/ Your Greatest Climbing Achievement
My own was Jack the Ripper on Stac Pollaidh graded E1 when at the time I'd never even led a multi pitch HVS, I even got the top hard 5b pitch, I was well chuffed at the time.
Pulling myself together on Grand Alliance which I was about to take a controlled jump off and pressing on to glory!
It's on Black Crag in Borrowdale - one of the classic Lakes E4s.
First pitch of Suicide Wall at Cratcliffe. It IS at my top end, in fact obviously a bit beyond, as I dogged it. I am more proud of the fact that we took the decision to get on in at all despite there being only a 10% chance of doing it clean - too easy to get into the "save it for the onsight" mindset. i.e. I am pleased that I tried something hard and scary, and dealt with it and didn't give up after the first slump.
Offwidth will rightfully comment about wear and tear on the gear placements so I apologise in advance for that. My slumps were gentle though! :-)
El Matador on Devil's Tower in Wyoming is probably the hardest I've fought for an onsight despite the grade normally being a safe bet for me. The main pitch ascends a long flute like chimney, although its basically a finger crack in a corner.
It steepens almost imperceptibly but narrows at about the same rate. Lanky people will be able to bridge comfortably all the way and wonder what the fuss is about, I could bridge the top third, but it was so wide for me I'd hesitate to call that a rest, but the change in positions were enough to stop any given muscle exploding. Type 2 fun.
It's a toss up between Wrinkle (v-diff), Valkyrie(VS) and Comes the Dervish (E3 5c). Each was at the upper end of my ability when I did them.
Leading the middle (traverse) pitch of Haste Not in White Ghyll. Hyperventilated my way across it onsite.
> My own was Jack the Ripper on Stac Pollaidh graded E1 when at the time I'd never even led a multi pitch HVS
I can imagine this would stick in the mind! I 'saved' it a bit too long after reading the 'hard for the grade' comment in the guide, only to discover this wasn't the case at all. Great route though!
Pique Longe on Vignemale - for staying power
Robin Hood Right Hand Buttress - my first lead
Some VS on crimson slabs (?) (scabbard?) in the rain in big boots - for levitation
Archangel for me. Every time I've seen it since, my hands sweat and I think "how on earth did I climb that?!".
> Archangel for me. Every time I've seen it since, my hands sweat and I think "how on earth did I climb that?!".
Makes mine sweat just walking past it, good effort!
In the UK favourite has to be Peapod
but others for different reasons:
Creag Dhu Wall
Suicide Wall - Bosi
I'd have to say the same! Finally plucking up the courage to do The Sloth with that ominous looking roof looming ever closer. I must have spent ten minutes on the pedestal looking up at those last few moves... and then shitting myself as I dropped my big blue hex from the lip with my last piece of gear on the cheeseblock!
Character building, I think that's what they call climbs like that :D
> I can imagine this would stick in the mind! I 'saved' it a bit too long after reading the 'hard for the grade' comment in the guide, only to discover this wasn't the case at all. Great route though!
The 'hard for the grade' at one time would be mentioned (with alcohol) ;-), but your right it isn't.
For me, because I'm a bit of a pussy and usually only get on things I'll probably be OK on, properly falling off is a massive achievement. I recently took the big lob from the top of Big Greeny, fully slapping for whatever I could in the green, slopey top. I ended up pretty near the ground since my belayer wasn't very heavy and was 10ft off the deck herself! Brilliant and I felt great about it since I fully went for it, on a route that I knew was probably 50-50 (I would have known it was less if I'd looked from a different angle...).
On the other hand, doing Archangel in the style I'd always wanted to - first go, on my own, no mats, no uppy-downy - was great. Confidence can be really hard to come by and on that day I had it. I may never get to that level of confidence on gritstone again.
And then there's routes that I've nearly fallen off all the way up. But I don't remember those the way I remember the really great routes that I climbed well, or that I fall off!
My greatest achievement was probably being first on Grooved Arete, on Tryfan, before the queues formed.
My greatest climbing achievement... is yet to come?!
Of the stuff I've done, it would probably be the traverse of the Chamonix Aiguilles.
It's hard to choose!
They weren't in the same sentence ;)
Or leading The Plum in a borrowed Whillans harness with a borrowed rope of uncertain provenance for my first E1 tick after another packing mishap. The desire burned brightly in those days...
