/ North West Scotland Grades

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Fiend - on 21 Jun 2013
This list is objectively graded for balanced climbers with a breadth of experience cragging around Scotland, England and Wales and does not take into account the mis-guided machinations of overly-familiar locals, Aberdonians, headpointers / side-runner users, the 90% of Scots who can't jam, anyone with an egotistical point to prove about grades, anyone who thinks that gritstone is the default benchmark of sensible grading, boulderers, anyone who is over six foot and under 11 stone, or any other such anomolous weirdos.

It is guaranteed to be 100% scientifically and factually accurate.

Stiff:
Rubblestiltskin, Diabeg - steep, committing, hollow in the middle
Northumberland Wall, Diabeg - solid and tricky on the first pitch
Animal Magic, Diabeg - very bold
E2 5b left of In The Pink, Loch Tollaidh - 6a start, 5c middle
Strip Teaser, Loch Tollaidh - continually bold and lonely
Rock Bottom, Loch Tollaidh - hard 6a crux
How The West Was Won, Gruinard Crag (at E3 5c) - should be soft E4 6a as it originally was
Barrel Of Fun, Inverianvie Crag - bold and pokey
Walking On Water, Mungasdale Crag - pumpy as fcuk despite the big flake
Huffin Puffin, Reiff (at E1 5c) - E2, steep
Moronic Inferno, Reiff (at E2 5b) - E3 and the second hardest of the cracks on this wall
Split Personality, Reiff (at E3 5c) - E4 with poor holds and fiddly pro at crux
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, Reiff (at E1 5b) - tricky
Inertia, Inverpolly - as hard as the E3s
Moondust, The Balcony - bold and committing
The Goat Of Barten, Creag Gharb Mhor (at E2 5c) - 6a start
The Swirl, Creag An Fithich - desperate finish
Monkey Man, Sheigra - very steep with pumpy and arduous protection low down
Above The Blue, Sheigra - hard
GLOP, Sheigra - hard even at E3 5c
Bloodlust Direct, Sheigra - steep and fiddly pro, also the worst E2 on the face
Black Edge, Sheigra - doesn't follow any feature described

Solid:
Rough Justice, Diabeg - tricky slab
Bold As Brass, Stone Valley - thin crux
Boldered Out, Loch Tollaidh - hard start although easy above
Heave-Ho, Loch Tollaidh - two solid 6a sections
Hollow Heart, Loch Tollaidh - pumpy and committing finish
Arial, Loch Maree Crag - colossally draining
Armburger, Beach Crag - pumpy and not always easy pro
Radical Jewish, Road Crag - thin and poky
Genesis, Mungasdale Crag - stiff and reachy
Skinhead Violence, Ardmair - harder than it looks
If You See Kay, Reiff - sustained and pumpy
Strongbow, Reiff (at E1 5b) - solid at this grade
Street Surfer, Reiff - tricky start
Wall Of Silence, Reiff - nowhere near a soft touch to onsight without knowing what the holds and gear will be like
Brave Heart, Reiff - easy E2 but hard 5b
Starstreak Enterprise, The Balcony - good value
Blind Faith Direct, Sheigra - hard finish
Under The Pink, Sheigra - thin finish
Land Of The Dancing Dead, Creag Shormalie - powerful crux
Teacher's Pet, School Crag - powerful

