On the Band Wagon or is it the Send Train

I love my job, working with climbers, selling climbing gear to climbers, its mega. Usually I’m pleased for mid week days off too - quiet crags. But recently there has been a team of climbers who all head out on cold winter days and stack the pads high to climb safely the routes we would never dare to without. It may not be ethical but it sure is fun. This always happens at weekends when I’m always working. Now most of the time I’m ok with it, but when pictures and videos came on Facebook of every man and his dog climbing and falling off Narcissus (E6 6B without pads or highball Font 7A with) at Froggatt, my jealousy levels were very high. How can I get enough pads together on a wet week day? There just aren't enough people free and certainly not willing, or are there?

Last Thursday was not a nice day, super windy, cold and pretty wet, but I can be persuasive! I managed to convince Jamie and Nick that the crag would be dry and it would be fun. Oddly, they agreed. Drew (who now works for Beta Climbing Designs) was next on my list. He, of course, was meant to be at work but as he now supplies Snap Pads I somehow talked him into it being a product testing/photo day. It was game on! I am very thankful to all these guys who didn’t even really fancy the route, especially Jamie who ran back to get the camera I had left in the van, oops! Thanks Jamie.

James Turnbull climbing Oedipus, Ring Your Mother at Froggat Edge

Nick Willis climbing Oedipus, Ring Your Mother (E4 6b or Font 6B+)

We warmed up, this was easier said than done in the crazy wind and odd sleet shower. I went up Oedipus, Ring Your Mother (E4 6b or Highball Font 6B+) first, which felt great with a tonne of pads. Nick went up next but with his bad circulation simply couldn't cope with not feeling his hands as the snow hammered across us. BBBBRRRR!!

Finally we decided to get on with it, then my heart sank, it chucked it down and all of Narcissus was soaked. I thought I was going to miss it again, it was about 2.45pm, everyone thought it must be game over and started packing up. I had to get persuasive again, I’m really pretty optimistic but this was pushing it. I said “give it 20 minutes it will be dry”. 25 minutes later it was about dry so we stacked the pads and set about it. My thoughts were of Bancroft, climbing this pad-less in the 70’s, MASSIVE balls! Having seen the videos I had a fair bit of beta and on my first proper go I was on the finishing jug very high above the sea of pads, but I felt too stretched. As normal I’d lanked it. I was off. The air rushes pretty fast at that height and speed, wallop. The Snap Wrap takes full impact, nothing hurts. That pad is amazing!


It's just a big boulder problem...

The others had a play but had way more sense. I had another go and the same happens. I’m getting nervous now, I’ve convinced these guys to carry all these pads for me and the sun is nearly setting, tick tock. I wait for my heart to calm down and then set off knowing it would probably be my last go. I carefully place my feet this time knowing where i need to be. Third time lucky. Pulling on to the ledge with the sun setting at the end of a tiring day felt awesome. I thought I’d missed the boat but instead the guys helped me join the send train.

James Turnbull climbing Narcissus at Froggat Edge James Turnbull climbing Narcissus at Froggat Edge

Nailed it! Thanks to Graham Woollven for the photos

As they say “you get by with a little helps from your friends”. Thanks so much boys. Here’s to the next Grit Pad Party!

James Turnbull climbing Narcissus at Froggat Edge

Erm...how do I get down?

By James Turnbull

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James Turnbull
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