Best of 2022 (Read 19909 times)


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#50 Re: Best of 2022
December 30, 2022, 08:45:21 pm
I don't do enough climbing to fit into the categories so...

Best trips/days out/whatever

Bouldering in Joshua Tree

Started the day off by getting stressed about pad rentals on the drive over from Palm Springs, the outdoor company I thought I could hire from was closed - but I had nothing to fear - there is a crash pad vending machine!

I had a great day out, totally destroyed my forearms on Gunsmoke traverse (V2, but actually french 7aish). The worst possible warmup. Hopped around some other easy classics, and drove a few miles down a dirt track in the middle of the desert to fail to climb Slashface (V4) - It's 10m high and I was alone, with a single pad and no phone signal so thats probably for the best.


I’ve not really done much trad climbing since 2014, but this year I had a couple of days ticking off classics as some ”Norway training”.

Highlight was climbing Billy Whizz, what an amazing route, having been aware of it pretty much since I started climbing was brilliant to do something on the back of the pool wall. Surprisingly pumpy given most of it is a slab.

Also ticked off Great Peter, Plexity, Dexterity, Lyon’s Corner House, Regent Street, The Mall and a few others, some repeats but just brilliant fun getting back into trad climbing, gaining confidence, and wondering why I’d never worn jamming gloves before?!


I got some raised eyebrows when I told our antenatal group I’d miss the 2 hour session on breastfeeding so I could go rock-climbing in Norway one month before our babies due date. I have to thank a very understanding wife, and even more understanding Norwegian weather gods for making it successful.

We had 8 days of climbing, it was a heatwave in the arctic circle and by the end of it I was totally sated. Highlight was climbing Vestpillaren Direct. Presten gets all the sun going and it was 28º so we started at around 10pm (I think). Pitch after pitch of perfect granite, with no queueing and an awesome walk off  - all by the midnight sun. We were back a few days later for Heaven Can Wait, not quite as good but with some amazing pitches - the last 4 to the top of the wall are sensational.


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#51 Re: Best of 2022
December 30, 2022, 08:54:02 pm

Some bastard took a shit on us on Point Five Gully.

If it’s any consolation I just pissed myself laughing.  And it still made it into your top five routes of the year!  :lol:


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#52 Re: Best of 2022
December 30, 2022, 09:07:59 pm
Lofoten visitors: how did you get there? I've looked into going but couldn't work out the most up to date logistics around flight routes etc.

ian dunn

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#53 Re: Best of 2022
December 30, 2022, 09:09:45 pm
Getting close to my long term project but being denied by it getting wet in early October and it not drying out, learnt lots in the process.

Had a great season in Gordale doing Cave route right probably the best 7b+ in the UK, 35 years after first doing it as a trad route!

 Also Dog Point 7c and Right Con 7c brilliant routes with great company.

And abroad doing a superb 4 pitch multi-pitch with Adi Woods in Arco Nemesis, Adi’s first multi-pitch sport route and a brilliant afternoon out.

And last of all passing my Performance Coach Award


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#54 Re: Best of 2022
December 30, 2022, 09:25:26 pm
Lofoten visitors: how did you get there? I've looked into going but couldn't work out the most up to date logistics around flight routes etc.

We flew into Tromso and drove down (6 hours), with the idea being we could visit Stetind "on the way". Didn't happen like that in the end.

If going again I would look at flying into Evenes (2.5 hours to Henningsvær) or even Svolvær (30 mins to Henningsvær)


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#55 Re: Best of 2022
December 30, 2022, 09:27:57 pm
Good to know. 6 hours is quite a drive, but it sounds like an incredible destination, so maybe that's worth it!


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#56 Re: Best of 2022
December 30, 2022, 09:53:58 pm
Here we go again. It's been another fun year squeezing climbing around family life. I've added Instagram links to some so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Best established boulder problems

Keystone Prow 6C, Loch Eribol
A lone problem on a lone block on the shore of a north coast sea loch. Great moves through a really obvious feature with the crux right at the end. I had a week off in September and after a bit of time at Sheigra drove up to check out this beauty. What I didn't know was that it's tidal and as I arrived the sea was just creeping under the crux. I worked out the moves but just didn't have time to rest enough to get it done before it had turned into a shallow water solo. Tides, weather and other plans took me elsewhere but I made the journey again at the end of the week and got it done. A 5 hour round trip for one problem. Is that the definition of madness?

Potential Seven 7B, Torridon
A long haul. I cant even remember when I first tried it but recall thinking it wouldn't take that long back. But it did. I tried various ways to do the crux last big throw and eventually settled on a way that I was very close to doing. With a couple of inches more reach I'd have done it years ago but I kept coming up short. Covid and other projects intervened but I worked on big moves and flexibility and when this season came around I was closer than ever, but still not enough. I could go from the start to the crux every time but then straight down to the pads. I'd never made the big move, even in isolation. By degrees I worked out slightly different foot positions until I found that a way I'd previously written off as too lanky was actually feasible and suddenly I could stick that big move. Then it was just a matter of rest and good conditions to make the link, but I was kept guessing till the last minute and the stars finally aligned on the last session of the year on the 28th of December. Phew.

Best new boulder problems

Am Bàta 7Bish, Torridon
Possibly as good as it'll ever get for me. Back in 2019 I stumbled upon this beautiful little ship's prow sticking out of the slope just beyond Torridon village: a truly aesthetic feature that screams out to be climbed and is probably as good a line as I've seen anywhere. It took a few sessions to clean and sort the landing and I did the stand start back then, but the full line has to be done from a sit. Of course, Covid lockdowns came along so I didn't get back for a while and it wasn't until January this year that it all came together. I really miss those sessions up there, overlooking Loch Torridon and over to Beinn Damph, eagles circling above me on Liathach, oystercatcher and gulls foraging on the loch shore. Magic.

True Gold Dance 7A+ish, Gold Dance Boulders, Strathconon
The king line of Easter Ross choss. A bit of a filler, but actually the most logical way up a proper feature. Back in 2018 I did the original problem Gold Dance which squeezes between the obvious arete and a crack and starts sitting in between them on a wee boulder. As soon as I did that I realised the true line was to start sitting on the ground to the right, directly beneath the arete, but it was a fair bit harder. Ted Collins came along and climbed the arete direct without the crack to give True Gold, but that's actually an eliminate (all be at a very aesthetic one) because it avoids the Gold Dance crack which is within reach. So one cold night in January I took out the lamps and managed to link Ted's start into Gold Dance to give the logical line.

The Missing Lynx 6C+ish, Aspen Terrace, Strathconon
Summer in the Highlands is often pretty shit for bouldering. It's warm and humid, there are midges and ticks and there is loads of tall, wet bracken crowding round the bottom of crags and boulders. Rather than get frustrated trying to climb its a good time of year to get out the cleaning kit and scrub new problems that will be in good nick in the autumn or winter when the midges, bracken and ticks have all fucked off. This was the best (so far) of a handful I unearthed from this cool wall, and the ascent itself was made all the more memorable by dragging my kids up there with me and making a real mini adventure out of it.

Best established trad routes

Ossuary E5 6b, Reiff in the Woods
I don't think I've ever had a day out like this one before, when from the outset both Murdoch and I agreed we'd be headpointing. I was keen to do this route of Ian Taylor's, having looked across the loch at it from the boulders for years. A crack up the middle of the face of a giant block, guarded by small roovesbelow - safe but a bit of spaced gear and hard enough to feel justified in trying on a rope first. And the view from the belay above, looking over to Stac Pollaidh, is pretty special. Suffice to say, Murdoch onsighted it years ago and was headpointing harder things that day.

The Crank VS 5a, Ramshaw
Back in my trad days I always shied away from cracks and jamming, always being tempted more towards delicate slabs and open faces. I always knew it was a weakness and a new route I wanted to try (see below) meant I was keen to change my ways. On a hot day in August my very patient (non-climbing) wife offered to give me a belay while down in Stafford with the in-laws and Ramshaw was the obvious place. I don't think I've ever tried so hard on a VS, but it was nice to see that the work I'd put into learning how to jam had paid off.

