/ Your 10 best climbing experiences
What are your ten best climbing experiences?
Here are mine, in no particular order:
1) Cassin Ridge - Denali
We stripped everything down to the minimum and climbed this over two days. The experience was awesome and I was utterly wasted at the top.
2) Orion Direct - Ben Nevis
The highlight of a brilliant week climbing on the Ben in perfect weather. We were so psyched when we got to the top that we nipped up Tower Ridge in the afternoon.
3) Jelly Roll - Cloggy
The climbing is superb and the top pitch climbs through some outstanding territory, straight above the Indian Face.
4) Lion's Face - Tafroute, Morocco
I had a great adventure climbing this with my Girl Friend a couple of years a go.
5) Dream of White Horses - Gogarth
I've done this a few times and it never disappoints. The last pitch is easy, but it looks outrageous.
6) Central Pillar of Freney - Mont Blanc
This was the last route I did at the end of one of the most enjoyable two weeks of climbing I've ever had. During that period, I also climbed the Cassin on the Piz Badile, Dru North Face, Frendo Spur and Gervasutti Pillar.
7) Cenotaph Corner - Dinas Cromlech
I climbed this when it was right at the top of my grade. I had to really go for it at the top and was convinced I was going to fall off right until I was stood on top of the crag.
8) Kipling Groove - Gimmer
I first did this after school with my Dad, many moons ago. I remember feeling like a super hero leading the overlap. I've lead the top pitch since and it is not pushover.
9) Hornli Ridge - Matterhorn
People slate this route a bit, but it is the line up the most iconic mountain in the world. I thought it was a superb day out.
10) Cascade - The Pass
The last route I ever did as a teenager. It's bonkers that ice like this forms in Wales.
I don't have anything as illustrious as the Cassin to offer, but anyway:
(1) Concrete Chimney - better than its more famous neighbour. Or Britomartis, done up in full shell gear on a November day with lots of wind and spray.
(2) First time at Diabaig: the Pillar, but then Black Streak and couple of other things on the main face that were possibly even better. Best (mid-grade trad) crag in Britain?
(3) Spring Bank at Gimmer - last route of the day, "let's just quickly nip up this two star single pitch route to round the day off" that turns out to be absolutely stunnning
(4) American Beauty, with the proper abseil down the other side & tidal boulder hop approach
(5) Cuillin Ridge
(6) Tofana Third Pillar. Not actually that great a route, but my first proper (quite) big alpine rock route so memorable for me
(7) Blassengrat. Stunning easy alpine ridge scramble
(8) on a slightly different scale than the previous two: La Science Friction, Apremont
(9)Idwal Slabs / Walls / Glyder Fawr link-up. No stunning climbing achievements - iirc we backed off Rowan Tree Slabs - but a long day out with a good friend. Memorable twilight dash down the Gribin Ridge when we found out neither of us had brought a headtorch.
(10) Central Buttress, Benn Eighe, in the rain. No idea if we were on route, frictionless runout quartzite was terrifying in the wet - felt about E2 5a - but a grand day out in retrospect.
These were probably the best climbing experiences (not necessarily quite the same thing as the best climbs) - certainly days when it all felt just right. Spread over a huge time span. All on-sight leads:
Cenotaph Corner 1970
Biancograt, Piz Bernina 1971
Gervasutti Route, Punta Allievi, by a grade VI variation 1971
Forbes Arete, Aiguille du Chardonnet 1972
West Flank Route, Cir Mhor 1983
Cemetery Gates 1983
Kipling Groove 1988
Fairly modest stuff, but they were magical experiences for me at the time.
Good thread. I'm not sure about the order but these are definitely the ten.
1) Pumpkin, Creag Meagaidh. I felt intimidated by the size and grade the night before, but actually it all went really smoothly.
2) Right Hand Gantry Curtain, Honister. 3 excellent steep pitches, right by the road and everyone else queuing at Great End.
3) North Ridge, Zinal Rothorn. My first 4000m peak AD route, totally classic and interesting all the way. Wasted afterwards.
4) Mont Pelvoux traverse, Ecrins. Easy but committing and varied all the way.
5) Riders on the Storm, Pembroke. Awesome line and holds.
6) Do Not Direct, first 2 pitch E1, nearly fell off but not quite, well pumped
7)Crescent Arete. I never thought I'd be brave enough to do it.
8) Crowberry Gully, Buachaille Etive Mor. What a line! I'd wanted to do this since I was 16.
9) Enchaining 4 routes up Idwal slabs and walls with good friends.
10) Raven Crag Gully, Lakes. Another route I'd been after for years.
I'll change my mind right after posting but here and now;
Bell's Ridge (Winter) - Ben Hope
Jack the Ripper - Stac Pollaidh
Rapture of the Deep - Mid Clyth
Tophet Wall - Gable
Chicken Run - Srathy Point
Goliaths Groove - Stanage
The Minstrel - Maeshafn
Shipton's route - Mt Kenya
Stepping Out - Latheronwheel
Shark Crack - Sheigra
In approximate chronological order and off the top of my head:
1. Getting up an E1 on second (with helpful tugs!) the same day as my first MVS lead; opened my eyes to what might be possible.
2. Onsights of Left Wall and Vector on the same day, when both were at my limit.
3. Jules Verne in Eldorado Canyon onsight solo on one of the hottest days of the year - before we realised climbing was actually harder in the heat.