I thought the start was nails for the grade but I'm sure there are past threads on that already.
High Neb Buttress was pretty big for me first time around. I flt experienced at the time but had only been climbing a few months. Shat myself a bit - total incompetence- but I was dead chuffed at the time.
Brown's Eliminate was a big achievement for me 18 months or so later. The only time during all my Uni climbing days that I didn't get a greasy takeaway in Chesterfield on the way home - just didn't have any appetite after that route!
Left Wall was amazing. I'd wanted to do it for 3-4 years and was so chuffed when it went.
Foil, similar to Left Wall. Had seen someone on it when doing Sabre Cut years earlier and it was so inspiring. Went up not being sure if I could do it (first E3 6a), and it went quite smoothly. Full-on E3 tick on one of my favorite crags - brilliant.
First F7c - Stone the Loach last September. Weirdly 7c felt like a much bigger milestone to me than any other sport grade - 7a, 7b etc. I finally felt like I'd climbed something truly hard. If you'd asked me only 2 years earlier I'd have told you F7c was only for wads and never expected to climb it myself. Since doing it I've really slackened off on sport and been focussing on trad again - need to get 8a in my sights and train hard again next year :)
Really difficult to pick between those.
Its not really any one specific route... I got into climbing as a way of getting over my fear of heights. A friend of mine took me out to Windgather a few years back and taught me how to trad climb and set up belays. I was so absolutely terrified of standing within a meter of the edge, i couldnt really belay properly, and pretty much had a mini panic attack.
This last year i've been doing a lot more leading and im now soloing stuff at windgather without a care in the world, pretty pleased with how far ive come in that respect. Next milestone is my first E1 lead!
Flashdance in 1993 - I knew friends who climbed much harder than me who had fallen off. In the morning I popped into what is now V12 (I think) and bought the crucial RP4. The moves felt harder than expected and the RP4 didn't look like it would hold a fall. Some kids were playing Jimi Hendrix on a ghetto blaster on the other side of Vivian Quarry which helped my concentration. However the music stopped halfway through the crux so I shouted for them to keep playing, which they thankfully did (I was thinking I'd bitten off more than I could chew at the time) so I pushed-on, singing quietly along to Purple Haze.
Reaching the Dervish crack was a massive relief and the rest of the route was a breeze.
Easily my biggest climbing achievement, despite having climbed harder routes since then.
Coincidentally, 1993 was about the time I started getting into sport climbing - perhaps my Flashdance experience was the experience that pushed me that way.
I'm not sure that I'm really proud of any routes that I've climbed. I've had many amazing experiences and climbed plenty of brilliant routes, but i don't know that I'm actually proud of any of them. Pleased to have done them, maybe, but not proud.
Perhaps that makes me a weirdo.
Changed my mind, it is Amazon Crack at Burbage North. Many years ago now, I had not done a whole lot of leading but felt pretty steady at HS so was looking for an HS to do and people suggested this. I was on a uni club trip, I didn't own any of my own gear other than harness and shoes, and had not got used to placing or trusting cams. Discovered that I'd left my shoes in the hut and another guy had left his harness so we went to get those, came back an hour later during which time two of the group who climb harder than me had had a go and failed to commit beyond the first bit, and someone had declared it to actually be VS according to their guidebook - these are things which should have put me off but the trip to retrieve stuff had caused the route to stick in my mind so I got on it anyway. I know it is only 12m but it was terrifying, I didn't want to put cams in so was faffing with hexes before deciding to run it out a bit and then ultimately chuck a big cam in quite blindly and declare it "bomber" :-) then topped out. A scrappy ascent, and I see the consensus is that it remain HS, I am fine with that. But for my climbing ability and experience at that point, it was a big achievement
Good answer, sometimes I forget to just be thankful that I'm still in one piece.
Flashing London Wall for me
It means more to me than an 8a RP or an E6 OS. I'd wanted to do it for ages and worked my way up all the grit quarry cracks and done lots of bouldering circuit. After a couple of false starts the right moment came along and I had to try to slow my racing heart at the foot of the route.
There was so much pressure as you only get one chance at the Flash. I nearly fell off the start but then it all went smoothly, and I wouldn't trade it for any other route or grade!