Best new trad route

Katie Morag E3 6b (ish), Camas an Leim, Shieldaig
Bonjoy tipped me off to this one, a short fierce crack through a roof into a groove on a small crag on a beautiful beach in one of my favourite parts of the world. I gave it a clean and checked it from a rope and realised it was very safe but had a pretty hard sequence turning the lip and getting established in the groove - particularly tricky as I've always been shit at jamming. I tried it by myself over a few sessions but found it almost impossible to work the section under the roof (need to improve my ropework skills) and eventually realised I just needed to come with a belayer and try it from the ground - easier said than done as I don't know many folk that would be willing to essentially give up a day just to belay me. In the mean time I built some cracks on my board and watched some Wideboyz videos. Andy E of this parish kindly came out one day and after a lob on the first attempt I got up it 2nd go. The things dreams are made of.

Great effort as usual on the continued Strathconon and Torridon developments ;D

I love the sound of the Keystone Prow, just my kind of thing. Massive journey to the middle of nowhere for a single line that might go if you get yer tide times right. Love it :2thumbsup:

Have a good new year and look forward to more Easter Ross Choss in 2023  :icon_beerchug:


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#57 Re: Best of 2022
December 30, 2022, 10:07:46 pm
. A 5 hour round trip for one problem. Is that the definition of madness?

I mean a UK based forum member had a project in Oregon, so I think you’re good 😄

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#58 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 10:10:14 am
make friends with some horses that come by

Not just any horses, Carneddau ponies!

Another glass raised to the greatness of Paul O'Grady, one of the best.


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#59 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 11:31:38 am
Top 5 boulder problems UK

Appliance Friction (Stanton) – One of those perfect grit slabs which require you to have faith and reasonable technique to get up. Topping out reminded me how fun climbing can be. I see it also quite rightly features in Grit Blocs due to its quality.

Seventy-Two (Cratcliffe) – Despite having been to Cratcliffe and RHS countless times over the years I had never looked at this block. After seeing the harder 74 in a Wedge video it gave me to the idea to seek it out. Did it on a nice spring afternoon where the end of the grit season felt near due to the warmth and it was satisfying having to dig in feeling a little tired and wobble over the top.

Only God Forgives (Pont Gethin) – This stands out as being one of the most interesting locations for a boulder problem that I have climbed. It looks terrifying from the guidebook photo looking like you fall into a white-water river if you come off. The reality is a lot more pleasant as the platform above the river is plenty big enough. The line is a rising traverse with just enough height at its top out to make you think and climb carefully. I climbed this on a very hot day in August where most of the day was spent paddling in the river and hiding from the sun. I also had a nice chat with some walkers whilst trying to find Parc Jwrasig.

Spiderpig (Craig Nant y Fedw) – Another warm day in Wales which was the reason for seeking this out as I knew it would be in the shade. I rarely manage to do tricky slabs so was pleased to work this one out. The block is in a beautiful and peaceful location with view across to Snowdonia and has a nice short walk in.

Ultimate Warrior (Cwm Pennant) – One of those problems I had wanted to do for years after seeing a video of Doyle’s a long time ago with various wads doing it and being attracted to how pure the line looked. Got to the crag a little apprehensive about the landing at first (solo mission) but managed to sort out the stand relatively quicky. I then took several hours to work out and do the sit start. This is a three star problem and it was a nice confidence boost to get it done.

Top spankings
Cash For Grades (Pont Gethin) – Excuses: it is a small hold/a long way/it was hot!


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#60 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 12:24:21 pm
This thread really is the best, so good to read.

I've butchered the categories a bit... and added some pics and vids too.

Top 3 Grit
- Three More Reps, Ilkley; I probably spent more time at Ilkley than anywhere else this year, and it was great to finally get on both this and Bernie the Bolt, having wondered for years how they climbed but never seeing anyone putting the time in. Both are fully deserving of classic status in my view but TMR is the better line and has such classy movement.
- George's Roof, Goldsborough Carr; enjoyed my first visits to Goldsborough this year. It's a stunning, out of the way venue, seemingly in the middle of nowhere and yet really quite accessible from Leeds (I went after work!). George's is maybe the best line there too, and it's just good fun smashing about between decent holds. Very close on the flash but had to settle for second go.
- Chariots of Fire Eliminate, Ilkley; another under the radar one! Something of a theme. Obviously not the best line etc. but a brilliant, involved sequence and truly sustained roof climbing on gritstone is such a rarity I'll take it. Satisfying to do on the same day as Calf Traverse and having previously injured myself on it by heel-hooking my finger :slap:

Top 5 Lime
- Under the Weather, Windy Knoll; I had roughly weekly sessions at Windy Knoll over late summer, enjoying the quiet shady climbing. Met some lovely people and managed to tick the crag, with this being the final one to go and hardest there. Kind of a shame that people seem to have spoilt the sequence by shuffling over to the right but the way I did it is a brilliant bit of compression climbing and up there in difficulty with plenty of other similar 7C+ problems.
- Sheep Shifter, Cave Dale; another nice little spot tucked away from the major venues, and a great sequence. Exactly what I want from limestone bouldering. Actually doing it was a great example of how weird climbing can be; first go I tried really hard, power screamed at least twice, fumbled a couple of holds and then fell off the last hard move. Next go it felt completely trivial.
- Young, Gifted and Black, Blackwell Dale; on the comeback from injury this was a nice marker in my ability to pull somewhat hard again. A good line on great rock (for UK lime).
- Midnight Caller, Earth Quarry; if only all mag lime was as good as this in terms of rock quality. Salvaged a day out having been to two different horribly condensed venues earlier with Droyd. Shame it is so well used by the local miscreants as well, as Earth Quarry is otherwise a pretty nice spot with great views, completely different to most Eastern Lime venues and quite a surprise.
- The Ramp, Biblins Cave; managed to sneak in a session whilst on a family holiday nearby. Really impressed with the whole venue, and was very pleased to soak up all the beta and psyche from a big group of Bristolian climbers and then despatch on the flash. Also preceeded coming down with covid for the rest of the week so was incredibly glad to have insisted on getting my session in when I did!

Top 5 Other
- Moria, Rhiw Goch; the best line at the crag, and part of a simply brilliant day (see below). Steep climbing on small holds in tight boxes is not my bag at all so I was really pleased to turn on some try hard and knock it off third go.
- Lucid Interval, Forest Rock; wife and daughter away for the weekend but things were looking wet everywhere. Decided spur of the moment to go to Forest Rock with the lamps on the Friday evening, on the back of a positive dryness report, and it paid off; rained the whole way there and most of the time I was climbing! So I was already winning before I managed to do this in a session. Steep compression climbing so it's my kind of thing but the holds get small at the top. Maybe the best line there? Keen for the sitter ASAP!
- The Burbs / Sherpa Tensing, Black Valley, Ireland; two simply perfect board style problems in a stunning place, on incredible rock, on a beautiful day.
- Nameless Arete, Ring of Kerry, Ireland; a simply perfect board style problem in a stunning place, on incredible rock. No I've not just accidentally copy/pasted...! A far less pleasant experience on this than The Burbs (see below spankings) but glad to have stuck it out just long enough!

- Extraction Terrestre, Rocher des Souris, Fontainebleau; having picked up a wrist injury bad enough to completely prevent me from even hanging from a fingerboard, just a week prior to going to Font, expectations were not high! However five straight days of (easy) climbing later I was walking in to 95.2 and spotted this off the path, as I have many times before, and finally decided to check it out. Classic Font compression problem.

Honourable mention to Marcel's Problem, Gap of Dunloe, Ireland. Not the most amazing movement, but probably the most picturesque problem I did this year.

Top 5 FAs
- The Golden Shot, Ilkley; I've already said loads on this. A great experience from start to finish, but particularly in my learning the value of trying something, going away and training specifically for it, and then getting it done quickly when you go back. I've always just banged my head against things in the past whilst training in a very general way, but I'm a complete convert to the specific approach now. Capped off a great year with lots of time spent at Ilkley, really cool to add something to the place, and it's just such good climbing!

- A Drop in the Ocean / The Ocean in a Drop, Derrylea, Ireland; one of those boulders I drove past on the way into the Black Valley and simply had to stop at. Turned out the great looking arete was unclimbed on either side! Both sequences turned out to be excellent, on superb rock.

