The Outside team take on the Nine Edges night run

We are not unaccustomed to dealing with peer pressure at Outside.

Many of the staff have learned over the years that it is easier to cancel plans with friends and loved ones than explain to James Turnbull why they can't come head torch bouldering. However that is climbing and we are easily swayed. Running is a very different proposition...

A team of 9 from various Outside locations intended to run the Nine Edges, a route starting at Fairholmes carpark and ending 21 miles later at the Robin Hood in Baslow. The route follows Derwent, Stanage, Burbage (N & S), Froggatt, Curbar, Baslow, Gardoms and Birchen edges.

Outside team at the start of the race

The Outside team at the start of the run

With two weeks to prepare and not having run consistently for months, I decided that some intensive training was needed. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one. Usually I don’t enjoy running as it's hard, but watching Steve run a lap of Burbage in his Kuhl trousers having forgotten his shorts certainly made it more enjoyable. I should have made him run it in his vest and pants for forgetting his PE kit!

The conditions leading up to the run were perfect, two clear nights, no wind with a full moon. This could not have been further from what we experienced. We started at 6pm once the shop had closed, and so did the snow.

An excellent pace was set as we headed along Derwent edge; I found myself slipstreaming Chris ‘the Spartan’ Harle to try and conserve as much energy as possible. This would have worked well if Chris wasn’t considerably fitter and quicker than me.

Burbage North snow doesn't halt play

Burbage North - snow doesn't halt play

We made a quick stop at Moscar to refuel and pick up supplies from our support team who had kindly given up their evening to make sure that enough staff survived to open the shop the next day.

Outside team run the Nine Edges

Steve Hartley strikes a pose.

As we headed along Stanage the snow got heavier, the wind picked up and the puddles grew colder and deeper. By the time we reached Burbage North, the temperature was hovering around two degrees with a decent covering of snow. Whilst this doesn’t sound too bad, when you're only wearing running tights, baselayer top and a waterproof it’s a different story. Fast and light….should be called fast and flipping freezing. However the conditions were perfect for testing the head torches which Petzl had donated!

Outside Nine Edges Endurance race

John still smiling!

The next edge was Froggatt which to my mind is flat, but the message being sent from my legs conflicted with previous experience. The boys at the front were starting to pull away and I was definitely slowing down. I was now doing little more than a shuffle similar to that of Ozzy Osbourne. However pride was at stake; dropping out would have ended in weeks of ridicule. That same pride started to sting when Paul slowed down to check I was ok. At least it took my mind off other areas of my body that were also stinging.

By the resupply at Curbar Gap car park, I had eaten my own body weight in Clif bars. Thankfully they started to kick in as we set off for the last leg.

Nine edges race Curbar Gap pitstop

Curbar Gap pitstop

What I thought was an energy boost soon turned out to be a short lived downhill section to Gardoms. Either way I was thankful for every moment that it lasted, which was not very long. The boggy, uneven and uphill section to Birchen was knackering but the thought of how many man points I would gain upon completion somehow got me to the home straight.

Nine edges endurance race - the finish!

The finish. Rehydration time!

All in all a cracking effort by the entire team, no drop outs and at 4hrs 40 a decent time considering the conditions! I would like say a special thank you to Outside for offering to pay for the resulting knee and hip replacements.

John Bradley works for Outside in Hathersage

By John Bradley
Shop Manager

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John Bradley
Team Photo


Last Gasp of Summer and the Calling of the Grit

In early October I headed to the south west with Neil McAdie from Rab, with worrying routes in mind. We went straight for the big one, the infamous Pat Littlejohn route, Il Duce (E5 6a) on the tiny peninsula of Tintagel. This 4 pitch route is in a very serious position directly above the sea with the first downward traverse pitch making retreat something not to consider. Neil dealt with this well considering the damp conditions.

Neil McAdie on Il Duce at Tintagel

Neil McAdie on Il Duce at Tintagel

This lead round to the intimidating overhanging crux pitch. A very greasy crack lead up to a huge leftward roof chimney crack. The pitch was not just damp but properly wet and I considered bailing, but decided I may not be back any time soon, so cracked on. Unfortunately under the roof the damp got the better of me and I hung on a cam to dry the holds, before struggling onward to the belay. I'm 90% sure I could have done it all clean if in better condition. Neil fought his way up behind me having a fairly hard time in the wild positions.

James Turnbull climbing Il Duce at Tintagel

James Turnbull climbing Il Duce at Tintagel

He arrived at the stance and looked at the next very bold 5c corner pitch and quickly handed back over the sharp end to me again. Gulp. This starts steadily but soon the corner closes, the gear stops, the holds become spaced and everything becomes sandy. In a very serious situation looking at a huge fall I gibbered my way to the ledge. And.....relax...... and finally Neil’s lead. We had heard terrifying things about the last mega lose 4c pitch but Neil had no troubles with the giant booming rock mushrooms and soon we were on top of a rarely ticked Über-classic. Chuffed to say the least!

The next day we headed to Lower Sharpnose where Neil had pretty much ticked the crag back in the day and I had been rained off twice without climbing a thing! We sat in the van watching the rain, "not again!" Luckily it soon stopped and out came the sun. This still left the crag base very wet so we started gently with the brilliant Misery Goat (E2 5b) and Last Laugh (E2 5c), which were quite exciting in their soaking lower reaches!

