I have been actively striving to volunteer weekly for the past three years (except during my travel stint as I was simply moving around too much). I decided to start tracking my volunteer work on the Wasatchgirl site, but occasionally update the Cragbaby if my weekly volunteer work is climbing or traveling related, or if it is an organization I have recently covered on the Wasatchgirl.
During the week of July 17, I volunteered with the University Venture Fund and also, thanks to my friend Pang who was visiting, donated platelets at Utah Blood while Pang donated whole blood.
I have written about Utah Blood many times, but wanted to remind people to donate. Utah Blood sees a decrease in donations during the month of July due to the dual Utah holidays, yet there are still people in need. They are currently experiencing a 33% increase in demand.
You can stay abreast of Utah Blood’s needs by visiting their site, subscribing to their Blood Blog, joining their Facebook page or following their twitter stream. To make an appointment at their Research Park or Murray location, call 801-584-5272.
A couple other highlights I would like to include from the England portion of my trip.
I was so incredibly excited to catch up with my friends Simon and James while in London. I had met these two boys in China in 2005 and had not seen them since. Simon graciously came and picked me up from my hostel, took me to James’s house, and cooked James and I a great stir-fry accompanied by Asian beer (how thoughtful!). We sat and reminiscenced about our time in China, then Si gave me the printed out directions to my next destination, and they both dropped me off at the bus stop. What incredible friends! It honestly was one of the top moments of my 10 month trip….
But even better was the fact that Si got us lost in London on the way to James’s house. =) You have to understand that Si was the one who kept J and I in order while in China. He always knew the itinerary, always knew where we were going. I must admit that this moment was fabulous. Oh Si… I adore you.
Ha ha… and I must share one of the rain videos. Ah, the “perfect gritstone weather”.
I felt extremely fortunate to be able to swing through England at the end of my trip. Not only were there numerous excellent problems, but the grit ended up being my favorite rock type. (I want to add in another thank you to my friend, Steve, who was my tour guide plus a huge contributor to this post.)
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit is when the temperatures are in the 50 – 60 Fahrenheit range, with the ideal visitation months being November and March. April and early May can also be good (though perhaps starting to get warm) with longer days and usually a better bet (in terms of daylight and rain) if wanting to do routes and boulders. Definitely note that England houses gritstone and limestone, with the grit being incredibly temperature dependent.
Length of Stay
There is definitely enough bouldering to keep a visitor happy for 3 – 4 weeks. However, it rains quite a bit and there is a possibility that you can get completely rained out on your trip.
How to Get There
If flying, the best airport to fly into would be Manchester as it’s only an hour-ish drive to Leeds or Sheffield. For Americans, it is usually cheaper to fly into London, with a drive of approximately 180 miles from London to Leeds.
A car is a definite necessity and can be booked as either part of a flight package or individually through an airport or in any main city.
For getting to the crags you definitely will need a guidebook and a map! And I would even dare say, a local tour guide.
I ended up with two different guidebooks (thank you, Steve, for giving them to me plus marking all the problems we did!), one covering the Peak district and one for the Yorkshire area.
‘Peak District Bouldering’ by Rupert Davies and Jon Barton (2005). Brilliant guide, beautiful layout, and really well put together.
‘Yorkshire Gritsone Bouldering’ by Steve Dunning and Ryan Plews, (2008). This is the most recent guide, though I have heard it excludes a handful of the classic problems (in particular at Caley).
If sans guide, definitely check out Yorkshire Grit as it is a free site with all the main crags and problems, maps, topos, directions, and forums for users to comment on beta, grades, etc.
I really, really enjoyed the problems in England. Every cliff we visited was fabulous with my favorites being Caley, Almscliffe, The Plantation, and Cratcliffe. Ha ha… well, that is almost every crag we visited. =) Some of my absolute favorite climbs were the following:
Matterhorn Arete (v0 – v1) – highball warmup that is fabulous. Definitely bring pads “just in case”.
Jerry’s Traverse (v8) – Seriously fabulous line… unfortunately I needed more time to work it, therefore not getting the send yet.
Green Traverse (v6) – must do!
Dope on a Slope (v7) – This is the Green Traverse extension and I think is actually a bit better than the Green Traverse as it lengthens the goodness.
Captain Hook (v8) – Good problem.. that I could not finish. Ha ha! =)
Flying Arete (v3?) – Aesthetic line that climbed as great as it looked.
The Horn Direct (v4) – One of the classics of Caley.
The Horn LH Arete (v7) – I LOVED this problem, and definitely claim it as one of my top 3 favorites over the whole road trip.
The Weedkiller Traverse (v7) – Cool limestone traverse, with a throw at the end.
Pine Tree Arete (v5) – Yet another great traverse.
Flapjack Traverse (v7) – Tricky little line that liked to repeatedly toss me off. =)
The whole crag of Caley – everything I hopped on at Caley was fab. I didn’t like the boulders near the road as much due to the noise, but the more hidden boulders were fabulous. But now that I think about it… I really can’t think of a problem I DIDN’T like in all of England … nope, I can’t think of one.