- Blowing a Gale, Windy Knoll; nice to catch the final stage of development / excessive overconsumption here with this one, mainly so I could use the name! An obvious link (with some minor blinkers on) and good movement, taking in most of what makes Under the Weather so much fun.
- Fadhb ar Bith Direct, Derrylea, Ireland; and another boulder I couldn't drive past without stopping and climbing. One of those where it just took fresh eyes to find the solution to the arete, and the direct start added a quality extra big move to the stand.

Top Days Out
- North Wales weekend in March; oh man, it doesn't get any better. Full weekend away on my own. Low single figures air temps, warm sunshine, low humidity. Went to 3 different venues, saw old friends, climbed everything I tried including 5 problems 7A to 7B+. Then did it all again on the Sunday! Incredible stuff, so lucky.
- First day out in Ireland; my wife has family in Co. Kerry, and every time we've visited I've looked longingly at the climbing in the area without ever making the time to actually sample it. I was so excited to finally get the chance I almost crashed my car driving out! And then again eyeballing all the rock visible from the road into the Black Valley. Ended up getting to the area with The Burbs, where I'd intended to go, something like 3hrs later than planned, having stopped and climbed at two different areas on the way.
- Windy Knoll / Llyn Coedty; had the weekend to go away and climb. I wanted to meet some friends at Windy and finish off Under the Weather, and then head over to Wales to sample the Llyn Coedty boulder. I want certainly doesn't always get, but that day I just about managed to squeeze it over the line, doing Under the Weather on my third (and definitely last) go, having come off on the last move on my second. I then headed over to Wales and in the evening did the stand start to Aravius, which is a brilliant problem and would be on my 'other' list above if I'd managed the sit as well. Capped off by a relaxing evening wild camping on my lonesome, didn't see another soul for 24hrs, which sometimes is just how I like it.
- Ilkley with Turnbull, 36C, Louise and Footwork; that said, big team days are really flipping good as well and this was great fun, climbing, cheering, spotting, heckling, etc. I was very glad not to let the side down by doing Three More Reps on a definite last go best go.

Top Spankings
- Source of Secrets; spanked in every conceivable way on this. I literally punched myself in the face coming off it once. Close ish (two halves) first session in January but tweaked my hamstring while trying it. Back a bit later to find it condensed. Next time close again but picked up aforementioned wrist injury on it. Then back in September and couldn't even do the crux let alone link it! Seemingly impossible to find fully dry and a nightmare to do on your own (for my taste anyway). Frustrating given I'm just tall enough to do it, otherwise it'd be easy to write off. Will have to go back at some point.
- Bonjoy's grading; there's a point at which modesty can be taken too far!
- Jelly of the Beast; yet another often wet limestone roof. At least this one is close to the road and not particularly morpho. Dropped the last hard move a couple of times but could also never quite get the second half completely reliable, no matter how steady the crux move felt.
- Irish midges; holy shit they were bad! Doing the Nameless Arete mentioned above I ended up holding my portable fan in front of my face to blow them away between goes, resulting in a pile of dead midges beneath it as they flew in and were killed by the blades! After managing the arete I bailed to a different spot where they were even worse, and was so keen to run away I lost my footing and fell literally waist deep into a bog. Bad day to have left my midge hood at home.
- Everything at Tremeirchion; a crag seemingly dedicated to hard gastons / shouldery moves! Utterly spanked by everything. Keen to return having put a lot of time into my shoulder strength in the second half of 2022.


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#61 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 03:12:42 pm
Best sport climbing, domestic.

I wasn't sure I actually ticked any sport climbs in France this year, so I checked my scorecard.  That was how memorable the routes I did were. I did not climb a whole lot during spring, then it was 40 million degrees for half a year during which I was also out with covid for a spell, and then I spent three months trying a route I did not do. My project is good and challenging. What I will mostly remember from this year's sport climbing is the scenes at the crag; a small but very dedicated group of people trying various routes with good cheer. Some major breakthroughs as well, the first of the grade for some and the first ascent of the hardest route in the region for others.

Best sport climbing, abroad

We went to Kalymnos a bit too early in the season. The Sikati cave, which does not have that many route but was by far the best sector that we visited, was still damp — but could be climbed during windy sunny days when the outer layer dried. Of course, this risks pulling off holds and should likely be best avoided. I felt that as there were so many jugs everywhere a few would not go amiss. The best of the bunch was

Fun de Chichunne (8a). I saved this route until the end of the trip as it is was obvious that you cannot find a more onsight friendly eight in the western hemisphere. A pure fitness test in a roof. The route has to be close to 40 m long and is likely more than 45 degree overhanging. I had cracked a rib earlier in the trip and this was the first truly steep climb I did post injury, so aided by a mixture of paracetamol and ibuprofen and my friend who had climbed up to the crux to check if was dry enough to do while I was basking in the sun I could set off for something that I knew was challenging but feasible. I had to dig fairly deep though, skipping a clip on a particularly challenging section, i.e. a section where I did several moves in a row on holds that were just good but not enormous jugs. The moves came together really well and my friend who lives on the island and know the route well said that I did all the sections with good sequences. Obviously an enormous gift at the grade, but as a challenge it was the right level at the right day. After 45 minutes of shaking out on jugs I had to stop climbing for the day, and skipped doing any climbing on the next day, or last of the trip. Clearly harder than Aegelis and a bit harder than Zwaniful syndicate, also in the cave. Those two are mentioned because they are absolutely must dos.

Chicunne/chacun let's call the whole thing off.

Estratoférica (7c, but 7c+... surely?). We went to Siurana in December to learn how to crimp again after having spent the autumn desperately clinging on to tufas. I had to do dog the first two bolts of Estratoférica for warm-up since my other half was absolutely furious at not finding a sequence that fitted her size, so after having figured out four different sequences to choose from for the start boulder an onsight attempt was out of the question even for someone with as relaxed ethics as me. I found this challenging enough on the redpoint. Brilliant first half with power endurance on flat edges and an even more amazing easier second part on juggy pockets with a classic Siurana runout for the belay. Just great.

I also recommend the nearby El ploramiques (8a) which has some similar climbing but just a tiny bit harder. Why Memoria de una sepia is the popular 8a on the sector instead of El ploramiques is a bit of a mystery.

Best long route and best trad route

RACS (ED+ 7a+). The Astroman of the Pyrenees is a much storied route from the absolutely legend that is Jesús Gálvez, and is an amazing day out for anyone who has a bit of grade in hand. I have written extensively on this in another place, with a topo and pics and everything so here is a link

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#62 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 03:58:04 pm
Super minimalist list…
Top three boulder problems at home (France) are also the only problems I did this year;
Two easy unmemorables at Orlu, Ariege and what I thought was a direct (eliminate ) of Phantom Lord at Targassonne seems to have been accepted as a FA, Phantom Queen touted as 8A by the second ascentionist. So a bit of a YYFY.

Many spankings on many projects, culminating yesterday in maybe a bouldering first… I pulled of a flake which followed me to the ground in an explosion of dust and rock granules some of which I swallowed!

Aims for next year is to be more prolific, which should be easier to achieve.


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#63 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 04:52:20 pm
Great reading all the posts so far - thanks for the psyche everyone.

Top four boulder problems, UK

  • The Nadser (7b), Kyloe-in Northumberland. After spending quite a long time looking at the destruction from last year’s storms, I realised that this wall was completely dry - the first time I’d evver seen it that way. Techy, tick-tac moves, and well suited to the kind of challenge I was up for on the day.
  • The green chapel (7a), Stanton-in-the-Woods. It’s a hanging arete. I bloody love hanging aretes. Aretes are the best kind of feature, and if they’re hanging they’re even better. The end of an already long and tiring session, arms wilting, barely able to do the hard bit then when I did, I still had to do the scary bit! Fortuitously I didn’t have enough energy to panic, so with fatigue providing a false appearance of composure stood on the smears and topped out. A great end to a day full of banter and laughs.
  • Smiling moon (7a+), Froggatt. It astonishes me that JonBoy continues to find virgin features this nice. A really beautiful feature, even if it isn’t a hanging arete. Another one which I managed to grasp from the jaws of defeat when I was already exhausted and ready for home!