Spot-on:
Nasal Abuse, Seana Mheallan -
The Age Of Confusion, Seana Mheallan - bouldery but obvious
Edge Of Enlightenment, Seana Mheallan - crux is the E2 bit which is E3
The Black Streak, Diabeg - standard
Porpoise Pun, Diabeg - bold not sustained
Kermit Direct, Loch Tollaidh - standard
Water Lily, Loch Tollaidh - standard
Buena Vista, Loch Tollaidh - standard
Heretic, Tollie Crag - only bold but quite a lot of it
The Bug, Tollie Crag - standard
Scoobie Dubh, Post Crag - good gear but hard blind finish
Trojan, Road Crag - standard
Pistolero, Gruinard Crag (at E2 5c) - standard
Red John Of The Battles, Gruinard Crag - standard
The Missing Link, Lochan Dubh Crag - standard
E2 5c left of Crab Crack, Jetty Buttress - steady moves but fiddly gear on slab
Right Charlie, Jetty Buttress - standard
South West Arete, Jetty Buttress - standard, committing for a couple of moves
Kneel And Pray, Mungasdale Crag - standard
The Road To Calvary, Mungasdale Crag - standard, pumpy fare
Primitive Dance, Ardmair - standard
Skeletons, Ardmair (at E3 5c) - definitely not easier than it looks
Space Monkey, Ardmair - intimidating but fair
Buried Treasure, Ardmair - thrutchy but normal
Old Dog, New Tricks, Ardmair - committing finish but steady
Sonique, Reiff (at E4 5c) - spot on at this grade for being steep and pumpy
Westering Home, Reiff - standard, overrated
Channering Worm, Reiff - bold and bouldery but obvious
Orange Wall, Reiff - standard
Seal Song, Reiff - standard, tricky but safe
Clam Jam, Reiff - standard
Calum's Rest, Inverpolly - standard
Gneiss Pump, Inverpolly - standard
Galactica, The Balcony - standard
Moral Turpentine, Rhiconich - standard
Two Colours Red, Rhiconich - standard
Sapphires, Creag An Fithich - standard
Cod And Chips, Fisherman's View - standard
Juggernaut, Sheigra - standard
Bloodlust, Sheigra - standard
Wanderings, Sheigra - standard
Muir Wall, Sheigra - standard
Fingers, Sheigra - standard
Bardo Thodol, Creag Shormalie - standard

Fiend - on 21 Jun 2013
Steady:
A Touch Too Much, Seana Mheallan - bold start but steady
Seams Obvious, Seana Mheallan - fine
Dire Straights, Diabeg - bit trickier than Pillar but fine
Golden Eagle, Stone Valley - powerful but steady
The Ramp, Loch Tollaidh - bouldery but shortlived
Rain In The Face, Tollie Crag - crux is finding / clipping peg, climbing is okay
Teddy Bear's Picnic, Tollie Crag - steady
The Parting Glass, Inverianvie Crag - gentle
Call Of The Wild, Lochan Dubh Crag - so-called E4 start is easier, finish is steep crux but good rest before
Acrimonious Acrobat, Ardmair - just one move then steady
Town Without Pity, Ardmair - easy jamming and thrutching
Operation Brumby, Ardmair - good 6a move but safe with good rest before
Dangerous Dancer, Ardmair - probably 5c but solid finish, like Skeletons
Aussie Rules, Ardmair - committing moves but good gear
Razor's Edge, Reiff - steady
Elastic Collison, Reiff - steady but sustained enough for this grade
Verushka, Reiff - just a couple of moves
Sniffing The Frog, Reiff - steady
Rhicorner, Creag Gharb Mhor - sustained but steady
Exorcist, Sheigra - relatively gentle

Soft:
The Pillar, Diabeg - steady but a bit sustained and a bit bold makes it a soft E2 and anyone who says otherwise is a moron
No Beef, Stone Valley - should be E2 5c, one move to perfect gear
Slowed Down, Loch Tollaidh - very steady
Peweky, Loch Tollaidh - should be E1 5b, easy and safe
Rouged Up, Loch Tollaidh - E2 5b even without side runners, committing but just needs a bit of car
Sprocket Direct, Loch Tollaidh - E1 5b, easy
White Fright, Loch Tollaidh - maybe E2 5b,
Malpasso, Loch Tollaidh - solid E2 5b with enough small cams
Raglan Road, Road Crag - E1 5b
Root Beer, Inverianvie Crag - E1 5b
Gaffer's Wall, Jetty Buttress - E2 5c, good gear and good holds
Shakedown, Ardmair - soft on good holds
Arc-En-Ciel, Ardmair - steady climbing with good rests
On The Western Skyline, Ardmair - steady climbing with good shakes and good gear
Unleash The Beast, Ardmair - solid climbing but safe and useful jams
Exasperated Escapoligist Direct, Ardmair - soft E4 at most
Headstrong, Reiff (at E4 5c) - good crux moves but good gear and rests
Rampant Groove, Reiff - soft and steady if care is taken with pro
Flying Pig, Reiff (at E2 6a) - benchmark 5d, not hard even for midgets who can't jump
Diamond Back, Reiff - fiddly gear but fine, benchmark E0
The Executioner, Reiff - probably E1, good holds and loads of gear
Cleopatra's Asp, Reiff - very soft
Awesome, Reiff - probably hard E3 but definitely solid 6a for the start
Crann Tara, Reiff - 5c but soft overall
The Rite Of Spring, Reiff - soft
Headlong, Reiff - steady, a very big pitch but enough rests to make it gentle
Freedom!, Reiff - E3 5c by the true line following the holds above the gear
Cyclops, Reiff - steep but steady
Failte Gu Inbhirpollaidh, Inverpolly - E3 5c, too steep and sustained for E2 obviously
The Sky's The Limit, The Balcony - E2
Little Star, The Balcony - E2
Solar Gain, The Balcony - E2
Black Gold, Rhiconich - easy
The Road North, Rhiconich - easy
Jake's Progress, School Crag - easy
As Good As It Gets, Red Slab - E2, fiddly pro but steady
Colin Moody - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

