The Wickford Chronicles

(by Gerry Moss, June 2012)
More action on the "secret" crag.

No doubt, in the aftermath of Thursday’s and Friday’s rain, many of the mountain crags will have been suffering from seepage and, perhaps, even sporting temporary streams. But there’s always somewhere that will offer climbing. Likewise, after four hectic days in the Lake District, many were content to rest on their laurels, or attend to pressing domestic duties, but there’s always at least one to answer the call to arms.

Like the Gaffney girl, for instance – always ready to have a go. Being as there were only the two of us, I decided to use the opportunity to introduce Niamh to one of our collection of secret crags, on condition that she agree to travel in the boot of the car and allow herself to be blinfolded on the walk-in. No problem there.

Pine Tree Slab was a little damp in parts, but it dried out as the day progressed, thanks to sunshine and a fresh breeze (an essential pre-requisite for midge-free climbing on mountain crags at this time of year). The slab is home to a number of climbs, some of them quite easy and, while protection has to be worked at, this is no bad thing, as there is no better place to practice gear placements than on slabs, where it is possible to stand quite comfortably on the smallest of holds while fiddling around with runners.

Niamh made several on-sight leads (surely the most satisfying way to lead any route) and progressed so well that she decided to add a route of her own to the collection, a short but sporting severe.

All the other routes hereabouts were put up nearly twenty years ago – I haven’t got around to officially recording them yet, but I’m working on it – and if a little note of urgency has manifested itself, it’s probably because it’s unlikely that I have another twenty years to play around with, though one mustn’t be pessimistic about these things.

Just to confuse Niamh, we returned to the car via a different route to the one used on approach. You can’t be too careful with these women – you know how they love to talk!