/ Wow... Swanage has changed!!!
Tried Pearly Gates and failed miserably at the crux. I first did this in 1999 and don't remember it being that hard (my notes certainly don't mention anything)...
Now I know I'm not as good as I was back then, and this was my first rock climb in over a year, while then it was about 3 times a week...
So decided to downgrade a bit and did Resurrection and found this great but still a bit tricky.
At the top got talking to a couple and had a look at their new guide book (I still have the old Swanage/Portland guide)... and most of the climbs have been upgraded... Pearly gates from VS/4c to HVS 5a and Resurrection from S/4a to HS/4b... Also noticed that Hangover has gone from HS/4b to VS/5a...
Why the big changes???
Has climbing levels changed or the perceived sense of risk?
Or were they undergraded originally!
Still one of my favourite places to climb.
I'm awaiting the definitive guide to see what has really happened to the grades. I hope the CC aren't going to go down their Pembroke rampant grade inflation route. A Swanage VS or HVS are supposed to be good honest hardwork.
Swanage is on a fault line and the cliffs have tilted very slightly over the last ten years making everything slightly steeper - hence the upgrade. Geologists predict that over the next 10 years it should tilt back again considerably so routes such as Tudor Rose may well up at about VS.
> Swanage is on a fault line and the cliffs have tilted very slightly over the last ten years making everything slightly steeper - hence the upgrade. Geologists predict that over the next 10 years it should tilt back again considerably so routes such as Tudor Rose may well up at about VS.
I this true???
Haha.. I like that
> I this true???
Quite true. It's so fragile it moves in the wind
> I this true???
Yes but a bit of an exagerration. The rate is nearer 5% per decade owing to unconformities in the taurine coporology deposits
Very good but a bit obvious - could you have used more obscure jargon? :-)
> Yes but a bit of an exagerration. The rate is nearer 5% per decade owing to unconformities in the taurine coporology deposits
TBH I find most places down here the grades I climb ( <= HVS) are stiffer than Scotland, but swanage is stiff in the grade with more sandbags than most places.
I don't think Swanage has that many sandbags, does it ?
Of the climbs I've done it has more sandbags than soft touches IMO but I've not done any climbs outside subliminal and cattle troughs and then mainly VD - HS as I find the climbing hard. I have ticked most the stared routes at these grades.
The opposite of 'soft for the grade' is 'hard for the grade' (which Swanage tends to be) - its not necessarily full of sandbags though.
Ive not found swanage to be hard in the grade, so much as loose in the grade!
bits of it keep falling off!
Couldn't comment above HVS/E1 ! At those grades it was 'honest' in the old CC book.
try telling me something I don't already know......
"its not necessarily full of sandbags though."
Anyway my sample size is quite small but of the 10-15 routes I've lead at swanage about 25% of them have been sandbags IMO.
Out of interest do you think a sandbag is always a route which is the wrong grade.
> Out of interest do you think a sandbag is always a route which is the wrong grade.
Yes - not only that it is deceptive in so much that it doesn't become apparent that its the wrong grade until you are on it.
Otherwise its just "hard for the grade" or "undergraded" depending on which it is and allowing a reasonable overlap between hard for one grade and low in the next grade.
UKC disagrees with you BTW.
SANDBAG. (noun) A route whose grade belies its difficulty. This can be either because it is undergraded, or requires a trick move to overcome the crux. Or it's just more work than it looks. (verb) To point someone at a route that is a sandbag, saying things like "It's only HVS" (unsaid: but requires the skills of an E3 climber). While the grading may get sorted out over time, trick moves tend to keep their grade. Classic example: Verandah Buttress, Stanage (supposedly VD 5b, but harder than 5b!).
Semantics apart - which routes do you think are sandbags ("grade belies difficulty") as opposed to "difficult for the grade" ? Apart from Tatra (at VS in the definitive grade) I'm struggling to think of any.
first corner, Suspension, Curving Crack all supposedly severe at subliminal.
Don't get me wrong I like the climbing there. Not a great fan of suspension but first corner and curving crack are both good climbs.
> first corner, Suspension, Curving Crack all supposedly severe at subliminal.
I would give all three of those at least Hard Severe. Good climbs though def, old school!
I've noticed the same grade inflation at Boulder Ruckle. Think its more to do with the public voting system thats taking away the experienced graders input. All of swanage is imposing, but not at all difficult to climb once you've got used to the exposure and the looseness of some of the routes. (I say this with 20 years climbing experience at swanage). I've been using the old CC guidebook until recently and found the grades there all comparable with gritstone routes in the peak - some actually soft touches. I think whats happened is far more people climb sport in nearby venues before trying out the trad routes. Sport routes have none of the stamina requirements and none of the exposure so those people often get spanked on the trad routes. Natural reaction is to grade it hard. Actually once your used to the length of the routes there isn't really anything parrticularly hard about swanage routes.
