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One Hundred On Sight Solo's In One Day
Windscreen wipers slapping time and Bobby sang the blues as the diesel chugged south to the Peak District, no rush to get there despite my early start and big ambitions.
Many say Stanage is the best climbing area in the world, its not but it does have an almost endless supply of climbs of all grades, needless to say it is probably the most visited crag in the UK
My long term objective is to do a thousand routes on Stanage queen of the gritstone edges, to date my tally is embarrassingly poor and most of the few I have done are in the extreme bracket so today I had decided to go down and clean up some of the easy routes as there are a considerable number to go at. Armed with a printed hit list off UKC and the brand new Stanage guide plus a good weather forecast confidence was high well until it started raining at Tadcaster.
Its stopped raining in Sheffield and I kill time with a greasy spoon special, on the final leg into the Peak the roads are drying fast and by the time I park up I know its going to be ok.
Today it’s just me on my own climbing solo, my only gear is a pair of rock shoes and a chalk bag this allows you to move very fast and cover an incredible amount of ground, the down side is that falling off is not an option.
I kicked off at the popular end almost immediately I hit problems, the new guide is written with mass ascents of mainstream classics in mind while the nature of what I am doing demands that I seek out the obscure, the information is often there but often hidden as comments within unrelated text. This slows my progress.
It was still early in the day and I had the place to myself but as the hours pass slowly cars rolled up at the main Hooks car park the hordes take to the crag and with it my confidence grows as I started to solo harder routes. As I moved along the crag away from the Popular end at a rate of ten climbs per hour there are less people about this adds to the seriousness of climbing solo. The nightmare scenario when soloing is that you fall hurt yourself and there is nobody around to help your. Unlikely at Stanage but I choked my grades back down to really easy stuff and continued in that vein the difficulty for the rest of the day.
Eventually I reached my target with one hundred routes ticked off my UKC list. The prince of footpain reminds me that I have been climbing non stop for over ten hours, a long shift and I struggle to walk back
Despite my condition its a beautiful warm sunny evening, light winds keeping the midges off, I spotted one of the Stanage Merlin’s the smallest of the British raptors dinking about in its secretive manner another flying treat with an aerobatic display from a world war two spitfire, stunning stuff, so in a way I saw two Merlin’s and the end to a great day.