/ Grey Arete is E1??

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Martin Hore - on 11 Jun 2013
Just returned from a wonderful trip to North Wales, with Grey Arete on Glyder Fawr a highlight - well worth the walk up.

I don't normally log my routes, but I visited the page for this climb and will add a vote for E1 for this route, and perhaps add more fuel to the trad grade debate.

Pitch 2 (or the first half of pitch 2 if you string 2 and 3 together) is the crux, even though it's given 4c. Pitch 3 is a well protected low end HVS 5a. Pitch 2 has a 4c move with no reliable protection at all apart from the nut that forms one anchor for the belay, which is a lonely 10 - 15 metres below, and even that's behind a flake that rattles. That's a 30 metre factor two fall potential in my book.

If you confidently lead E1 or above, and cruise pitch 2, you might leave with the impression that the route is low end HVS. But if HVS is your top grade, or worse this is your first HVS, then this move could be very scary indeed.

If Sunset Slab at Froggatt is HVS 4b then this pitch is E1 4c. That's what our wonderful trad grading system is for!
Gordon Stainforth - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

Umm. Perhaps the real question is: is Sunset Slab really HVS 4b now ... with modern protection? Last time I walked past I saw someone climb it with 7 points of protection, all of which looked good. I think something has gone wrong with the grades here.
John_Hat - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Martin Hore)
>
> Umm. Perhaps the real question is: is Sunset Slab really HVS 4b now ... with modern protection? Last time I walked past I saw someone climb it with 7 points of protection, all of which looked good. I think something has gone wrong with the grades here.

What were they, sink plungers?

You could place a few bits on the very low section, but they'd be neither use or ornament after half way up, you *can* get a very specific bit of gear into the hole in the middle, but after that there's nowt.

I'm actually going to be there on Saturday, and I'll probably solo it (have done many times before), but I'm going to have a really long and good look to see if I could wiggle anything in to protect it. I think the answer is no, but happy to be wrong!
Bulls Crack - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

HVS 4c then?
deacondeacon - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: 7 points of protection on sunset slab? That's impressive.
Dave Garnett - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Martin Hore)
>
> Umm. Perhaps the real question is: is Sunset Slab really HVS 4b now ... with modern protection? Last time I walked past I saw someone climb it with 7 points of protection, all of which looked good.

Unless someone has invented something I haven't yet tried, I'm surprised six of them supported their own weight.
Gordon Stainforth - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to deacondeacon:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth) 7 points of protection on sunset slab? That's impressive.

I was so gobsmacked, I actually took a picture of it. Will try to find. It was about 3 years ago ...

Gordon Stainforth - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
>
> Unless someone has invented something I haven't yet tried, I'm surprised six of them supported their own weight.

The picture was surprisingly easy to find. The climber looked very competent, but not particularly hard. Every runner looked bomber.

Really, does that route look badly protected?

http://www.gordonstainforth.co.uk/gfgallery/may10.php?Qwd=.&Qif=DSC_1492.jpg&Qiv=thumbs&...
Rampikino - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

That's great, but the efficacy is down to a single high piece which is located in a spot that is notorious for swallowing gear and then spitting it out again.

If the top one fails on a fall the climber hits the ground.
Skyfall - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

Funny this - see Offwidth's thread.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=552724

He reckons Grey Arete is soft HVS and is normally the first to want to upgrade sandbags....

Gordon Stainforth - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Rampikino:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
>
> That's great, but the efficacy is down to a single high piece which is located in a spot that is notorious for swallowing gear and then spitting it out again.
>
> If the top one fails on a fall the climber hits the ground.

He got another higher in the left hand crack, both placed at head level. The rope went through quite a sharp angle, and the nuts seemed AOK.

Chay - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore: Grey Arete is HVS because it's bold but the climbing is 4c/soft 5a. I don't think it's worthy of E1.
Martin Hore - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

OK, If you really can adequately protect Sunset Slab as in the photo then it's not HVS. But my point is that a climb with a fall potential from the crux move virtually bound to lead to very serious injury (at best) should have a UK adjectival grade two higher than the par grade. ie VS 4a, HVS 4b, E1 4c, etc. If Sunset Slab doesn't qualify because a pocket has mysteriously appeared to take protection where myself and other contributors above have failed to find one, then Sunset Slab is no longer a valid example to compare with. But it doesn't detract from my point I feel.
Martin Hore - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Skyfall:
> (In reply to Martin Hore)
>
> Funny this - see Offwidth's thread.
>
> http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=552724
>
> He reckons Grey Arete is soft HVS and is normally the first to want to upgrade sandbags....

Ah, but Offwidth is an E2 leader according to his profile, which could be said to support my point.

Martin Hore - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay:
> (In reply to Martin Hore) Grey Arete is HVS because it's bold but the climbing is 4c/soft 5a. I don't think it's worthy of E1.

But my point is that it depends how bold. There's quite a few HVS 4c's around that get the grade because they are a tad bold. I've not yet come across one that presents anything like as serious a consequence as Grey Arete if you fluff the 4c move.

