Friday, February 23, 2018

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Bat and Ball ???

Disclaimer: I do not accept any liability for any injury or fatality that may occur on this route as a result in this information or misinformation detailed and provided here.

"Never let it be said that I don't try something different".  I barked at my grinning buddy. Forearms so pumped I had a job to hold my pint and that was the second one, the first had barely wet the glass before it was guzzled. We'd spent a wet and drizzly day at our first real attempt aid climbing. With all my tendons,ligaments, muscles and a big dollop of pride telling me that my technique was somewhat lacking, we had failed miserably! We took solace from our beer and began to break down the temporary failure, we chinked our glasses and in true Schwarzenegger style we chanted, "we'll be back".

It begins...

And back we came armed with a shinny clippy stick, new sling ladder and fully breakfasted with at least 3 shredded wheat (each!). We were ready to do battle and this time armed with internet knowledge on technique we leapt up to the Ball with an added gusto and an air of confidence that failure would not be an option. Unfortunately the guide we had wasn't the latest Rockfax guide and we were actually on The Archers E5 6b! Bloody good job we were aiding...

Mandatory tea before the start!

Its a good venue for a wet day in the peak but as failure had been playing on our minds we'd elected the next days climbing would be our second attempt. With the new clippy stick Paul clipped onto the first bolt that was some 3 meters off the ground.

Clipped in and ready for the off

It didnt feel as intimidating as our first visit and decided that warming up on The Archers before tackling The Bat would be the best plan of action in testing out our aiding skills. It really seemed odd to be trusting in bolts glued into the wall when we were so used to using feet, hands and ability to attach our body to the rock.

 Photograph from the back of the cave

Paul working out the technique, as no amount of sheer strength would work, it had to be a routine of clipping into the bolt then using the rope ladder to aid any upward movement. There was a bolt missing that hindered progress but Paul managed to place some gear and eventually made some good progress.

Paul on The Archers


 Even though this resembles a confused spider trying to build the beginnings of a web, it's actually at the lower off for the climb. Although our ability wasn't quite honed enough to look stylish and cool, we reckoned it was sufficient to tackle The Bat.

Confused Spider?


There was plenty of onlookers enjoying the walk down the river and we tried to look like we knew what we were doing as they snapped away with their cameras. When one couple asked what we were doing Paul replied "we are from the council and just measuring up for a set of doors to close the cave!" It made us chuckle anyway.

Curious onlookers

I had my go at The Archers and was relieved to finally get to the lower off and get back down to mother earth! Paul was grinning like a cheshire cat but I had yet to convince myself that this aid climbing was enjoyable and with the success of the small climb in the bag I now had to pit my will against The Bat...

Dave lowering off The Archers

Time to replenish the energy levels and the jet boil was fired up, It felt like the last supper as we eyed up the line of bolts stretching across the roof. It was quite a line and while gearing up I could feel my heart pounding and that feeling that I wasn't going to make it made my heart beat even faster.

Gearing up under the pillar

 The pillar was certainly the crux, the first couple of bolts were not too bad but when moving around the curve to get to the roof proper it seemed a real struggle and much energy was used on this section. I think it was our natural mindset to climb on the rock and not use the ropes. It was certainly a challenge!

Dave struggling on the crux

 Eventually I overcame the crux, if you look closely at my face you can see the fear and at that stage I was ready to get lowered off and call it a day but some good support from my buddy pushed me on. And no it's not true that I wear pink dresses!!

Dave looking scared after the crux

Eventually I grew some 'cojones' and actually started to feel that I would actually make it to the lower off.

Looking like I knew what I was doing

 After having a bit more of a mare with spaced bolts I made it to the lower off and managed to compose myself enough for a few photos.

Dave at the lower off from inside the cave


 And from the outside


After lowering off it was the time for my buddy to take to the bolts. Paul did it in a lot better style than me and was pretty slick in his routine as he made his way to the lower off point. Paul's arms were pretty burnt out as the lower off shows!

Paul lowering off with pumped arms


On hitting the deck Paul didn't have the arms to undo his knot and just lay on the ground enjoying the sweet taste of success, bet he will be able to hold a pint when we get to the pub though!

In summary its a great climb and perfect to rescue a rainy day in the Peak. Learning to aid climb can also help with getting you out of trouble if ever needed in the future!


© Copyright - Dave Clarke 2012

© Copyright Images - Blanchard Clarke Collection


















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