/ King Kong, Wintours Leap - No longer a 3* classic?

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
We turned up at Wintours Leap for an evening climbing last Thursday night without the guidebook because we both forgot it. No matter, over the years, we have collectively done most of the routes that we can do on this crag so it was just a case of picking one that we could remember well. Ambitiously, given route length and limited daylight hours, we settled on King Kong. I should put our collective experience into context; whilst I am climbing far from my best, I am at the moment confident and competent on E1 and starting to do E2ís again. My climbing partner Clive is maybe less confident at the moment, but competent on HVS and has climbed much harder. Also, over the years, we have both done King Kong three or four times, both before and after the rock fall. I have also done the first pitch a further twice as a start to the E2 Stairway To Heaven. Our combined years are substantially over 110, but thatís not relevant (or is it?).

I led the first pitch. Jamming is my forte. If it wasnít I would have struggled. Even with this it was hard going. Itís a strenuous thrutch. Worse, it is polished, dirty and downright unpleasant and becoming vegetated. It is not a classic! Clive struggled following and he said it wore him out and accounted for his struggle trying to lead the next pitch and his two noisy and entertaining falls, liberally punctuated by the Ďfí word, onto, fortunately, excellent gear. He backed off the gnarly little roof that you have to surmount before the final crack on the second pitch after taking a spectacular flyer off it. I went up and had a half-hearted go with feet skidding on the polished holds. Not worth the aggro. With darkness descending on us we abseiled off. Worst still, we were too late for an Ďapres-climbí pint!

I donít fail on HVS period. Usually, when I fail on a climb I am desperate to go back and redeem myself. I will never go near this again. It is, overall, an unpleasant experience. I did more gardening and cleaning of holds than I have done in a long time and the exposed holds had the sheen of polished glass and it is substantially harder than HVS. Yuk! The following is a link to an interesting article, that I found, indicating that others have felt the same: http://willerup.com/climbing/kingkong.html

I guess the point that I am making is that classic status on climbs should not necessarily be eternal. The last time I did Coronation Street I felt that the crux pitch was a lot more polished than before. Heaven forbid that this wonderful climb should go the way of King Kong. I await the usual UKC relevant, sensible, informed and erudite comments.

Too much to hope I guess, but if anyone else is daft enough to do this nil or one star climb in the near future we would appreciate return of the number 10 Rock and quickdraw left on the overhang. Ok, ok, I know that it should be considered fair game, according to many venerable UKC pundits, but now you know itís ours!

Morgan Woods - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete:

cheers for the heads up....it's one of the routes i've always wanted to do because of its classic status. After a play on some of the choss on nearby Fly Wall i can vouch that rock quality is not the best, although Firefly is an ok E2.
maybe_si - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete:

i liked it, are you getting old and weak?
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to maybe_si:
> (In reply to Pete)
>
> i liked it, are you getting old and weak?

Maybe, but my aesthetic sensibilites are still firing on all four cylinders.
Al Randall on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete: Hi Pete. They don't call you "Epic Pete" for nothing. I agree with your sentiments however. I was up at Dove Crag in the Lakes last year and it looked very green, overgrown and unappealing compared to how I remembered it several years ago. Perhaps it's an age thing. Rose coloured spectacles, golden years and all that. On the other hand there is a theory that lots of the older classics just don't get climbed as often anymore and are therefore deteriorating.

Al
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to tradlad: Hi Al thanks for that! Epics mean that you do stick your neck our occasionally, which is what climbing should be about. Wasn't an epic anyway, merely an under control aberration. How the hell are you anyway? Still cranking? Or should I say creaking!?
JimR - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to tradlad:

did Vandal and Ann at Haytor yesterday, the top was extremely mossy my gardening described by Charles as filling the air with flying green toupees .. looked as if it had'nt been done for a while.
maybe_si - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to JimR:

i did that a few years ago, i also had to do a lot of moss removal!!
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Morgan Woods:
> (In reply to Pete)
>
> , although Firefly is an ok E2.

I agree that Firefly is a very ok E2 and more than deserves its stars. My point is that KK doesn't.

Al Randall on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete: Doing good but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get motivated to climb in this country so I haven't being doing too much. I did take advantage of the recent good weather however so managed a few VS climbs in N. Wales and Avalanche/Red Wall/Longlands on Lliwedd and found them all quite easy. Just as well really as I'm off to the Dollies in a couple of weeks.