I think my greatest climbing achievement would have to be,
convincing my wife to become as hooked as me.
An admirable achievement.
Doing Archangel deserves a lot of respect. I don't know how old I'll be before I have the guts.
> Doing Archangel deserves a lot of respect. I don't know how old I'll be before I have the guts.
...says the man who onsighted Edge Lane and then went back a week later to solo it again for the camera?? :)
Odins Beer Barrel Ramble was a proper hairy chested adventure route. They don't make 'em like that any more :)
> ...says the man who onsighted Edge Lane and then went back a week later to solo it again for the camera?? :)
Indeed, Archangel is 5b and only a few moves longer than a boulder problem! You need the confidence that you're not going to fall off, but not much else. Goodness knows why Daniel is putting it off...
Always coming back, even when I've been overweight, injured, depressed or in any other way lacking in mojo. Rather than any specific route this is what gives me greatest pride.
Edge Lane gets easier the higher you get though no? (I've not done it). And the landing is much better than Archangel's.
Edge Lane gets easier the higher you get though no?
No, but not harder either.
It's more that
-there are resting ledges before the upper cruxes
-there are visible footholds
> It's more that
> -there are resting ledges before the upper cruxes
> -there are visible footholds
Ok fair enough.
My hardest on sight lead happens to be the one I'm most proud of.
It was the Brush Off at Rivelin, E4 5c. I'm proud of it because at the time I could only flash 5c problems 50% of the time and had never bouldered 6a, and yet I felt confident enough to go for a protectionless 5c route with a fairly poor landing.
At my peak (grade wise), I was never very good technically, but I'm proud of the fact that I could lead and solo very near my physical limit.
Nowadays, I'm better technically and physically, but rarely feel brave enough to lead more than HVS. I'm very proud of how calm, controlled and fearless I used to be even though I wasn't technically brilliant.
A mix of 'greatest achievements' I suppose.
Being sandbagged into leading a VS on Gimmer (having been told it was Severe) on one of my first weekends climbing. Somehow I shook my way up it ;)
One of my hardest leads was also my best in all honesty. Aphasia (E2 5b) at Sergeants Slabs was one of those I didn't intend to do but just thought 'yup, fancy that' when I saw it. Nearly blew it about 2/3rds of the way up it but ran it out horrendously after about half way along the traverse to keep upwards momentum going. A foot slip had onlookers wincing. Doubt I could do it now.
Another E2 (Ratbag) as my first real lead (after a severe) after about 6 months off climbing due to injury. I wondered up above the break (if you know it) on the basis it felt easy and I could probably reverse it but found myself on an irreversible crux v run out (as you will know if you've done it) and just thinking "ah, this would be why it's E2 then". Luckily I only started shaking at the top...
I seem(ed) to have a knack for getting myself into the position where failure was not an option and pulling it out of the bag.
> One of my hardest leads was also my best in all honesty. Aphasia (E2 5b) at Sergeants Slabs was one of those I didn't intend to do but just thought 'yup, fancy that' when I saw it.
For me it's still being to motivated to climb after nigh on 40 years at it. It seems amazing to me that a hobby can make such an important contribution to your life.
Seconding a grade 5 water ice route in Norway in walking crampons after a load of Norwegians told me there was no point trying and I could join them at the climbing wall later.
Those occasions, like your Aphasia climb, are the best experiences I can have when climbing. To see a piece of rock and in a way fall in love with it and climb it without fear or faff. It's only happened to me once, in Trowbarrow when I looked at the first pitch of a VDiff called Jomo. There is no gear worth bothering about so to my own surprise I just soloed the first pitch. Just felt like being in a different zone where I had completely banished the usual gremlins of self doubt and anxiety. Why can't I do that all the time?
I once saw a TV documentary of Eric Jones basejumping Angel Falls in Venezuela. I was so mesmerised by the clean orange rock racing up the screen in the background I hardly noticed Eric's foreground plummet downwards.
It took a lot of research and then 3 trips over 4 years but finally we managed to free climb that wall and it remains the finest climbing experience I think I've ever had.
The idealist in me very much hopes there will come a moment to beat even this experience, but the realist in me appreciates that moments like that are preciously rare and unlikely ever to be repeated let alone bettered. Nevertheless I feel genuinely privileged to have been there and experienced it first hand.
