by Lou Weth
Easter is not, for me, a time to head south in hope of sunshine and warm rock (why would anyone do that?!). I leave that dubious pleasure to the poor teachers, who have no choice but to travel at busy times. In the past I’ve spent many happy Easter weekends on family meets at the club hut in Cwm Dyli, rolling hard-boiled eggs down Welsh hillsides, walking blind through the dark, dripping tunnels at Aber Glaslyn and hiding chocolate mini-eggs for the children to search out before they melted with the heat from the hut’s super-efficient stove; but I’m more than happy to avoid travel trauma by staying at home and climbing locally in the Peak.
This year has been rather different. With the A57 repeatedly blocked by windblown snow, even within the Sheffield city boundary, we have resorted to running and walking closer to home. I say ‘running’, but I’m not sure it really qualifies as running when you are forced to rest on the downhills because you can barely lift your legs out of the knee-deep snow. Froggatt has been overhung with massive cornices, a serious threat to anyone who would certainly be entombed underneath them if they collapsed, and you could almost walk up Green Gut!
By the Easter weekend the snow had consolidated somewhat and the sun shone too from time to time. I walked over to Stanage from Redmires Reservoir, kicking steps over the top of the edge in my wellies, occasionally floundering up to my waist in unexpected sink-holes. A few boulderers took the opportunity to risk the Big Air jump with a nice cushion of snow in the gap between the boulders, but for once there was no-one out on the edge itself. Yet this sort of opportunity should be grabbed – to climb those fearsome, poorly-protected routes whilst the friction is at its best and you have a nice soft landing, or to avoid the first few painful moves of the Unconquerables and get straight onto the flake or crack (depending on whether you fancied the Right or Left). Your belayer might not be too happy, standing in a big drift, but coming down would be easy – you could more or less jump from the top of the crag!
I hear it is raining in the Alps….