Following my christmas break, I waited patiently for a blue sky weekend to get back into the swing of things, but alas it didn’t happen. The rain fronts just kept piling in and by mid January having not done a route since November, I decided that despite the endless wetness, I needed to get something done.
Conveniently I had received a message in early January from Joe Holden reminding me about his route ‘Band of Brothers’ E7 6b on the aptly named Joe’s Wall at Band Crag in the Duddon.
Now, I had been up to Band Crag to lead this particular line (as a first ascent) back in summer 2019, only to find Joe on the route when I arrived. Joe had just got very close on his lead attempt, but with the wall facing south and in the full heat of the midday sun, it was just too hot to hold the small crimps on the upper wall. Joe awarded himself with a courageous dive down the cliff, landing on his belayer before being arrested by a dodgy cam on the glacis at the bottom. Given his impressive level of commitment (along with cuts, bruises and concussion) there was no way I was going to lead this line before Joe had succeeded on it – which of course he did a few weeks later.
Arriving in mid January conditions were damp, but I was determined to get the route done. The climbing is sustained and gear difficult to place, so I had to do a bit of ‘up and down’ climbing to get the critical gear in. Band of Brothers is an excellent addition to the crag, with poor protection and powerful climbing which is typical of the Duddon valley outcrops.
February’s weather was no better and I got absolutely nothing done outside, so March needed to happen. The only place that I could think of that might be climbable was Hare Crag in Eskdale. It faced west so at least it would be blown dry in any dry spells and there were a couple of lines there that had been put up in the last couple of years which I hadn’t done.
The first route of interest was Vital Spark E6 6c which is a Keith Phizacklea and Ian Cooksey addition from June 2019. (This is a variation start to ‘Black Dog E7 6c’ which is a Mark Edwards route – although I was unaware of Mark’s addition at this time). The climbing was intense with RP protection only.
The second route to be done was ‘Right Hare Right Now’ an E7 6c from Chris Fisher, which was repeated last year by Anna Taylor. The route goes straight up the middle of a granite wall, again protected by low RP’s that aren’t much help towards the top. The lead went well, although buffeting from a strong wind was an issue towards the top. I didn’t know it then, but that would be the end of my climbing for quite some time!