4. Beating Ian Vickers in a national lead comp final.
5. Onsighting my first 8a, in Buoux.
6. Doing 536 routes one midsummer's day with Shane, before anyone had really ever conceived of doing half of that.
7. A 1000m new E6 onsight in Kyrgyzstan, starting with dawn diarrhoea 300m up and ending with a freezing bag-less bivi virtually on top.
8. Finally summoning up the courage for the FA of Doctor Dolittle in the third winter of trying it.
9. Getting to the top of Rainbow Jambaia (Angel Falls free) with Anne after 2 previous attempts and 19 days on the wall with no guarantee of success until day 18.
10. A wonderful soloing day in Wadi Rum, having driven from work in Amman, onsighting Towering Inferno and continuing up to Jebel Rum main summit before descending.
I'm sure I must have missed some other contenders and hopefully there will be more to come in future but that will do me for now.
10 - you have to be kidding!
1) White Slab - 1st route on Cloggy and 1st real Extreme.
6) Mr Clean (Devil's Tower)
7) NW Face Half Dome "in a day".
8) Grand Wall, Squamish
9) The Boldest
10) Deja Vu
In no particular order:-
1)The Groovesa on Cyrn Las,my first E1. Kieth Clements decided it would
be a good idea
2)Unicorn on Stob Coire nan Lochain after a chance mmeting with Simon
3)Palavar les Flots,Ailefroide. A Murphy and Bennett Alpine start i.e. 1pm.
4)Nairn Route on the Dibona.Again with Paul Bennett,gorgeous granite up
a great looking peak.
5)Albion,Lundy with Paul Bennett....a great line with a sustained main pitch.
6)Sauls Crack,The Roaches...with George Marshall...we nicked this on the
wayback to Chelmsford from the lakes.
7)Right Angle on Guinards Head with Paul Bennet,what a line
8)Amorican,Pembroke with Paul Bennett...the best VS in the world it's all
there,all the way.
9)Walk on the Wild Side,Auchinstarry Quarry with Colin Lampton, sustained
and all small holds. Do it on a nice day and forget it's a central belt
10)Hammer, Etive Slabs with Colin Lampton. My brand new Fires gave me
confidence leading the scoop pitch.
Having read through your impressive list, that is the one which really impressed me. Soloing anything hard on Rum rock muist take some nerve!
1. Mittellegi Ridge on the Eiger
2. Italian Ridge on the Matterhorn
3. Regular Route on Fairview Dome
4. Cassin on the Piz Badile
5. Cuillin ridge solo
6. Left Wall
7. Grey Panther
8. Cordless Madness
9. Surfs Up (Bugs)
10. Sunny days on the Ailadie sea cliffs
1) Old Man of Storr, fulmar vomit, showers, sunshine, the blue North Atlantic.
2) Klubbruta (about HS), Eidertind, N. Norway. Best easy rock climb I've ever done. http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=21918
3) Ruskea Virta WI4, Koronuoma, Finland. Finnish Independence day, so the perma-twilight of the Arctic mid-winter. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilkkakauppinen/2216799127/
4) Suuri Leikaus, 6, Olhava Finland. I can't climb Finnish 6 so was blown away to get on this and find out that not only was it brilliant, but it was easy! http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=159643
5) Skraeling IV,5/6, Beinn an Dothaid. Mid-winter and bus to bus, a smooth ascent that showed us that we were coming on as mountaineers and opened the door to V,6.
6) Red Square, E1/2, Nesscliff. After a great morning doing loads of sports climbs at Llanmynech with my wife - got on, and got up this route that I had wanted to try for 20 years.
7) Voie Couzy, Aiguille M. After a week of some grumpiness with previous partner, teamed up with Stu and had fun - safe, sunny, tough. Good day.
8) Vestpillaren, Presten, Lofoten. Beautiful weather, great partner. Challenging but never scary climbing. Went smoothly.
9) Gallionsruta Nor. 5+, Hollanderan, Kvaløya. Kvaløya grades laugh in the face of Lofoten grades! Big day out - epic hike in, super fine granite climbing, epic hike back out.
10) Tafeltinden, ski ascent, Lyngen, Norway. Glorious day. http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=141183
I'll probably change my mind tomorrow! :-)
Well I'll try list these quickly, before I change my mind.
1) Walker Spur.
My first alpine NF, climbed with two great friends, in great weather, with the best alpine bivi ever - the perfect alpine experience.
2) Salathe Wall.
Brilliant 3 days of big wall climbing - topped out at sunset to a surprise greeting from our girlfriend's, who'd hiked up from the valley complete with beer and spliffs....spent the night on the top under a perfect moonlit sky.
3) Nerve Wrack Point - Tuolumne
One of those days when everything was just perfect - especially the climbing.
4) Bonatti Pillar.
A truly awesome route and experience, not even tarnished by the thunder and lightening storm on the decent!
5) Motorhead - Eldorado.
Utterly joyous climbing - such a brilliant route.
6) Nabisco Wall
It was our last day in the valley, so we did all 4 pitches in one - Waverly Wafer, Wheat Thin, then abbed back down to do Butterballs, and then the final pitch of Butterfingers - the fingers and arms have never been so knackered, or the grin so big.
7) Great Wall - Cloggy
Mid-week, cloudy, brooding overcast day, done in one pitch - the route lived up to my dreams, and Drummond's seminal prose.
8) Profit of Doom
God I love that groove - grit at it's best, and the perfect end to one of those glorious summer days of youth.