I think we should accept that exceptionally poorly protected routes can get a UK adjectival grade two grades removed from the par for the technical grade. It's been accepted for Sunset Slab for ages, and rightly so I feel (phantom nut placements notwithstanding).

By the way, I'm not interested in claiming another E1 to boost my ego. I got a big enough boost on Superdirect the day before, but I didn't feel on Superdirect that I was very seriously endangering myself and quite possibly my partner if I fluffed the crucial moves.

Martin Hore - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay:
> (In reply to Martin Hore) Grey Arete is HVS because it's bold but the climbing is 4c/soft 5a. I don't think it's worthy of E1.

PS, Chay, I'm not sure from your profile that you've actually done the route, though I may be mistaken of course. If, as per your profile, you're currently moving through the grades towards your first HVS lead, I would advise you don't make it Grey Arete. I think you could be in for a shock.
Sean Kelly - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore: Remember that Javelin Blade was VS for a number of years and that's E1 5b now, but it does have a good runner 40ft below the hard moves! So where does that place Grey Arete?
alan moore - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:
While I can't remember any gear opportunities at all on Sunset Slab after the first 10 feet, the middle pitch of Grey Arete has tons of bits and pieces.
Admittedly, the guidebook gives the wrong impression that this might be the easier of the three pitches but there are several little wires and sling placements. When I did it you could drape fuzzy old tape slings over several shallow spikes (modern, slippery dyneema slings might not work so well).

To the person who says the crux of Javelin Blade is 40 feet above the gear; surely that applies to the olden days when the only runner was the chockstone? Isn't there a small friend just below your feet as you bridge up to the swing out right?
Dave Garnett - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to alan moore:
> To the person who says the crux of Javelin Blade is 40 feet above the gear; surely that applies to the olden days when the only runner was the chockstone? Isn't there a small friend just below your feet as you bridge up to the swing out right?


I remember a reasonable RP just as you swing right too.
Dave Garnett - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
> [...]
>
> The picture was surprisingly easy to find. The climber looked very competent, but not particularly hard. Every runner looked bomber.
>
> Really, does that route look badly protected?

But it's pretty foreshortened too. I'm fairly sure that as you do the crux you are in for a ground fall if something doesn't stick in the flared crack. I've never been convinced that anything there would hold but admittedly I've never tested it!
pasbury on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to alan moore:
> (In reply to Martin Hore)

> To the person who says the crux of Javelin Blade is 40 feet above the gear; surely that applies to the olden days when the only runner was the chockstone?

Very olden days! That's what Jack Longland said after the first ascent in 1930.

Martin Hore - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to alan moore:
> (In reply to Martin Hore)
> While I can't remember any gear opportunities at all on Sunset Slab after the first 10 feet, the middle pitch of Grey Arete has tons of bits and pieces.
> Admittedly, the guidebook gives the wrong impression that this might be the easier of the three pitches but there are several little wires and sling placements. When I did it you could drape fuzzy old tape slings over several shallow spikes (modern, slippery dyneema slings might not work so well).

Well, if there's "tons" of protection and I missed it all I need to withdraw my case and go back to "gear school". But looking at the page for the climb on this site I'm not the only one to find none at all after the first slightly dodgy piece just above the belay, and not the only one to suggest an E1 grade. The picture in my Ground Up guide of Kim Pearson a bit below the crux, belayed by Glenda Huxter, doesn't show any either. To be fair, I did place a micro-friend upside down in a slight hole below the crux move but I had no confidence in it holding. My second was of the same view when he took it out.


LakesWinter on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:
> (In reply to Chay)
> [...]

>
> I think we should accept that exceptionally poorly protected routes can get a UK adjectival grade two grades removed from the par for the technical grade. It's been accepted for Sunset Slab for ages, and rightly so I feel (phantom nut placements notwithstanding).
>

I think it's actually normal in most of the UK for a route 1 tech grade under the average to have ground fall/serious injury or possibly death potential. I can give many many examples of E1 5a, HVS 4c, E2 5b and VS 4b routes like this. Sunset Slab is an anomoly and should be VS 4b really.

Pagan - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to LakesWinter:

So by your rationale should Great Slab be E2?

I can't think of many (any?) routes with grades like E1 5a etc with genuine serious injury/death potential from the crux - big falls, knackered ankles, yes but no more than that. If you know of any I'd be interested to hear them...

> Sunset Slab is an anomoly and should be VS 4b really.

No it shouldn't. Fall from the crux and you're guaranteed a deck out from the top of the crag.
Mick Ward - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

> this pitch is E1 4c

It's E1 4c/5a.

