....or at least, it started at 5pm on Saturday and finished at 6:30pm. During which time although the rock was too warm and the breeze was obstructively mis-aligned, at least the coolness of the hazy sunset made climbing enjoyable rather than debilitating (especially Dirty Stop Out which is only 8m but has 3 5b cruxes in which is nice). And afterwards it looked like this, which is also nice:
Prior to that it looked a lot like a fat weak punter with a chest infection lolling aimlessly on the ground, waking only sporadically to cough up some septic gunk or move vaguely out of the way of someone trying to lead routes above him. I did one warm-up route in the morning, backed off some slopey thing in the sun at lunchtime, and then just basked until dusk. Warm enough to fully sunbathe is not the grit conditions I was looking for. But dry weather and dry rock was something at least, and while bimbling at Bamford surrounded by the Rockfax-clutching hordes was pretty far away from the climbing experience I was after, it served a purpose for easy pottering whilst I recovered (from the Bangface weekends, two 5-7am nights and a big wall session and my immune system obviously fucked off elsewhere).
So yeah this was it, down on the grit at last (I have no special affinity with the grit, being physically unsuited to it and utterly rubbish at it despite thousands of routes, BUT it is the prime winter trad rock so still has much appeal, more so being extra distant from it and anything else that qualifies as prime winter trad with more than a handful of routes left to do). End of March AGAIN, dismal. But I guess not as dismal as not doing it and despite everything I climbed okay. I felt strong and energised the previous Saturday, this one I felt weak as fuck. A week without training - two now I've gone through anti-biotics. I really miss pulling hard. Soon to be 3 weeks of weak - next week is my brother's wedding on Iona, after that it's back to some serious fucking climbing focus.
Natural grit was "out", exactly a day before I was prone beneath Neb Buttress, idly thinking "the lime really should be called already", the lime had been called. Great minds etc, and I hate Pennine lime. Of course calling of the lime also means calling of the non-grit, be it quartzite or pillow lava or whatever. Or indeed quarried grit, which bridges the gap. So after giving up the 2 hour grit season on Saturday, it was straight into training for proper rock in the Lancs quarries where the usual positive holds gave a bit more positivity in approach. Summit Quarry provided steady mileage, Warland quarry provided seepage and a return fixture, and Egerton provided both a failure (Phantom Zone LH - quite easy but I was simply drained (two nights trying to keep my lungs down)) and a scary success (Satin Sapphire - a classic headgame arete with a reasonably protected crux to a knife-edge rest that provides ample opportunity to panic before an off balance reach to safety. I made good use of that before doing it, it felt a bit early in the season for that sort of malarkey. Unfortunately I missed getting a photo of the situation as it was quite characterful, especially as the one photo on UKC shows some non-ascent of a headpoint failure with side-runners. Hard to believe that someone could waste a cool route in that way but climbers are fucking weird. Now you know, go and do it, there's a lot of great choice on Egerton Sunny Side now).