> bits of it keep falling off!
so true. One of my favorite routes at Swanage in the mid 1960s was Crack of Dawn at (I think) Blackers Hole. The buttress cleaved by the crack has apparently fallen into the sea.
> UKC disagrees with you BTW.
> SANDBAG. (noun)...
Whats the opposite of a sandbag? A bandsag?
Swanage no doubt has a few sandbags, but it has one of the best E3 bandsags in Britain too.
There are also some notable bandsags:
How did Hangover at Cattle Troughs get upgraded to VS 5a? There are harder HS climbs at Swanage, technically no more than decent 4b. Also at CT Eskimo Nell is a gift at E1. Aventura (Boulder Ruckle), Ledgend Direct (Guillemot) and Quality Street (Cormorant) are all classic routes that are low in HVS (but do just about merit their grade).
Nearly lost a finger on Stroof. Definitely not a bandsag.
"I've been using the old CC guidebook until recently and found the grades there all comparable with gritstone routes in the peak "
I can but assume you are also using a 20 year old gritstone guide as I find the modern grit grades are a LOT easier than than the grades in the old CC guide.
I rarely climb indoors and don't climb much sport, I also prefer steep rock to slabs, I personally find swanage the second most stiffly graded area I've climbed in after northumberland. But I haven't yet climbed outside of cattle troughs or subliminal. Incidentaly I didn't find cattle troughs grades as bad as sumbiminal.
"Why the big changes???"
Don't you answer this your self in the opening sentence?
"Tried Pearly Gates and failed miserably at the crux. I first did this in 1999 and don't remember it being that hard (my notes certainly don't mention anything)..."
TBH though euge you were never likely to do well at swanage if you haven't climbed in a year even the severes are quite pumpy although Resurrection isn't hard in the grade. Lucky you didn't go to subliminal!
I don't think Swanage trad grades particularly hard if you've got a modicum of fitness. In fact I'm surprised grades are creeping up. With the advent of indoor walls it's so much easier nowadays to get fit so sustained routes should feel relatively easy.
Cant imagine getting fit enough for something like The Lean Machine without being able to hang of jugs for hours a night in a warm accessible climbing wall.
The sport routes, otoh, are all total sandbags. Either that or I've never found them in good condition. There are safe E5s in Swanage that are easier than the F6b's.
> Incidentaly I didn't find cattle troughs grades as bad as sumbiminal.
sumbiminal. Nice. Did you know it has 2 'u's btw?
Having said that there are some gifts (Spreadeagle springs to mind)
I've always found slip road hard for VS (maybe because I've taken a couple of good lead falls off it - first VS)
But there are also gems Transcript Direct and Freda.
Having started to venture onto the bigger cliffs - Ledgend Direct is a gift at HVS mega well protected with a short (one or two strenuous moves) crux. Finale Groove again a well protected gift.
When I first went up to the peak I found that most of the classic Stanage VS routes seemed alot easier and the Mall at Millstone again a gift at VS.
Having said that Embankment 2 - what a shit !
Totally agree... it did take me a few trips before to get used to the climbing. And as for Subliminal... I hate the place lol
Ledgeend Direct is VS isn't it ? according to the definitive guide at least. I'm really hoping the new CC guide (hopefully out next year)keeps the faith with Swanage 'solid' grades rather than the new Pembroke guide free upgrade policy.
> Ledgeend Direct is VS isn't it ? according to the definitive guide at least. I'm really hoping the new CC guide (hopefully out next year)keeps the faith with Swanage 'solid' grades rather than the new Pembroke guide free upgrade policy.
Ledgend Direct would be E1 at Tremadoc. So would Tatra, the 'easy' top pitch is 5a at least.
Tatra at VS is the one genuine 'sandbag' I'd give you.
I personally think that it was probably easier than Slip Road VS 4c on subluminal.
Interesting that you mention Tatra in the same sentence as LD (on a par ???)
I'm old fashioned - I'll wait to see what Tatra gets in the new definitive guide - but I'd be surprised if it didn't get HVS.
Have to say, I've barely climbed at Subluminal, but it sounds like the sandbags are focused around there. The ruckle routes mainly seem pretty fair.