You have spent a fair bit of time on this!

Shame you didn't include all the grades, are you using the SMC guides?

Nasal Abuse is E1 in the SMC guide and E2 in Gary Latter's, I suspect there are other routes that have two grades.
Dangerous Dave - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend: "On The Western Skyline, Ardmair - steady climbing with good shakes and good gear"

From my memory the thread is in shitty rock and generally looks crap. You then run it out a bit from there so in my opinion its not exactly safe.

But then what would I know, from reading your blog, posts and ammended route descriptions it would seem that you and you alone can decide what grade a route is.
Fraser on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

> This list ... does not take into account...anyone with an egotistical point to prove about grades...

I see what you did there. ;)
AlanLittle - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

> The Black Streak, Diabeg - standard

+1

Surely the most definitive E1 5c there could possibly be.
Robert Durran - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

While I don't doubt you are being entirely honest about how these routes felt to you, some of your assesments will be controversial (and perhaps just a little provocative?)

Your list does, however, dispel the myth that NW grades are generally universally soft (the "stiff" list reminds me of several proper battles!); I think it is just that the grades are perhaps a little more inconsistent than in some other more frequented areas. People either choose to recall the soft ones out of a sort of inverted bullshit, or else just conveniently avoid the stiff ones! (Anyone for The Swirl?)

Your correct dismissal of the validity of the views of "anyone who thinks that gritstone is the default benchmark of sensible grading" is particularly pertinent here; anyone who's home ground is "Reiff by the Cement Works" (aka Stanage) is bound to have a massively warped sense of grading at the real Reiff, let alone Ardmair (I met one such person there a couple of weeks ago who struggled with the start of Primitive Dance but afterwards declared the route HVS!)
French Erick - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:
> This list does not take into account the mis-guided machinations of anyone with an egotistical point to prove about grades, or any other such anomolous weirdos.
>
> It is guaranteed to be 100% scientifically and factually accurate.

Dear lord, is that how I come across? I am a very nice person in real life. We should meet ;)

I like your list and will definitely try anything at my level.
Cheers for the effort.
Robert Durran - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

Are you working on the basis of SMC grades or Gary's grades? (from your comments on the Golden Wall routes, I suspect the Latter)

ps If you think Moronic Inferno is harder than Rite of Spring or Crann Tara, then you need to get to Ratho more often (ditto if you think Monkey Man is stiff!). I do agree with you that Split Persoinality is just worth E4 though (I once did it while a bit unfit and had a nightmare).


Add Gussetbuster (E1) at Seal Song to the stiff list.

I don't think Unleash The Beast is in any way soft (and I did it when fit and going well by my standards).
johncoxmysteriously - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

Well, I've done exactly one route on there - The Pillar - and you're right about that one.

jcm
Robert Durran - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

> Soft:
> The Pillar, Diabeg - steady but a bit sustained and a bit bold makes it a soft E2 and anyone who says otherwise is a moron.