Mick
LakesWinter on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Pagan: Well, for example, Wall End Slab direct start you'd deck out from the crux and the landing is pretty bad. Glass Slipper at Black Crag in the lakes has deck out potential from 14m - that's E2 5b.
jcw on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore: Here is my entry from my diary Oct 24 1965: Fine but cold. Weather looked bad at first, but soon cleared. With Ron [James]. All in boots and rucksacks. Girdle Traverse of East Wall Idwal Slabs (Guide book 1-7; Hard S). Original Route with direct start (pitches 1b, 2, 3b, 4c; Hard S on Holly Tree Wall). The Upper Staircase on Continuation Wall (graded Mod, or less certainly Hard D, Ron reckons VD). Grey Slab on Glyder Fawr (Hard S), top half v. thin in boots, feet came away during delicate mantleshelf just above belay but hands stayed in position. Total 900’ of good severe standard—an enjoyable day. Ron a bit tired from three rescues previous day and myself with lingering cold.
Gordon Stainforth - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
>
> But it's pretty foreshortened too. I'm fairly sure that as you do the crux you are in for a ground fall if something doesn't stick in the flared crack. I've never been convinced that anything there would hold but admittedly I've never tested it!

I watched the climber lead it from the ground. The way he did it looked dead safe. He tiptoed a couple of quite easy moves left from the big bunch of runners on the right, then one move up (wouldn't have decked it from there) and then was able to reach that nut placement to his left, just above head level. He tugged the nut quite firmly. It looked 100% bomber. Then he climbed up past it two to three moves, and amazingly, got on another equally solid looking nut. As I say, I was gobsmacked, because as I remember it in the late 60s/70s it was quite simply a solo, with NO gear at all.

Pagan - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to LakesWinter:

Glass Slipper has never seen a 5b move in its life - could well feel like E2 5a though if you miss the small runners on the slab, otherwise it's HVS. Wall End Slab Direct (I assume we're talking the E2 version?) has good but distant gear which would keep you off the ground if you fluffed the crux so again, big fall but no real danger.
Chay - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore: You are mistaken, most of logbook is paper-based and what is on here reflects only the last few months- I don't climb very often now but i've done Grey Arete several times as well as loads of routes up to E2/3 so I have a good idea what the grades should feel like. imho, grey arete is HVS 4c/soft 5a. It doesn't feel like E1.

I wouldn't have commented with my opinion if I hadn't ever done the route; that'd be senseless.

C
Martin Hore - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay:

Apologies Chay. Though if you were confident at E2/3 at the time you did Grey Arete, our views are not necessarily conflicting. I think it would seem like HVS, possibly low end, if you had no fear of fluffing the 4c move on pitch 2. I just don't think the average leader with HVS as their top grade would be in that position, and the comments on the climb page on this site bear this out.
Martin Hore - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Mick Ward:

Thanks Mick - good to have some support at last!
Hardonicus - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore: I think that hard 4c crux before easier ground is pretty committing and insecure, and the potential lob is a big scraper + ledge bounce halfway, probably an 80 footer.

Very top end HVS. I done a lot of easier E1s and I was seconding this one...
Jonny2vests - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
> [...]


Woah, that guy needs to learn how to extend with gear like that. Edit: its all good since I saw this:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=117556


Jonny2vests - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

I'm almost disappointed that Pylon King hasn't chipped in with E0 yet.
jcw on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore: My apologies. I confused Grey Slab with Grey Aręte. I was certainly surprised to see the Slab being upgraded like that.
Dave Garnett - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
> [...]
>
> As I say, I was gobsmacked, because as I remember it in the late 60s/70s it was quite simply a solo, with NO gear at all.

Well, it has been some time since I last did it and even longer since it was a regular solo (though not quite as far back as the late 60s). Even geology moves on eventually and those cracks must have improved. Perhaps we both need to go and do it again?

John2 - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett: The top crack does take a cam, but I would be astonished if it held a fall.
Big Lee - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

Tennis Shoe Direct is very similar. E1 or HVS depending which publication. Technically no that difficult but gear very sparce.
pebbles - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth: with respect, theres a LOT of foreshortening in that picture, which makes the low protection look very much higher up the route than it really is. In reality once you are past that lower crack, which finishes about a quarter of the way up, there is no more worthwhile gear and once on the upper slab there is groundfall potential. As folk have already said, the gear in the hole is probably worthless - you're better not having it and then at least you know the score
Martin Hore - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Hardonicus:

> Very top end HVS. I done a lot of easier E1s and I was seconding this one...

Yes, it was your comment on the logbook page for Grey Arete (along with several others) that led me to think I was not far out with E1 4c for pitch 2. Interesting that a climb with one pitch of E1 4c followed by another of HVS 5a would get E1 5a as it's overall grade, which doesn't tell you much about either pitch. But perhaps that's another debate...
Hardonicus - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore: Let's just be honest, it's E0 4c.
Offwidth - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

Interesting. I did it for the first time on Saturday. I found several runners on pitch 2. I ignored the rickety spike but just beyond this was a a downwards facing microcam (blue alien for me) then a poor looped sling over a spike and a good runner just up and right from the crux that I didnt bother with, as everything looked OK to the ledge. The crux was easy for me (not much above 4b) once I sussed it out and the slab angle and good footholds meant I could have waited an hour in my thinking. I did think it was it was HVS bold. I'd say the route is easy HVS for pitch 2 otherwise VS and there is no move harder than 4c anywhere (the technical crux was a bog standard protected 4c move just before the top crack widened and tilted left)