The CC have followed the Rockfax upgrade on Ledgend Direct (now HVS 5a), but Black Sunshine in the Ruckle and Transcript Direct at Sub both stay at VS unlike in the 2012 Rockfax which has these two at HVS.
Black Sunshine actually is a VS, it always used to be the death on a stick scramble at the top of it, cutting steps in 50 degree mud with a nutkey that added a certain piquancy, not the techical climbing.
But Jim Titt's merry army, which included me, have done away with all that excitment by putting in a load of new stakes along the Ruckle.
I was lucky enough to have a very good and uber experienced climber (who will remain nameless) second me up the route. He agreed on HVS.
I've not climbed anything since an onsight of FG on the ruckle in April and so am looking towards doing some stuff in the not too distant - so maybe tensor II, astrid, aventura, lightning wall heidleburg and behemoth.
I think thatīs Scottīs merry army really!
Black Sunshine is an easy VS and the top-out is nothing, I did the FA in the dark hence the name. A loose top-out is something nice like Talus at Blackers Hole, that gets the grade for the top not the climbing!
Didn't find the Black Sunshine topout particularly disturbing, pretty standard fair for the Ruckle.
As for Pearly Gate, it was never one of the easier VS's - it was always a huge relief to get my paws round the crucial chockstone. Since this came out (with fatal results) it must be at least a grade harder. Swanage cliffs eh - Vive la Change!
Oh, and Quality St on Cormorant (apparently a really good climb)
That is precisely my memory of it maybe 17 years ago - with a little touch of rope drag to make it even more terrifying ! I must go and try it again armed with a bit more Swanage experience.
Ah, brother of the more famous Jim!
Probably a BIG mistake to offend Scott, especially by ommision. Getting on the wrong side of someone so handy with a sledgehammer is never wise.
When I were on the wrong side of the Col Moore, you only had to look at the slope and 10,000 tons of rock and ice fell on your head, tore off all your arms and legs and carried you 2000m into Italy.
Love the way the trouser-filling terror that is Astrid is surreptitiously slipped in among the other routes.
I knew a girl called Astrid once - she was rather frightening too, but nothing like as sphincter-loosening as the climb in the Black Zawn.
For some strange reason I thought I was up to Astrid (fool). We abbed in and I attempted and failed.
I can still remember the long jug out (not even on static rope).
I'm now older (and maybe wiser) and a better climber with better/lighter gear - and have realised that if you fall off occasionally you won't die. So yeh sometime soon I'll get down there and do it (although gotta get it when the bottom part is dry).
The downfall of your argument is then by that system every route in the Dolomites is then about E9 since they are ten or twenty times longer, just as steep, loose and intimidating and even worse at altitude!
Thats what you expect, surely ? 50% hard for a grade and 50% easy. You can't use Pembroke as any sort of benchmark, especially with the new and otherwise excellent guides - they seem to have lost the plot with that lot. Try Ogmore as a comparison.
Surely one should try a grit crag like Stanage as a comparison, not being steep, loose or intimidating and nice and short they must all be Diffs!
E2 5B doesn't imply easy for the grade - it implies hard work or no gear.
Normal grading dosen't apply.
I agree - I see it as great training for mountain routes (loose rock, hard to follow lines, gear hard to assess from the ground etc)
> Thats what you expect, surely ? 50% hard for a grade and 50% easy. You can't use Pembroke as any sort of benchmark, especially with the new and otherwise excellent guides - they seem to have lost the plot with that lot. Try Ogmore as a comparison.
Did you read his post he said "Nothing has seemed very soft so far"
Anyway I disagree a normal distribution is most the routes seeming average for the grade. Ofcourse crags are not always made with a UK wide normalised distribution of difficulty of routes at any particular grade.
Somewhat tongue in cheek reply, I guess.
I think Swanage 'harder than average' (by general concensus) grades are more than offset by the ridiculous number of Pembroke soft touches.
What about gower - I'm off there this weekend - My limited experience so far there is climbs are average overall for the grade or slightly easy for the grade.
Somewhere between Pembroke and Swanage (grading wise as well as geographically) I would say.
I believe someone actually pulled the block off with tragic (fatal) results.
Hangover got upgraded while I was still living over that way. Could never see why since it was a path but again haven't repeated it since the upgrade.
I personally think there are quite a few sandbags though if you are used to the goey nature of the climbing and the looseness of the rock I guess its not so bad?
If you want to experience the full sandbag experience can I recommend Hell's Teeth (VS?) at Flake Ledge?
Some holds have fallen off Hell's Teeth and it's much harder now. It will be HVS in the new guide.
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