No. It is definitely "steady", not "soft" at E2. Anyone who says otherwise is a lying idiot.
Eric9Points - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

Goat of Barten isn't 6a but then I guess you must be one of those English folk who can't crimp ;=).

I can't believe you described anything in No2 Geo at Sheigra as "the worst" everything there is brill.
AlanLittle - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Well, I found the Pillar definitely harder than Black Streak, but it's still very bottom end E2.

Those are the only two routes on Fiend's list that I've done. Also two of the best routes I've ever done btw, Diabaig is brilliant.
Michael Gordon - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

Good list! Agree in general, here's my opinions on a few at crags I've been to:

Northumberland Wall - average E2.
Black Streak - solid E1.

No Beef - hard E2.
Demon Razor - low E3?
The Thug - average E1. A complete mis-nomer!

Headlong - felt a much bigger deal than Sonique or Headstrong which felt similar standard to each other. E4, the other two solid E3?
If you see Kay - low E3? I think it's 5b not 5c.
Executioner - benchmark E2. sustained, poor holds, good gear but not the easiest to place.
Crann Tara - average E2 5c.
Rite of Spring - average E2 5b (bold at start)
Moronic Inferno - average E1 5b.
Cyclops - E1 5b.
Flying Pig - E1 5c.
Strongbow - E1 5b.
Clam Jam - HVS 5b.
Street Surfer - HVS 5b.

As Good as it Gets - low-mid E3?
Michael Gordon - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Fiend)
>
> If you think Moronic Inferno is harder than Rite of Spring or Crann Tara, then you need to get to Ratho more often
>

Agreed!

gforce on 21 Jun 2013

> I don't think Unleash The Beast is in any way soft (and I did it when fit and going well by my standards).

I think that saying Unleash the Beast is E3 are the words of someone with an egotistical point to prove about grades.

Coel Hellier - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

> <excise long list>

Seems like you've been keeping busy Matt!
Robert Durran - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to gforce:
> I think that saying Unleash the Beast is E3 are the words of someone with an egotistical point to prove about grades.

No one said it was E3. Just soft E4 according to Fiend; a respectable though wrong opinion.

Robert Durran - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> Executioner - benchmark E2. sustained, poor holds, good gear but not the easiest to place.

Definitely E2 and sustained. But how can continuously chunky layaways and soild jams be described as poor holds? Obvious, easy to place gear too. The weight of the grade is almost entirely in the pump; it is a path if you are fit, a nightmare if not.
Robert Durran - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

> Walking On Water, Mungasdale Crag - pumpy as fcuk despite the big flake

Oh well, if you must jump on it without a proper warm up, it will feel pumpy!
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Michael Gordon - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

depends how poor you are at jamming! (I chose to ignore Matthew's initial comment)
aln - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend: They aren't graded lists.
Rick Sewards - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

An inspiring ticklist for my next trip to that area (obviously focussing on the “soft” category) and I’ve only done a handful of them, but I’ll give you my comments using similarly objective criteria, only a bit more objective because in my humble experience I’m more objective than anyone else I know (ignoring the fact that some of them were done donkey’s years ago).

Northumberland Wall, Diabeg – down from “Stiff” to “Solid” – it’s a tough E2 but not E3 (unless the SMC decide to upgrade it to E3 in their next guide, in which case I will gleefully add one to my very small number of E3 ticks and re-consider my position).

The Black Streak, Diabeg - Yup

Buena Vista, Loch Tollaidh – Yup, but trending towards Solid

The Bug, Tollie Crag – Possibly steady – the one long run-out rapidly gets easier

Red John Of The Battles – Steady or soft (but great) – I thought you were discounting the views of the 90% of Scots who can't jam? That cliché is true by the way – I remember when I moved up north being told by deep-fried-pizza-eating Glaswegian hard men (well, OK some random punters in the GUM Club) that Promontory Direct at Auchenstarry was desperate for the grade – give me strength…

Dire Straights, Diabeg – Up to Spot-on, or even Solid. I haven’t actually completed it so not sure, having lowered off ignominy when too scared, but that in no way compromises my objectivity.