I also did Grey Rib for the first time the route before and it's bolder and a more solid VS 4b/4a but more reachy. We did the combo with Grey Slab and I stayed left this time which I think is the true bold line and justifys VS (last time I thought it was HS moving right to runners nearer the corner).
EeeByGum - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore: I think you just need to man up. It is a classic mountain HVS outing with a sting in the tail once you are nicely committed.
Offwidth - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

Oh and in case people think I'm sandbagging I thought the VD Saint's Wall which we did the same day was scary S 4a requiring good gear placement skills. Plus we did the VD Wall climb the same weekend at Milestone and thats scary HS for the start (4a left, 4b/c right).
Offwidth - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Hardonicus:

Its not E0 as the definitive slab of the grade 3PS is noticably harder, bolder and more committing.
Offwidth - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to John2:

The top crack has as many runners as you could ever want. Even the wide bit has chocs where you can get good smaller gear if you wisely left the seagull bashers in the tent.
GrahamD - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

I think its very easy to overdo the 'bold' aspect of grading a route. There are plenty of mountain Vdiffs where a fall would mean a serious injury because no matter how many runners, you will hit something hard.

To get an adjectival grade 2 away from the 'par' technical grade I think the route has to be exceptional by being bold and sustained or bold and loose - being bold alone isn't enough.

Sunset slab is a bit of an anomoly but being on a honey pot gritstone crag gets more significance placed on it than it deserves. Grit is always dangerous to use as a benchmark for the grading system in any case with so many 'routes' verging on high ball boulder problems. Better to use longer routes as bench marks: Satans Slip, perhaps, or something on the Etive slabs.
GrahamD - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> The picture was surprisingly easy to find. The climber looked very competent, but not particularly hard. Every runner looked bomber.
>
> Really, does that route look badly protected?

That is a claasic example of forshortening and why photo tops for mountain routes are often totally useless for anything but the bottom pitch ! The nest of gear is about 20% up the route, with the crux being 80% up the route. The gear for the crux isn't worth the effort of placeing IMO.
Offwidth - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

I just noticed you called me an E2 leader: bless you! I lead VS solidly except on yorkshire grit when I'm really only solid at HS. I have led E2 slabs onsight in full terror/ice concentration mode and quite a few mountain HVS climbs (or their equivalent abroad) in good style. Plus I was in my comfy shoes which need an urgent resole as I can't edge technically.

My downwards alien runner felt pretty good which may explain part of the difference.
Offwidth - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Almost missed your point on pro for Sunset Slab. The hole takes certain type of narrow headed big cam (crucial for the terrifying E2, What's up Doc) but is still far from reliable, certainly friends pop straight out when you shock weight them. You can also 'manufacture' some marginal RP placements in the groove. While you faff with this psychological gear you are getting tired and removing the flow of the route and a useful foothold in the pocket. Benchmark easish HVS 4b.

Back on Grey Arete I'd like to know how Hardonicus and Martin did the slab crux if they remember and BETA ALERT for what I say below. I had a good look as there were several possibilities and Colin was still on the belay above so no rush. I looked out on the arete, then pulling up thinly to the right to gain good footholds from their left, or more easily the way I did it further from the right moving left to the footholds. Moff seconded the harder middle variant and said it was tricky.
charley - on 12 Jun 2013
Regarding gear on Sunset Slab, I managed to get a decent looking slider/ball nut (red no2 I think?) in the back of the big pocket just below the crux on the left. I didn't test it but my 2nd thought it was bomber.
DannyC on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

Like Offwidth, I protected second pitch crux with a small downward pointing cam (well extended) when I did it a few years back. Felt very top end HVS to me at the time, but the difference between any 'soft touch' grade and a 'tough' grade below is always going be small (/negligible?). Would be an interesting discussion when the FRCC decide what constitutes a MVS- and what is a mere HS+ for the Lakes guides! :-)

Fantastic route.
Sean Kelly - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to alan moore:
> To the person who says the crux of Javelin Blade is 40 feet above the gear; surely that applies to the olden days when the only runner was the chockstone? Isn't there a small friend just below your feet as you bridge up to the swing out right?
Well I led this about 15 years back, I didn't find any usuable protection anywhere remotely near the crux. There is a very shallow groove but the poor nut placement just falls out! So in most respects not much different to when Longland did it, apart from better footwear and harnesses. If anyone finds this not to be the case then I would be very surprised to hear.

PeakDJ on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Pagan:
> (In reply to LakesWinter)
>
> Glass Slipper has never seen a 5b move in its life - could well feel like E2 5a though if you miss the small runners on the slab,

If someone misses those very obvious runners it's questionable whether they should be climbing at all! ;)

Sean Kelly - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Big Lee:
> Tennis Shoe Direct is very similar. E1 or HVS depending which publication. Technically no that difficult but gear very sparce.

It all depends on where you step right onto the main slab, early or later. Also it can be greasy after a wet winter.
PeakDJ on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
>
While you faff with this psychological gear you are getting tired and removing the flow of the route and a useful foothold in the pocket. Benchmark easish HVS 4b.
>
Getting tired, on sunset slab!?? At this point aren't you essentially stood on a huge sloping ledge??

