Volume 47 Number 1 Article 5
1/2 Aug 2009
Apparently the Nobel Institute has been considering creating a new award for communication. Front runners were George W Bush and his close friend Osama bin Laden, but Helen Blyth and I were going to give these boys a solid run for their money.
Helen and I had been planning this weekend for quite some time. Correction, this weekend had been in our diaries for quite some time. Doing a route on Dow Crag was to be combined with a dive in Wast Water. As the weekend approached the sequence of events was rejigged (note my careful avoidance of any word including the root “plan”) in the light of heavy rain on the Saturday morning. Emails flurried back and forth, Ian and Liz were consulted and accommodation arranged. The dialogue was seemingly endless. I felt that the ruthlessly efficient machine that had become the Helen/Peter climbing/diving team was firing on all cylinders.
Sitting in the kitchen at the Farm on the Saturday morning, drinking my second cup of tea, having breakfasted I casually turned the conversation to the bottles I felt sure Helen had brought. Helen’s face fell.
“I told you Beardy had taken everything to Spain”, she said.
I remembered that she had in fact done so, possibly more than once.
I thought of how easily I could have slung any number of my other bottles into the back of my car. I had even considered doing so. There they were, eager as bundle of puppies – puppies pumped to 270bar that is.
I thought how easily I could have replied to Helen’s email with an explicit question: “What gear would you like me to bring for you?”
I thought how easily Helen could have said “Beardy has taken everything and here is a list of items I need to borrow.”
I thought “F*ck”.
There followed some musings as to how men and women communicate. Helen and I both had instances with our respective other halves highlighting the benefits of mind reading when men and women attempt to communicate.
Desperately we clutched at straws seeking to source some bottles without resorting to driving back to Oxford to collect them. We eventually determined that we could rent a couple of bottles from Balders, Northern Section member, who runs a dive shop in Clitheroe.
A long drive, exacerbated by painfully slow drivers on windy Lakeland roads, which spectacularly failed to bring out my kind and caring side eventually saw us arrive at Wast Water early afternoon. By 2pm we were ready to get in. Having consulted various folks I thought I was in the right spot to dive the Pinnacles. I was expecting an obvious dive line to lead to a wall and envisaged a sheer wall dropping off to murky, exciting depths, perhaps some spectacular rock formations. Instead, we had gently downward sloping mud. …. That carried on and on and on. About 9 minutes into the dive and at 20 m depth I decided this wasn’t working and turned the dive.
Helen, not having much experience in drysuit diving now needed to be in front of me so I could arrest a buoyant ascent should one occur. However I had the compass and the featureless terrain definitely needed one to navigate back to our entry point. At various points Helen stopped, much to my confusion. Later she explained that she was having problems dumping air from her drysuit.
Eventually we made it back to the surface, and happened to see a bunch of divers getting in to the water 100 m up from our entry point, so we surface swam over. Here Helen was having problems dumping air from her suit, so couldn’t get down, so we reluctantly agreed that she would get out and I would dive. A 45 minute dive following 2 lines persuaded me that Wast Water was not the exciting dive site I had hoped it would be.
Struggling back to the car with my twin 15 ltr tanks and side slung deco bottle I hadn’t needed as I had only reached the princely depth of 36 m I desparately needed to get the back of my car open so I could get the tanks off my back. Helen was nowhere to be seen, so I started yelling louder and louder, and was soon rewarded.
At Liz and Ian’s that night Dinny cooked an excellent spaghetti.
Sunday’s events ran smoother. Caffuffles included Liz warning me not to go via Ambleside, then me blindly following my sat nav towards Ambleside until Helen pointed out the error of my ways, and Helen and I managing to get the ropes in a tangle on a number of occasions. The rain stayed off apart from a few spatters and both Helen and I enjoyed the climbing. At one point I had a weak moment when I went off route and tried climbing a bit that was definitely a higher grade than diff. A finger crack led to a ledge which I would have got up if there’d been something to grab on to, but instead I had to reverse the move under extremis. This was probably the closest I’ve ever come to a real fall when leading. Fortunately looking around the corner the way on was obvious, but I brought Helen up to have a rest and get my head together again.
Many thanks to Helen for great weekend. Thanks to Dinny for the generous portion of spaghetti and thanks to Liz and Ian for their hospitality. As for the Nobel prize for communication, we shall just have to see what the Nobel Institute decide. Watch this space!