Saturday 22 March 2014

Book review: On the steel breeze

TL;DR: No.

On the steel breeze is one I regret: I really should have known - indeed, I really did know - better than to start reading it. I'm moderately pleased I had the sense to stop reading before the end; about 3/4 of the way through. But I regret not stopping earlier. Its another interminable part of his series about not-very-interesting-people that began with Blue Remembered Earth (see my review of that). Its all a bit "oh, I've got a storyline, I'll spin it out into another book, because I'm pretty well out of ideas".

Other people liked it more, so you could read them if you want a different opinion. But even there you can see some of the doubt I have.

[Note: I wrote this on 2014/06/20, but I've arbitrarily pushed it back a few months to about when I read it.]

Sunday 16 March 2014

Chatsworth, old man

2014-03-16 13.31.37 A sequel to Stanage, Youth.

Followed by The leaves of Chatsworth lie thick on the ground.

Howard had the 16th of March available. The forecast was acceptable. Unfortunately Daniel was homebound, finishing his electronic project. But Steve McCann and Chris X turned up later.

We initially went to Stanage but it was overcast - although the sky had been clear in Cambridge, and for the drive up - and really rather windy, not unlike Aviemore carpark. For the sake of form we walked up to the crag but it wasn't one of those days when the wind blows from off the moors and the face itself is sheltered.

So we went to Chatsworth. Which I've only been to once before, also with Howard I think. You park in the Robin Hood Inn park (bring your National Trust card) 2-3 miles East of Baslow, then cross the road and follow a just-about-signed concessionary footpath for a little while. Then all of a sudden buttresses loom above you like giants, in particular Sentinel Buttress where we stopped initially. And its a good place to start climbing, and a good reference point.

My picture shows SB. Its big, it has a giant prow (which we went nowhere near) and it stands above the path like a... Sentinel.

Our tally for the day:

* Choked crack, Diff, HKR lead. This one just a warm up.
* Choked chimney, VD. Ditto, but for my lead. All the rest are mine too, except the last.
* Cave climb **, Diff. An HKR signature route. The crux is escaping the "cave" formed by the chockstone at the top. Its awkward, and for anyone except the very slim you need to remove everything from your breast pockets. Chris didn't escape, so had to lower off, walk round to the top, and belay Steve to get the gear out.
* Stranglers crack *, VD.
* Stranglers grove S. These two are a pair: SC is nominally the R of twin cracks, leading straight up to what looks like a very hard finish but isn't, due to a tiny edge just under a curving lip. SG is nominally the L crack, and goes slightly L to a prow, which would be easy were it not for the tree growing above it, so you get the choice of grovelling on your belly on the prow or boldly treating the tree as an overhang. Just to make things fun, I lead the L crack up the SC finish, then the R crack up the SG finish.
1956781_10152275196462350_823807951_o* Cave crack, S 4a. To the right of CC is this wide flared crack, which is very awkward and thrutchy to start. And I only get severe for that?
* Double cave, Diff. A bit like Cave climb, only the exit hole is somewhat bigger, but its a proper cave. Deep and mossy.
* Empress crack S 4b. Laybacking. Very good, and strenuous, at the start of the season.
* Emperor flake climb **, VD. Really quite airy at the top.
* Princes crack, HS 4b. This one is a right bastard to start - completely out of balance and reaching-around into blindness on smears. Steve had lead this, and there was a spare rope to second so I took it. Perhaps because I was seconding I didn't care quite so much, so didn't climb as well as I might - less care over the feet, too much "oh the rope will save me". Still hard work even done that way.

Nothing above HS you'll notice, but, well, its early days yet. And the conditions weren't perfect. And the grades there aren't easy, I'd say. And it was fun anyway.

My closing pic shows HKR peeking cheekily from Double cave climb.
And, in case its useful, here's a GPS trace of Sentinel buttress back to the Robin Hood Inn car park.