by David Craig
The annual meet to the Lakes has long been one of the highlights of the club’s calendar of meets, especially since the date was moved to the June weekend. I think every year since, we have been rewarded with actual sunshine. In 2017 we all stayed at the MAM hut in Coniston. I say ‘hut’ but it is closer to 5-star accommodation with hot running water, central heating and a drying room in case your gansey gets damp.
Sure, why would you go climbing at all if you can stay in that kind of luxury? Síle and myself, of course, forswore such comforts and slept in the back of our van. Mind you we cooked, ate and washed in the hut, just to be sociable though!
Before all that mind, we had set off on the Friday morning via the Dublin to Holyhead ferry. This is my favourite way to get to British crags as it drops you in Anglesea, only a stones throw from one of my favourite places to climb, Gogarth. After leaving the ferry we nipped up toward South Stack and the easily accessible crag of Castle Helen. This crag is situated directly below the tea shop at south stack and is very reliable if the weather is not looking great. We abseiled in and ticked off the Atlantis/True moments/Freebird combination before driving on up to the Lakes.
People arrived at the hut at all hours through Friday night and we were all a bit slow getting moving on the Saturday morning, a sure sign Gerry hadn’t made this trip. However, once movement was finally achieved the resulting momentum carried most of us to Borrowdale. This is one of the more famous Lakes venues, with many roadside crags. People scattered out along Shepard’s crag, ticking off the local classics. Little Chamonix and Donkey’s Ears proved popular and attracted several parties. It being Saturday, it seemed like every climber in Britain had had the same idea, but that’s the problem with roadside venues! The routes are a bit polished. As I sit writing this I’m contemplating the idea that this makes you focus (more) on technique, but in truth when climbing I’d prefer a bit more friction. Still a good day was had by all.
On the Sunday most people headed to Langdale. In typical IMC fashion everyone had their own idea about where to climb and once again we all spread ourselves across the many crags in the valley.
Some went for single-pitch crags down in the valley, conveniently placed near the pub (thought I’m sure that was just a coincidence). Some headed for Whyte Gill, another great venue if the weather’s looking a bit dodgy with some excellent short multipitch climbs at reasonable grades.
Síle, Doug and I went up to Pavey Ark to do some longer routes. Doug and I set up shop at the start of our route while Síle went for a dip in Stickle Tarn. We had a great day climbing Crescent Slabs (S), then scrambling down Jacks Rake and then climbing Stoat’s crack (VS). This makes a good long route of pleasant climbing at a very amenable grade. We even had the crag to ourselves, probably due to the longer walk in.
The Monday was a washout and Sile and I had to get back for the ferry in Holyhead, so we decided to drive back down towards Anglesea. We parked up at South Stack and waited for the rain to clear. The next morning a heavy mist still hung over Holyhead mountain and the main cliff at Gogarth so we headed down the road to Roscolyn. This area is a fantastic sun trap, with good steep climbing and a great alternative when the crags at Gogarth are not in condition. I started off with a nice little E1 called little queenie, then Sile upped the ante and climbed The Sun (E3) topping off an excellent weekend.
The time between the meet and writing this has let a lot of the details escape me, so I don’t have specifics of who climbed what and where. However, it was a brilliant few days with a good-humoured group of messers, meandering through the Lakes. If it sounds like fun to you, this year’s meet is just around the corner.
*Gerry has organised the Hut in Coniston again from the 1st to the 4th of June, so book your place now!