The Pillar, Diabeg – Yup, and anyone who disagrees has pathetically weak calf muscles.

Astonishingly, there are few that I can add to your list;

Gudgeon, Loch Tollaidh (E2 5c) – Spot-on – A very well-protected maybe-just-about-5c crux but a lot of sustained moves after, and the 1st and 3rd pitches aren’t giveaways.

Blood Feud, Stone Valley (E1 5b) – Solid – vague recollection of having a hard time on this, can’t recall why.

The Con-Con (E1 5b) – Steady – On the grounds that I did it when it was HVS and thought it was a mild sandbag.

On reflection, I'm prepared to concede that my grading for the last two may not be guaranteed to be 100% scientifically and factually accurate.

Rick
Ean T - on 22 Jun 2013
Right, I’ve just wasted 15 minutes of my life. One of the problems with people’s perception of grading in the North West is that they base there opinions on a relatively small sample of popular well travelled routes. Now, having lived in the area for some time and being fairly keen I’ve done more than most. I’ve done all the extremes at Inverpollaidh, of the 500 routes at Reiff, I’ve done about 75%, and at Ardmair I’ve done about 80 routes (Oh, look at me…). Just looking at the grades in the latest (9 years old) SMC guidebook, I find I have:

At Reiff, downgraded 23 and upgraded 16.
At Ardmair, downgraded 2 and upgraded 3.
At Inverpollaidh downgraded 1 and upgraded 2.

Looks like no big deal to me. If anyone wants an ‘adventurous’ day out I can happily recommend a few routes. North-West Corner on the Old Man of Stoer is a good one to start on.

Having said that, compared to Reiff, Tremadog and The Lake District are desperate…
alasdair19 on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend: thanks for all that, worth sending your entire list to andy nisbet, he really does care about getting things right. HOw is the log book coverage for scotland is it a realistic resource for updating guidebooks?
andyinglis - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Alasdair19: Hardly! What he has said is that he agrees with 90+% of the NW route grades and very few should be changed!!! Wow, how controversial.
alasdair19 on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to andyinglis: well is andy doesn't think it a worthwhile list them send it into the SMC journal. to be honest i don't know how recently andy has been onsigting e2 and 3. I guess it's awkward cause he knows most of the FA teams but he usually seems keen about getting people on these routes.
AJM - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Rick Sewards:

> The Con-Con (E1 5b) – Steady – On the grounds that I did it when it was HVS and thought it was a mild sandbag.

Has it gone up since Scottish Rock Climbs then? It took me an age but would have been about HVS number 5, or E1 number 1 by some way...

In reply to Fiend: I fell off Westering Home, QED must be top end. Not like I'm crap or anything.
Jon Stewart - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

Hello.

Great list!

The only slight issue I have, on some of the routes I've done, is the colossal wrongness of your opinion ;) (I suspect you might have been expecting me to say something along those lines.)

Here's where I think you might be massively, disastrously wrong:

Northumberland Wall Top end of E2?! No, just E2. Surely you've done loads of top end E2s around the country, and found NW is rather easier? What about hard E2s on Cornish Granite (Bow Wall)? Or in the Lakes E(quus)?

Moronic Inferno, Reiff You're making a clever play on the route name by being moronic, I take it. Not using grit as a benchmark (which would make it HVS like Chequers), it's E1.

Monkey Man. Proper E3 I thought, but not high in the grade. A hard E3 will kick my ass. This did not, I upped and downed the start a bit and then romped up on massive jugs at 5a/b. Pumpy though.

Trouble is, if you calibrate these as top-end, the whole list goes a bit flacid.

Brave Heart A 5b move just above good gear. Sounds like a steady E1 to me.

Wanderings Accuse me of whatever you like, but this felt like HVS to me. No 5b moves, but perhaps a bit bold - E1 5a?

Elastic Collision This is a grade easier that Seal Song, so E2 5b.

The Pillar I don't understand, I never will.

The Executioner Probably E1 - yes, and not a hard one (again forgetting the grit benchmark that would make it HVS). If a route is safe as houses and sustained 5b, surely the only way to make it E2 is for it to be reasonably long? This is a tiny weeny little pumpy 5b crack route, not some massive 40m pitch of sustained 5b crack climbing which would be E2.