Top four (but kinda 40) trad routes

  • Quark / High Noon, (both E4/5 depending who you believe), Caley. Gone for a cheeky double entry, because I’m not really going to be able to choose between them (and it was on the same day!). High Noon - the best line on grit (did someone say HANGING ARETE?) Easy to hang underneath the crux, and easy to stand in balance above it, but moving between those two positions feels like you’re in a Johnny Dawes metaphor; made all the better that you can’t see the gear, evvevn though you know it isn’t that far away. Quark: less scary but harder, technical, slappy, climbing up another HANGING ARETE.
  • Cain (E4), Pordenack Point Cornwall. Booming seas, breezy sunny hard granite, steep with good holds, and unusually for Cornwall, not a sandbag. Magic.
  • Swordfish (E3), Stackpole Pembroke. Even though I seconded it, this was the highlight of a week in Pembroke spent with an old mate. Steep traversing then technical (and, somehow, still steep!) groove climbing up a stunning feature (not a hanging arete, but grooves basically have hanging aretes on both sides, right?). We did a plethora of other great routes: Pan, Heaven’s Door, White Women, Pan, Jabberwock...) but I thought Swordfish was really something special.
  • Stanage 1989 guidebook VS challenge (36 routes). Done on a bit of a whim, on a day which turned out to be much hotter than forecast. I was averaging 5 minutes per route until some congestion slowed me down, never before have I felt more like Hans Florine. Highlights included Hell Crack (how come I hadn't done this before? Oh yeah, it looks hard and is called “Hell Crack”), joyously campussing Cleft Buttress once I'd worked out how to do the lean across in a controlled manner, getting Fern Crack over and done with as I was nervous about that one, and having all of the crag north of High Neb to myself with just the ring ouzels and cotton grass for company. Low lights included the heat, the incandescent glare of the sun, how hot I was, the pain from hot swollen feet, dehydration, and the heat.

Top one sport route

  • The squealer (7c), Lorry Park Quarry. A finger injury in May basically precluded any serious sport climbing for me this year, and so I thought I might miss my chance to ever climb this once they started building a housing estate at the base of the crag. Serendipitously, my finger recovered enough to try it in the early stages of building, when no one else seemed to be going to the crag but you could still sneak round the back to access the crag on evenings and weekends when building work was not underway. We had a couple of lovely sessions with the whole place to ourselves. Technical sequences, a fair old test of crimping for the recovering finger, and so much longer and pumpier than the usual Peak fare.

Top DWS trip

  • Three routes, but all at the same crag on the same weekend, so grouped together to avoid repetition: Crab Party, Octopus Weed, Under-bare (all on Portland). DWS is just hedonism on rocks. We went the weekend before the proper heat-wave, so conditions were basically perfect (warm, dry, and a low-humidity on-short breeze to dry out the caves). My girlfriend hadn’t really done any DWS before so we had a great time with her figuring out what height above the ocean she was comfortable with and me heckling her to go higher.

Three most memorable cracks

  • Goliath (E4), Burbage South. I first tried this on a top rope with TRandall in about 2009 so I could learn some off-width technique from him. I only got about 50cm off the floor and he had (jokingly, I think) made one anchor for the belay out of heather so it pulled out when I fell off. It was a weird day. This year, knowing a bit more about this particular art, I thought it would be okay. It wasn’t. As with most off-widths, it was a protracted battle of attrition, but on my third go the crack gave up its resolve before I did. There are no winners in offwidth climbing.
  • George’s crack (athletic f6c), Ogwen. Done with Fiend, which always makes it memorable. Such a good inverted grovel. Probably about as pure as wide pony gets in the UK I’d imagine.
  • The Dover & Ellis Chimney (E1), Burbage South Quarries. A wildcard entry to the list. It’s a bit shit, and was so overgrown with grass and turf that it felt like I was crawling through a field at times. I only really did it so I could sandbag some mates who were meant to be joining us at the crag by getting them to do it too, but then they both bailed on us leaving me covered in cobwebs and detritus and them happily at drinking tea at home. Ticks the ‘memorable’ box for me though, and I did make one of them do it a couple of weeks later.

Top one new routes put up

  • Prawn the Crustacean (E3), Kinder North. Only one this year. Nice moves, bit short lived, gave it a silly name so it rhymes with its neighbour.

Top spankings

  • Marrowfat (7a), Froggatt. Three sessions in. Still can’t do one of the moves.
  • Sean’s arete (7b), Curbar. Three sessions in. I’ve had my hand on the finishing hold about a dozen times.
  • Circular Saw (E2), Kinder. An E2 offwidth on the most pebbly Kinder grit. Like dipping your ankles and arms in acid then using a pummice stone. It’s only 5 metres high and I’ve still got the top 2 metres to figure out. One for next year!


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#64 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 05:31:20 pm
Great thread as always.

A pretty good year for me, nothing really hard but plenty of quality climbing at home and abroad.

Top three sport routes UK

Grand Canyon 7b+, Devils Gorge.  Number 2 on the list of 7b+s I really should have done before.  Steep, sustained with some amazing holds, total classic which more than makes up for the sometimes frustrating nature of climbing in the gorge
Lost in Thought and Time 7b+, Victoria Cave, Attermire. Number 3 on the list.  Went up to Victoria after manic busy scenes at Gordale the week before and enjoyed this lovely spot to ourselves except for the odd tourist.  Failed on this last year , this time got the gear in after warming up and on the redpoint managed to access some try hard and get through the crux on the upper wall and then hold it together for the finish.  Great long route with a Gordale feel minus the crowds.
Fiendish Beandish, 7a+, Noticeboard Crag.  Duplicate with Andy M (thanks for the long draw on 2nd bolt beta on UKC :)). Boiling hot day in August we opted for cooler conditions on the North Wales coast and this was a great choice of crag.  Excellent climbing on unusual but solid rock with airy but safe bolting in its main section.

Top three routes abroad (any genre)

La Danza del Maestrale 7a, Ulassai.  Family trip to Sardinia in June.  Bit hot for climbing but impressed by the area, nice town, lovely scenery and a great variety of crags mostly in walking distance.  This was probably the best route of week, techy start followed by 20m of excellent overhanging wall climbing, was happy to onsight it smoothly.
Un Dia Llamado Milagro 7c Chulilla.  First time in Chulilla and really liked it.  2nd day looking for something harder to try Amy persuaded me to get on this 38m 7c which had the gear in it. Went up bolt to bolt and worked the sequences pretty quickly so decided to go for a redpoint. Worked my way up milking the rests , did the upper crux pretty smoothly and held it together through the sustained fingery climbing to the belay. Brilliant route and as quick as I've ever done a 7c. And Ant didn't onsight it which was nice of him 😃.
Daños Colaterales 7b+, Chulilla. Great route with with lovely tufas in its upper section and the redpoint crux where it should be right at the top. End of third day on and had to try really hard!

Top spankings

[As ever lots of options (Devils Haircut at the Gorge, Yew Cogar in general during August) but the standout was No, 4 on the 7b+ list Brachiation Dance.  Made the mistake of going in the morning on a very hot day only to find it was in the sun but to be honest I was miles away from it.  Too steep, too physical, think this may be on the list of 7b+s I haven't done for very obvious reasons! [/li][/list]

« Last Edit: December 31, 2022, 05:43:04 pm by IanP »


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#65 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 07:18:56 pm
Top Boulder problems

Jocks n Geordies, Kyloe in (6C)
I dropped the top moves of this repeatedly in 2018. I've never managed to get up anything at this crag previously, but managed to get up the warmups like badfinger, before getting up this in a handful of goes. Exciting and techy moves, all in question untill it is done. Felt like I was climbing much better than 4 years ago, which is nice!

Prime Time, back bowden 7B?
Cool moves requiring full commitment, steep enough to make you feel like a wad. Good bunch of people working it and the thing next door. I didn't think I had a chance, but managed the sit too! Last day of a great trip to the county. The bouldering up there is phenomenal.

Patient Boots, Ilkley 7A?
A no star traverse which required me to try proper hard. The rock on the straight up is amazing, but I didn't get it. Enjoyed working this.

Black wall traverse at almsclif was also a big tick this year, as I managed to get it dry and not in full sun. Got through the crux and my phone started going off for a fell rescue shout. Decided to power through, ticked the problem, packed up and legged it to the car. Been on the list for donkeys.

