Some bank holiday gritstone at Burbage Valley

Some bank holiday gritstone at Burbage Valley

It was Martin’s birthday, and quite conveniently the weather was nice so we got the opportunity to head out into the Peaks for some bouldering. He’s been aiming to take his son out to Kingergarten at Burbage South Quarries for a while, we planned to go up there first, before moving down to Burbage Boulders the the rest of the afternoon.

We got there at about 12 and walked over the fields to the top path and met up with the rest of the group on the big stones there. The weather was a bit overcast and chilly in the wind but still good enough! I played around a bit in my approach shoes while the kids bombed around leaping from stone to stone and getting some slabs under their belt. They both managed Kinderlibrium after a bit of a warm up which was good. I found myself wandering over to the edge of South Quarry looking in, wondering if I’d ever have the skills or the balls to attempt some of the much scarier looking big climbs in there!

Eventually we got bored and made the short walk over to Burbage South Boulders, slipping and sliding down the thin and windy trails linking the top path with the Duke’s Drive along the bottom of the valley. We parked ourselves at The Cobra and had some lunch before getting my shoes on for the first time. A bit of a warm up on the easy climbs on the Cobra (although I can’t do Undercut Rib as I can’t do the high foot!) before ending up on to my old nemesis Pock Block. I say that because I usually end up stuck on this boulder for ages when coming to here. And it happened again!

I got my heights head sorted on Pick which is always lovely and easy once you sort your head wobble, before joining two women climbing on Pock and Puck. I spent probably an hour and a half playing on these. I really didn’t make much progress on Puck, getting two moves in, but not being able to hold the higher left hand pocket to get my feet established on the bulge. The two women were mostly working the sit start of Pock which is a nice and meaty 6c. After having a go at the sit start and writing it off as a bad job due to not being able able to spread my legs far enough for the two first foot holds, I flashed the Pock itself (which is great) and settled down to watching them trying it out.

After watching them slowly make progress I started to join in again, instead giving up on the spread leg approach and instead trying with both feet in the crack on the left, caming my heel and toe into either side of the crack. Pushing hard I managed to lift off, but missed the pocket. Hmm. This might go!

A few attempts later, I decided to take a break and followed Andy up pock-man. I’ve climbed this twice, but this time both Andy and I bailed on the scary bit. My old comfy shoes were finally starting to disintegrate and it was a bit warm meaning confidence in the smearing was very low. Poor show!

I went back to Pock sit start, watching the others trying it some more and the dog of a new climber trying to eat people’s shoes when it got bored, before having another got. Wedge the feet in, push hard and REACH and bang! I caught the pocket. Suddenly I was there and on the problem properly. Push hard on the feet, move the left hand to catch the start hold, crank with the arms and swing the right foot into the pocket at hip height and I’m now at on the 2nd move of Pock. It’s easy(ish) from here. Move the left hand to an intermediate pocket, then again to a better one. Now it’s precarious, but the next right hand pocket is bomber. Here we go…. baaaaarndooor!

Ooops.

Oh well, I’ll get it next go…. at least I thought I would, but the climb really did sap a lot of core energy. After a few more attempts with decent rests I wasn’t really getting anywhere I moved on, slightly disappointed.

We met up with Martin and Liz on The Sheep and Lamb. We did the easy climbs on here, pausing to check out a huge caterpillar nestled into a pocket at the top of The Sheep Slab. It appeared to be building a cocoon or something out of the particles of sand from the grit stone. Very cool.

After this, I settled into trying to get The Shearing done. After a few attempts the women and the dog owner from Pock block turned up and joined us. They managed it pretty easy after a few attempts, but I just couldn’t finish it. The last section seemed really shouldery and I just couldn’t hold it long enough to get a stable high right foot to top out. Perhaps next time?

Next we moved on to The Brick and Briquette which I did a few of the slabs on, but had really run out of energy for. It wasn’t long later before we packed up and handed back to the Fox House for a pint and burger and started to realise just how sun burnt we were despite it being only patchy sun. Yeah, no sun cream despite there being a load in my bag…. Doh…

(Photos by Martin G)

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