In reply to Craig Holden: Well obviously I have, it was a great adventure in 1969, but it was very unknown and we carried too much gear, the descent to the foot took nearly a day finding the way, and the sac hauling meaning we ended up taking two bivouacs en route. I am sure it's a lot simpler proposition these days.
In reply to Al Evans: Yeah can imagine, still looks very adventurous today! Friend and I are inspired to climb it after visiting Orkney but are unsure of what the point of aid referred to in the guide involves. Was surprised not being able to find much information about the route online.
Rocksport June/July 1969 contains first ascent articles from Al and Leo Dickinson. (All good stuff, Al - I particularly enjoyed the bit about you jugging up a rope that was attached to Leo who was also jugging up a rope!) There's a route description from Ed Drummond in which it's graded Extremely Severe 4c, with a few odd points of aid scattered about and an A2 section near the top. I don't have a modern description to hand for correlation purposes, but more precisely:
- 2 pegs for aid near the top of a crack, probably on pitch 1 (after introductory traverse).
- 1 poor peg for aid to exit right out of an awkward corner at what sounds like about 2/3 height.
- 1 nut for aid in a niche, then A2 pegs up a steep crack for 40 ft to belays under a huge roof; this sounds like the third pitch from the top.
In 1969 nuts were pretty rudimentary - no Stoppers, Rocks, Hexentrics, etc and cams were of course eight years in the future - so Al and team would have been far more reliant on pegs than is probably the case now. I suspect that the 4c technical grade on the free climbing back then will probably seem a bit harsh by today's standards.
In reply to Ian Parsons: That's great, exactly what I was looking for.
Yeah my mate and I had assumed that the general climbing would be easier to protect with modern gear and allow greater speed, just were not sure of what was used for aid and what we would need.
In Scottish Rock North- Gary Latter- there is the point of aid mentioned at 2/3 height,as you stated, and the A2 aid pitch is given tech 6a when free climbed. Probably would aim to free climb it, but glad to know what to take in case.
Probably will take two days for us unless we're super effecient. What a route!
Have fun! Drummond mentions two bivvy sites, both in hammocks; Al can probably recall whether these where from necessity, or whether it was simply because they had them and they were possibly more comfortable than lying on a ledge - and that five people need quite a lot of ledge. And Leo was possibly road-testing the Skyrack at the time, and embraced every oportunity!
In reply to Craig Holden:
Not sure whether it helps, but we were on St Johns the day Fowler and Crags Jones freed the Original route. They started climbing an hour or so after we started up Big John and finished an hour or so before us. Didnt seem like it offered them much resistance - I vaguelly recall them saying that most of it was well below 6a, althought they were out of sight for most of it. Maybe you should forget the bivi gear and try to emulate the FFA team?
The grass pitches to start are different....
In reply to Andy Donson: That is definitely helpful. Would like to do it as fast as possible (obviously) but will just have to see nearer the time and see how we're feeling. Don't have time off until August to try it, so plenty of time to mull things over.
> (In reply to Craig Holden)
> Have fun! Drummond mentions two bivvy sites, both in hammocks; Al can probably recall whether these where from necessity, or whether it was simply because they had them and they were possibly more comfortable than lying on a ledge - and that five people need quite a lot of ledge. And Leo was possibly road-testing the Skyrack at the time, and embraced every oportunity!
I was last to the bivouac and no hammock or ledge room was left available, so I slept the night hanging in my harness. It was one of the most uncomfortable nights ever spent by me.
I remember in the morning having an argument with Ben Cambell Kelly because he was using our valuable drinking water to clean his teeth. I have been very frugal at cleaning my teeth to this day.
I think we could have done it top to bottom and back with one bivouac except for another factor besides carrying too much gear and the unknown.
We were making a film for Leo, it definitely slowed us down.
Incidently we made a half page spread with pictures of the story in the Daily Telegraph. Mum used to have this somewhere I'll sse if I can find it for the history gallery.
In reply to Al Evans:
A library with newspaper archives like the British Library and some of the larger city libraries. We might have an archive here in Birmingham. Would need the date though as otherwise would take forever. Might be easier to email the paper to see if they could help. They might have digitised their back catalogue.