Years and years ago I remember going to Millstone in the Peak District and watching Geraldine Taylor inch her way up London Wall on a summer afternoon. She was clearly having a bit of a battle, but undeterred she carried on over the course of 2 hours and eventually topped out. What impressed me the most, when I approached her afterwards was the fact that she did this almost every year as a celebration of the years passing by. This really inspired me that even though you feel a little more cranky every year, perhaps you should set yourself a benchmark route to go back and lead every year to keep you on top of your game. Something that’s a bit of a challenge and something a bit go’ey. Master’s Edge seemed to fit that bill!
Over the last 4 years (I think that’s the right number?! Or am I getting old?) Pete Whittaker and I have been back to Millstone every year to make an ascent of Master’s Edge. We have a rule that no top roping is allowed, so as to keep the spirit of adventure high. Or my high point low…….
The first year it was carried out in big woolly socks, then the year after in suits and top hats, then as a banana and transvestite last year. Pete’s fruited ascent last year was truly a masterpiece considering the conditions and the fact that I couldn’t even top out that year.
Photo: (c) Joe Malia
This year, we’ve had a pretty harsh run of weather recently and the evening before our planned ascent had Pete and Marie up on the ledges clearing snow in the dark. Pete forgot his prussiks, so had to take his shoe laces off for Marie to use as back up They’d also forgotten any wellies and eventually soaked almost every part of their bodies. All in all, they gave a true sacrifice for the benefit of others on the following day!
We arranged to meet up at lunch time on the Sunday and considering the weather all other planned climbers bailed leaving just Pete and I looking like plonkers in Millstone carpark. There we were, Pete dressed in a smelly gorrilla outfit (it’d been to party previously) and me in a fluffy green crocodile suit. Fortunately, our respective families and a few diehard friends had come along to watch us continue with the ritual.
Photo: (c) Mike Hutton
Warming up on Technical Master was promising, and after Pete had tied back his mask with a few hair clips and I had worked out the counterbalance of my tail, we felt somewhat positive. This year (as with all other years so far) Adam Bailes had “bailed” on us and I had to take the forfeit of the bold start up to the shot holes – Adam, we’re going to get you one of these years!! Continiung on to the top arete, I felt the cold blood of my species drain from my claws and faced with the final moves I sketched a wobbly foot and took my first whipper as a Man-Croc. Back on the ground I complained of feeling a bit out of water, but Pete just grunted at me and rubbed his hairy knuckles.
Photo: (c) Mike Hutton
Ten minutes later, Pete was smeared up on the top arete, his giant gorrilla arms bulging under the stress. Nooooo………… a vision of last year’s banana on the arete crossed his mind and the blood rushed to his stomach. He was off. Back on the ground, you could see the fire in his eyes. He’d let his concetration slip, all for the sake of a measley banana. The next attempt upwards was 100% hairy heart in mouth and there he was on the jug shaking his fist at me. My croco-petitiveness immediately spurred me on with his success and my next attempt I scaled my way upwards with renewed vigour and a little more warm blood (I wasn’t doping, honest gov!). Faced with the final snap for the jug I thought of Steve Irwin and lunged like an African Croc in the Limpopo.
Bring on next year…… Anyone keen?