The Second Ascent.
It was late September 1989 on a bright Sunday morning and a good day to go climbing that I met Mac at his house. He was more excited than usual " Paul Ross and Peter Greenwood [and another] have just put up a new route with Chris Bonnington on Gowder (crag). Let's go and do the second ascent". Sounded good to me. " It's called Last of the Summer Wine." I wonder why?
Nice to hear Pete Greenwood's name on a first ascent; he was one of the best rock climbers of the nineteen fifties era with many amazing exploits, Mac regarded him very highly, and Peter, long time retired, had recently moved to Keswick.
A Strange Man is Watching Us.
Graded E1 5b, the crux of the climb lies on its second pitch the rest of the climb being really good but not difficult. We both noticed a strange person in the Ladore car park way below us; he was looking up and watching our progress.
"It's Paul Ross" exclaimed Mac "And he's got a pair of binoculars". I could hardly believe my eyes as we climbed to the belay just below the crux, the binoculars following every move. " Hasn't got any of his mates with him" remarked Mac. Paul was certainly alone as I expect Bonnington and the others had better things to do on a Sunday morning.
"Did you tell Rossy that we were coming here today?" I asked, but of course Mac would have told everyone in the valley of our intentions. Especially Paul Ross!
The Crux of the Climb.
"Don't wave at him just pretend we havn't seen him" asked Mac as I belayed him up to the block below the bulge. The only protection seemed to be for a runner in a crack a few feet to the right of the bulging wall where Mac managed with difficulty to use a Friend (a thing to stick into cracks for protection - you hope!) with a sling in the crack.
The bulge was the crux of the climb. Traversing left again to below the bulge he then made a committing move over it and reached up boldly onto some good hand holds. A very nice 5b pitch I thought when it was my turn.
Nothing Less than Hard VS today Lads.
Finishing the pitch we looked down to the car park and waved at Paul but I don't think he saw us as he had already put his binoculars away and headed off presumably to the pub. We both puzzled at his strange behaviour. Why was Paul Ross watching us with binoculars?
Those who don't know, must realize that there had always been friendly rivalry between Mac and Paul Ross dating back to the Fifties when I was in Pauls "gang" (occasionally in his Lamplighters folk group and as his driver to the crags) and I only remember Mac as the fair haired climber in the Lake Road Vaults who's favourite expression was "Nothing Less than Hard VS today Lads".
The term: a love- hate relationship springs to mind.
All is Revealed.
They just liked to wind each other up. So I wasn't that surprised when the next time I saw Mac he told me that Paul had been saying how we had cheated by climbing around the crux of Summer Wine. Why? I think you can quess what had happened!
If you can't - I imagine Paul saw Mac struggling to put a runner in the crack on the left of the crux - assumed we were climbing the crack to miss the bulge - satisfied, he put his binoculars away - and off to the pub to tell the lads. Just "handbag stuff" as they say in football commentaries.
Joe Bosher (74th).