My first time climbing in the Lakes! I never have, largely because when I check the weather for the Lakes, there appears to be an entire lake hanging over the weather map. Ironically we had the clearest, hottest day there. We chose a good venue though; Pavey Ark being a little higher and more airy.It really is,very beautiful in the Lakes. It seems like a lot of the crags look a little messy from afar, as they’re mountain crags, but when you stand beneath the routes, you realise that the rock is actually really nice and clean, and the routes long enough to be inspiring.
Caro and I warmed up on an E4 called Fallen Angel. Caro started to lead it, but didn’t feel good about her gear, or the dirtiness of the rock or the fact that it was a bit wet. She decided to back off it and I took the lead.
I really admired Caro for this. She hasn’t done much trad climbing, yet she is onsighting E6 and headpointing E8, it took me years to get to that level, and most never do. But, she still has a lot to learn about placing gear, spotting gear and knowing what gear to trust. The good part is that she knows this, and is therefore willing to back off things when she doesn’t feel comfortable. Despite being ridiculously bold for a sport climber, it’s good to see that she has a sense of self-preservation, understanding that although she’s climbed E8, she might be risking too much on an E4 with tricky gear. Having taken the lead, and finding the gear to be a little fiddly, I was glad she backed off too.
I wanted to onsight Sixpence E6, which is meant to be a 3 star classic. And it didn’t disappoint! It was for sure one of the best routes I’ve done this trip. Cool rock, good gear, good holds, techy, airy. Just beautiful!
James abbed down Impact Day E9 6c to clean the holds and look at the gear, to go for the ‘flash’. He got really high on his first go, taking a big whip. Then got it next try.
All in all, the two weeks with the ‘Odyssey’ was a fun trip. We did a lot of good hard routes, and it was amazing to climb with such talented and varied climbers. It was quite tiring at times, having to get out of a van after 6 hours of driving, then summon the psyche to onsight another hard trad route. Hard trad climbing, especially onsight trad climbing – which is mainly what I did on this trip – is really mentally draining. Unlike embarking on a sport climb, when I embark on UK E6 and above, rightly or wrongly, I think a lot about the chances of me hurting myself and how I can reduce that risk. After a while this can be quite tiring. Perhaps a good solution is to minimise the really hard onisght trad routes to those that you really want to do, then spend the rest of the time either working on red/head point projects, and mileage on easy stuff.