/ first trip to Peak grit - ideas please?
I'm travelling from Chester area and would like to try a crag that offers well protected leading in the V-Diff to VS range. What would be a good introduction to grit that's easy to get to and has a good selection of enjoyable routes at that grade? I guess most would be single pitch but I'm not averse to multi-pitch either.
Any thoughts from locals / grit fans?
Closest to Chester, the biggest selection of routes in your range is at The Roaches. I'd go there, it's a top quality crag with a wide variety of styles and loads of routes. It is mostly single pitch. If you fancy a bit of multi pitch - Hen Cloud is next door but expect grades to feel stiff there.
Windgather is on your side of the Peak. It is really only baby grit but would do as a 1st contact. PM sun and fast drying.
I'd wait 'til Spring and go to the Roaches. I think doing trad in winter is an enormous waste of time anyway, but additionally the Roaches gets green. It's a wonderful crag with lots to explore, and not far from you. However, it's perhaps a little harder to seek out the routes at those grades - but given the size of the crag, there must be plenty.
Basically all the major grit crags have plenty to do. Stanage has the biggest and best selection of excellent routes all next to each other, but it's better to go on a quiet day. It's freezing cold in winter. Froggatt is a bit more hospitable in the cold, and has lots of good, clean routes in those grades - in fact, it's particularly good for HS cracks. Birchen does have lots of easy routes, but it's a bit of a funny crag I think, with a particular style of very gentle, rounded slabs guarded by a fierce steep at the start. The routes are shorter than the other crags I mentioned and it has more of a 'beginners/groups' atmosphere.
In winter, Rivelin can be a good bet as it's much lower-lying than other crags and faces the sun. Some stuff will be green and damp though.
But bearing all that in mind, I'd still invest in a bouldering mat instead for this time of year. By the time you've found a route that's dry and racked up, you're already freezing cold and it's gone dark.
You see I disagree about the leaving it till spring thing. Grit in the freezing cold is the stuff of dreams. You might have to hunt a dry(ish) route but thats half the fun eh? Get there early and you'll have plenty of time to get up a few routes.
Burbage may also be worth a visit. Ash Tree Slab i think its called and has a handful of fun routes.
Ditto peoples thoughts on Roaches...a brilliant crag with loads to go at. Plenty in grade you want and despite the 'green' warnings I have never been unable to climb something there.
Try Right Hand Route on upper tier....a lovely, low grade, grit climb.
Enjoy and get ready to smear!!
Wharncliffe - easy to get to, nice walk in, sharp holds, gets the sun, distinct lack of green, good friction, and probably the Peak's easiest spot for fixing belays at the top of the crag.
> Wharncliffe - also bear in mind that it's a remarkably unattractive crag to drive all the way across the Peak to.
I'd disagree about easy to fix belays! Not desperate, but there are much easier locations. Also it is a bit of a pig to actually find your routes there as the bottom if the crag is not very navigable so it's a case of "walk along the top and take a lucky dip". Other than that, I would in fact agree - did a lovely HVD 4a (!) there a few weeks back, and there is Himmelswillen and Tower Face and Puttrell's Progress and Beta Crack and the Scarlett routes etc...but the logistics might be offputting (I think the walk in is a pig too - not long, just potentially confusing IMHO) and it's not a very nice PLACE. Friction is great, yes, and we have climbed pure green routes that were not actually problematic in terms of friction.
All that said...I think Stanage Crow Chin might work though I am not sure what there is at V Diff to Severe...
Go bouldering, it'll be murderously cold sat atop most of the edges this time of year. If you must do routes then go for somewhere with a bit of shelter and a range of aspects so you can get into the sun and or out of the wind.
I agree with your sentiments about winter climbing but I was at the Roaches in November and it was fine despite the torrential rain we had all summer. I don't really understand your sentiments about routes being difficult to find though. How can you miss the excellent Right Hand Route, Maud's Garden, Black and Tans, Via Dolorosa and the ever famous Valkrie to name but a few sub VS ideas? At the end of the day, given the amount of rain we have had recently, all venues are going to be damp and the higher you go (Stanage for example) the more fridgid it will be.
> Grit in the freezing cold is the stuff of dreams.
Maybe if I'm climbing well on grit, and it's bright blue skies and no wind at all and the rock is completely dry, then it can be amazing. It never happens.
> I don't really understand your sentiments about routes being difficult to find though.
Fair point. I just think of the Roaches as less user-friendly than the Eastern crags. The first time I went I recall struggling to find appealing-looking routes around VS, in contrast to Stanage where they're all obvious 'climb me' lines, right next to each other on a continuous clean edge.
Do you even like climbing Jon? Or do you just like summer?
Is a good suggestion in many ways, but its not grit and it isn't in the Peak.
Yeah, well, apart from that of course...
Bloody pedant :-)
Ok, I see what you're saying - maybe I'm just used to it, and know where to look for belays (i.e. a multitude of long slings).
I think it's a lovely place by the way!
> Do you even like climbing Jon? Or do you just like summer?
I like spring too. When it's sunny, so when it's like summer.
I would say Windgather.
Not understanding this nonsense about not climbing grit in the winter at all. If God hadn't meant us to do that He wouldn't have allowed us to invent duvet jackets.
Thanks for all the replies folks. Some more info:
I'm not after specifically winter trad, more a general question to bear in mind as the weather slowly improves.
Most of my experience is on either slate (mostly sport around F5 to F6a) or limestone (trad, HS to HVS) and I'm most comfortable on finger cracks and crimps, on walls or slabs. I have very little overhanging rock experience and my power to weight ratio is not great. I'd like to work on this though. I also have very little experience on slopers.
I'd like to become a more well rounded climber, and also need to show this for my SPA log. I'm guessing I'll have to start low (maybe V Diff to S) until I get a feel for the rock type?
So I'm initially after a gentle introduction to grit, to get a feel for it, then maybe some stuff in the range HS to HVS to aspire to.
Its quite far and there are closer crags but if the weather and routes dont appeal when you get there, at least you have a pub next to the car park.
> Do you even like climbing Jon? Or do you just like summer?
Oh, I love climbing. I am just not a big fan of the cold and particularly standing around in the cold.
> I'd like to become a more well rounded climber
Pies are your friend. As is Xmas. Go forth and conquer.
There is a horribly old skool way of doing this, which is what people did before there was the internet. It is this: buy a guidebook and possibly some magazines. Read them. Look at the pictures. Find a crag or a route that grabs your fancy. Then go and do it.
Seriously - there are tons of easy routes at virtually every gritsone crag. The guides these days give a good idea about conditions. If in doubt, go to Stanage!
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