9) Right Wall
A 'right' of passage, and a big milestone in my climbing.
10) The Long Walk - Etive Slabs
My climbing partner was still hungover from the previous night in the Clachaig, and backed out, so I soloed it - accompanied by Dark Side of the Moon on my Walkman - it was almost spiritual.
* Right Angle on Gurnard's Head, on a beautiful sunny day, soaked by a freak wave as I approached the second belay.
* Wonderful Autumn scorcher at Swanage, DWS then Benny.
* Cracking day on Dow, Eliminate A, Murray's Direct and Eliminate C.
* Saxon and Rock Dancer at Carn Kenidjack.
* Leading the slab on Golden Slipper.
* A race against dying light to get up Stone Cold Fever at Cheddar.
* Kirkus' Route in Cwm Silyn with an escape pitch in torrential rain with the slab more like a raging waterfall.
* Soloing Alison's Rib at Bosigran as the sun was setting with the whole crag to myself.
* Leading Armorican and savouring every move.
* Climbing Main Wall on Cyrn Las whilst I was still inexperienced enough to make it an awesome challenge.
Oops that's 10 already and I haven't even got beyond England and Wales ...perhaps that's a separate list. Thanks to all the partners I've shared these routes with. :-)
I meant The Long Reach on the Etive's - isn't old age wonderful - now where did I put my slippers.
Great thread: I can't decide on an order, so in no particular order here are my 10 greatest experiences:
1) Cuillin ridge in a oner 1995 - my first rock climb and solo
2) Salbit West Ridge in a day - amazing granite, superb line, one of the best
3) First ascent of An Casteail in Greenland, Stauning Alps (1st ascent followed by first ski descent of 8 km glacier on the other side - wow! what a day
4) Old Man of Stoer with friends
5) Albatross on the Ben in perfect conditions
6) Comici on the Cima Grande, Dolomites
7) Vestpillaren, Lofoten
8) Le Ticket, Chamonix
9) Bloodust Direct
10) Charlet-Ghilini, Pointe de Pre de Bar, Chamonix
11) The Messiah, Beinn Dorain
oh, bugger there is only supposed to be 10...and now I have eleven- well these are the ones I remembered of the top of my head, but they were followed by so many more, I feel I am not doing it justice (Kundalini/Luna Nascente, Dente par Dente, Torro, Cassin on Piz Badile, Another Day in Paradise, Pilastro Tofana di Rozes, Pala del Refugio - Sass d'Ortiga 1000m combination, Repentance Super
1) self control - val di mello . A well named 6a+ that turned out to be a very intense E3, and a very long day
2) the light at the end of the tunnel - Gozo. So great to share a first ascent with a loved one.
3) Theodora - kalymnos. My best lead.
4) sacre ceour - black church. 25 years after seeing a picture of it.
5) eterna brigata - Dolomites. A very memorable via ferrata, and further proof that epics are fun.
6) Elergy - the roaches. More self control.
7) banana finger - Burbage. Success after 18 months of trying.
8) a day with dave musgrove on kalymnos, thinking "well if he can do it with no fingers, surely I can do it"
9) ektor - kalymnos. On-sighting a steep 6c whilst coaching a mate on the next route!
10) super direct and diagonal on Dinas mot - same feelings, 20 years apart !
This is clearly impossible. But fun to try. If you asked me again tomorrow, I'd give you 10 different answers. That's one of the reasons I love climbing so much.
Original Route - The Old Man Of Hoy
Because in spite of the fact that it's a massive faff to get to (who schedules those ferries?), it's guarded by fulmars and some of the climbing was like a vertical sandpit, it's a brilliant adventure, with a couple of great pitches and an iconic tick. Oh, and we had it all to ourselves.
Birdland - Red Rocks
My favourite route from a great trip. The top pitch is both the crux and the best pitch, climbing a perfect crack in a varnished slab, with the rock curving away so you can't see your belayer, just hundreds of feet of space between you and the floor of the canyon.
Vestpillaren - Presten
The best route I've ever climbed and my first E2. Great climbing, up a gorgeous chunk of rock, with good company and the views aren't bad either.
Original Route - The Old Man Of Stoer
When I did this, VS was pretty much the top of my grade, and with the tyrolean approach it felt like a huge adventure. Bloody good climbing too.
The File - Higgar Tor
Because I'd had a sort of love-hate relationship with it for years without ever actually daring to try it. I wanted it so badly that I couldn't go near it for fear of falling off. Then one evening I found myself sitting on top as the sun set feeling on top of the world.
Joint Effort - Staden
One of my first HVSs, and absolutely the hardest I'd ever had to try on a route. Got desperately pumped at the start and had to dig deep into my hidden reserves of oomph. I have a photo somewhere of me in an awkward hands-off rest half way up grinning like a cheshire cat knowing that it was in the bag.
Armorican - Craig Caerfai
Climbed in the dark (deliberately) after dinner one February. One of those times where a stupid idea turns out to be a brilliant idea. In the light I'd probably have been a bit underwhelmed, but all alone in a little pool of light in the middle of the slab with no idea where the next holds were going to come from, it felt rather memorable.
American Beauty - Lundy
With the original approach and nobody else around. What Lundy's all about.
Formula One - Lundy
I love HVS bridging corners (Lunakhod, Hell's Kitchen, Burn Up) but this one just gets the nod because it's fallen down now. A crying shame, because it was a really brilliant route.
