/ NEW ARTICLE: Millstone - Quarried Grit
"The fact that Millstone has been quarried has left it with less-than-par frictional properties; angular holds and an abundance of cracks, from the thinnest hairline seams to bottomless off-widths. The length of the routes and quality of the rock leaves one with a definite sense of climbing rather than extended bouldering"
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2791
It always struck me as a place of contrast - industrial blasted rock, aesthetically unimaginative, yet turn round and see the views! Nothing quite like topping out and belaying on a summer evening looking down Hope Valley approaching sunset time. Well there probably is, but not on my doorstep.
However, for me Millstone is all about climbing. The quality of the routes and the moves required leave me with a great sense of satisfaction. Great jaming, great crimps, physical and with exposure for grit.
It's not *that* good!
Public open air swimming pool innit. It gets very popular on days like we've had this week.
No - its not Hokum - I beleive that crags have a spirit & Millstone's is baaad. Never enjoyed being there despite the views - when Lawrencefield over the road has a much more fiendlier aspect despite being a hole in the ground - the two could not be more different in mood.
I even got one of my best pictures which is in the article, at Millstone & don't feel anything for it - it's wierd!
Dunno how hard you climb, but it's nowt special until you're decent at HVS. At that grade, it is the king of gritstone. Above that grade its pretty amazing too.
An Anecdote from Alan Heason (the author’s dad). This didn't make it into the article as it's Lawrencefield and not Millstone, but I thought it might be an interesting read nonetheless:
We entered the amorphous arena of ‘Artificial Climbing’ in 1965 or thereabouts. This practise, we vaguely understood, entailed scaling otherwise-unscaleable cliffs by hammering metal pegs called pitons into cracks and fissures, hanging short rope ladders with alloy steps from them and progressing smoothly and gloriously up virgin faces that had never felt the tread of man. We purchased necessary (and probably un-necessary) gear and then rather nervously contemplated our next step. It had all seemed so super in the planning stage, but now, what? Where to develop the necessary techniques and skills? It certainly would not do to practice in public, for we would be rapidly exposed for the tyros we certainly were. I know, there’s that quarry we found not very far from Hathersage. Let’s see what we can sort out there. So there we were, six of us, on a grey, dank Saturday afternoon, gazing somewhat nervously at the blank, black wall. Well, not absolutely blank; here and there were teeny cracks. The others stepped back, producing cameras and adopting occupied airs. Oh. I’m the one who’s going to give it a bash, am I? Yip. The brand-new 300-foot rope, white for half its length and then light blue, dyed in the Hoover twin-tub washing machine, was uncoiled and I tied on at that middle point and commenced to climb. Hammer in a piton. Shouldn’t they ‘ring like a gong’ when lodged securely? Clip in an etrier. Climb up nervously. Four feet, perhaps. In goes another peg. Another etrier. The white upturned faces seemed a long way down. The crack thinned. No piton points would enter. Ah yes, this Ace of Hearts, slender and so short, slotted into a horizontal crack. Trouble was, there was no need to hammer it in, I just pushed it in, half an inch at most. Never mind, here’s a new crack above. Stretch, place, hammer, karabiner, clip in the rope. Mmmm, ok, ok, but… I’m an awfully long way up. Not far to the top now, ten feet perhaps? Ping. Rrrrippp. I was falling backwards through space, fifteen or so pitons popping out like a Riverdance line-up without the slightest delaying effect. I found myself head down, my face level with Bryan Porter’s, my belayer. He lowered me the final six feet onto my head and I shakily stood upright. What had happened? Not one of the final fifteen pitons had held. My technique was woefully inadequate. But. My Ace of Hearts, my darling little ace, pushed – not hammered – into that crack thirty feet above us, had held and acted as a fulcrum to hold me. When I descended to retrieve it by abseil I found it, bent double from the strain. I had it chromium plated at Raleigh. Incidentally, the lower pitons all pulled out of their placements with little or no resistance.
I did do some more artificial climbing, achieving a reasonable standard of competence, and eventually returned to that first climb having learned that someone had aided it successfully, calling it ‘Billy Whiz’. I led it successfully. I am somewhat chagrined to discover that those then-aided routes are now regularly climbed ‘free’.
