up the route, that the strange dusty residue on all the ledges and holds is actually someone’s scattered ashes. Stranger still was Stuart explaining that he had actually encountered this before at Black Rocks.
Anyway… A wonderfully short walk-in and another good turn-out. Mark Ashley opened the proceedings by swimming in a local bog-snorkeling course as a warm-up followed by an ascent of Louis Groove (E1), a feat replicated by Helen, Andy and myself, all braving the additional psychological barrier of having a dead guy smeared on most of the holds. Roger was pleased to have found a quality route of an amenable grade on grit that he had never done before – no mean feat after 40 years on rock!
Guest James enjoyed a gentle introduction to gritstone jamming by leading The Crank and following Assegai and Green Crack. The latter even gave Jam-Master Ian a run for his money and James treated onlookers to an interesting lesson is Scottish slang after I (sensibly) refused to even leave the ground for this renowned horror-show... Other notable ascents included Flaky Wall, Boomerang, Arete and Crack, and The Wriggler (HS 4b) led by Ding in mistake for a V.Diff and ably sand-bagged by Mark.
As the light faded, the team decamped to the Winking Owl for a raucous debate on next week’s crag. Alderly Cliff and New-Mills Tor were first out, the former receiving nil-point as even proposer Mark P couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for it. Witches went next despite Mark Ashley’s detailed descriptions of the unique belay anchors (a key selling point it seems…) Millstone and Wimberry went into the run-off with Wimberry winning out following defections from the Millstone camp in the last round. More jamming for next week so don’t pack away the big cams and tape just yet. A bonus for me being this crag is less than ten minutes from my house so a G&T in the pub is definitely on the cards…