In any case, it's pretty obvious what you're getting from the ground with this route so the grade doesn't really matter. As for runners, I find it very hard to believe there is anything that could be considered bomber once you leave the crack.

As with Grey Arete, again, is whether it's HVS and E1 really that important? Without a few things that feel hard/scary/soft/safe at each particular grade climbing would be a lot less interesting. It bemuses me why people can't just enjoy the experience instead of obsessing over the grade in the guidebook.

I personally found Suicide Wall (the one with the rightwards traverse on the grassy ledge) on Idwal absolutely terrifying and very poorly protected. That doesn't however, make it E3 5b. It just made it a scary, but at the same time, memorable, experience.

Skyfall - on 12 Jun 2013
I did West Rib on the Mot a couple of days ago and found something not dissimilar. The main 5a pitch I thought was a touch soft (not sure there was anything harder than 4c really) and, whist pretty run out in places, gear was mostly good. The first 4b pitch was, for me, much more concerning. Whereas there is decent gear initially (up the initial 'chimney'), there is then a long almost unprotected rising traverse meaning that, unless I missed something (quite possible), you are climbing for about 10m facing a groundfall with only a micro (about half way up the pitch) between you and the deck. There are two loose placements I refused to use incidentally (one of which is a useful hold and when it blows one day I hope the person involved doesn't deck). Whilst I wouldn't say that is a HVS pitch, it actually felt as serious to me as the main pitch. The start to Diagonal is a bit like that as well iirc.
Gordon Stainforth - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Skyfall:

Yes, I remember quite a lot of scary places on the Nose of the Mot. I thought Crosstie was very scary for HVS.
Martin Hore - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to John2)
>
> The top crack has as many runners as you could ever want. Even the wide bit has chocs where you can get good smaller gear if you wisely left the seagull bashers in the tent.

Certainly true for Grey Arete, but I think John2 was talking about Sunset Slab! My fault for mentioning both in the OP but at least it's generated some discussion.
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Coel Hellier - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Sean Kelly:

I led Javelin Blade last year and thought the small wire in the groove at the crux was "ok", not bomber but "ok", and the E1 5b seemed fair.

We then did Grey Arete. I didn't put any gear in on that pitch-2 section, but it also felt "ok" at the grade (bold, upper-HVS). But then that's the sort of climbing I'm good at; I can see that if HVS was someone's limit then they could have quite an experience on that section.
Hardonicus - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Hardonicus)
>
> Its not E0 as the definitive slab of the grade 3PS is noticably harder, bolder and more committing.

This is an example of why you should not use a controversial route as a solid datum. TPS is HVS.

Solid E0 would include Ricochet Wall (Shooter's) and Trident (Wimberry).
Hardonicus - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Hardonicus: Or in terms of Froggatt slabs, Motorcade...
Martin Hore - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Martin Hore)
>
> Interesting. I did it for the first time on Saturday. I found several runners on pitch 2. I ignored the rickety spike but just beyond this was a a downwards facing microcam (blue alien for me) then a poor looped sling over a spike and a good runner just up and right from the crux that I didnt bother with, as everything looked OK to the ledge. >

Interesting - particularly as our ascents are only 2 days apart, so nothing would have changed. I placed a downward pointing microcam quite close to the crux but felt it was definitely no more than psychological. I didn't spot one lower down, nor a spike for a looped sling. Could be we take a different view on what's worth placing, or perhaps my eyesight's failing me in my (very) late middle age!

If there's adequate gear that I missed, then I take back my point about the grade in this case. But if there's no reliable gear between stance and a crux move in that position, then I'd say a UK adjectival grade 2 away from par (ie E1 4c, HVS 4b etc) is justified (but GrahamD has introduced an extra dimension on this that I'll also respond to.)

It was a great route!
Martin Hore - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
>
> As with Grey Arete, again, is whether it's HVS and E1 really that important? Without a few things that feel hard/scary/soft/safe at each particular grade climbing would be a lot less interesting. It bemuses me why people can't just enjoy the experience instead of obsessing over the grade in the guidebook.

OK, I posted in part to raise some controversy, which seems to have been successful. But there's also a serious point. Sooner or later someone with HVS as their current limit might fluff that bold move on Grey Arete and some to serious harm. If it was E1 in the book they probably wouldn't have been there. Would we see more broken limbs at the base of Sunset Slab if it was VS in the book? I think there's a good chance we would. Don't get me wrong, each of us is responsible for the decisions we make when we climb - I would never suggest blaming the guidebook author. But Sunset Slab is given HVS for a good reason, which I think could be more widely applied. It's not about obsessing over grades. I thoroughly enjoyed Grey Arete. It's undoubtedly a three star route, whether it's HVS or E1.

Hardonicus - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

Two other points aboout Grey Arete to throw in the mix. It is downclimable up to the crux, it is reasonably obviously lacking in gear.