Tower Ridge - Ben Nevis
On a perfect sunny summer day, with almost nobody else on the route. Felt like heroes crossing the great tower whilst hordes of rambling punters gawped on from the summit plateau.
In no particular order, off the top of my head:
1) Soloing the Innominata on Mont Blanc in 1991. Lingering alone on the summit at midnight was special.
2) Doing Needle and Steeple for the first time one weekend in 1983.
3) Prophecy of Drowning in 2000. No one else on the island - just the two of us, no radio.
4) Eiger N. Face in 1989. Epic.
5) Soloing Deep Space in 1984
6) Unravelling new routes on Jebel Suweibit in Wadi Rum in 2005 and 2008.
7) My first weekend at Reiff, inexplicably as late as 1999 but the start of a love affair.
8) Soloing eight routes on Ben Nevis, including 4 classic V's in a weekend in 1987
9) Soloing the Sentinelle Rouge in 1988. Alone at sunrise on the summit of Mont Blanc was special.
10) Finally nailing the next move on my yellow boulder project at Ratho last Thursday.
Isn't climbing great? Am I allowed another hundred?
> Isn't climbing great? Am I allowed another hundred?
Oops! Forgot Norway completely..... Stetind, Midnight sun fromm summit of Eidetind, Vestpillaren.......
1. Caveman, Berry Head
Led through with 15 year old Ben Bransby, terrified
2. America, Carn Gowla
Swam original start and finished in the dark, another young Ben adventure
3. Preposterous Tales, Bosherston Head
A 5 hour epic with Ian Parnell on a soaking dark December day with no torches
4. Breakaway, Henna Cliff
Andy Long and I seconded Ben, but it was still utterly absorbing. "You're f***ing mad but I love you"- Andy's words as he hugged Ben on top.
5.Casual Route, the Diamond
Last possible day of a brilliant fun climbing trip
6. Orion Direct (solo)
Teenage commitment with no ropes. Nearly copped it when I ran out of ice.
7.Point Five (solo)
Alone on the Ben (it was the 70s!), water ice from top to bottom
8. 1,000 feet plus of soloing on a Pembroke morning up to E2.
Pissed off at perfect day with no partner. Pure flowing climbing.
9. The Chasm, the Buchaille
Set off at 1400. "It's always wet so it won't matter that it's rained for 2 months". Soaked on pitch 1 and finished after midnight.
10. Ripple Wall, Bone Hill
Last light of the day, a big crowd egging me on. God did the mat look small.
1: Orion Direct (solo): Popular choice it seems! Wanted to solo it for years and then finally, conditions, weather and form all came together on the right day. Might be my favoutite route of all.
2: Voyage of Faith, Dun Mingulay: Big abseil, big voyage, big cliff - mega place. Unforgettable.
3: White Wand, Stanage (solo): The perfect grit arete. Size isn't everything...
4: Skink, Arapiles (solo): Perfect rock and place. Big feel at the time.
5: Astral Highway: My first trip to Ben Nevis in winter, huge intimidation, stunning route, near death(rockfall), the lot.
6: The Skye Ridge, summer traverse (November): No prior knowledge, just got a rare break in the autumn weather and went for it.
7: Not one route I know, but visits to Reiff and Ardmair. West is best.
8: The Nose, Looking Glass (North Carolina): Lots of ascents, mates, customers, headtorches. Great granite padding and memories.
9: Marlena, Dunkeld: The most time I've ever put into a route and maybe the hardest sport line I'll do.
10: Up the Creek, Wye Creek (NZ): First time I climbed a route after a badly broken arm and surgery and knew it was all going to recover and be fine again.
> Oops! Forgot Norway completely..... Stetind, Midnight sun fromm summit of Eidetind, Vestpillaren.......
And sport climbing...... how did that happen?
1) Tower Ridge in winter in glorious weather
2) Aonach Eagach in winter in gloriou weather and not a soul there.
3) Spartan Slab in Glen Etive. My only VS
4) Agags Groove on the Buachaille. Great line
5) Ardverickie Wall on Binian Shuas. Run out but nice climbing
6) No Pain, No Laoghain on Meall Ghaordaidh. First ascent
7) Obergabelhorn via the gendarme. Most exhausting day I have had in the mountains
8) Rimpfishhorn. Most enjoyable 4000 er I have done
9) Huyani Potosi. Only 6000er I have done. Part of a great holiday. Climbed in a day from La Paz
10) Crowberry Gully. Climbed late in the season. Probably in the best condition of any route I have done.
> And sport climbing...... how did that happen?
I forgot Greenland in my list, so easily done! :)
> I forgot Greenland in my list, so easily done! :)
.....I forgot Greenland too.....and the whole of N. America.....desert towers!
Does Greenland count as N.America? (just a thought....)
... and I forgot Long Hope Route and both new lines on the Old Man of Hoy.
In no real order,
10. Climbing the pinnacle for the first time at symonds yat, with my dad!
9. The first time i did Amorican in Pembroke, first time abbing into a sea cliff!
8. Spending a day climbing at Waipapa - a 'rainforest' crag in New zealand!
7. Cenotaph corner and left wall when it was my limit (i fell off!) Lots of epics happened at the crag that day!
6. Onsighting my first E3 in january with numb fingers!
5. Day at curbar after the BUCS competition - great company and a great weekend!
4. Onsighting silly arete in the sun... stunning!
3. A mega day of E grades at pembroke with a good friend! (Lots of hard onsights and a failed E5 attempt!)
2. Spending a day climbing with my then soon to be girlfriend ;)
1. Climbing Out of africa, a 600m 7a big wall in Madagascar, in a day. My best climbing achievment to date :)
I can't seperate 10 from a life that has been so rich with mountain/crag days. One moment that often gets thought back to is leading Dreamboat Annie in Pembroke, it was just the whole buzz of that weekend, slightly drunk, sunset on your back, climbing well, perfectly warm and solid rock in tee shirts in Septemeber, nothing to do the dext day except wake with the sun on the tent and climb some more. Good times
> .....I forgot Greenland too.....and the whole of N. America.....desert towers!
