Hopeful Climbing

Hoping the rain will stop while belaying at Stanage.
Hoping the rain will stop while belaying at Stanage.

You need a lot of hope if you want to rock climb in the UK. Hope that it won’t rain on your weekend climbing trip. Hope that the rain will stop by the afternoon so that you can go climbing. Hope that the rock will dry out quickly from the last lot of rain because you’ve been sitting in the café far too long. Hope that the rain will hold off until you have finished your climb. Hope that the water slowly trickling down your sleeves as you climb is just a quick shower. Even hope that the patch of lighter cloud you can see in the distance is the “possibly clearing later” that the weather forecast mentioned. You need that hope, particularly if you are a London-based climber like me and every trip to a climbing venue is an investment of time and effort. It’s that hope that gets you in your car to drive to the Peak District or North Wales and it’s what gets you out of your tent when rain is pattering on it first thing in the morning.

It was probably a bit ironic then that on my trip to the Peak District last weekend I stayed just outside the village of Hope. I hoped hard, but the rain didn’t stop and so I gave up on the idea of climbing on Saturday and went for a walk instead. It was a great walk along the Mam Tor ridge and down into Castleton.

On Sunday morning, the sun shone a bit and my hope rose. I drove to Stanage and was belaying on my first climb of the day when it began to rain. I got to the top despite my feet skidding off the smooth, wet footholds at the start of the climb. Then I stood around at the foot of the crag with other climbers hoping that the rain would stop. It didn’t, so I went to a coffee shop and then went home.

Hopefully it will be drier on my next trip.

5 thoughts on “Hopeful Climbing

  • I know exactly what you mean about whole trips depending on the weather – my Munro/Top-bagging trips are a bit the same. Of course, I can still go up in bad weather, but it makes it miserable and worrying, especially on my own. Since I started limestone climbing outdoors, I know it’s even harder for climbing as you really do need it dry. At least you were in a great area for a walk though 🙂

    • I know what you mean. Climbing limestone in the wet can feel like climbing in rollerskates.

      It’s a lovely area and so you’re right that it’s still good for a walk when it rains.

      • I have to admit I haven’t actually climbed limestone in the wet as, fortunately, our meets are always called off if it rains. Everyone is coming from the local area so it’s not like anyone is travelling far or has to make many plans.

        • That sounds like the right approach.

          I think that the further you have to travel and/or the more effort you have to put in to getting to the climbing, the higher the chance that you will feel inclined to push on do something even if the conditions are poor. Sometimes that ensures that you manage to get something done and other times it’s not a great idea.

          • That’s very true. i find that when I go Munroing etc in Scotland. Because I’m paying so much for fuel and accommodation and spending so long driving up there, I feel obliged to press on with my plans no matter what. I’m sure that’s totally the wrong approach but I can’t help it!

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