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.