Saturday, 17 December 2011

The shivering mountain - 1st route of the season

So I arrived back at home for Christmas break festooned with kit for rock and winter climbing with the hope of getting out. Having eagerly been watching Baggy's blog and other similar, I was disappointed with conditions; I had hoped they would be like last years. None the less, there is no use crying about it, you have to make the most of a bad situation....

So when I received a text from Matt on Friday, my spirits picked up - "there's snow in the peak district, let's do something". Having confirmed there was indeed snow, I excitedly gathered my kit and packed...We decided on Mam Tor Gully (below), much revered for its poor climbing, but as it was the only decent route in.....we gave it a bash.

The first thing I grabbed being my Crux AK47 rucksack; a fantastic pack, a little over priced for me, but having only paid a small amount 2nd hand, I'm chuffed about its performance. It's a Kevlar reinforced bag that is supremely waterproof in driving rain or snow and is spacious enough to hold a full winter pack including rope. However, when climbing with it, it is hard to look up! Not exactly a selling point. But, you can change this by removing the titanium frame from inside. Yes, this doesn't give you as much support, but I find it slightly more comfy and much easier to climb with.

Into the crux went my first aid kit, harness, slings, nuts, hexes, nalgene and all the other assorted items needed. But clothing wise, I had a decision; hardshell, softshell or paramo. Each has its own advantages. Hardshell is more waterproof than the others, but I overheat in it too quickly especially if the weather is wet but not too cold and the Gore-Tex reaches saturation point mighty quickly. So then you could choose softshell, not as waterproof, but if it's not going to rain and is just snow then it would be great, but we all know that the weather craps out on us when we don't want it to. So I opted for my new favourite - the paramo. It's warm, breathable, light, quick drying and fairly waterproof. I get a lot of stick from my mates about this, but if they could afford it, I'm sure they'd buy it...because it aint cheap. I've got the Velez Adventure Light Smock, and at around 180, it's the cheapest smock they do! Worth every penny. More on paramo to come.

Setting off from home at around 6am we were climbing by 7.30. The conditions were good, plenty of snow and just cold enough while we were climbing to keep everything together. The climbing was tricky...not technically but mentally. It's like something out of a nightmare, the whole mountain peeling off as you climb, each footstep sliding down a bit more. But with perseverance and brute strength we made it to the top at around 11am.

Major bonus points to my Rab Powerstretch balaclava, which kept my head and face warm all morning. My DMM Xeno axes which played their part well. But most of all, my Mountain Equipment DJ. My Lightline jacket is amazing, so comfy, cozy, cuddly, warm.....comfy (oh wait i said that). I use it just about every day now and it's awesome on the hill and off the hill. I stuck it on for the walk in then took it off to climb and put it on again at the summit and even the driving snow didnt wet this baby out. The Dri-Lite outer shunning of all the weather could throw, whilst keeping me toasty warm. Another fantastic day out on the hill with Matt, and I enjoyed 
wearing the amazing hat his girlfriend knitted for me (right).