More rain but also some sunshine

Well I’m now in Dublin airport again waiting for a flight to Chicago. Has been an enjoyable, and slightly more relaxing week. Now I’ve started travelling I just want to be back in Kansas but I still have about 20 hours to go. :-( Anyway…

On the Sunday I got back to my parents an old school friend, his better half and their child visited me in Clacton. Was good to catch up and thankfully the weather stayed reasonably dry for their visit. Went and got fish and chips in a restaurant in town – I definitely miss good English fish and chips! Nothing much else interesting happened and as he’s not a climber I can’t even bore you all with the routes I did…

Monday and Tuesday were spent relaxing with my parents. Tuesday afternoon I got my dad to drop me off and did a 6 mile hike back to their house, somehow without getting rained on. That part of Essex is as flat as the flattest parts of Kansas – I doubt my total height gain reached ten metres! That said it was reasonably enjoyable and it was good to get some exercise done. Photos are here.

My parents and I went and visited my brother and sister-in-law on Wednesday evening and we all eat rather too much Indian food. Was good to catch up even if my sister-in-law was not on best form due to a needle stick, a barely concious patient who could not consent and the drugs she was consequently on. Nothing much has changed in their lives since Christmas so there’s nothing much interesting I can write here.

As Thursday was my last day at my parents I took them out for lunch before packing in the evening for a early start on Friday. Friday we were all up early and my parents and I went to my graduation in Manchester, where I got to wear incredibly stupid robes (photos). Was pleased I went and thankfully it was more enjoyable than my first graduation as it was over quicker and I could understand it all (half my graduation for my Bachelors was in Welsh). My parents dropped my off at a car hire place where I somehow managed to get a Audi A4 despite ordering a Group A car. They clearly wanted the Audi back at the airport!

Having somehow finally managed to get hold of Hugh I popped in and some him for an hour in his new house before heading back to Jen’s for the night. This had not been my original plan but due to some enforced changes in friend’s plans it now made most sense. I get to Jen’s quite late so we stayed in and both drunk a little bit too much wine! After a slow start the next morning due to a slight hangover and enforced changes in plans I finally managed to arrange climbing with Adam at Stanage.

Believe it or not the weather at Stanage was actually OK for most of the time until we got rained off a few hours later. In that time, however, we managed to get 5 routes done between us. My second of the last route wasn’t exactly clean but as the rock was quite wet by then and I was having to pull on slopey friction holds I had no problem with falling off a route I knew I could normally do. Having been rained off we headed back into Sheffield and a bunch of us all met up in a pub for food, and in many cases (including mine) a little bit too much beer.

Yesterday I had arranged to meet several friends at Outside cafe at 10. Unsurprisingly movement onward was not quick – getting climbers to move from the cafe was compared to herding cats – but we eventually managed to get everyone to the same bit of Frogatt. I had previous with a HS that I’d taken rests on before so I get back on it. This time I got up it quite quickly and wondered why I had made such a fuss in the pass. Hopefully this is a sign of me getting better.

Shortly thereafter I top-roped a HVS 5a. This has previously been backed off by Adam with several comments about it being rather undergraded. Several others had also top-roped and said similar and having done it I’ve got to agree. By the end of the mass top roping session eight of us, all of whom had done several HVS 5as before, had done the route. All of us agreed that it was undergraded. Most thought it was stiff for 5a but every last one of us said there was no way it HVS. HVS 5a should not have crux moves several metres off the floor with absolutely no useful gear!

Next up on my hit list was CMC slab – another climb I had previous with as I’d backed off it until the rather easier climb next door before. This time I got it but not before a fall where I totally managed to fail to spot the good hold which was only slightly higher than where I was trying to put my foot. D’oh! Having seconded Colin up Three Pebble Slab I next tried Tody’s Wall. The less said about that the better. It involved a rather inglorious retreat and Colin trying to tie up the entire crag while attempting to set up an abseil to retrieve his gear. As Colin then had to leave and everyone else was in the pub I then also headed to the pub for dinner and drink before heading to my hotel in preparation for the early (5am) start today.

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