Al
GrahamD - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete:

KK always was a bit burly at HVS ! Not having done the route post rock fall and not having the newer guidebook, what description / grade does the new book give ?
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to GrahamD: I've been too mean so far to buy the new guide, but I intend to consult on that one. Be interesting to see.
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to tradlad: Ah yes, the Dolomites, now you're talking. Hope to get back again soon myself. Yeah, I agree about motivation in this country and sport climbing abroad can cause brain-death if you do too much of it. Like you I prefer to get my teeth into big rock routes like the Dolomites.
The Pylon King on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to GrahamD:

E1 in new Guide.
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to The Pylon King: Thanks for that. Mind you, in spite of Clive's airbourne antics it wasn't really the grade that concerned me. Possibly, E1 is right with a good attitude and a following wind. My point is it just ain't pleasant. How many stars in the new guide?
Solaris - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete:
> How many stars in the new guide?

3!! Hasn't appealed to me since the roof fell; doesn't appeal to me at all after reading your post!

Before the rockfall the start was excellent and overall it was a good climb, but as someone else has said, burly for HVS.

mike kann - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete: Its definastely E1 since the roof fell off. I didn't do it before the roof fell but I can't say I thought it was that dirty. Mind you I'm used to climbing in dirty dank quarries, so if its not crumbling ;)
nniff - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete:

I do agree that the first half of the first pitch is just vile and more than enough to make you wonder what on earth is going on (earth being the operative word when I did it). Thereafter, I thought it delighful. Polish always takes the edge off things, but I didn't really conseder it polished either. Maybe an off day? Now Buccaneer at Swanage: three stars? Shurley shome mishtake?
GrahamD - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to nniff:
> Polish always takes the edge off things, ...

Or even the gloss :-)
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to nniff:
> (In reply to Pete)
>
> Now Buccaneer at Swanage: three stars? Shurley shome mishtake?

Buccaneer is a good route. Maybe I am biased cos I love Boulder Ruckle and I was one of the party on the f.a of the alternative finish on Buccaneer. However, maybe not three stars. I firmly believe that the 3* is an over-used accolade. As I see it the star rating system is as follows: 1* = good route in the area, 2* = very good route in the area, 3* represents excellent route that would hold its own with any in the country. Of my favourites I would put The Moon, Vector and Coronation Street firmly in that category. Take Shorncliffe for instance: Some very good slab routes in the Great Cave Area such as No Musketeers and Laughing Cavaliers. They are given 3*. They are excellent routes, for the area, but with little variety, indeterminate line and forgettable individual moves they, in my opinion, are not 3* routes only 1 or maybe 2 stars.

mike kann - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete: I guess at the end of the day this is yet another reason to remove the stars from guidebooks. If you're unable to read a guide and read between the lines as the quality of a route... (not referring to KK here, just in general). It forces you to get to know the crag a bit better than just pitching up and climbing all the three starred routes, when some are not that great.
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to mike kann: I couldn't agree more. In recent years, fed up with repeating routes that I have done numerous times before I have taken to hunting out no star routes that I ignored before. Sometimes you find a gem and an awful lot of this is subjective and very much dependant on one's preferred style of climbing.
JimR - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to mike kann:

The starring system tends to be relative to an area, so 3* route quality will vary. King Kong was always a grotty route with starts being awarded for position, line and situation rather than quality of rock or climbing.
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
> (In reply to mike kann)
>
> The starring system tends to be relative to an area, so 3* route quality will vary.

Ah, as I said not from my perspective. One and two star routes are relative to an area, but a three star route should be able to deserve classic status anywhere. Others that I would cite, apart from those I mentioned, are: Bow Wall, Eroica, Praying Mantis, The Grooves, Gogarth as well as numerous others. These have line, position, variety of climbing, good rock, sometimes history and an 'aura'. You remember them. Controversially I would rate Cenotaph Corner only 2* Yes it has history, but, after all, it is a singl pitch crack climb with little variety and inconsistency in the climbing standard with a 'one move wonder' crux. I have done it four times and it is, undeniably, good, but great? I'm not so sure.
Al Randall on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete: In general I agree with you but with an added caveat: Cenotaph is a single pitch route in an area that grew to popularity mainly because it was a multi-pitch venue otherwise by your definition a single pitch route could not get 3* status which obviously it can.

