The RoostWest Yorkshire, ENGLAND
Climbs 26 – Rocktype Grit (quarried) – Altitude 251m – Faces W
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Having taken a thirty footer that ended on the ground - slate at that - I hadn't been doing much climbing for a while. However, being a bit of an obsessive the next best thing was walking; preferably near crags and even better potential new ones. My favourite area, and one that occasionally had been giving us new rock, is the Calder Valley around Hebden Bridge and Todmorden. As you drive down the valley and catch glimpses of outcropping rock you just know there's something good and unclimbed out there.
Turn the clock back 20 years. I recalled a conversation I had had with a local climber that went something like “you should check out the hidden quarry off the road near Hebden. You can't climb there it's banned, but worth going just for a look - its like Higgar Tor only steeper and has about 5 really good big cracklines!“
Well I'd spent more than a few wet days trying to find this place to no avail; but having time on my hands, now was the time for another look.
After about three days of thrashing up and down wooded valleys and finding 10ft high blocks I was on the verge of throwing in the towel with the general feeling it was probably going to be crap anyway. Ever curious though, I made one last trek up one last track. In fading light I caught sight of a bit of rock through dense brambles and undergrowth. A damp musty-smell filled the air as many startled crows fled their roost. As I fought my way in my heart started to beat a bit faster. Bloody hell! Bloody steep! Higgar Tor, Hebden Bridge
After getting over excited I brought a couple of mates along and they got even more excited! New rock is a rare commodity and rock this steep and obviously climbable even rarer.
First we had to talk to the home owners in the small cottages above the cliff. The crag is on their land and the top is about 10ft from their garden walls. Obviously the presence of climbers there would be an issue but, after discussions, the local residents were happy to allow access providing people stuck to climbing in the quarry, didn't wander around around on top and weren't noisy or disruptive. Game on. This problem has been solved by adding a handful of bolted lower-offs at the top of the crag. This may be controversial to some, but common sense will hopefully prevail. No lower-offs, no climbing; that's the bottom line.
As you can imagine my mates were more than happy to give me a lift and an immense amount of hard work went in over the summer of 2010.
The result is - The Roost - not a massive crag, but home to a handful of absolute classic hard routes. The Roost is undeniably a hardcore venue with routes starting around E5 and gives a similar experience to climbing on steep limestone in many cases. Many pegs abound, although a full rack is needed including some big cams. The pegs are all good and have been well tested, though many can (and probably should) be backed up with natural gear. None of the routes are particularly serious but some good air time has been logged! At the time of writing all but one of the routes has been onsighted or done ground up. Some climbing had taken place here in the Seventies the details of which are not known, a number ancient pegs were found although due to the instability of some of the blocks when we first arrived it's not thought any of the lines had been free climbed.
Topo and Routes
1. One Over Eight E5 6b
1a. Indirect start.
2. Con dem nation E6 6b
3. Coalition Crack E5 6b
4. The Cartel E7 6c
5. Fascination Street E7 6c
6. Sleepy Hollow E6 6b
7.The Senate E6 6b
A Trip to the Roost by Nez McCallum
Situation and Conditions
The crag is very secluded and has a great backwoods feel to it. It is important that visitors keep a low profile and this atmosphere and the respect of the residents who live above is not lost. The crag has really strange conditions. It stayed bone dry through weeks of rain in the summer but suffers from condensation in hot weather. Cool dry periods seem best. Most of the routes get the afternoon sun although not in winter. Climbing may be possible at any time of year although if you make the effort and conditions are poor many other crags are a stones throw away.
Other Crags and The Pub
You are spoilt for choice for crags and pubs in the Calder Valley around Hebden Bridge and Todmorden. Try Heptonstall, Mytholm Steep, Widdop, Kebs, and Scout Hut Crag for routes and bouldering. Recommended pubs for after crag beers are The Hole In The Wall in Hebden Bridge and the New Delight Inn, Blackshaw.