A Day in the Life

Friday 6th June 2014


There was a time,  I was younger and exponentially more stupid,  that I thought brushing snow off holds was great and ascending routes in a torturous  mix of  German Romanticism, Nietzschien  idealism with freezing, unfeeling hands was the way to be.  Pain and discomfort are good and truly British?  Or the prerogative of Sheffield based climbers

By some mysterious process I survived long enough to cherish the warmth and easy climbing;  the spell was truly broken a long time ago.

Truly hard climbers, the sort that wear nothing but a beanie hat,  climb grit in the middle of winter and like nothing more to be in a state of perpetual grubbiness and malnutrition,  they all live in Yorkshire or Scotland.


The weather forecast was good, dry and sunny with  the temperature rising to 20 degrees. The sort of day when you would want to be on Gimmer Crag.  Renowned for its cooling breezes when lower more sheltered crags can be blisteringly hot.

Gimmer is also a quick drying crag, so it seemed a sensible choice,   shady crags would be too wet after the heavy rainfall of the previous night.

Useful advice for desk jockeys who only get out once in a while.

Whichever approach you choose  the climb up to Gimmer, carrying all of your gear, is ferocious, especially in the heat of the day. It is not unusual to see people,  on arriving at the crag,  collapse in a state of shock and exhaustion unable to contemplate climbing anything and grateful to be alive. So start early. As we did.

We ambled up to the crag in our usual forty minutes ( I have added that detail  in order to retain some kudos, desk jockeys take considerably longer. )

On arrival, not remotely out of breath,  we were a little concerned to find there was a fair bit of water lying around. Puddles, if my memory serves me correct, something we generally try to avoid. Wet rock is slippery and really only suitable for Scottish climbers or climbers who choose to climb in Scotland; I nearly forgot climbers from Sheffield.

We sallied forth up the scramble approach to Ash Tree Ledge as we wanted to climb the upper routes, Eastern Hammer and Spring Bank.  The only route we have not climbed on the crag is  “Midnight Movie”  but the bottom of that would definitely be greasy as there was a fair amount of observable seepage. So we were aiming for quality routes on the top tier. As it is a long time since we last climbed these we were hopeful they would feel fresh and exciting.

What they did feel was impossible. As per the forecast the sun was shining but the crag was being buffeted by a very cold wind. We were forced to put on all of our surplus clothing, which wasn’t much,  in order to stay cold as opposed to freezing and we decided to wait until the sun came on the routes. Being summer we had stupidly left our thermal underwear, gloves and balaclavas back at the house.

When the sun finally decides to bathe the routes, two and a half hours later, we had lost the circulation in our hands. Now I know the Gritstone boys and girls love to climb in nowt but their underwear in the depths of winter, preferably with a sprinkling of white stuff, snow that is, not cocaine,  but Gimmer is a place for a more gentlemanly approach.  If Gritstone is a whore Rhyolite is a lady. Beside which climbing anything with an E number attached when your fingers feel like sausages is no fun at all and it is fun that we were after.

So this is what we did…

We laughed in the face of adversity and snatched success from the jaws of defeat by walking down to the steaming heat of the valley. Where we enjoyed a pint of fine ale. So all was not lost.

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