/ Crest Route routefinding...

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Jamie B - on 15 Mar 2013
Must admit, wasn't expecting this to be an issue, always imagined the route would be arrow-straight up the, er, crest. But a bit of a fail on Tuesday has revealed some ambiguity...

The "true line" on the last pitch (as climbed by the FAs?) has a fairly desperate sequence through a bulge. Apparently this has taken a few scalps and at least 2 knowledgeable heads have said tech 7. So is it really V,6 unless the "variation" finish is taken, which seems to shuffle off left somewhere.

My partner didn't see a leftwards option, can anyone help me pinpoint this in relation with the ledge with the spike belay on the arete? Apparently this is level with the "pinnacle" on Intruder/Financial Times, but I didn't see anything I'd have called a pinnacle. The Ciccerone guide doesn't even mention this variation, but talks about a "short wall overcome by a stepped flake-crack", which I assume is the (tech 7?) crux.

It's also apparent that a lot of people (judging by the scratches) are climbing P2 via the arete, which is probably easier and part of Financial Times. I'd also love to know where FT goes beyond there, apparently it climbs the aforementioned pinnacle, but it all looked a bit unlikely to me. (I was on the belay for a while, so had ample opportunity to study it)

I think for future guides we might need (a) a grade reassessment of the "true" line following the groove all the way, and (b) a clear description of the variation for V,6 leaders!
John Workman - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
Jamie
I led this a few weeks back. I climbed the penultimate pitch - the crux etc. like this.
From a belay, where it looks like Intruder/FT goes straight up a crack, [scratches], I went right across a slab for about 3 or 4 metres. This got me to the base of a steep corner / grove. Climbed this for about 10 or 15 m. This got me to a poor stance but with really good insitu tat - still in the same line, right on the arete, and a possible belay. There was a left traverse line at this point which went over to a probable belay - and what looked like the pinnacle of Intruder / FT. I didn't belay but kept on up. A bit easier then a tricky move at a steepening into a slabby corner. Another few meters or so landed me on the large ledge. Another easy pitch to top out.

Mark Phillips who followed - said it was harder than any tech 6 he'd done.
Jamie B - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to John Workman:

Thanks John, sounds like you did the "true" line as per FA, but you give weight to the suggestion that this is at very least top-end tech 6.

The question is, when I go back for it, will I be tempted by the leftwards variant, and if so will I have earned the tick?
graeme gatherer - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B: We went off left immediately below the final slabby corner as mentioned above as it was just black rock despite one of the coldest and most wintery days out in years. I wouldn't describe it as "shuffle off " leftwards though. It was quite thin and tenuous for a few moves then back to steep jug pulls for axes. Still great climbing and definitely V,6. Pretty sustained from start of second pitch all the way to the top.

I reckon you could probably move left at a few different points lower down though and the climbing all looks about the same

John Workman - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
Well Jamie, I usually say that I can resist anything, but temptation. But in this case straight on up is the line. It's easing off and gear is available for the final tricky bit.
Patrick Roman - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

Hi Jamie, regarding the grade, I know of a few folk (myself included) who think the direct finish (the original Hamilton/Anderson line) is a full grade harder than anything lower down on the route. Since the route is widely thought of as sustained tech 6 it seems logical that the direct finish must be around the tech 7 mark.

The link below is to a post which supports this view (and which may help with your routefinding problems). It was written by Nick Harper after he and Robin Clothier failed on the direct but were able to complete the route by the variation instead (which also suggests the direct must be harder than the variation):

http://yorkclimbers.com/profiles/blogs/stob-coire-nan-lochan-glen-coe

At the time, Nick and Robin were climbing a lot of tech 6 - the post above mentions two V,6's in the Cairngorms climbed two weeks earlier, and then after Crest Route they went on to do Gargoyle Wall, West Chimney and Scabbard Chimney, all apart from Crest Route being climbed without any reported difficulties:

http://yorkclimbers.com/profiles/blog/list?user=05vgnsf2ezr1x

I found a post on here from French Erick regarding his thoughts on Crest Route, Chimney Route and West Chimney:

"Crest is definitely top end of V,6 and WC not V,6 in my books. Crest is easier than Chimney R. So why not WC IV,6(6 for raeburn's chimney) Crest V,6 (with the express description of traversing left after the belay of P3 the small ledge on the crest...direct is very gnarly and not tech 6) and Chimney R VI,6.
That is how I will personally think of these 3 routes regardless of what any guide books say."