When I was nobbut a teenager, venturing up my first VDiffs, I cycled out to Millstone one Wednesday evening, to meet up with some mates.
We saw these two guys aiding a route, (we had only ever seen aiding in books about Yosemite) When the first guy had got to the top, he asked us if any of us wanted a go. The lent me some aluminium etriers and I had a whale of a time clipping up the pegs they had put in.
The second guy followed me up, de-pegging. I said thanks and they said have a good time.
The guy at the top was Don Morrison, and the other guy was Paul Nunn.
Good story but it was only called Billy Whiz when it was free climbed, not aided.
What did it go by before Al?
> No - its not Hokum - I beleive that crags have a spirit & Millstone's is baaad.
I don't agree - I think the place has a very good "spirit" and a great feel about it.
I'm guessing that most people who say they don't like the place have had a hard time on some of the routes there :)
>on a grey, dank Saturday afternoon,
It was ALWAYS dank, it was when we went there. The hut was commandeered by the club and even the Alpha lads were let in on sufferance, though Boysen and his missus got in one day, and left the Alfa, well ten of them squeezed into a good companions tent. I arrived that morning to find bulges sticking outwards from the tent, the poor occupants relegated to the outside having wet sleeping bags.
>Not far to the top now, ten feet perhaps? Ping. Rrrrippp. I was falling backwards through space, fifteen or so pitons popping out like a Riverdance line-up without the slightest delaying effect. I found myself head down, my face level with Bryan Porter’s, my belayer. He lowered me the final six feet onto my head and I shakily stood upright. What had happened? Not one of the final fifteen pitons had held.
You could have been describing my fall on London wall, though I was about ten feet from the floor when I fell.
Another time on some route I don't remember the name of, John Gosling was holding my ropes, not normally his thing, I was about 30ft up on what I considered a good peg, knife blade in a vertical crack. Went to weight it and it pulled, and the thing that stopped me was the dodgy butter knife peg below, bent at right angles, and fell out when it was unloaded.!!
That is interesting - where was the hut? I first visited Millstone in 1968/9 (Embankment 3 and Great Slab - after a lot of effort) and don't remember seeing it.
I do remember a table, chair and TV in the Keyhole Cave and one of the wide cracks round beyond Twikker with half-a-dozen exhaust systems sticking out of it!
Aye, interesting - I listened to an interview this morning with Ron Townsend talking about the late 60s development of Millstone. It seems to have been a really interesting period.
> What did it go by before Al?
I'm not sure but Geoff Birtles called it Billy Whizz after a cartoon that he wrote for Crags Magazine, in it there was a superhero climber, The Hydraulic Man (Tom Proctor) whose buddy was a Jimmy Olsen lookalike called Billy Whizz (Geoff Birtles) who led the route.
Actually I have just checked and it was originally called 'Harlequin'.
In reply to PL: Do I know you then. It would seem likely. Am I the Al that you mention? The other names ring a bell. There was also Phil Grayson and John Firth. The Tony mentioned, wasn't he the one who some of us nicknamed "basecamp" because he always disappeared to put the kettle on when things might have got a bit hairy. Very nice guy though.
We should have a reunion.
There was also Ross who came out occasionally, he was at Uni', and famously broke his front teeth when stopped, rather inexpertly, from climbing down a wall upside down.
Reputedly the hut was the old explosives store from when the quarry was mined
I think that it must have been around about 1965/66/67. I had a bad fall not long after that and lost touch with everyone.
Elsewhere on the site
Rock shoes stink – let’s face it. Boot Bananas are the perfect way to fight the funk and keep them fresh. They help... Read more
F ounded in 1993, Mountain Hardwear are a pretty young mountaineering clothing and equipment manufacturer but are also one of... Read more
Perhaps the perfect Xmas gift for the climber in your life... Wild Country's Crack School has two of the worlds best crack... Read more
At a bar in Llanberis an old man chimed in And I thought he was out of his head Being a young man I just laughed it off When... Read more
Tonight's Friday Night Video features the Norwegian town of Rjukan, once believed to be the home of the world's tallest... Read more