Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Making of Heros

Late in January TheSurlyGent came to me with a proposition - ABSEILING!

I'd never done abseiling before, but, in for a penny, in for a pound I agreed, and a quick Groupon later his wife had located, and treated me to, an abseiling taster with Large Outdoors.

We loaded into his Gentmobile and headed off to Teggs Nose.

Teggs nose is an area of the Peaks thats I've not explored much - its out towards Macclesfield, and, beyond the path from Shuttingslow to Macclesfield Forest I've not really explored much that way.  Its a bit too civilised for my taste, but does have some very interesting (if sanitised) abandoned quarrying equipment.

Something else it has is an abandoned quarry fitted up for abseiling, which is very handy.

The weather that day was cold-ish, but dry, with snow on the ground and the air was as clear as gin.

On the walk up to the Abseiling spot we were treated to a wonderful vista of the snowy peaks deliniated all round by the bare, grassy lower ground.

After a few minutes walk up Teggs Nose we arrived at the abseilling point overlooking a small quarry.  The edge of the quarry had been supplemented with a lethal-looking ice encrusted concrete slab and two rails to hook onto.  The rails, although concreted in flexed visibly when force was applied to them (not by much, but enough...).  As the Gent and myself are both on the mighty side of 15 stone (and some of us are a bit closer to 20 than 15...) I was fairly confident that one of us would end their days on the rocks below before much longer.

The group consisted of about 3 instructors and eight victims, so there was ample opportunity to check on proceedings.  When our turn came the Gent went first.  I was careful to remove his camera and car keys (just in case...I didnt fancy getting standed on Teggs Nose...) before he took the leap.

 I should'nt have worried - the rail didn't break, the ropes were sound, no-one slipped to their death from the icy concrete edge and the Gent alighted from the platform with aplomb and hero'd his way down the quarryside.
 In my defence he has done abseiling before, but he did make it look easy.  The Gent may be Surly but he does tend to bring a level of fluidity and grace to this sort of thing that I can't match...
 Then it was my turn.  I'm not graceful.  I don't really trust ropes.  I don't really trust little bits of bent aluminium.  I'm not monstrously fond of heights....

Still, once I'd scramled onto the edge, positioned my feet on the ledge just below the dropoff, leaned back into a sitting position (over 60 feet-ish of screaming death) it all went very smoothly.  Second time around, when I trusted the rope a bit more, and was feeling a little more devil-may-care I actually started to lean back into the harness, and of course this is what is actually required.

As I found out if you don't lean back you cannot use your feet and end up grinding yourself across the rockface.

This is actually something I'd like to try with my Vibram FiveFingers, as I suspect they would be awesome for feeling the crenellations of the rockface.

Finally - back on Terra Firma
And here you can see the tiny, pathetic, terrifying drop in all its absurdity!

Gloves next time!

After all the excitement we took a wander down to Teggs Nose Reservoir, and indulged in a little light woodcraft.

In the spring I'm hoping to have a crack at climbing on The Roaches, so abseiling will definitely something I'll be coming back to!

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