It supports your idea that Crest Route should be graded separately according to the finish that's chosen, and that the guidebook description should reflect this.

BTW, ask Al Halewood or Mike Pescod about Crest Route - Mike's done it a few times and he and Al climbed it together by the variation finish in 2010. Link and video:

http://alanhalewood.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/my-first-proper-route-of-season.html
Andy Nisbet - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

Mal Duff and I did the FWA of the variant. We thought we were doing the FA (but were 6 weeks late), so didn't have a description but were following our noses. I was leading so would have gone the easier way (I'm no purist), which makes sense from the above.
Robert Durran - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> My partner didn't see a leftwards option, can anyone help me pinpoint this in relation with the ledge with the spike belay on the arete? Apparently this is level with the "pinnacle" on Intruder/Financial Times, but I didn't see anything I'd have called a pinnacle.

FT comes in from the left to join CR where it moves right across a slab then up a corner to the crest. FT then goes left again to the foot of the pinnacle which is very obvious when you get to it. the pinnacle is climbed by the crack/chimney on its right (again obvious). From a belay on the pinnacle it goes left into grooves.
Stevos - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B: Yes I got a bit confused on pitch 2 of this route - above the belay there was a desperate steep crack with little in the way of footholds. It was quite scratched but too hard for me so I basically did a pitch of Financial Times trending rightwards towards the top of this to the spike belay below the last pitch (think Cubby has a photo of this). I thought the line for the last hard pitch was pretty obvious but the moves pulling into the niche were hard - tech 7 and well protected.

Good route though

Cheers

Steve
Erik B - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B: pitch 2 is straight up the groove from the triangular slabby niche, anything else is a different route and a cop out

the variation to the left is blindingly obvious, its a foot ldge out lef, not far above the pitch 2 spike belay.i dont remember cracks so much, just steep exposed wall climbing, with lots of stob coire style doocots with turf and sneaky bits to jam friends into. The original direct finish didnt seem worth bothering with to be honest. I think the variation wall pitch is what makes the route great, rare to get such steep exposed wall climbing at that amenable grade
Stuart the postie - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

Hi Jamie,

I climbed this several years ago with Ian Dempster. I lead P1 & P2 in one ropelength, thought it was sustained and technical.

Ian then lead up the 'original', couldn't pull through the block/roof, figured that the turf had disappeared or something from FA? Think he just stepped down and followed a footledge leftwards.

Stuart

Ps. Thought P2 on one of those blogs looked a bit dubious???!!
Stuart the postie - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

At the time, I thought it harder and more sustained than Chimney Route VI,6. I laughed at the 'a good introduction to snowed up rock climbing' as stated in the guide!!

Harder than North Wall Groove V,6!

Stuart
AlH - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Patrick Roman: Don't ask me? I'm a notorious coward and just followed Mike on the crux which i thought, steep and enjoyable but haven't thought about much since.
george mc - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Stuart the postie:
> (In reply to Jamie B)
>
> At the time, I thought it harder and more sustained than Chimney Route VI,6. I laughed at the 'a good introduction to snowed up rock climbing' as stated in the guide!!
>
> Harder than North Wall Groove V,6!
>
> Stuart
Aye I'm sure it was also graded IV! Did it years ago and thought it pretty tough...
Robert Durran - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to george mc:
> Aye I'm sure it was also graded IV!

It was. But then you couldn't have eerything getting V.
French Erick - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Patrick Roman:
> (In reply to Jamie B)

> I found a post on here from French Erick regarding his thoughts on Crest Route, Chimney Route and West Chimney:
>
> "Crest is definitely top end of V,6 and WC not V,6 in my books. Crest is easier than Chimney R. So why not WC IV,6(6 for raeburn's chimney) Crest V,6 (with the express description of traversing left after the belay of P3 the small ledge on the crest...direct is very gnarly and not tech 6) and Chimney R VI,6.
> That is how I will personally think of these 3 routes regardless of what any guide books say."
>
> It supports your idea that Crest Route should be graded separately according to the finish that's chosen, and that the guidebook description should reflect this.
>


I'm being quoted!
I climbed crest route with Claire Fennell. She was going very well at the time (like doing short work of initial pitches of Recess route on the cobbler). I set up belay after the steep groove and she went straight up the cracks. She got totally stopped by a wee overlap type niche formed by the crack on its left (from memory), ground to a halt, kept digging for gear (it was plastered) and after 40mn, left the high gear down-climbed and traversed left.
On the second I had to go get the high gear. I could do the move and reach a torque but had to go left where gear was. At the time I thought it was tech 7.
May be we were just being wimps though.
Even with the traverse, it's a great route!

