Monday, 7 September 2009

Laddow Rocks

A tale of mushy peas and laundry bills.

Sunday 6th of September 2009 the plan was to explore a new venue and do some easy climbing. So, after meeting at the station, Jess and Andy set out over Holme Moss and down Woodhead to Crowden. From there, it is another hour and a half's walking across the Crowden Great Brook and along the Pennine Way to Laddow Rocks.

Laddow has a long history of climbing dating back to the turn of the last century and has been explored by such illustrious figures as J. W. Putrell, H. M. Kelly, Ivar Berg and even Geoffrey Winthrop Young(after he lost his leg). However, it has been neglected in modern times and, combined with the effect of recent wet summer weather, is now returning to nature. Not to be deterred, it was decided to warm up on something straight forward like a V. Diff.

North Climb 16m V. Diff 1* - Take the big groove over easy ground to a possible stance. Then, from a thread in the chimney, shuffle left to reach and finish up a chimney. - Sounds simple, doesn't it? Anyway, it was horrible.

All the potential holds, which can be pretty tenuous at the best of times on gritstone, were coated with slime which was just about the colour and consistency of mushy peas from your favourite chippy. In an attempt to find some feeling of security on the route, the full range of bodily protruberances were called upon in a desperate parody of traditional climbing. After taking tension from the thread in the chimney, Andy eventually accomplished the toe traverse to the base of the final chimney and made his escape.

After some adjustments to the ropework, Jess followed with similar effects to her trousers. Definitely a case for extra enzymes in your Persil.

Returning to the bottom of the crag, Andy allowed himself to be persuaded by the only other party at the crag, that the first pitch of the Long Climb 25m Sev. 4a 3* was possible. Surprisingly, the first pitch was a delight. The rock was a little more exposed to the wind and had dried nicely in the afternoon sunshine. Emboldened by this success, Andy examined the next pitch. Again, the face looked dry, so it was decided to have a go.

The pull into the scoop was a little precarious but well protected. However, the route then started to move left, away from the dry rock on the front of the buttress, and into various uninviting damp clefts and corners. Facing the final damp corner, with a soaking off-width crack at the back, it all got too much for him and Andy decided to improvise. After a sneaky foot traverse rightwards, out onto the front of the face, he found rough, clean, dry rock. It was the top of the second pitch of Leaf Buttress 25m VS 4c 2*. Although a harder and more technical climb, it was infinitely preferable to another desperate grovel up a slimy corner.

That left just enough time for a gentle stroll around the rest of the buttresses that constitute Laddow Rocks before heading back down Crowden Great Brook to the car park. If you feel inspired to share the historical climbing experience, don't forget a towel, and you might find an old tweed jacket useful too.