It's the question that all of us dread: 'so have you been getting out much?'
In fact, not all climbers dread this question, just the ones who feel like that haven't been getting out to the crag quite as much as they should have.
Luckily for those of us who fall into this category, there's a means tested, internationally accepted, three-part response. You begin by making an excuse - preferably something to do with shoulder, arm, or elbow pain from a climbing related injury (you were probably doing something super impressive); next you hedge the question a bit by mentioning the last time you got out, where it was, what the weather was like; finally you conclude by making some vague assertions about your future climbing plans, you're hoping to get out this weekend to somewhere really wild and gnarly, or something along those lines…
Not all crag days are a roaring success... Customer Service Hero Rowan on a rainy crag Wednesday back in June
The truth is that none of us get out climbing as much as we think we should: life has a habit of getting in the way. But every blue moon a miracle occurs: you get some free time, the weather is good, and a cragweek is born.
'What's a cragweek?!' you cry. A cragweek is, quite simply, a week where you go to the crag every day. It doesn't have to be organised, nor does it have to be a challenge conceived over a beer at the pub (as these things often are); in fact, it's possible that the most glorious of cragweeks creep up on you without your noticing.
The first rule of cragweek is you don't talk about cragweek. Only joking, there are no rules: you don't have to be top athlete, you don't even need any friends (although it's way more enjoyable with company), and you don't have to take time off work - that's what evenings are for right?
Gabe and George had their sights set on Moonwalk (E4 6a) at Curbar. An early start accorded them a few hours of headpointing, and after a scary whipper (even for those of us watching) Gabe had led his second ever E4. In the late afternoon sun, we made our way over to Burbage North to meet Rowan. I managed my first HVS (as a very recent trad recruit, I was pretty made up), and many peanut butter and banana pancakes were consumed: overall, a successful day at the crag.
An important decision: Garment Technologist Gabe selecting some gear before reaching the crux on Moonwalk (E4 6a), Curbar
What did we learn from cragweek? What did it change about our understanding of our sport?
Nothing really (maybe something about not leaving your midge spray in the car...), but therein lies the joy of cragweek. We tradded, sport climbed, and bouldered on grit, limestone, and slate. We visited wild places, roadside crags, and high traffic spots, and we did it every day of the week.
Are we any more deserving of the name 'climber' than we were the week before? Are we any stronger? Absolutely not! It was almost completely pointless: we spent a week eating petrol station pasties for dinner; neglecting our laundry, relatives, (anything that wasn't climbing), and generally feeling pretty knackered, all in the name of sheer enjoyment, getting outside, and cragging. Adventure for adventure's sake, and I can't think of any reason better than that.