I hope you enjoyed my explanation of your errors. Happy to explain further if necessary.
Robert Durran - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Fiend)

> Moronic Inferno, Reiff You're making a clever play on the route name by being moronic, I take it. Not using grit as a benchmark (which would make it HVS like Chequers), it's E1.
>
> Monkey Man. Proper E3 I thought, but not high in the grade. A hard E3 will kick my ass. This did not, I upped and downed the start a bit and then romped up on massive jugs at 5a/b. Pumpy though.

> The Executioner Probably E1 - yes, and not a hard one (again forgetting the grit benchmark that would make it HVS). If a route is safe as houses and sustained 5b, surely the only way to make it E2 is for it to be reasonably long? This is a tiny weeny little pumpy 5b crack route, not some massive 40m pitch of sustained 5b crack climbing which would be E2.

I assume that (like me) you found these routes easy for the grade because you have good stamina. I have seen people generally solid at E2, E3, and E2 have really hard times on Moronic Inferno, Monkey Man and The Executioner respectively. Just because they play to your particular strengths does not mean they are overgraded.

If you do not have good stamina, you are just plain wrong/deluded.

You are also plain wrong about Northumberland wall.

And what don't you get about The Pillar, that it's inferior to Northumberland wall or that it's E2? Or both?
Jon Stewart - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> I assume that (like me) you found these routes easy for the grade because you have good stamina. I have seen people generally solid at E2, E3, and E2 have really hard times on Moronic Inferno, Monkey Man and The Executioner respectively. Just because they play to your particular strengths does not mean they are overgraded.
>
I have reasonable stamina, but Moronically Graded Crack and the Executioner don't play to my strengths particularly as I'm not good at cracks (but by NW grades apparently I'm amazing at them??!). Surely if you don't have the stamina to climb a 10m 5b crack, then you're not an E2 climber?

Monkey Man is the correct grade, it's just not at the top end, it's in the middle.

> You are also plain wrong about Northumberland wall.

Well no. Would you like me to write a list of all the thousands of E2s that are clearly harder to show beyond doubt that it is not at the top of the grade?

> And what don't you get about The Pillar, that it's inferior to Northumberland wall or that it's E2? Or both?

If a route is not at all pumpy and so requires no stamina, soft 5b at the top but loads of easier climbing at the start, a bit bold but not dangerous, then I don't understand how that makes an E2, since any E1 climber could, and will succeed. It's quite long - yeah, and? As for quality, just about everything at Diabaig is simply fantastic - all different shades of *** (**** does not exist).
Robert Durran - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)

> I have reasonable stamina, but Moronically Graded Crack and the Executioner don't play to my strengths particularly as I'm not good at cracks.

But they're not exactly crack climbs are they?

> (but by NW grades apparently I'm amazing at them

So I take it you cruised the likes of Seal Song and Atlantic Crack?

> Monkey Man is the correct grade, it's just not at the top end, it's in the middle.

Fair enough.

> Well no. Would you like me to write a list of all the thousands of E2s that are clearly harder (than Northumberland wall) to show beyond doubt that it is not at the top of the grade?

Don't bother, because you would not, because you would be wrong.

> If a route is not at all pumpy and so requires no stamina, soft 5b at the top but loads of easier climbing at the start, a bit bold but not dangerous, then I don't understand how that makes an E2, since any E1 climber could, and will succeed.

Again, wrong.
Jon Stewart - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

I sense that this discussion is getting a little bit stuck in the mud.

Cracks that aren't cracks - because they've got massive jugs too? Your point?

Did I cruise Seal Song? No, I got pumped seconding it, because it really is E3. But I did cruise Elastic, hence it is E2. Your point?

Robert Durran - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)

> Cracks that aren't cracks - because they've got massive jugs too? Your point?

Neither rely on typical crack climbing techniques (just a few optional jams on The Executioner). They might as well be pumpy wall climbs.

> Did I cruise Seal Song? No, I got pumped seconding it, because it really is E3.