Top Routes

Oedipus, stony bank 7a
Had to try hard on this, and fancied it for a while. Had someone keen to get on it, and redpointed it quickly. Very satisfying! The bit that looks like a rest isn't... Had a go on Jocasta just next door, the rock is stellar, but the moves are a bit harder. One for the new year perhaps....

Priority, twistleton VS
Nice climbing and exciting for the (VS) grade. Twistleton is a lovely spot, and had decent company for it (except when one of em threw rocks at my head!)

Wombling wall, baildon E4?
In here for the expereince rather than the actual quality of the climbing... Cool moves up a crack lead to a ledge and sandy bridging or arete climbing to a peg, a crux and then a romp to the top. I enjoyed getting it absolutely wired on shunt, and then cruising the lead with confidence. Headpointing all the time gets dull for me, but I do love when it all comes together.


First of a dieing breed, Ilkley back quarry E4
A mates route. He never bouldered that hard I thought... It feels desperate! Some tricky arete climbing leads to a break and gear, followed by a poor pocket, a poorer pocket and a throw out left. I could hardly hand the poor pocket!!! Frustration at first, but actually, it will make a good bench mark for my finger strength. I put stakes in and everything! If anyone local fancies another look this year let me know and I can embarass myself on it again...

La Grande Marche, Canche aux mercier 7A
Spent most of the trip wombling round circuits in the heat. Tried a couple of harder things, and this, thuggy, crack. Should be my style, but I just didn't have it in me. Even Will did it. Next time....

Earwig sit, Ilkley (7A/8A)
The local nemesis. The stand start is great. The sit, I find so. Hard. There is no obvious beta. The ground is wearing away year on year. It is in the horid tourist bit of Ilkley. If anyone has ANY beta for this, I would love to know. I felt like I got close a year or 2 ago, but it has been reverse progress since. I've tried to use some shit flakey crimps and pulled them off. I've tried using a nails shallow middle finger mono, and got nowhere.
It is great to be humbled my such an unassuming looking problem. Come on, one of you has got to have done this...

I'd do a top cave trips, but I don't think anyone on here would care  ;D

Not an amazing year for dream lines by any stretch, but nice to get out and about.


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#66 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 07:31:14 pm
A bit of a low-key year for me - nothing done from the upper echelons of my wish list.  Still, I had lots of short trips and did some nice problems.  As it was yet another year of no route climbing and no trips abroad, I'm taking a bit of a liberty and having a:

Top Arbitrary Number of UK Boulder Problems

Kingdom of Rain, Sheep Pen
...or really any of the problems I did that day (e.g. Toe Dragon, Klem's Bulge, Dog Shooter).  Mainly it's here because of the overall impression the day had on me - contentedness with the scenery, the rock, the pleasant conditions (the uphill location makes it feel nicely less roadside than it really is).  The first day of the year that I felt like I was climbing well and might be over the previous year's broken wrist and a general winter hangover.  Sadly the follow-up day, to try a few link-ups, was a bit less to my taste (a crew of 20+ people arrived, playing music etc. - not really my scene!).

Aurora - Great Roova
Again, nice problem as it is, it's more about the day as a whole - feeling pleased with having made the effort to go there, rather than my usual haunts, and satisfaction with ticking off the problem I most wanted to do.

Strong Arete - Eskdale Fisherground
First day of a trip to the Lakes - a quick session on the way to the accommodation.  Happy to get this - not my style (bunched, burly, a bit snatchy) and it was a bit hot and sunny for even my ectothermic metabolism - great feeling of relief getting established and getting the arete holds. 

Fast Cars and Camper Vans / Lone Crusader - Carrock Fell
Two problems-worth of satisfyingly sideways action.   Such a wet night and morning that I felt I was wasting my time even trying to get out, but a breeze picked up and after a bit of yomping around I was well rewarded (although the finish to LC felt a bit too "interesting" for comfort).  On another trip, Orison was also a good rainy day find - even if the finish was a bit of a pant-filler, on my own with one slightly misplaced pad!

Debaser LH - Warton
What's better than an arete? An arete combined with a low traverse! Not really any harder than the normal sit start - all still about that heart-in-mouth move for the finishing jug.

Chiggers with Attitude - Lees Bottom
A limestone crag with painful and glued holds! Sign me up!  I was on my 4th consecutive day of bouldering and felt like I was off with every move - really satisfying - sustained, burly moves.

Left Wall Traverse - Parisella's Cave
Biggest surprise of a trip to North Wales - I was only at the crag as everywhere else was wet, and I only tried the problem as I was too weak to do any of the F6 "warm-ups". I thought working one of the subsections might be a pleasant way to waste a day and to my amazement found it pretty amenable - and with some really cool moves.

Panty's Down - Devil's Gorge
Climb into and then out of a hole.... bouldering, it's a funny hobby really.

Red Devil / White Rabbit SS / Dawid's Problem - Nearcliff
I spent far too much time here - lured by limestone crimps and pockets and shower-proof if generally humid conditions.  Not the loveliest of venues, although it can be rather nice sitting in the dappled shade during the intervals with no noise from motocross bikes - looking out for squirrels and tree-creepers etc.  Whatever you make of the ambience, the crag, and the Hueco Wall in particular, has some really good moves on largely skin friendly rock (although the starting pocket of Red Devil bites).

Spankings, or more properly, unfinished business (I never fail, I just run out of time!
Pill Box Wall - despite expecting this to be very much my type of problem, I spent an entire session slipping off the same move.
Once Upon a Time in the West, Seathwaite - failed for hours, got back within 4G coverage, consulted Youtube and found I'd been trying a completely wrong sequence.
White Rabbit RH SS - multiple tries where I did the crux (which is the same as the "normal" variants I' already done) and then suffered a brain fart and forgot what to do.  A bizarre late season loss of form, and then a 2-3 week lay off with a gashed wrist from a workplace accident, put paid to finishing it off.
Crag X - absolutely everything but mainly Jericho Road.


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#67 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 08:01:54 pm
Another cracking thread, nice one folks.

Interesting year for me, climbing took a bit of a back seat for 4 or so months during the summer/Autumn as I focussed on fell running/ultra running. Quite refreshing to do something different for period of time and still be able to return to form after a month or so. Lots of lessons learnt, but running 70km+ a week with lots of elevation is not very compatible with bouldering!!

Top 5 UK Boulders

Eagle Huntress Sit 8B, Mardale Head: Amazing new one from Varian. Slightly gutted I didn’t actually spend a bit more time on this when it was a project but to be honest I probably didn't have the vision to be able to do it.

Trailer Trash 7C+, St Bees- Truth be told, I am not a massive fan of St.Bees but this had been on the list for years and its actually very good  (if you can find it dry)

Krafty, 7C+, Earl Crag- In plain sight at one of the most travelled Yorkshire crags, up there with one of the best at the grade!

The non conformist 7B, Vicarage Crag- on a family holiday, met up with the Don! What a feature and climbs really well on some amazing holds.  Was very enjoyable and worth the trek.

XXXR/XXXS- 8A/8B, Bowderstone- Never thought I would climb this section of rock. Very cool 3D moves, another great addition by Aidan/Varian.

Top 5 Boulders abroad

Atresie 8A, Fontainebleau- First proper bouldering trip with the family which worked out really well helped by lovely weather. Nice to finish off the big 5

Sol Invictus, 8A, Fontainebleau- Lovely boulder with a little bit fear factor thrown in

Freehug 8A, Fontainebleau- brilliant compression boulder

Steppenwolf 8B, Magic Wood- didn’t actually plan on going to MW but it was super hot elsewhere in Ticino.

Nana Bianca 8A+, Magic Wood- always wanted to do this one ever since I first went 11 or so years ago. It was an enjoyable trip but doubt I will go back to MW anytime soon, lost its soul.

Top 3 FA’s

HYFR 8A+, Hell Moss- a direct version of Hell hath no fury. I set a board replica, did it in two goes and then did this the following day. Safe to say the replica had no influence on me doing it!

Knife at the party 8B+, Bowderstone- not really an FA as its essentially a non eliminate version of Aidans Flip off at the Opera, defo the hardest bit of climbing I did all year and something I had tried on and off for a while.