Ruth Love - on 17 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
Hello folks and for those who may have wondered who it was at the sharp end of the rope. Well it was me – known to some of you.

Finding myself unwittingly leading the crux pitch of Crest Route (apparently tech 7) I nevertheless gave it my best shot. I knew exactly where I was (very intimately acquainted with the rock) and could see the variation finish, once I was informed from below that there was one! If I had not in the effort planted my hammer in my left eye, and dislodged a crampon (slight slither) then I would have carried on trying to finish the pitch. There was not time enough for Jamie to have a go.

The required sequence of moves has come to me in a waking dream. So are there any volunteers out there to help me either go back and lead it myself, or to take me up it? I would like to complete the route one way or another… Jamie has already arranged his rematch.

Yours eye! (wink wink) Rx
Jamie B - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Erik B:

> the variation to the left is blindingly obvious, its a foot ldge out lef, not far above the pitch 2 spike belay.i dont remember cracks so much, just steep exposed wall climbing, with lots of stob coire style doocots with turf and sneaky bits to jam friends into. The original direct finish didnt seem worth bothering with to be honest. I think the variation wall pitch is what makes the route great, rare to get such steep exposed wall climbing at that amenable grade

That's definately the variation we climbed yesterday. I was too cold to even contemplate the direct (which seems to have stopped enough handy climbers to be possible tech 7). P2 up the groove was harder (good lead by Graham) and there do seem to be a variety of possible dodges left, which may or may not be part of Financial Times/Intruder.

Good climbing, and good to top out this time, but over two visits I was left with the feeling that the route would need to be less escapable to justify true classic status - I was expecting to be following an arete all the way!

My suspicion is that the "true line" following the groove all the way is probably VI,7, and the "mountaineering line" keeping left in search of easier climbing is probably mostly Financial Times, for which IV,6 is probably quite reasonable. Hopefully this can be clarified come the next guide.

Erik B - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B: your adding confusion where there actually isnt any!
studgek - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B: I also think you are confusing matters. The variation seems to be the line followed by the majority and is pretty obvious. The drafting of the next SMC guide is underway (I am putting this area together) and the variation is likely to be given V, 6. The consensus seems to be that the direct is technical 7. Either V, 7 or VI, 7. Comments are welcome.
Steve Kennedy
Jamie B - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to JohnnyS:

Hi Steve, wasn't the direct the line originally climbed? The variation was great climbing, but I did have the uneasy feeling that I was getting close to an adjacent route.
Fergal - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to JohnnyS:

Why is it when ever a route is deemed a tad awkward, the grade is questioned, Spectre is IV 5, the usual suspects have a mare so it must be V 6, rubbish, Crest route is as it should be, a little pokey maybe, but V 6 all the same, such are the vagaries of winter climbing, what ever next Tower ridge at grade IV to keep the tide of bumblies at bay.
Dave Kerr - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

As I understand it (and have climbed it twice) the variation is only on the last pitch and steps left to avoid the steep groove up the arete. All independent regardless of whether the step left is taken or not.
Andy Nisbet - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to JohnnyS)
>
> Hi Steve, wasn't the direct the line originally climbed? The variation was great climbing, but I did have the uneasy feeling that I was getting close to an adjacent route.

When the variation was done (by me), the adjacent route didn't exist. So in fact it's actually the adjacent route which is the artificial one.

Dave Kerr - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to JohnnyS:
> (In reply to Jamie B) , 7. Comments are welcome.
>

I think if the guide gave it V 6 and said in the p3 description 'Step left here for the given grade or continue direct (harder)' that would cover it. It should stay at V 6 as it's an awesome route at that grade.
studgek - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Andy Nisbet: Yes the adjacent route is the rogue. Your variation (the obvious line to the left avoiding the direct final pitch) was done before the adjacent route. Steve
Jamie B - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to JohnnyS:

Wasn't Financial Times done before Crest? It's clearly possible to mix and match the 2 routes, looking around the blogs.
Erik B - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Fergal: maybe your referring to me as one of the 'usual suspects' as ive mentioned it before on here. I found spectre V 6 but I did do the glaringly logical 'true' line ie groove direct from the bottom instead of the nonsense of the original. I dont know anyone other than you who found the original IV 5. if its IV 5 then scabbard is III! :)
Erik B - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B: where does this financial times that you speak of go?
Dave Kerr - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Erik B:
> (In reply to Fergal) if its IV 5 then scabbard is III! :)

Either that or you're a soft lad.