Camping / Accommodations
I was staying with a friend, so am not knowledgeable in this area. However, my friend, Steve, mentioned that there are some camp sites in the Peak and Yorkshire areas, plus there are Youth Hostels, and Bed and Breakfasts.
I’m sorry but I can’t comment on this as I was staying at a friend’s house.
Food / Drink
There are a handful of great pubs and restaurants. My number one suggestion is near Sheffield and is called Strines. I mention this place solely because it has the oddest collection of stuffed animals for decor. The food is good, but not nearly comparable to the excellence of the setting.
A visitor really must stop at a Chippy. How in the world can you visit England without going for Chips? In my case, I think I went at least 3 times. =) Ask them to wrap it up as a cone…
Lastly, I hear a curry is tradition after climbing, yet somehow missed out on this opportunity.
Taking self portraits in one of the local pubs.
Rest Day Activities
While resting or waiting out the rain, definitely check out Leeds (the theater there is great), take the train into London (but definitely buy tickets in advance), or enter the Huddersfield cork shooting contest. =)
Steve and I seriously had to stop playing this game because it was getting downright competitive, plus Steve liked to cheat. What the…??
The rain was a bit demoralizing, and supposedly it wasn’t even that bad when I was there. Often the drive time to the crag was 40 – 60m, meaning a high likelihood of different weather upon arriving (usually for the worst). To navigate the weather, use the below links / webcams.
Certain areas, The Plantation and Almscliffe, dry quickly while north facing crags such as Caley do not and stay green after the rain. Caley, though, is a better option on warm days.
The links above provide insight, but aren’t perfect considering the weather is very localized. Unless it is absolutely pouring, it’s always worth a try to get out, especially in the Peak since it can be raining at Stanage and dry at Cratcliffe.
If you do get rained out, there are a couple of climbing walls that are very good.
Outside – near the Peak district in Hathersage. Let me just add to check prices before purchasing (reference the below picture).
I stopped in Outside to buy some tape to wrap my sprained ankle. It was my last day of climbing and I probably could have gotten away without tape. Regardless I stopped, got the tape, and handed over the money requested. I then realized the price was 10 pounds…. the equivalent of $15, 70 Freddos, 4 pints of beer, 10 meals from Tesco, or 1/3 of a cost of a London hostel. Ha ha! I would suggest bringing your own tape or stopping by Off the Wall. I had to take a picture of the most expensive tape I had ever purchased, though admittedly it was good tape.
The Best Part
One of the very best parts of England….. was…… the ‘Bouldering on Yorkshire Gritstone’ by Steve Rhodes, (1993). It was the first real guide to bouldering in Yorkshire and came out as part of the bouldering boom of the early 90’s when all of the major English crags were developed. Rather than giving classic problems stars, Rhodes rated the classic climbs by beds: 1 bed meant a good climb worth getting out of bed to attempt and 2 beds meaning it was such a classic that it was worth getting out of someone else’s bed to climb. Hilarious! =)
It is unfortunate (seriously unfortunate!) that this book is now out of print.
If wanting further information, the below links can most likely answer your questions.
Yorkshire Grit – Excellent site that features all the main crags and lists all the best probs, has topos too…
UK Bouldering – Simple forum-based site that I hear is good for getting trip info, problem beta, climbing partners, etc., and tends to get some very knowledgeable, helpful, and hardcore people as users.
UK Climbing – Commercial site that provides trip beta and pretty extensive forums.
The BMC – The British Mountaineering Council might be a useful site for additional crag information.
Have you climbed in England before and have additional beta? If so, please leave a comment.
One of the last blog comments on the Please Help a Climber in Need post inquired about a medical update on Tacos. I emailed two of Tacos’s friends who would be best in the know, but unfortunately they have heard very little (most likely due to Tacos’s inability to check emails without help).
The only update is Tacos has flown back to Japan (her flight was on July 7) and was taken to a Tokyo hospital. There is a chance she might be transferred to a hospital in Osaka soon. When I spoke with her (about a week and a half ago) her medical condition was the same with feeling in her toes but the inability to use her hands. She was real cheerful and thanked everyone for the support.
As mentioned in the previous post, her insurance has kicked in now that she is in Japan, but the cost of her flight home was not covered. If interested in chipping in, you can do so below with all proceeds going directly to her paypal account.
Thanks for your support. It is great to see the climbing community pulling together for one of its fellow climbers.
Water for Elephants is a novel about a traveling circus during The Great Depression that incorporates a handful of rumored-to-be-true stories Gruen unearthed in her research.
My Review: Two Thumbs Up
The book seems to be either loved or hated in the review forums I have visited. I personally loved it, finding it to be an enjoyable book I couldn’t put down. Disapproval of the book is usually based around two points: the discussion of ill treatment of humans and animals and the inclusion of some sexuality. As a novel (and not knowing any of the facts Gruen had discovered in her research), I found it to be well written, jumping back and forth between the main character’s life memories. I would highly suggest it.