> Does Greenland count as N.America? (just a thought....)
Oh no, me too!
Even with 10 it's hard to narrow it down :) I think these are about in date order...
High Neb Buttress - for wanting to do it so much at the time, climbing it so badly and being really scared (gear skills were weak!), but being ecstatic at the top :)
Jester Cracks - I'd been inspired to do this for about a year beforehand by the photo in the first Western Grit and did it when HVS was at my limit. Found it incredibly pumpy but got through. Had to lie down for 5 minutes at the top before I could belay.
Pinnacle Wall - after doing Mur y Niwl I'd been expecting this to just be a boring romp to the top, but it was a brilliant surprise - the top pitch exposure was amazing.
Central Buttress - did this in a sort of light but dry mist on a day when Scafell was almost empty. Can still remember sitting on the belay at the top of the great flake and drinking in the atmosphere - no-one in sight and the only sound a lost lamb.
Lenzspitze NE ridge & Nadelgrat - amazing traverse, done in some fresh snow which made it a bit interesting as I was rubbish on snowy rock! My favourite ever alpine route.
Motorhead - we got on this at first light after bivvying over, and still only just beat another party to the start by a few minutes. Brilliant climbing and we shot up it really fast - just flowed so well. Stunning.
Left Wall - because I'd wanted to do it for so long, when I did it was at my limit, I almost dropped it right at the end of the crux section, and the feeling when I got out to that arete was just amazing.
Behemoth - again it had been a long-standing ambition. I was really chuffed to lead that first pitch out of the cave, and it felt like a proper adventure.
Foil & Grond - Foil was a massive thing for me, a route I'd looked down on in awe from the top of Sabre Cut 8 years earlier...and on paper the hardest E3 I'd tried. I found it tough but actually felt like I climbed it well, without any undue faff or delay. I was so pleased when I hit the top :) Then did Grond and stormed it - it felt like grit HVS to me on that day as I was on such a role.
Stone the Loach - I love sport climbing (and bouldering) but I think this is the only ascent that really matches the best trad routes for the experience. It was all about the grade - 7c always just sounded 'hard' to me - if you'd asked me just a couple of years earlier if I'd ever climb at that level, I'd have definitely said no, and when I got there (after a lot of effort!) I felt like I'd 'made it' as a climber.
[Also, extremely honourable mentions to onsighting DNA in Kaly, and doing Darius and The Plum.....I know, this is cheating :) ]
Aguja Roja at Riglos, to be honest a bit easy and loose and crumbly but I love conglomerate rock :D and it was a highly memorable day as there were army guys raining loose rock down on us and then we were stuck at the top of the tower in 39 degree heat with no water while a whole group of Spannish army dudes abseiled off and faffed about. Shared a 4 pitch ab off the other side with a couple of (very handsome) Spannish dudes which was free hanging all the way down and utterly terrifying :)
Eperon (Arete Ouest) - West Ridge, in the Pyrenees. Au cheval type ridge, was utterly bricking it and almost didn't do it but then plucked up the courage from somewhere. Lovely climbing on the last 2 pitches.
1st ascent of Balla na Gaoithe on Beinn Eighe, steep and positive crimping and roof climbing on quartzite, lovely!
1st ascent of Kryptonite on Ben Alder, utterly amazing route with a turftastic axe traverse above nothing, was actually very sexy!
1st ascent of Breaking into Heaven on Ben Lair cos it was my first ever new route and it was about as remote as you can get and I was utterly f*cked after!
Indicator Wall on the Ben cos I hate ice climbing but actually really enjoyed this. It was midweek so no crowds, and end of season April route the day after climbing Ardverikie Wall and the weather and conditions were gorgeous.
Sword of Gideon on Sgurr a'Chaorachain because when I first started climbing and used to shit myself on V.Diffs, I had saw a picture of this route and thought it looked it amazing but never thought I'd ever have the confidence to lead VS. My climbing partner let me lead every pitch cos it was my dream VS and I loved every minute of it.
Giant Flake Route at the Pass of Ballater because it was one of the first ever routes I did at one of my favourite cragging venues and it then subsequently became my first ever VS lead, something I never thought I'd be able to do cos I'm a big scaredy cat.
Tapas sans Dalle on Dent D'orlu because it was my daughters first ever climbing holiday abroad and it was lovely to climb a 10 pitch route and share that experience with her along with my best ever climbing partner, and to have her leading some pitches too.
Magic Crack in Sneachda (and I'm going to throw in Damnation along with that cos we climbing it straight after and it's a really good route!) because it's another favourite HVS and the only one I've ever led (though I don't really think my pitch was HVS, more like a VS, but others have disagreed) and also because it was a lovely day and again it was a route shared with Andy and my daughter.