...my two greatest achievements...
1. Still being alive after 40 years of climbing, when I have sadly seen too many friends not make it this far.....
2. Still being ridiculously enthusiastic about climbing in all its' forms after 40 years!
Possibly it's my lead of The File on Higgar Tor. I knew it was supposed to be high in the grade and high in quality, and being determined not to dog it I saved it until I'd practised my jamming a lot.
It was a lovely May evening, I'd done a couple of easy routes and when it got cooler I started thinking about having a look. Racked up and pschyed up, the moment before going for it was probably one of the clearest headspaces I've ever had when climbing, I was feeling assertive and very focussed. After the crux I got pumped but there was no way I was going to let myself drop the onsight. I was grinning from ear to ear at the top, I just loved the route.
It's not a big route or particularly hard but the history and reputation of it really inspired me and I think that's what sets it apart from my other climbing experiences.
Has to be soloing the Matterhorn.
Awesome experience and almost had the mountain to myself- only 2 others summited that day.
That is the fantastic thing about climbing-from two separate ends of an enormous spectrum we can have the same experience of desire and fulfilment. Bit more effort required in yours though John. It's the same when I watch all those cowboy films set among towering spires -I just look at the climbable rock.
3 months I've managed to lead my first vs the other week on shadow wall, got to the first belay and thought this is easy then saw the nice 3 ledges above thinking this looks even easier! Then I tried it and realised there was no hands on the ledges so I had to take some time to sort my head out and went for it. Good fun!
Seconding super direct on dinas mot was also a really good experience specialy the last pitch brilliant feeling after though!
Fascinating, Simon - particularly your nightmarish traverse of the side of Isterdal to Trollstigen.
The trip to Orkney was to Marry MrsTheDog, we negotiated and I was allowed two days before the wedding of which I was only to use one (the two days was so we could take advantage of best wetaher option). I wasn't going with a climbing partner and couldn't afford to pay for one and met a lovely chap through here who was prepared to make the trip to the island from his home in England on the hope that the weather would be good enough.
On the day it all came good, we were behind a group of five dleaying our start and finish which meant I missed the Ferry back to main island, MrsTheDog was prepared for that ebing a possibility and that was no issue 9not in the dog house) but I couldn't let her know I was safe until gone eight at night meaning she had been quite worried for a few hours.
It was a brilliant experience although the abseils scared the stuffing out of me.
> Perhaps that makes me a weirdo.
If it does then I guess I'll be joining you in the weirdo corner.
I suppose the routes that stick in mind are the ones where things start going wrong and you're forced to dig deep and press on but those never leave me with a warm glow of pride, they generally leave me feeling a little ashamed I've allowed myself to get out of my depth. Thankfully it's rare and I'm struggling to remember specific examples.
I suppose I am quite proud of a little set of quality problems I left behind on the Isle of Man. The sheer amount of working they took over several summers now seems quite silly but in a good way. My first and only F7c (Smouldering Globules of Lust so dubious 7c) also felt like an achievement, something that even a year before seemed unobtainable.
> Fascinating, Simon - particularly your nightmarish traverse of the side of Isterdal to Trollstigen.
Thanks. I enjoyed hearing your Fiva Route epic at the Peak Area meet.
Certainly not getting up and just about getting up a route has given me some moments that stick in my head. Such as abseiling into the sea off a single peg on Dreadnought in November when it started peeing with rain and the pitches above the cave were soaked. Just about being able to push a friennd into a crack with the heel of one hand cos' I couldn't pull the triggers, on Mother Africa at Swanage at the end of a runout.
> Flashing London Wall for me
> It means more to me than an 8a RP or an E6 OS. I'd wanted to do it for ages and worked my way up all the grit quarry cracks and done lots of bouldering circuit. After a couple of false starts the right moment came along and I had to try to slow my racing heart at the foot of the route.
> There was so much pressure as you only get one chance at the Flash. I nearly fell off the start but then it all went smoothly, and I wouldn't trade it for any other route or grade!
Perfect! An onsight of LW is more newsworthy than a 20 times practiced E8 in my opinion. Well done - it's a dream route for me.
My personal one is a a one bivvy ascent of Zodiac on El Cap. Still buzzing 2 years later.
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