A Grand Day Out 27: Lancashire Iceby mickJ Mar/2009
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Winter climbing. Over ten years of trying and I still can't get it sorted. Must be a lack of commitment, or having so many commitments.
Anyway, it is what it is, and for so many reasons I wouldn't change a thing.
Low temperatures, plenty of snow. Not enough for a day off school though. The weekend came, the forums were scoured. Talk of hordes and searches for options off the beaten track. Unfortunately it was all academic. No time for a trip to the Lakes.
An appendix in the guidebook mentioned two waterfalls. Andy agreed we should take a look on Sunday morning. He had his first pair of crampons and a pair of borrowed axes.
We followed the stream to the first fall which was still flowing. Some anxious traversing along the sides of the gorge followed. Not the best approach. I had the feeling it was a wild goose chase, but sure it would still be an amusing diversion. Then we saw the upper falls. To our inexperienced eyes it looked great, and not a soul around.
With no ice protection we had to work our way round to the top of the falls. More traversing around the hill followed, encountering a sheep who did not want to give way. Eventually the gear was sorted, and we made our first abseil in crampons. By this time we saw two others approaching. Embarrassed that our numptyness was about to be exposed, I shouted that I hoped we would not get in the way.
They set up a top rope next to ours. There followed a very pleasant couple of hours. We all declared our delight at having such good conditions. No crowds, no slog and pitch after pitch of great ice. Andy and I had great fun, taking turns and swopping axes. We debated whether the pair of technical tools we had borrowed made any difference. I had just ordered something similar over the internet and we joked that this would put the mockers on the cold spell. It did.
I mentioned how grateful I was that the mid-eighties guide had included this footnote. The man belaying next to men disclosed that he had written the entry, and had taken quite a bit of stick for disclosing the location. His partner had taken photos to be used in the guide but unfortunately they were not. Meeting these two made everything feel even more special. It may not have been the perfect winter day out I had hoped for earlier in the week. Nevertheless I had climbed at a new crag, with guys who had documented it over twenty years ago. I had a chance to use my poorly underused tools. On top of that I was able to share in Andy's joy at his first foray on ice.
As we de-rigged at the top and walked off (by a far better route than we taken on the way in) we both commented on the wonderful quality of the light. More like early evening than morning. All that and home in time for lunch with not too many brownie points expended.
A grand morning out indeed.
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