In random order:
1. Stanage popular end on midsummer's day, having fought with guidebooks, lichen and uncertainty all along the edge to repeat Fawcett's 100 Extremes in a day challenge, now in perfect evening light certain of success as the count had reached 90 something and many of my well-known favourites still lay ahead.
2. Finding a fledgling climbing scene while working in Islamabad so taking drill and bolts out to triple the number of established routes, in the process forging real friendships with local Pakistani climbers and getting a great insight into local cultures.
3. Our first and possibly hardest route in Venezuela, taking 12 days to free the biggest and cleanest face of Autana (at 800m and F8a trad) immediately behind our friends who were making the first aid ascent.
4. The second time I was solo on Naked Edge, having decided to do it while hanging around in the canyon about 2 hours before dark then being up and back on the ground in 1 1/4 hours.
5. The moment I got the last hard move on Long Hope Route, after lots of repeated tries on the short crux pitch near the top and several "just one more go's" while Dave belayed patiently, cold and uncomfortable at the hanging belay below.
6. Entering the Bendcrete Open comp in London in 1990 as a nobody and being very intimidated by all of the big-name magazine stars I saw in isolation, only to find that most of them didn't make the final and to end up beating most of the ones that did.
7. Finding huge unclimbed cliffs in Range West and going down from Sheffield most weekends with Anne or with Ian Parnell to have great adventures climbing them.
8. A beer-fuelled explore around the magical Hueco Tanks in the 80s before climbing was restricted, finding the Round Room and remembering reading in a mag that the best lap time was 32 seconds. Red rag to a bull!
9. Any of several wonderful days soloing Right Wall, Resurrection and a host of other great routes in glorious sunshine.
10. An early-season ascent of Nuit Blanche with Anne - apparently the first of the year - and the look on a French climber's face when he abbed over the top lip to check out the conditions and found a couple of drenched Brits clawing their way up the rapidly-melting vertical slush.
Keeping it down to 10 was hard! ;-)
2. Aiguille Noire de Peuterey S.Ridge - one of the greatest mid-grade rock climbs.
3. Gervasutti Pillar, Mt Blanc de Tacul - again, we had it to ourselves. Beautiful rock.
4. Shreckhorn S. Pillar. Wild and amazing mid-grade rock.
5. Frendo Spur. A very early season summer ascent in mixed conditions. Once again, we were on our own.
6. Point Five Gully, Ben Nevis. Perfect conditions on a perfect cold spring day.
7. Cioch Grooves - Cioch Direct - Integrity. An Alpine-scale link-up on a great Scottish face.
8. Great Slab on Cloggy with the Top Traverse. Almost my first VS lead (now given HVS) on a golden October day.
9. Yellow Edge, Cima Piccola de Laveredo. An unforecast thunderstorm made this an epic, but we got up and survived.
10. Vector, Tremadog. A day when it felt as if I was floating on an updraft of sunlight.
Nowhere near as exotic as some on here, but mine would include:
1. Early morning traverse of Beinn Alligin on my birthday a couple of years back. Stunning blue sky and sunshine, and not another soul about.
2. Satan's Slip, Lundy. Sunshine, slabs and seals. Actually I'll put in the whole Lundy trip, minus the ferry crossing!
3. Toubkal, where we just booked flights and got on with it.
4. Dubhs Ridge, Skye. Felt like a proper adventure getting a speedboat over early morning, then 4 seasons in one day. Started in glorious sunshine, then a couple of hours later we were abbing down a pinnacle in a blizzard.
5. Tryfan Classic Rock routes. 3 in a day with a mate who no longer climbs, but had a great laugh, moving together on all of it, pretending to be Victorian mountaineers with cries of "what ho" and "jolly good show, old chap".
6. The Appian Way, Pillar. Finally being on the photogenic pitch and feeling like a fly.
7. No one particular day, but generally some sunny midweek days in the Peak with friends, pushing grades and climbing some great routes.
8. Sitting on top of Naples Needle, eating cake.
9. If I can include a general mountain day, first time in the Cairngorms: up Fiacaill Ridge, over to Ben MacDui, and back over Cairn Gorm
10. Morezon in the Sierra de Gredos. Perfect weather, perfect neve, and cloud inversions most of the day.
I could probably write loads more, or would have different answers when asked again, but all the above gave me the "yes, this is why I do this" feeling.
probably not as illustrious as most, but i'm working on that.
So in no particular order:
First proper circuit in fontainebleau (orange at l'elephant) with good mates.
Climbing the penon d ifanch in Spain in stunning sunshine. at the time it was 4 times the height of anything i'd climbed
Day at idwal where we dispensed with the guide book and just tried to get to the very top any which way, switching from route to route to avoid traffic.
Finally getting otley wall at caley after 6 years of trying (amazing how a 6m climb can make it to the top 10.
Climbing a route in tonsai with 3 mates before chilling out on a ledge at the top for too long and having to ab down in the dark
my first E1 (bishops rib, stanage) i was never a natural climber and it took years to lead VS, so finally hitting proper climbing was a real demonstration of progress.
First trip to wen slab on gogarth. it looks holdless when looking at the cliff from over the lawn and i was so scared abbing down i nearly puked
meeting Joe brown on said trip to gogarth, chatting to him for well over an hour and having no clue who he was until i saw a pic months later.
Magical mystery tour with stunning sunshine and loads of mates.
Finally leading soloing commando ridge at bosigran. perfect weather, setting and company on a massive easy but nice route.