Al
Al Evans on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete: Buccaneer is the worst 3* route I have done. Maybe one star for its line but the climbing is rubbish and dirty.
Pete - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Al Evans: I would agree and it is, perhaps, a victim of this parochial attitude in dishing out stars. The local activists think a route is great for the area and go mad with the stars. Sometimes the area is itself is not so great or maybe the locals haven't done too much climbing elsewhere and they get 'tunnel vision'. Certainly true of The Ruckle. It has never had a great number of climbers there. You either love or hate it. Those who love it think the routes are wonderful. I was involved in early developments in the late sixties and early seventies on the Ruckle doing several second ascents and a couple of firsts. Some of the early ascentionists maybe didn't do a lot of climbing then in other places. But you have to admit the Finale Groove has got to be up there in the 3* category? But then maybe not using the criteria I mentioned. Line, yes, position, yes, exposure. Loose top, not too much variety? Good one. I always think Buccaneer looks the same, but not as good so certainly not 3*
Cusco - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to JimR:

Fantastic and many thanks. I was hoping someone was going to do this soon! I've got no excuse not to go for the lead now.

How did you find Ann? As rounded and green as it always looks?!
jon on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete:

... polished? I wonder who could have polished it...
thomasadixon - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete:

Apart from the start (a real struggle) I thought it was a pretty good route (crack bit at the top of the first pitch was very nice), maybe only 2* but still good. The second pitch was great with a hard but doable crux, no harder than E1 iirc. Don't recall it being green either, was a while ago though. (For comparison I suck at jamming and was leading E1 on good days at the time, I lead the 1st pitch...)

As to stars in the new guide they do seem to have given far more out than before - but that's similar to up here (peak stuff), 2* and 3* ratings just seem to be given alot more than in say the Avon & Cheddar Guide for a given area.
ads.ukclimbing.com
pix_climber on 21 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete:

I did King Kong today (21st June 2009) after wanting to try it for more than 10 years. I loved it. It certainly lived up to my expectations of a big climb with testing sections on each pitch. The harder climbing wasn't green, perhaps because you'd cleaned it for me - thanks! - and was no more polished than other popular limestone routes in the area. Isn't polish one of the idiosyncratic characteristics of all the rock near Bristol?

I would recommend King Kong to my climbing friends, and of the routes I've done in the Wye it stands out as one of the most memorable. For me that makes it 3*. To put my experience into context, I've been climbing for 20 years but have only just reached a level where I'd describe myself as comfortable at E1. I learnt to climb in the Bristol area but moved away 10 years ago and haven't climbed in the area much since then.
Paul Robertson - on 22 Jun 2009
In reply to pix_climber:
Well said (and well done)!
Pete - on 23 Jun 2009
In reply to pix_climber:
> (In reply to Pete)
>
> Isn't polish one of the idiosyncratic characteristics of all the rock near Bristol?

Not all of the rock. It tends to be worse on erstwhile so-called classics of yesteryear, generally under E1. The ones that are badly polished I would not give three stars either. Jasper on Sea Walls at Avon is often quoted as epitomising the malaise. This used to be a brilliant climb. It was top-roped out of sight and is now not worth climbing.

I stick to my original thesis that KK is an unpleasant experience and thereby does not stand up as a 3* route, which should be memorable in the positive sense. Maybe my experience on the day was somewhat coloured by the antics of my climbing partner, but I am trying to put that aside and be objective. If it was a good experience for you then that is great. Each to his own.

Was our abandoned gear still there when you climbed it?
>
bpmclimb - on 23 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete:

I feel like defending poor old KK a bit.

Admittedly the polish at the start of pitch one makes things a bit more difficult, but I wouldn't call it excessively polished - your feet will stay where they're put if your footwork's reasonable and your boots are clean. IMO it doesn't change the moves you have to make, which are strenuous but still really good.

I don't think there's a meaningful comparison between KK and Jasper; the latter is far more polished, and the type of climbing required makes it still more insecure. Even then I wouldn't call Jasper "not worth climbing" - you just need steadiness and squeaky clean boots - it's still a good route, IMO.

I didn't find significant vegetation last time I did KK - maybe a bit here and there on the easier sections, which shouldn't really be a problem if you can climb the crux sections, which are clean.

As far as the grade is concerned, IMO the extra difficulties due to the rockfall and a bit more polish are easily compensated for by the increase to E1. As it stands the climb is low end E1 or possibly very top end HVS - certainly nowhere near E2 5c, anyway. There's nothing on it like the lower crux of Yesterday's Dreams, for example.

KK has always been a magnificent route with tough but great climbing up one of the most significant strong natural lines in the area - is it really so different now?
pix_climber on 23 Jun 2009
In reply to Pete:

> Was our abandoned gear still there when you climbed it?

No sorry. All gone.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.