Behind the curtain 7C+, Bowderstone boulders- about 50m away from the Bowderstone, pretty fun and good vision by Kris Hall.

Sport climbing

The Blocky rock to ruin, Runestone Quarry 7C, while to was fun climbing, it did feel like a fridge sized boulder could come off. Terrifying.

Trad Climbing

Nowt- next year though!

Other stuff

Running- did lots of running in the lakes including some great miles with Joble. Had a half arsed, ill thought through attempted at BGR. 28 degrees and thunderstorms is not a good idea. Did do the Tea Round the weekend after which was fun (except for the 1hr of cramp up and down Grisedale).

Family- Second child arrived in May, had some amazing times as a family.

Work- Completed a significant project I had been working on for a couple of years, probably one of the first examples of successful ecosystem services market utilising green finance. Now working on and developing 7 or so more around UK. Hopefully this will play a small part in significantly accelerating investment into to nature recovery in the UK.


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#68 Re: Best of 2022
December 31, 2022, 09:06:05 pm
Best Established Boulder Problem

The Essence 7B+, Glen Torridon
Got my left heel on the bulb on the left arete and camped out on it till the snow started, then I hid under the boulder watching the TV static where Liathach used to be. Next time up there, having come to terms with the reality that I’m not Inspector Gadget, I got my heel off that bulb and kept on climbing for the thank god nipple below the jug.

Best New Boulder Problem

Matador 7A+ish, Liathach
Bulging highball arete round the north side. Walk up to the fork for Coire Mhic Nobuil / Coire Mhich Fhearchair. Take the Coire Mhic Nobuil path for about 200 metres, then go straight up the hill at the west end of the lochan. Aim for the round craggy feature. Boulder is under the west side of that, but not quite visible from the path. Steep lower section with varied moves, crux going round the lip slightly too high for comfort, then get your trad head on and steady away up the steep slab. Doesn’t really climb like an arete, mostly you're climbing the crack just right of it. Climbed it from a standing start, sitter first on the agenda in the Spring. Walking out with two mats on my back reminded me why I don’t usually take a mat bouldering in the mountains.

Best Munros with the Kids

My sons did their first Munros this year. Slioch first after being foiled by low cloud in November last year, then Beinn Alligin, then Beinn Fhada above Morvich with my eldest son. Fantastic days out. Felt good getting Beinn Alligin done after high winds turned me and one of my school teachers back from the top of Coire nan Laogh in 1993. I’ll be eternally grateful to him for taking me on a road trip round the North West that summer which switched me on to messing about on rocks in the mountains, having spent my childhood climbing trees.

Boulder Hunting Top Three

Big boulder above Talladale on Loch Maree. Flat wall, about 8 metres high, 10 degrees overhanging. Wandered around a small part of the A Choineach Beag terraces with the family one afternoon in the Spring. Went all the way up till we could see over to Beinn an Eoin and Baos Bheinn. Nothing. Sigh. Turned to walk back by a slightly different route that soon found us above a low cliff. Looked over it and — aha!

Roof / rising lip traverse in the boulder jumble under Robertson’s Buttress on Sgorr Ruadh, Coire Lair.

Roof on the underside of a boulder that looks like a frog out on the moor behind Beinn Dearg. What a lovely place. Looking forward to spending more time there, both under this roof and elsewhere on the moor.

Top Spanking

Long Covid wiping out six months of climbing / training from May onwards.

Last But Not Least...

Built a new board, 10 years after my first board got skipped. Bigger. Steeper. Better. Mwahahahhaha!!!


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#69 Re: Best of 2022
January 01, 2023, 01:12:15 am
Thanks to everyone for posting in this thread as ever. It’s so inspiring and I’m always amazed at how hard everyone climbs and how much they get done!

It’s been an eventful year for me. Last winter was meant to be the one in which I decisively reinforced my legs via a pretty un-nuanced training regime. That resulted in a quad tear right at the end of 2021  :o but I managed to rehab and train around that, partly inspired by my other half’s running efforts which had her in the form of her life in mid-February and with loads of races lined up. Unfortunately she was then knocked over by someone’s unleashed labrador (it was obliviously chasing a tennis ball, hopefully food for thought for the “he’s just playing, he won’t hurt you” massive) and suffered a Schatzker type VI tibia fracture which put her in a huge Ilizarov frame for months that she had to regularly crank with spanners  :sick: to try and get her leg to heal into a functional state. We both know what it feels like to be given the “don’t get your hopes up about walking normally again” talk now :'( .

I’d rebooked the flights for my US trip for the summer but with the pandemic and my parents (both are terminally ill and housebound- for years I’ve been in a kind of day-to-day limbo where either might check out without warning) I didn’t really believe the trip would actually happen. Amazingly Rache made such good progress that her frame was taken off a month early and like Cinderella (or more prosaically csl going to Norway when his wife was 8 months pregnant) I was able to go to the ball. It only felt real a few hours before I left for the airport :bounce: .

The trip was not only fun but the combination of the altitude, the walk-ins, the nature and volume of the climbing and wanting to not get shown up by my American mates (worked out perfectly as we only did big trad routes which meant our strengths and weaknesses were balanced out) made it a perfect “boot camp” for all sorts of stuff I still needed to sort out, mentally and physically, with my climbing. I feel like I refound a lot of the old Mike over there and while I haven’t done anything particularly Earth-shattering since I got back, nothing’s gone wrong either- in fact many the fitness gains I made have only become clear when tested on home turf. Most importantly my other half’s rehab is still going beyond all predictions and she’s running again and working on on increasing her distance.

Anyway, here’s my usual tales of trad bumbling, bathetically wrought into epic parables of endeavour.

Top 5 trad routes, UK

Chequers Crack, HVS 5b, Froggatt
This isn’t the hardest graded route I climbed this year, it’s not really a particularly good route and I didn’t do it first go either but it is the hardest thing I successfully climbed this year and that’s satisfying. I did it with one fall in 2017 (when I had recently climbed E2) and just thought “I’ll come back and do that clean one day”. Last year I found I could barely move on it… Early autumn this year I gave it another go and I could do the moves but ran out of steam after I “fell off” but hung on to a fingerlock one-armed :strongbench: I watched the forecast and a week or so later I took a beautiful weekday off work with Slab Happy, climbed the bottom half (the hard bit) terribly but successfully, spent a daft amount of time de-pumping and psyching up for the easier top half which I remembered nothing about and got irrationally “pressure-scared” on.

Sniffer Dog, E1 5a, Ravenstones
I love the Chew Valley. Sniffer Dog is on the big cool wall with True Grit on it and there’s a photo of it in the Over the Moors guide that I look at every time I open that book. Due to this (and the fact that it’s a renowned soft touch…) I decided last winter that this would be my first E1 since doomsday.

It was September before we went over, the weekend before the official start of autumn and the first cool-feeling day. I told everyone I was going to climb it on the walk-in, watched Reeve do it as his warm-up then led it myself half an hour later. I didn’t feel intimidated, I just felt great. When I felt a bit pumped I just shook it out and kept moving. I felt like I was in the place I was meant to be, heading for success that was a foregone conclusion. This made me realise just how much of my nerves comes from internal rather than external factors and how much being part of a positive, supportive group helps me keep on top of that.

Goliath’s Groove, HVS 5b, Stanage Plantation
Like a lot of people I decided to “save this for the onsight” when I was first working through the classic grit HVSs years ago because, like a lot of people, I knew I didn’t have the skills to onsight it and would rather avoid routes like that than not do them first go. Having lost those kind of pretensions along with most of my climbing ability but wanting to learn how to climb routes like this “on the job” I took my other half up to the Plantation on a midgy evening. Let’s just say that It was one of my “top spankings” of 2020.

After I’d climbed lots of offwidths in the States this summer we went up there again. Decent conditions but no-one about. I pumped out at about the same place as before but it was just a flash pump- I still had loads left in the tank due to actually knowing what I was doing. I felt that excitement of knowing I could do it but as I rested it got windier and dark clouds were visible in the valley. A few drops of rain fell. Fuck’s sake. Then, as if we were in Wyoming, the wind just blew the storm up the valley and past us. I did the route next go and it was so satisfying I can’t even tell you.

