Stanage is arguably one of the largest and most hectic trips of the year, kicking off the start of term with a bang, and throwing freshers in at the deep end with a weekend packed full of climbing rocks and wrestling for socks! This year marked the return of our club trips since COVID shut us down, and the anticipation couldn’t have been higher! Living up to true traditions, we had multiple climbers incapable of putting their harness on on Sunday morning due to the night before (no shaming I promise), and several others attacking their first E grades on top rope…    safe to say with limited success!

Saturday set the standard with a busy day of climbing, an early start and a late finish. The weather held true to its reputation – foggy and cold. But that didn’t dampen club psyche! Matt couldn’t have been more psyched about setting up escapable systems, announcing every time he did some spicy ropework. Teddy and Alex entertained their freshers with exciting routes and speedy set ups, whilst Nat maybe entertained her group for other reasons that shall not be named. Everyone seemed to keep the psyche high, with Old Gits returning to scope out how the club’s been keeping, andmeet the fresh faces.

After enough climbing and a gang of tired Stoats, everyone returned to the hut in good spirits, hungry for a feast of Ming – the club’s gourmet meal! It was cooked by various Stoatsfrantically chopping, whilst in the lounge gear was being sorted left, right and centre. Rumour has it, it was the best bolognese anyone’s ever tasted! That’s definitely just a rumour though. Mountains of cheese and many second helpings later, the social secs of stoat history disappeared to concoct the infamous club cocktail – MEANIE! They excitedly dragged the bin into the lounge with the secret ingredient close by, and a catastrophic trail of bottles behind them. The ingredient this year was carefully selected so it definitely wouldn’t curdle *shout out to James and Katie <3*. This year another new element was added to the meanie – a bottle of glow sticks to illuminate the beautiful brown beverage! Howe guarded the meanie stick for perhaps the entirety of the night, his other hand holding what can only be described as a plumbers U Bend – not sure anything needs to be said to expand on that. Traditions were only slightly altered, with freshers being saved from a dunking in the Meanie bin. You should thank your lucky souls! Stoats were still heavily bombarded with pennies though no doubt, several freshers instantly regretting their decisions to select Tupperware pots as their vessels. Silly Fresh.

Several empty vessels later, the tables and chairs were cleared with Old Gits chomping at the bit to sling harnesses onto the beams and start sock wrestling. Each winner claimed their victory clutching a sweaty sock and swinging around with the pride that their opponent was defeated. Unfortunately this year Ed was the chosen fresher to sustain an impressive black eye, a certain ginger climber being the culprit. After a comprehensive and expert medical assessment by Tom and Nat, Ed was sent off with a smiling face and a thirst for more Meanie.

After enough penny throwing and pulling down drunken stoats from trying to sock wrestle, the presidents of current and past commenced “Commander Says”. An entire room of Stoats following orders, what more could the presidents want! The night ended with the highest stamina Stoats echoing through the hut singing Sweet Caroline. Others feeling a little worse for wear in either their beds, the bin or the toilet. Merit to those who cleverly chose to have a quiet night so they could climb without retching the next day!

Sunday morning started as it always does – slowly. Psyche was significantly lower than the morning before, but nonetheless we had many Stoats attacking climbs the whole day! After a heavy clean-up operation from the entire team (thank you all), we raced off to the crag to fall up some routes. Some Stoats went for a walk, some a sunbathe and a nap, the rest up the wall. Arthur and gang courageously faced their first E1, whilst others looked on in horror. And many a top rope set up later, everyone sat down for lunch to regain energy. The afternoon ended with courageous climbers pushing their boundaries and challenging themselves, finishing the day tired and satisfied. The fortunate ones of us earned a trip to Maccies on the way home, and I presume slept very well.

The weekend was a success, adding to the history of Stoats going on tour. Undoubtedly we will return to Stanage, certainly with the same psyche and potentially less hungover. No promises!