As such there should be no 'surprises' even for an E0 leader.
Martin Hore - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to Martin Hore)
>
> I think its very easy to overdo the 'bold' aspect of grading a route. There are plenty of mountain Vdiffs where a fall would mean a serious injury because no matter how many runners, you will hit something hard.
>
> To get an adjectival grade 2 away from the 'par' technical grade I think the route has to be exceptional by being bold and sustained or bold and loose - being bold alone isn't enough.
>
> Sunset slab is a bit of an anomoly but being on a honey pot gritstone crag gets more significance placed on it than it deserves. Grit is always dangerous to use as a benchmark for the grading system in any case with so many 'routes' verging on high ball boulder problems. Better to use longer routes as bench marks: Satans Slip, perhaps, or something on the Etive slabs.

Graham - a very interesting reply, thank you. I'm not quite sure I agree with you completely, but I certainly agree that whether a route is sustained, and/or loose, is relevant as well as whether you can protect it. So if you accept my underlying argument that a route that's got "death fall" potential from a single crux should have an adjectival grade 2 away from par, then a route that's got the same fall potential from a sustained sequence of crux moves that rely on loose holds should be 3 or even 4 adjectival grades away from par, which agree is perhaps taking things too far.

Looking at it another way though, you could say it's about what grade you are prepared to solo. Currently I'm happy to lead a standard E1 5b (say the main pitch of Superdirect which I led Sunday) I'd be "happy" (on a very occasional basis only) to solo 4c, effectively what I did on Grey Arete. But I definitely would not consider soloing 5a. (I suspect that is what most climbers with E1 5b as their top grade would say). So on an E1 5a I would want to find sufficient gear to save me from a deck-out or massive factor 2 fall. I've done Satan's Slip, and I felt there was probably just enough gear to prevent that outcome, certainly more than I found on Grey Arete. If I overestimated the reliability of the gear on Satan's Slip, then perhaps you could argue for E2 5a.

As for Sunset slab, you could look at it both ways. Yes, it's a honey-pot crag, so perhaps the guidebook writers urge on the side of caution. But if you break a few bones falling off Sunset Slab, you are probably no more than 45 minutes from hospital. Not so on Grey Arete, certainly not so on Satan's Slip. So you could argue for even more caution on remote crags.

PS, I'm assuming you're the GrahamD involved in the Ground Up team (and much else of course)? As I've indicated in another post on this thread, I'm absolutely not suggesting that we should blame guidebook writers if we come to harm by placing too much faith in the guidebook grade. It's a very helpful guide, but no more. We all take our own decisions whether or not to climb a route, and full responsibility for the consequences.
Mick Ward - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

> But there's also a serious point. Sooner or later someone with HVS as their current limit might fluff that bold move on Grey Arete and some to serious harm.

Absolutely - which is why I broke my self-imposed ban on posting here. It's a scary, committing move, with an awful fall if you fluff it. Offhand I can't remember any HVS (and I must have led and soloed many, many hundreds) which has given me more pause for thought.

Mick



Martin Hore - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to Martin Hore) I think you just need to man up. It is a classic mountain HVS outing with a sting in the tail once you are nicely committed.

Dear EeeByGum - with respect, have you not noticed that I actually did it?
Mick Ward - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Mick Ward:

To the guy who hadn't done Grey Arete but questioned whether the OP had done Diagonal, etc on the Mot. (Has his post disappeared?) I've done the stuff on the Mot (West Rib in pouring rain). The consequences of a fall on Grey Arete seemed far more serious.

Mick
John_Hat - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Hardonicus:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
> [...]
>
> This is an example of why you should not use a controversial route as a solid datum. TPS is HVS.

As a matter of interest, did you actually lead TPS without pre-practicing it first? Your logbook would tend to indicate that you seconded it, and then led it.

If so, I think the thing you should mainly do about the onsight lead grade is shut up...
Offwidth - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore: I still think that I found an easier way so it would be useful to know exactly your recall of the three methods I described. The guys in front did it the middle way from the comment I got. I said as a fat climber I had to be devious.
Simon Caldwell - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ:
> In any case, it's pretty obvious what you're getting from the ground with this route (Sunset Slab) so the grade doesn't really matter.

From the ground it looks like there's good gear in the flake near the top. The consensus seems to be that there isn't. So the grade matters a lot, in that it tells you that what appears from the ground like a nice hard severe, is in fact unprotected where it matters.
JJL - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

My tuppence:

Sunset slab is VS 4b. I couldn't find any useful gear in the vertical crease. The one pseudo-placement seems too flared and I don't have zeros. I've done it maybe 12 times, mostly solo.

Grey arete is HVS. I've done it twice. The middle pitch is mostly 4b or lower, and the one slightly harder move is low down. I agree the belay isn't much to applaud.

TPS is soft HVS 5a for the move across from the hole. The hole has good gear IF you size it correctly. It will spit out the wrong sizes (wires or friends) under load. The slab above is barely 4c. I've done it perhaps 10 times.

Browns' Eliminate is E2. Although the moves go from 5b to 5a to 4c, they are a long way above the gear

Grip is E2. A nasty fall, although by the time you get to the upper reaches, where the gear in the break wouldn't help, it's eased up

Satans Slip is E1. There is some creative gear (mostly sideways nuts) but it feels like a long series of tenuous 5a moves on not special pro.