1. Mont Blanc solo
2. Grepon Traverse
3. The Nose
4. Jitter Face solo
5. Frogland with good mates
6. Cat in the Hat
7. Left Unconquerable as a teenage newbie, when all the 'experienced' others failed.
8. Raeburn's Route on the Ben - an epic day.
9. Aig du Pelerins solo
10. Cuillin ridge solo in a day, when i finally get to do it.
It's pretty hard to pick 10 isn't it? Here's an attempt, but sad to lose Shibboleth, Angel Face, Sumo, Great Wall, Cloggy, Creaking Heights, Rocklands and le toit de cul de chien from the list....
1) Inshallah Factor Wadi Rum, an epic long day out with standard lengthy descent, with a memorable thin crack pitch on gradually increasing size RPs and plenty of other cool pitches....
2) The Grand Wall with Cruel Shoes start, amazing climbing all the way, got the Sword pitch by a very small margin, grabbing the chains just as my feet popped while run out above last cam....
3) Comici Route Dolomites with my new fiance Emily, swinging leads and getting it all O/S, steep, wild and exhilerating, pegs just where you need them, back to town in time for beer and pizza magic end to day....
4) Kundalini/Luna Nascente Val di Mello, a great link up on perfect granite, with some scary bits, plenty of laybacking and an in situ audience complete with applause on the crux pitch....
5) Edgehog - still the best I've ever climbed, got into some of trance like state (could be the tequila) and flowed up the route in a blur, seconded it since and thought it scary...
6) Bloody Sunday - great pitch, great crag, great memories...
7) Fay - firing on through the pump, great climbing all the way, best route done at Sharpnose....
8) Triple Indirect Table Mountain SA - sweet link up of lots of quality climbing in a fabulous position with the tourists shouting helpful comments at you from the cablecar!
9) Silver Tear with Cooler start - best ice route in Scotland for sure, pitch after pitch of perfect, steep ice topped by amazing NW views, satisfying as most of the country was buried and Cat4 avalanche affected....
10) Repentence Super - steepest ice route ever done, somehow managed to fight the pump and get enough screws in to make it to the top. (Top tip don't link last two pitches!) Had to stand still and just breathe for 10 mins before I could belay......
I get excited about my stairs due to the lack of any real climbing at the moment. Its pretty bold with no protection, certain to get carpet burn if you slip!
I'm in the US, so my list will look a bit different. I think setting is really important, in no particular order:
1) Pico de Orizaba in Mexico. We bivied on the shoulder at 16K, woke up to a foot of new snow and just us on the mountain. I got to kick steps up virgin terrain all the way to the summit at 18,700, really sublime.
2) South Howser Tower in the Bugs, bivied on the route in part because we weren't sure we were fast enough and in part because we wanted to. Well worth it.
3) Salathe, just because. Led the Hollow Flake and the Ear twice, the roof once. Lots of air up there. Super route.
4) Arete des Cosmiques with all our gear on the way to catch the teleferique down. Super setting and getting to climb the ladder to the belay. That's choice.
5) Pilastro on Tofana di Rozes. The first week of my first trip to Europe after 5 days at the Cinque Torri. Nice intro to what the Dolomites are about.
6) Naranjo de Bulnes in Spain. Went to the Costa Verde out of curiousity and found the Walker guide to the Picos, opened it up and told the wife where we were going. Did the Murciana. Really beautiful.
7) Liberty Crack on the Liberty Bell. Talked the wife into flying to Seattle for a 3-day weekend while on a business trip. Managed to drive out, fix a couple pitches, then send the next day and fly out the following.
8) Cima della Madonna, Velo Arete. Such a pleasant outing and dramatic setting, cool descent. Would repeat it in a heartbeat, but also want to do that Sass Maor thing next door.
9) The Diamond on Longs, because it took us awhile to work up to being prepared for it, and because we bivied at the base and did the North Chimney and walked off the top after surviving a lightning storm, this before any rappels existed.
10) ...so hard to choose, I'm saving this one...
I tend to remember the general experience and scene rather than the route, so here's my list (with the odd example).
1) On a weird move, usually bouldering but not always, short-term muscle memory improvements from no-chance to success, within 5 tries, never get it first time on any visit (there's one at Ramshaw, but it isn't in any guidebook).
2) Cragging in the sun in the middle of winter without pain and discomfort (like today at Beeston).
3) Training for a sports move all winter, then doing it a totally different way when you get to the crag (e.g. Finger of Fate at Buoux). This is a trivial one, but somehow sticks in the memory because it's really about getting better.
4) Multi-pitch Alpine rock. Doesn't matter if it's bolted or not (Motorhead, Septumania, Boulder Highway, Kalypso, Kingspitze E Face: pick one it doesn't matter which. Face stuff though, not Salbitjen or Cham ridges).
5) Sea cliffs in the UK - especially Gogarth, parts of Pembroke like Mother Carey's, parts of Cornwall like Chair Ladder, Parts of Devon like Culm and Lundy, and sea stacks. The more pitches the better. (Helluva Slab stands out as a nice solo, but that's just a weird memory)
6) Surviving a few 40-footers totally unhurt (important to get this done when you're young).
7) Alpine 4000m peaks on skis (ditto, before it becomes hard work).
8) New routing, easy or hard, on-sight or after practice; all good stuff, and you get to name this shit.
9) Climbing in weird places like deserts (Utah, Wadi Rum, Hoggar) that you might not otherwise go to.
10) Having something and somewhere to aim for on the next day out (Lakes) or trip (Croatia) - and the guidebook to, well, guide you - just enough but not too much.