James Turnbull climbing Pacemaker at Lower Sharpnose

James Turnbull climbing Pacemaker at Lower Sharpnose

We then headed round to the main event, the middle fin. The proper biggies are Fay (E4 5c) and Pacemaker (E5 6a), both well protected but pumpy wall climbs of classic status. There was no chalk on the wall at all from the rain earlier but I started up Fay with very sandy feeling holds. Conditions improved with height and the climbing was incredible. A stiff couple of pulls with old pegs for protection formulate the crux and soon I was grinning at the top of the very narrow fin. Neil followed without trouble and when we abbed to the deck Neil suggested that, as he done them all before, I should lead Pacemaker too. I did really want to, but was feeling the strain from the day before and 3 steep routes that day, but life’s too short. I set off. Things started well, but nearing the top and the crux a deep pump kicked in and things got scrappy for me. I was about to rest on the gear but decided to tell Neil "watch me!" and lay one on for the break. I was sure I was off and was very surprised to still be in contact with the rock! The final few metres were a desperate fight, with little technique and no strength to place gear. It was not pretty, but it was onsight, JUST!

James Turnbull at Sharpnose

Top-out relief!

As Neil followed I could see the tide approaching in the other bay where, stupidly, I had left my shoes. I urged Neil to hurry but there is only so fast you can climb. By the time we abbed off my shoes where getting a good battering in the wash, and I got pretty wet getting them back, the socks were gonners! Of course we still needed to climb out! So with the oncoming tide I sprinted up the very well named Out of the Blue (E2 5b) and enjoyed a great sunset on the walk out with very wet feet!

We did have one day left but with bad weather forecast we headed to Cheddar Gorge hoping to climb something there before the rain arrived, we were wrong! We climbed a 4 pitch bolted route of which 2 1/2 pitches were done in the rain and it barely warrants a mention. However it was a fun, damp end to a memorable short trip!

This seemed to mark the end of summer cragging, but then, after a few weeks of rain, Grit Season hit the Peak hard! I managed to make a fairly fast head point of the brilliant Cool Moon (E6 6c) at Curbar with use of the side runners to drop it from the scary E7 grade and later in the day (night?) made a fun ascent of Offspring (E5 6b) at Burbage South. This was an odd affair as the idea was to climb the route at night with a headtorch so my friend Phil could get a long exposure photo when I fell off. All went to plan, maybe too much so. I fully expected to fall anyway with it being hard and dark but some how I ended up with my hands on the top of the crag first go. So I asked for slack and let go plunging into the darkness and myself and the lights took the swing on what is probably the safest route on grit! Great fun.

James Turnbull climbing Offspring in the Burbage Quarries

James Turnbull on (and off!) Offspring at Burbage South. Photo by Phil Parker

Next up, I was lucky enough to be involved with Super Sunday! The 10th of November was one of those perfect grit days, blue skies, morning frost and light winds. Some complained it was too warm, but then they were trying VERY hard routes. We headed to Curbar again as did many others. Hard routes were ticked on a seemingly low gravity day. Dom Lee climbed the test piece Moonshine (E5 6b) which I was very pleased to onsight later in the day. My friend Bart styled his way up Finger Distance (E3 6b), Oli Grounsell made an extremely impressive ascent of Linden (E6 6b) but as the sun set Rob Greenwood stole the show by headpointing the harrowingly bold End of the Affair (E8 6c) in beautiful evening light. A truly memorable day, whether you were climbing hard, having a potter or taking a stroll, you couldn’t help but smile. Well done everyone.

Rob Greenwood climbing End of the Affair at Curbar

Rob Greenwood headpointing End Of the Affair at Curbar. Photo by Oli Grounsell

Gritual: Trailer One from Guy Van Greuning on Vimeo.

James works at Outside in Hathersage

By James Turnbull

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James Turnbull
Team Photo


A Nice Day for Ducks

It’s Saturday, it’s raining (a lot), and Steve suggests a trip on the River Churnet in Staffordshire. The accumulation of green slime is wiped off my kayak, and with Jane’s logistical help, off we go to The Boat Inn at Cheddleton where the landlord kindly allows us to park.

Chris Harle van paddling

Is this how you do it?

Although monsoonal rain and a swollen river greet us, I’m expecting an easy ride down the picturesque Churnet Valley. But we are soon using a sort of limbo dancing technique to scrape under low bridges, pipes and fallen trees. At Consall Forge I bottle out of the doing the canal overflow connection with the river and opt for a more sedate seal launch from the bank further upstream. I watch Steve bounce down the steep and narrow overflow with no regrets.

a gentle starta gentle start on the river churnet

A gentle starting section

Trees are definitely now a hazard and we are forced to portage around a group that have completely blocked the river. Without too much warning we are dropping down a rocky grade 3 falls. I fluke the correct line while Steve is tipped over by a hidden rock. He resurfaces with an elegant roll and a broad grin.

Looking forward to the grade 3 rapids

Looking forward to the grade 3 falls

Jane warns us that getting off the water at Frogall is a problem but with no other option we escape over a high gate, and awaiting transport back to a welcoming pint at The Boat. An unexpected mini-adventure and great sport for a wet weekend.


Chris is Outside's Book Man

By Chris Harle
The 'Book Man'

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Chris Harle
Team Photo
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