Sean Kelly - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to JJL:
> Satans Slip is E1. There is some creative gear (mostly sideways nuts) but it feels like a long series of tenuous 5a moves on not special pro.
I do recall a very good runner somewhere near the single positive foothold on SS. But not a lot above until you merge with Albion, which you can lace!

GrahamD - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

Not that GrahamD I'm afraid. Fat punter from Cambridge :-)
Coel Hellier - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to JJL:

> Satans Slip is E1. There is some creative gear (mostly sideways nuts) but it feels like a long series
> of tenuous 5a moves on not special pro.

I agree with most of your post, but Satan's Slip seemed to take quite a lot of good WC "superlight" rocks, at least after half way (I'm guessing you didn't have these). The climbing seemed about 4b/4c really, but it's really a confidence thing: if you are confident in your footwork the actual moves are all ok.
Martin Hore - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Martin Hore) I still think that I found an easier way so it would be useful to know exactly your recall of the three methods I described.

BETA ALERT!

Well, it's a fairly broad slabby area climbable I guess by several routes. I remember no real difficulties low down on pitch 2 - lots of crozzly pockets encouraging you leftwards towards the aręte. Then the angle eases a bit but the pockets disappear. I briefly considered moving left to the aręte at this point but it looked pretty tenuous getting there. The obvious way seemed to be to link small ledges leading straight up. (I remember them as distinct ledges but really the whole area is an undulating slab). The lower ledge took my psychological upside down microcam. Getting on the middle ledge was the crux mantelshelf (which is referred to in several postings on Grey Arete's UKC database page). There are two tiny ridges on the middle ledge which help a bit with the mantel (and were already chalked - possibly by your party?). There are no holds on the wall above the ledge to assist. I was not certain I would be able to reach the upper ledge once standing on the middle one and if not I would have been in a bad position indeed. But you can reach quite easily, and a quick move up from there brings small but juggy incuts and gear (a #3 rock slightly out to the right). I would say 4c for the one move - 4a to 4b for the rest, not too difficult for me in hindsight, but I had zero reliable gear below the crux which is a very long way above the stance.
PeakDJ on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to PeakDJ)
> [...]
>
> From the ground it looks like there's good gear in the flake near the top. The consensus seems to be that there isn't. So the grade matters a lot, in that it tells you that what appears from the ground like a nice hard severe, is in fact unprotected where it matters.

And any climber can traverse back right from "where it matters" and back off if they get to the flake and realise there is no gear!

alan moore - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Mick Ward:
"Offhand I can't remember any HVS (and I must have led and soloed many, many hundreds) which has given me more pause for thought."

I'm a hopeless punter who has had to pull on the runners to get up many hundreds of HVS's but I thought grey aręte was easy. The same week I failed on brant direct and wobbled up Diagonal convinced I was going to die!

I guess it's all about the day, the route, and the style of climbing...

baron - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:
My 1982 guidebook gives Grey Arete HVS 4C and describes it as 'perfect rock ........... with not a great deal of difficuty'.

It gives more of a warning about the dangers of Grey Slab - something to try on your next visit?:)
Offwidth - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

BETA ALERT Thats my middle way, if you had stepped right below the mantel there are holds on the right that allow you to step up onto the 'ledge' instead; this isnt hidden in any real way so should be the way to go. This is almost certainly giving the difference in our view. If I had to mantel as you did E0 4c/5a would have been my view too.

In reply to JJL

Your decription of pitch 2 of GA is completely wrong. Belays are fine, no hard moves low down; Martin and I both did it this last week and we agree perfectly.

Also wrt 3PS the E1 is for 4c smears with nasty groundfall from above 10m

In reply to Peak DJ

You're maybe a victim of your ability. I've watched folk fiddle above the 'ledge' and have to foot hop to relieve calf tension. When such routes approach ones limit they can feel very scary. Also seen a few folk dither scarily on the very last move.
Offwidth - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to alan moore:

It may be the day sometimes but when there is an easy way that people miss its much more likley that. Irrespective, the route was completely absorbing and the rock perfect like the other classics to the left. Folk should get up there and enjoy.
pebbles - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to JJL: it really worries me when people demand that routes with groundfall potential should be downgraded, because what feels like a nice easy VS at most to someone leading in the E grades may feel very different to someone whose top leading grade is VS, and without the adjectival grade to warn them how are people to tell? As Toreador said, its not always obvious from below. The whole point of combining an adjectival grade with a technical grade is that the combination gives the info, I would much prefer the odd route to feel overgraded to someone regularly climbing harder grades than for a less experienced climber to be misled into a dangerous situation
EeeByGum - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

> Dear EeeByGum - with respect, have you not noticed that I actually did it?

I did indeed. So did I. I thought as a route, it was bob on for HVS with a nice little sting in the tail half way up.
simongwyn - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to baron:
Was just going to mention the Ogwen guides. I don't have them to hand but I'm sure the early 90s Ogwen guide makes specific mention of the unprotected nature of the second pitch, whereas I'm not sure if the new one does? I led the pitch a couple of years ago and agree that it's a tad scary taking direct line to belay. The old guide also rightly gives it three stars, whereas the new one lopped one off for some reason.
Mick Ward - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to alan moore:
> (In reply to Mick Ward)

> I guess it's all about the day, the route, and the style of climbing...