The appeal of bouldering is encapsulated in (1), sport cragging comes under (2 and 3), improving under (3 and 6); the rest are (ahem, pretentious I know) landscapes of the mind - what makes climbing different from football.
1. Chamonix Aiguilles Traverse (Midi to Blatiere) - took two goes after having a mini epic having to bail on the first go and going from 120m of rope to 20m in the process, still took three days on the second go but all great climbing and two perfect bivvies, my longest and most committing Alpine route.
2. Frendo Spur - a classic that lived up to its reputation, done in a single long day with a 'go for it' attitude.
3. Orion Face - another vote for this 'British Alpine' classic, done in a three after a slog to get there in deep snow, 19 hours round trip - my longest ever single day out but well worth it and even got to record the experience in a CC newsletter article!
4. Devil's Appendix - my mate and I had watched it grow not quite long enough all too often, so when it looked like it would be in mid-week during the cold spell last month we jumped at the opportunity and took the day off to bag the first ascent of the season - then it melted three days later! Great climbing but possibly even more memorable for my mate taking an 8m winger off the pillar - which meant I got the crux lead :-)
5. El Mancho, Clogwyn Ddu - had been wanting to do this for three years but didn't have the skill or the conditions or the partner, so great to get it done st last and leading the second half of the crux pitch by headtorch was fun.
6. T Rex, Wen Zawn - a bit scary, a bit hard and totally brilliant, took in the direct finish to prolong the excitement.
7. Dreadnought, Berry Head - thought we'd check it out on the way back from rainy Cornwall and the weather came good, I seconded the main pitch and still thought it was totally wild!
8. Darius, High Tor - 50 metres of limestone crack perfection.
9. Bloody Sunday, Huntsman's Leap - I love the hushed atmosphere in the Leap and this enticing line up the perfect red wall right opposite the ab point was crying out to be done.
10. Talking of red walls, Wendigo and Red Wall at Gogarth redefined my idea of what qualifies as rock, the former was fairly solid but distinctly funky, the latter was distinctly worrying leading the first pitch and even more worrying seconding the crux pitch...
Whar, ten already?
I totally forgot - summer mountain days in the UK! Delete any of my 1-10 and replace with The Grooves, Central Pillar, or Yo-Yo.
1. Rectory Chimneys (V Diff), Clogwyn y Ddysgl. With John Bambrook our first big multi-pitch after failing on Gambit climb.
2. Failing 15ft from the top of Sunday Sport, Beachy Head with Ben Bransby and walking out under the Lighthouse light.
3. Camping at Cloggy. Many memories, including a few days climbing Great Wall, The Axe and the Boldest when E4 was my grade whilst my mate Oggy climbed Shrike, The Boulder and White Slab when E1 was his limit.
4. Solo first ascent of 1400m new rock route in Kyrgyzstan. Swept down the river on the approach and just got more adventurous from there onwards.
5. Denali Diamond with Kenton Cool. Battling the route’s huge reputation, vertically pitched tents, bonking on the Cassin and being met by small crowd of international climbers as we descended into the 14k camp.
6. Two day traverse of Mount Sion West (E6) on sight at my limit with Trevor Massiah including lowering into the sea at the end of day one.
7. Kedar Dome South East Pillar a perfect 2000m route with Tim Emmett to say goodbye to the Himalaya.
8. Brusied Violet (VIII), Beinn Eighe with Andy Turner, third time lucky on a personal mission, after attempts with Jon Winter and Dave MacLeod.
9. Grooved Arete (V Diff), Pikes Crag with my wife on a perfect summer day.
10. ‘Project Wall’, Lyngen Alps, Norway. Could choose any number of days from this trip but unlocking this puzzle and getting my ice mojo back on a beautiful 55m pillar has to be the highlight.
> Having read through your impressive list, that is the one which really impressed me. Soloing anything hard on Rum rock muist take some nerve!
It might be impressive but it's also a lie! Seems like I got the route names confused. While we did manage to make an onsight free ascent of Towering Inferno (at mild E6) it certainly wasn't solo. What I meant to write in my list was doing Inshallah Factor, then continuing up to Jebel Rum summit.
Thought it best to keep the record straight once I'd spotted the mistake.
> It might be impressive but it's also a lie! Seems like I got the route names confused. While we did manage to make an onsight free ascent of Towering Inferno (at mild E6) it certainly wasn't solo. What I meant to write in my list was doing Inshallah Factor, then continuing up to Jebel Rum summit.
Still an impressive solo though! About E2/3? (I've only done the first few pitches "Inshalllah".
Good heavens! You must have had a bit left in reserve to bonk Kenton (in a vertically pitched tent?) on the Cassin.
Most seem to reckon E4 6a but I've also seen E3 5c too. Whatever the grade it's fantastic climbing.
Elsewhere on the site
2014 has been a bumper year for climbing publications. Here's a few of the ones that we have either read, or ones that we... Read more
Save on your Christmas shopping with great deals at the Epicentre. Spend £50 to get £5 off Spend £100... Read more
Skiing Baffin’s couloirs has been on my to do list ever since I saw Andrew McLean and Brad Barlage’s inspirational... Read more
WINTERFEST 2014 at Outside in Hathersage 6th and 7th December 2014 Outside's ever popular Winterfest event is back... Read more
We recently reported that Pete Whittaker had flashed the 32-pitch big wall route Freerider 5.12d , during a... Read more