Have your read this book? If so, please feel free to post up your review.
I met Tacos Satoko in Rocktown as she was one of the few climbers camping at the Sawmill Campground. We climbed together on two days and she spent a handful of evenings hanging out around the camp fire.
Tacos, a very kind, quiet girl, was planning on traveling for a bit through the US prior to heading back up to Canada, where she had been working. But this past week, en route to Alberta, she was in a horrible car accident, resulting in a broken neck. She was flown to Casper Medical Center in Wyoming where she underwent surgery for the broken neck, but currently has little movement from the shoulders down. She has regained some feeling in her toes and fingers and her breathing has become easier over the last few days. She has also gotten help to sit in a chair for a few minutes per day and is remaining positive that she will recover and be able to rock climb again in the future.
Her home is in Japan and though she has health insurance, it does not cover the cost to fly her home. In her current situation she will need help covering the cost of the 3 first class flights (necessary due to the 2 caregivers who must accompany her) plus the wages and expenses for these caregivers. Also, her insurance does not cover physiotherapy, which if not started soon can impact her chance of full recovery.
The exact cost is unknown at this time, but it is estimated that she will need approximately $10,000. Please consider helping out a fellow climber and making a donation to the cause.
To donate, click on the “ChipIn” button above. All donations are directly deposited to her paypal account.
It would also be great if any of you readers could help spread the word. If you are a blogger and want to add this widget to your blog, there is a copy button on the widget or feel free to email me at wasatchgirl at gmail.com for the appropriate code.
Life has been rocky as of late, but often that means I need to simply break the tunnel vision, allowing myself to see all the many great things in life. On my road trip I had a handful of people who were truly fabulous friends, so thought today I would give an online thanks to show my appreciation for these people.
Rob (also referenced as Shaft)
Rob is one of my dearest friends and helped me out a bunch while on this trip. Not only was he always supportive and encouraged my decision to travel, he was kind enough to store some of my belongings, gathered my mail, and provided me a place to crash whenever I stopped back in SLC. He was always there to drop or pick me up from the airport and would give me advice when car troubles arose. I truly don’t know what I would do without him in my life.
Enjoying martinis at the Red Door.
Melissa (also referenced as Lil Chicka)
I met my friend Melissa right before my road trip and she became one of my dearest friends while traveling. Sometimes life on the road can be rough …. I know that sounds silly, but sometimes it truly can get bumpy. It was nice to have a friend who understood “road living life” and who always had a store of advice when needed. She seemed to always have the ability to pull my perspective back around and realize my fortunate way of life. Now that I am home, she is such a fabulous climbing partner with amazing stick clipping abilities. =)
I didn’t know Guillaume when I rolled into Fontainebleau, yet he still opened up his home to me for 3 weeks. It was such a kind gesture and he quickly became a good friend and an excellent bouldering partner. He even introduced me to the movie “Out of Africa” and would sing countless rounds of “Girl from Ipanema”. I really can’t think of how my time in Fontainebleau could have been any better, thanks to Guillaume.
Showing me how to operate the grocery carts in France.
I met Ed days before my trip, but he became a friend during my travels, sending me pics of his latest adventures and giving me advice on injuries. When I wanted to head overseas for 6 weeks he generously offered to watch my little pup. He was only supposed to watch her for 3 of the weeks, but asked to keep her the entire 6 weeks. He then took her to the vet when necessary and continually sent me pictures and movies to let me know my little one was well. CB is of the utmost importance to me, and having someone be so kind to her while I was away was so incredibly nice.
I don’t have a pic of Ed, but this is one of the pics he sent me while I was away. His dog Cleo and CB became good friends.
Steve (also known as the King of Caley)
I met Steve in Bishop, where we had a lot of time to get to know one another due to our concurrent injuries. When he learned I had booked my ticket to Europe, he offered to show me around the grit stone if I wanted to swing through England. I, of course, took him up on the offer and had two splendid weeks in England visiting the Yorkshire and Peak crags. Not only is Steve a fellow climber and extremely witty, but he truly is the only person I have ever met who can fully understand my family situation. Our family situations are so similar we can honestly complete each other’s sentences. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have someone understand me in this area. On top of all that, he won the Twitter climber pickup contest with the line, “Do you mind spotting me as I am about to fall for you.” Classic! =)
This is one of the few “smiles” he let slip by on camera. =)
I met Pang on my very last days in Bishop, which were also my last days of the US portion of my trip. He became a great sounding board, listening and giving me good advice about a wide range of subjects. He continues to be a dear friend and is kind enough to be my continual grammar pro, reviewing my resumes, cover letters and blog posts. Plus, he is one of my favorite Scrabble partners, though I am pretty sure he lets me win just to keep me smiling … =)
Pang letting me win at yet another Scrabble match in the Tetons.