Absolutely! I'd be the first to admit I wasn't taking Grey Arete at all seriously - so I certainly deserved a rude awakening. We were doing the Idwal Slabs to top of Glyder Fawr day, as originally recommended by Ken Wilson in Crags.

I had crap shoes, sore feet and was carrying the sac. Once I clicked into soloing mode, it was OK. But I still feel that if HVS was your limit (and it probably will be, for most of us, at least twice in our lifetimes!) Grey Arete might be the bullet in the chamber with your name on it.

A while back, there was a discussion about St Gregory the Wonder Worker, at Ansteys, a Hard Severe that begins as a Mod (if that) but leads you into a very perilous situation. I felt serious VS; lots of people disagreed and reckoned it a complete piece of piss. Since then, it's come out that the route has had fatalities and a dreadful local reputation (for danger, not quality).

I'm not claiming to be right all the time about grading (who could be?) If some feel Grey Arete is innocuous, then great. But, if I was the guidebook writer, I'd put in a warning for those who (like me) didn't find it in the least innocuous.

Mick
Offwidth - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to simongwyn:

Maybe that's because you can get some protection with micro-cams. "Delicate and not well protected" is pretty clear for the pitch. My main concerns with the Ogwen guide is they perhaps dont talk it up enough or give enough warning of boldness in the initial text (HVS 4c would get the message over much more clearly) and only give it 2 stars.

In reply to Mick Ward:

"I had crap shoes, sore feet and was carrying the sac." Ideal circumstances for accurate grading ;-) I agree that warnings are important on such routes.
Martin Hore - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Martin Hore)
>
> BETA ALERT Thats my middle way, if you had stepped right below the mantel there are holds on the right that allow you to step up onto the 'ledge' instead; this isnt hidden in any real way so should be the way to go. This is almost certainly giving the difference in our view. If I had to mantel as you did E0 4c/5a would have been my view too.

Thanks Offwidth - looks like I need to go to Specsavers!

> Also wrt 3PS the E1 is for 4c smears with nasty groundfall from above 10m

Well, that's interesting. I led 3PS for the second time this Spring, and I agree entirely. I felt the 5a move is the rockover straight after the pocket with the gear so probably HVS 5a there (though the gear may not be fully reliable, I appreciate). But the last 4c smear move has likely groundfall potential, so I tend to agree, controversial as I know it is, that E1 4c is correct at that point. Meaning E1 5a is correct for the pitch as a whole, if potentially a bit misleading.

For me, all these routes are in the category of "very good to do occasionally". I fear that if you do them regularly you're stacking up the odds of one day messing up one of the (relatively) easy moves and regretting it badly.

Well, I think I'll sign off at this point. It's the first time I've stuck my head above the parapet as an OP, and it's been interesting. I might do it again. But for now I think I'll get back to some of the other things I enjoy in my retirement (like actually climbing). Thanks to all who contributed above.
Offwidth - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

You don't need glasses, such things are easily missed - more so with narrowed vision through anxiety on a bold move - and the adjectival grade has to take that into account. It was an easy ride for me as an HVS (after I'd worked out how to start!) but it is HVS and better as an HVS 4c IMHO as any move on the cracks that might maybe make 5a (I couldnt see any) is only just so and hard 4c would give a better impression of what to expect from the route as a whole. In the Froggatt guide it's explicit that 3PS is HVS if you escape left and dont pad up the bold finishing slab.
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PeakDJ on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Martin Hore)
>
> In reply to Peak DJ
>
> You're maybe a victim of your ability. I've watched folk fiddle above the 'ledge' and have to foot hop to relieve calf tension. When such routes approach ones limit they can feel very scary. Also seen a few folk dither scarily on the very last move.

Ability? You have obviously never watched that closely when I have been climbing. I think the issue here isn't with ability, but common sense. If a person has reached the flake and can't get any gear in it really isn't that difficult, even for a total numpty - to get back off to the crack and a position of safety.

I wasn't saying that people wont get scared, but I was saying that if they have common sense they could easily get themselves out of trouble with any damage being limited to their ego (and not their legs, as Toreador was implying!). So whether the grade is VS or HVS shouldn't really matter. Or are guidebook writers now expected to base their work on the fact that most people don't have any common sense and don;'t know when to back off a route if it is too scary or hard for them? All a bit indicative of the UK climbing community's obsession with grades. People expect them to be an accurate science rather than merely a guide as to how difficult the route MIGHT feel.

Offwidth - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PeakDJ:

Quite a lot of people have hurt themselves badly on SS and I suspect partly because once committed you can get stuck just below the top and in trouble, as reversing from there is tricky. If you put a useless cam in that pocket to take out the foothold the situation is made even worse. The route has been graded HVS for some time now and for good reason. HVS 4b tells you everything you need to know (even if the accuracy is irrelevant) and the route is a path for confident solo climbers even of your modestly stated ability.
JJL - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to pebbles:

I'm not suggesting a downgrade
It's VS in my guidebook!

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