So hands up who didn’t suffer over Chrimbal from an excess of turkey, mince pie, chocolate and festive beverages? The question is though did you get out and get some action in? Fair enough, we all know that the usual excesses are never conducive to hard core action but we still need to try don’t we – after all, nothing ventured, nothing gained... And if Andy Kirkpatrick can get stuck into a solo attempt on the Harlin route on the Eiger over the New Year itself, surely us back in Blighty can tough it up a bit?


Here in the Peak District, the weather was wicked over the holiday period; wickedly HOT and wickedly COLD in roughly equal measure! The run into Xmas had been un-seasonally good; dry and not too cold. Things were to change though. Boxing Day started so-so and then it just got hotter and hotter. Betwixt family responsibilities and gagging for some action having been cooped up for days, I managed to snatch a couple of hours on Burbage North around lunchtime. God-smacking would not be an inappropriate description for the day, but whilst it was beautiful day it didn’t climb well – least not in the sun. In just two hours I managed to leave all my finger tips on the various slopers of Remergence buttress. Dooh! Interesting isn’t it that no matter how long we’ve climbed, we all insist on that one last go – even if it’s in the blazing sun! Punter error – I won’t do that again! Actually, the depressing thing is that I almost certainly well, especially if a tick hangs in the air and the usual ‘must do’ red-fog obscures reality!


Simon Reed setting up the crucial moves on The Terrace (Font 7c+) Burbage North


Saturday 27th was another sunny one. Walking along Froggatt and Curbar in the morning it was much colder, especially on the top of the Edges which were being raked with a fresh breeze. As usual though, it was obviously a different matter downstairs on the edges themselves but at least one team put a brave face on and punched through into the colder air above the line of the edge via the age-old classic Valkyrie. Effort guys…

Braving the cold, a climber approaches the crucial moves on the upper section of the age-old Froggatt classic, Valkyrie (HVS 4c, 5a)


The rest of the time it was nails in the Peak with temps at or below freezing. First came the fog and then came the freezing fog. New Year’s Day always sees the fair degree of ‘nutty’ behaviour across the UK – folks jumping into the sea and all. The Peak has its own brand of loony activities, nor are they restricted to New Year’s Day. As well as the usual fare of fell-walking and mountain biking, there are those that jump off the fell-sides, those that go night-time running and an increasingly number, yours truly included, that go night-time bouldering. And, for the first time in the Peak, a worrying new trend of synchro bouldering.

Mark Shey bearing down whilst out on a Blind Date (Font 7b+), a classic Burbage North problem, just as night falls


Mam Tor was racked with activity on New Year’s Day with stacks of folks out walking, running and pedalling as well as a couple of dozen folks or so flying off the east face. Sub-zero temps had locked the dense overnight fog frozen solid onto the trees giving a spectacular effect throughout the ‘white’ Peak. The scene from the top of Mam Tor was more than a touch ethereal with the paragliders throwing themselves off the Tor into the hanging mists.


And all the usual suspects were out lugging their bouldering pads around the grit edges as well. A few of us, abandoning all common sense, even stayed out late into the evening. So, with the New Year now firmly with us, and work back on the agenda, it’s time to turn those NY resolutions into reality and make 2009 happen!


The view from Burbage Valley out over Higgar Tor is often lit up by the setting sun


More images from Xmas and New Year 2008/9 will be posted into a gallery soon.