Dave Kerr - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Erik B:
> (In reply to Jamie B) where does this financial times that you speak of go?

Right of centre I think.
Erik B - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Dave Kerr:
> (In reply to JohnnyS)
> [...]
>
> I think if the guide gave it V 6 and said in the p3 description 'Step left here for the given grade or continue direct (harder)' that would cover it. It should stay at V 6 as it's an awesome route at that grade.
>

hear hear!

Erik B - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Dave Kerr: maybe they should just purge that route as its besmirching the superior route.

ps actually cant believe this nonsense is getting air time
Dave Kerr - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Erik B:

I was only joking about spectre. I had a Midori and lemonade after dinner and I've been hilarious ever since.
Wee Davie - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Dave Kerr:

Midori? Do they sell that in Inverness?
Dave Kerr - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Wee Davie:

I thought they made it here.
Patrick Roman - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to JohnnyS:

> (In reply to Jamie B) I also think you are confusing matters. The variation seems to be the line followed by the majority and is pretty obvious. The drafting of the next SMC guide is underway (I am putting this area together) and the variation is likely to be given V, 6. The consensus seems to be that the direct is technical 7. Either V, 7 or VI, 7. Comments are welcome.

Hi Steve, I agree, from what I've found the variation seems to have been the "standard" line for a while, with folk either choosing it from the outset knowing its difficulty is in keeping with the rest of the route or by default after failing on the direct.

V,6 seems accurate for the variation. The direct is a clear step up from anything else on the route; V,7 would reflect this - technically difficult but well protected.

There are a few classic routes that now have "alternative" lines listed as standard by virtue of their popularity, despite their FA's being recorded later - in the SMC Ben Nevis guide, Smith's Route, for example, has "The Icicle Variation" as part of the main route description, with the "Original Finish" listed afterwards. I don't see why this wouldn't work for Crest Route.
Wee Davie - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to Dave Kerr:

Lemonade? Do they sell that in Inverness?
Mike Pescod - on 22 Mar 2013
Jamie B - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to Mike Pescod:

It does Mike, thanks. I think I was somewhere between the finishes of CR and FT as marked, but we'd done most of Crest so I'm taking the tick!
Fergal - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to Erik B:
Agreed why is this nonsense being aired, because the logical conclusion is that if Crest route is VI 7, then Tilt must be VII 7 and this can not be, surely?.

By the way you are not one of the usual suspects, you could flex a crampon muscle if required and in my defence I had had a shandy when I wrote that.
Jamie B - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to Fergal:

Why is this nonsense? To try to clear up a little ambiguity about route-finding? I thought that was the kind of stuff climbers talked about, maybe not. Nobody is whinging about the grade, but there does seem to be a strong suspicion from better climbers than me that the direct is tech 7.

The "usual suspects" quote sounds a little derogatory. Could you expand what you mean?
Fergal - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

Sorry to offend, but like I said, I was on the sauce when I wrote that, I am way to old school in my opinions and not touchy feely enough, a winter climbing dinosaur if you will, happy trails.
Jamie B - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to Fergal:

Dinosaur maybe, but you've got the CV to back it up. My efforts are puny by comparison, but they give me a great deal of pleasure. Crest ate at my soul for years before I got on it, so was a big deal.
Andy Nisbet - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

>
> Wasn't Financial Times done before Crest? It's clearly possible to mix and match the 2 routes, looking around the blogs.

Yes it was, and my memory is jogged a little. We didn't fancy the direct either but didn't think we'd gone into Financial Times (but we might have). We didn't know that Financial Times existed and were just trying to go the best (easiest) way in very snowy conditions.

Mike Pescod - on 23 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B: The description in my book is not very good, I do agree. I've marked it so I remember to rewrite it.

Take the tick and well done. It's a great route.

Mike
Erik B - on 23 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamie B: mikes photo shows what I suspected crest route by wall variation is independent. The meat of the route pitch 2 is the groove. Going left of this mental and really ridiculous.

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