Central Crack, Wilton 3
Fucking hell Wiltonfest is a laugh. We headed up as a team up from Sheffield and I had my first proper tilt at climbing in the quarries, the previous ones having been handicapped by either the rock or me being in poor condition. This route is a straightforward HVS 5a crack with a tricky thin bit about a third of the way up, the sort of thing that confident climbers go straight up first go but that I’ve developed a habit of hanging around too long on, downclimbing to depump, going back up, not committing to, lowering off, pulling the rope and going back up again, only to find on actually committing that I should have gone straight up first go. I went straight up this first go and my mate was fucking gobsmacked.

The Candle, HVS 5b, Twistleton Scars
I have a mate who lives in the Kendal area and my mate from down here went up to visit him for the weekend. He was coming back down on the Monday which I couldn’t get off work so I didn’t join them. As luck would have it the Monday was then given as a Bank Holiday so I suggested we all “meet up in Yorkshire on your way back”. The Yorkshire crag they picked was this one which I’d never heard of, but is seemingly the furthest north in Yorkshire- 40 minutes from Kendal but 2:35 from Sheffield ::).

Upon meeting them at the end of this drive I freely expressed my dissatisfaction at their choice :furious: , followed quickly by an equally grumpy enquiry as to where the crag was- imagine the hilarity as they revealed that it was the unimpressive-looking outcrop I could already see. Long story short it turns out it’s actually a nice crag and we had a good day. I did this route (which should really be called “the phallus”) without fuss and they both found it really tough on the second so I felt like a badass.

Top 5 Trad Routes, USA

Durrance, ~HVS 5b, Devil’s Tower
Ever since I learnt about the Devil’s Tower in January 2011 from an article in a 90s issue of High Mountain Sports I’ve wanted to climb it. I wasn’t quite making mashed potato models like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters of the Third Kind but it was always in the back of my mind as something that I’d definitely do.

The Durrance is the classic route, only 5.8 but with a reputation for dessicatingly hot epics due to short pitches that can’t be easily combined, funky offwidth bits on every pitch, extreme popularity with people who are being guided and/ or have no experience in wide cracks or even crack climbing in general, polished rock, a south-facing, unsheltered aspect etc. etc. We heeded the guidebook’s advice to climb another, harder but more straightforward, route a few days earlier to get the summit tick which was great but just left us with a hunger for what we’d really come for.

After a rest day we got up at 5AM and were first on the route (just) for what I can say with 100% certainty is the most satisfying ascent I’ve ever made. After a week in Vedauwoo (see below) the offwidthy bits all felt easy and the funkiness that everyone warns will slow you down just felt like all the weird chimneys and sandbaggy grit HSs I’ve spent years farting about on. Despite climbing in a three we beat the guidebook time, summitted alone and it was glorious.  :dance1:

Direct East Face, ~VS 4b, First Flatiron
This is a big multipitch that Boulder locals solo and you can see why- although it’s about 300m tall it’s very slabby and mostly VDiff romping but does have some tougher bits, but almost all on the first pitch, most of which is in the “might as well solo it anyway” category. I led that pitch as the first thing we climbed on the trip. 15m runouts are far from the sort of thing I’ve “had in my locker” since I learnt to climb again but I was psyched and felt like I had a point to prove to the world. I sat at the first belay and knew this was a new chapter.

Edward’s Crack, ~E1 5b, Vedauwoo
When you get to The ‘Voo the first crag you notice is called Nautilus- a (largely) single-pitch crag with weird similarities to the Roaches and lots of the area’s famous routes. No matter what level you climb at you could have a great trip only climbing there but at some point you realise that there’s another “central area” which is more like 100m tall and has ridiculously intimidating multipitch things like Horn’s Motherfucker on it. We didn’t do anything that hard (not least because you need about 15 #3 camalots for it), but we did do this  “5.7” classic, a slightly slabby crack that also goes on for ever and is in the “you can see it from space” class of line.

I was intimidated and took every medium-big cam we had, which was a lot. What you can’t see before you climb it is that after the short shoulder-grinding offwidth (every single route in Vedauwoo has an offwidth bit, whether it’s billed as an offwidth route or not) corner crack at the start, the ledge you end up on is entirely separated from the main face and you have to make an exhilarating step across a deep scary crevasse thing before making unprotected friction moves to reach the first gear in the crack proper.

At any time in the prior four years I would have had an absolute mind-melt at this point and found a way to back off. I just did the fucker, my mind filling not with paralysing fear but with the long-buried memories of when I used to do bold climbing and it all used to go fine  8) . Elated I shovelled my way up the never ending crack (which it turns out has wide bits despite looking like continuous hands) like the sun-baked-enduro-crack-cowboy I’d become, making huge runouts without even thinking and only realising that I’d climbed half of the second pitch too when I’d run out the entirety of our 70m rope.

Bastille Crack, ~HVS 5a, Eldorado Canyon
I’m not one of these people who goes on holiday and wishes they lived there, I’m kind of the opposite. We had two days climbing at Eldo, a venue I’ve wanted to visit ever since I watched Front Range Freaks when I first started climbing, though and I wish we’d had more. It’s such a beautiful place and I really felt akin to the climbing and the general vibe there.

This is a classic multipitch we did as our last route in CO that goes straight off the road (good for late in the trip as it turns out Eldo is massive and some of the approaches are brutal) up a punishingly vert buttress. It’s ~130m but my now we were going pretty well and my mate (who’d done it before) decided we should do it in two mega pitches. His was 70m and was surely one of the best of its grade and style anywhere, mine was a little more like a 60m VS at Willersley but with a more impressive view (having read the brilliant guidebook cover to cover the day before I could pick out the classic routes on the cliffs on the other side of the canyon) from the belay. It was actually Bastille Day too.

Pear Buttress, ~E1 5b, Lumpy Ridge
When I first went to the States it was to go sport climbing in the Red River Gorge and most of the people I climbed with there knew each other from living in Estes Park, the town right on the edge of the RMNP where the hotel in The Shining is. The sport and boulder wads teased the trad guys about climbing on Lumpy Ridge all the time which, combined with its crap sounding name, made me think it was a pretty rubbish venue. Let me tell you, nothing about it is rubbish at all. I was knackered and let my mate climb all the hard pitches (the main one is ~35m of thin hands on a kind of hanging arête) as well as cursing him for making me do the winding pitches on a single rope and complaining about the huge, hot, tiring approach (see below for more) but I loved it all really.

Top 5 Spankings

Staffordshire in general
I was going to put one route, Lucus Chimney, a Severe I fell off a few days after I first tested negative from Covid but then I remembered other Roaches Lower routes I got spanked by. Then I remembered getting spanked by Green Crack at Ramshaw in the summer, failing to get up Saul’s Crack on two separate visits and finding Modern (HS) at Hen Cloud hard in March too so let’s just put the whole fucking county in. 2023 will be my year there.

The Dover & Ellis Chimney, E1 5b if it was ever clean, Burbage South Quarries
Seconded Reeve on this and didn’t expect it to be that tough as he’d done it without cleaning it and it was choked with bracken. Even after I pulled the plants out I still had to hang multiple times before climbing most sections. The actual chimney at the top was the living end. Jesus.

Greyrock Mountain
I was in the States late June- mid July so we woke up at 5 or 6AM every day and “got our business done early” before 1PM when it would be 30+ degrees C with storms rolling in. Every day except the one when we found ourselves eating breakfast in Fort Collins at 10AM with the advice of our recently-departed friends “go climb in the Poudre Canyon!” ringing in our ears that is.

All the pictures in the Poudre Canyon guidebook show people on 5.12 or harder sport routes with the road and/ or river in the background and that’s what Aaron had done there before. But our trip was about badass multipitch trad, not stupid roadside sport so we selected the crag with the best trad routes in the guide and set off. Fuck me America is a big hot place. At noon we were an hour into the walk-in with the sun beating down and I was more than halfway through the 1.5l of water I’d brought. Hikers were saying ominous things like “you don’t see many rock climbers out this far”. Aaron was saying things like “Hooo… this is a ways”. There were cow skulls and the like.

It turns out Greyrock is the other side of the mountain that forms one side of the canyon and over another one too, with an incredibly indistinct (by US standards) final trail to reach the crag which, once we found it and got there, turned out to be south-facing and so hot you could cook an egg on it. I’d finished my water by the time we found a route on the other side of it that was shorter but a little bit too long to do in one pitch on our ropes. It was a good route (and that area is amazingly pretty, above a kind of alpine meadow where you can apparently see bears and mountain lions) but I was totally over it by the time I could leave the foot-blasting belay it necessitated. We had to stop three times on the walk back and I was so thirsty by the time we reached the car that I think my relationship with drinking water might have changed for ever.

Upper Slot Right, ~E1 5b, Vedauwoo
You go to Vedauwoo expecting to get spanked, it’s one of those places. We were both kind of rookies at the styles required initially and kind of proud of how we did at the easier routes but had harder things we wanted to do before we left. So on the second-last day there we took a rest day ready to try our big aims.

Mine was this- one of the routes that climbs a crack in the summit rocks that perch atop The Nautilus crag- it’s one of the first lines you see when you get there. The description in the cool guide (there are two books, one cool, one square, both rubbish) simply reads “Do this sucka. #4 Camalots. Your (sic) in the Voo”. Which suggests that it’s fists. It is fists but they are really far back in a wider crack that you are buried in up to your armpits and have to climb via a heel-toe udge. It goes without saying that I was breathing heavily throughout my attempt (Vedauwoo’s about 2000m asl, I was unfit, offwidths are hard work) but each time I actually got the magic working to stand up and make progress it didn’t feel tricky, it just felt like I’d unlocked the secret. Each time it took me about another five minutes to unlock the secret again and I inevitably had to start resting in the rope. That momentary ease make it kind of harder to arrive at the top a bleeding, linguinified wreck who could barely stand up in the wind because I could tell that a more accomplished wide crack climber (probably me given another week there) would have cruised it. Ah well.

The End of Time, 5.9 (that’s meant to be 5+ but my ego won’t let me believe it’s that easy), Jurassic Park
The only time I went sport climbing this year was at this crag, which is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been- whichever direction you look is like a jigsaw, with views of Long’s Peak and the proper Rockies (“Hey is that THE DIAMOND?!”) as well as loads of amazing lakes. The route is quite pretty too.

Sadly it’s bolted in such a way where the crux is where the second bolt should be. I just couldn’t commit to the balancey move knowing I’d be close to decking from it which is just as well as I fell off it first go on top-rope after my mate led it. I can’t get angry or even regretful about this though, just being there was ace and I have a picture of me at the top so I’ll probably have forgotten it spanked me in a few years.

Top animal rescue

I caught a piglet that was running down the road with loads of people chasing it. Might be the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I kind of like pigs now.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2023, 01:35:05 am by cheque »


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#70 Re: Best of 2022
January 01, 2023, 09:41:35 am
Really good to read Mike, so much progress after a hell of a journey, and not at all jealous of all the cracks AND a trip to the Voo. I did have a wry smile at Lucas Chimney  ;D
Here's to a new year with more cracks and craic


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#71 Re: Best of 2022
January 01, 2023, 12:29:06 pm
Reading the challenges people have faced in this thread definitely helps put my own relatively minor issues into perspective! Quite a year Cheque.

Durrance, ~HVS 5b, Devil’s Tower

Hopefully it’s not too tofu eating wokerati to suggest we should be calling this place Bear Lodge these days


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#72 Re: Best of 2022
January 01, 2023, 03:20:22 pm
Top 3 sport routes

Overnite Sensation, 8a+, Malham - unfinished business from a few years ago. I had bagged it off after taking a nasty fall from the top and splitting a tip on the start. It felt much more friendly this year. The successful ascent was made at dusk with a bunch of mates, finished the day with a celebratory picnic in the dark at the bottom of the beck.

Sticky Wicket - Ashes link, 8a, Kilnsey - great fun getting pumped on this, and a fab excuse to spend time on the uber classy Ashes headwall again. Climbed in the summer heatwave, do I get an extra grade??

Soft/Zero Option, soft 8a, Kilnsey - another crazy hot day, another sweaty pumpfest!

Top 3 Holiday Sport

Too skint to go abroad so I'm just going to have to class Scotland and Wales as abroad (even though we probably climb in Wales more than the actual locals!)

Simon Says, 8a, Split Infinity - great fun, athletic and wiggy climbing through the roofs. It was a much more reliable option as a backup when the seacliffs were too greasy.

It Takes Glue to Tango, 7c+?, Devil's Gorge - mega euro style route on big holds with long reaches between. I loved the very top sequence to reach the belay off a high foot into shoulder press.

Paralysis by Analysis, 7a+, Dumbarton - so innocuous looking but what a fight this required! Whetted my appetite for more Dumby sport (and trad, and bouldering). We will definitely be spending more time there.

Top 3 Boulder Problems

Ferrino Sans Pocket, 8A (on paper!), Parisellas - my first foray into trying to climb Font 8A. I've wanted to explore the possibility of pushing my bouldering for years, but never actually tried one before. This went from not being able to do the first 3 moves on the initial sessions to being 'game on' really suddenly. Then I was consumed by psyche to get it finished, had had 3 sessions on it in the week of the 'send'! I'm really keen to do more projecting and climb proper 8A if possible.

Going Down on a Mammoth, 7B+, Elephantitus - lovely location, funky sequence. Glad I had enough beans for the final slap after getting through the powerful lower section.

Grasshopper LH, 7C (soft), Stronstrey Bank - lowball enough for me to enjoy on a solo bouldering outing, which is an unusual occurrence for me.

Top Trad

Hardly did any, other than a few bumbly days at Wilton and Witches with a friend. And one pleasant day at Craig y Forwen on our 20th wedding anniversary. It was an 'active rest day', we only did two routes, my lead was the excellent Sangfroid Direct, E2. Another venue to return to for a proper climb in 2023.

Top Spankings

Never Get Out of the Boat, Diamond, again.....

Everything at Arisaig Cave. Loved the venue and the style but it didn't favour someone recovering from a neck strain. Will absolutely be keen to return when fighting fit.

Fontainebleau - why oh why did I have to finish the year with another ankle injury!! Being in Font with a knackered ankle was like being a kid in a sweetshop, who isn't allowed to have any of the sweets....


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#73 Re: Best of 2022
January 01, 2023, 04:03:46 pm

Durrance, ~HVS 5b, Devil’s Tower

Hopefully it’s not too tofu eating wokerati to suggest we should be calling this place Bear Lodge these days

As long you’re wokeishly consistent in your fight for cultural fairness? For e.g. by suggesting to people climbing in Wales that peaks should be referred to using their Welsh names. ‘Y Wyddfa’ please*. And they’re in Eryri, not Snowdonia.
As a minimum to respect the locals (of which I’m one) we may accept, without too much anguish over our cultural repression, you referring to Y Wyddfa as ‘The Tomb’  :)

Similarly if you find evidence of Gaels being offended by English spelling of mountains in Scotland, or worse English renaming, then you should flag it and correct people. Cultural repression being a thing in these islands too not just the rest of the world - highland clearances, English annexation of Wales etc.

So Beinn Nibheis please, or the English version: ‘Malicious Mountain’, which I think is wonderful! I’ll be thinking of the simpsons and ‘’The ascent of the Murderhorn’ next time I do a winter route on the N.Face of Malicious Mountain.

* Of course I don’t really care. Despite there being the same history of cultural repression in Wales, Ireland and Scotland as anywhere else in the world you choose to focus your social unfairness-detector.
I don’t care what people call the highest peak in my country of birth because I don’t believe there’s any offence intended - just habit and ignorance and a desire to quickly convey info understandably, which is perhaps sad but normal, at least in my non-offended mind. But maybe we’re just lucky enough to still have a culture and a language (which, I imagine much like many Cheyenne’s I’m not fluent in) which is somewhat protected.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2023, 04:11:00 pm by petejh »


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#74 Re: Best of 2022
January 01, 2023, 04:44:53 pm
I love it when you don’t care about something enough to write 7 paragraphs of whataboutism Pete 😂

As I’m sure you know as a local, Yr Wyddfa is the official name now and as such I will try and learn not to butcher ‘er weethva’ too much!

There’s a lot of power in the names of things, and it’s not as if the attempt to reclaim cultural is limited to the US, plenty of examples from around the world of people throwing off the colonial names of cities and countries. 


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