So not so amazing after all! But seriously, it is arguably E4; routes such as this show that Nw grades are by no means consistently soft, perhaps just a bit inconsistent.


> But I did cruise Elastic, hence it is E2.

They are certainly at opposite ends of the E3 grade!

Jon Stewart - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

> But seriously, it is arguably E4

Did I hear the word WRONG mentioned earlier at all?

> routes such as this show that Nw grades are by no means consistently soft, perhaps just a bit inconsistent.

Inconsistent, aye, by having a route graded correctly!


Robert Durran - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Did I hear the word WRONG mentioned earlier at all?

Well, it's at least as hard as Split Personality and The Screamer, perhaps the most popular E4's at Reiff (and don't bother being WRONG again by telling me they are E3)

Jon Stewart - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> Well, it's at least as hard as Split Personality and The Screamer, perhaps the most popular E4's at Reiff (and don't bother being WRONG again by telling me they are E3)

I've been up the top of Reiff twice and that whole bay with The Screamer and Wall of Silence etc was piss-wet both times. It hadn't rained either time, so I'm loathe to walk up again to find it the same.

I would love to try The Screamer and Wall of Silence though.

(I seconded Split Personality and thought probably E3, but I can't really know how WRONG you are since I didn't lead it.)
Minneconjou Sioux - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:
>
> Bardo Thodol, Creag Shormalie - standard

Yep,(E1 BTW for anyone who doesn't know it) though "land of the dancing dead" to its right is a little stiffer.
Michael Gordon - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Ah but you're from the Peak! You're bound to find everything easy because most grit is undergraded.
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Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Ah but you're from the Peak! You're bound to find everything easy because most grit is undergraded.

But the locals don't realise it because they are so used to its weirdness and have lost touch with reality with the result that they become WRONG about everything else.

Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> I've been up the top of Reiff twice and that whole bay with The Screamer and Wall of Silence etc was piss-wet both times. It hadn't rained either time, so I'm loathe to walk up again to find it the same.
>
> I would love to try The Screamer and Wall of Silence though.

You should certainly make the effort to go and do them - it's the best bit of Reiff! And it would be amusing to hear you be completely WRONG (like many others) about the grade of Wall of Silence.
Jon Stewart - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Ah but you're from the Peak! You're bound to find everything easy because most grit is undergraded.

I agree with Fiend's initial premise that grit is not a sensible benchmark, because it's very quirkily graded. There are loads of soft-touches on Peak grit, but it often seems that a crack is always graded HVS with no concern for the difficulty of climbing it*.

My comments ignore grit grades and make comparisons to other UK areas, especially Cornish Granite and the Lakes. The point is that the top end of E2 is really hard (for me) and I fail on top end E3 in any area except NW Scotland. Many routes on the list are the correct grade (e.g. Northumberland Wall, Monkey Man) but they're not at the top. NW is about the same as Left Wall - not at the top of the grade like Bow Wall. Monkey Man is not a hard E3, it's middle or even soft. Hard E3 is really really hard, it's not climbing a load of jugs with good gear.




*Pinch of salt required, but you know what I mean. Blue Lights Crack is graded the same as Legacy, for example - absurd.
gforce on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> My comments ignore grit grades and make comparisons to other UK areas, especially Cornish Granite and the Lakes.

I think the grades at Reiff are also out of kilter with those of Northumberland. Shocker!
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> I fail on top end E3 in any area except NW Scotland.

As a matter of interest, which "top end" E3's have you done in Nw Scotland? You said you struggled to second Seal Song...... I'd have given you Monkey Man, but you WRONGLY don't consider it top end.

> Northumberland Wall is about the same as Left Wall - not at the top of the grade.

Ah, so that's where you're going WRONG. Left Wall should never have been downgraded from E3. I am RIGHT about this. It is a non-negotiable fact. Left Wall was always the definition of bottom end E3 and most grading confusion in the UK can be traced back to its now WRONG grading.
Jon Stewart - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> As a matter of interest, which "top end" E3's have you done in Nw Scotland? You said you struggled to second Seal Song...... I'd have given you Monkey Man, but you WRONGLY don't consider it top end.

The comment was based on comparing Monkey Man, Seal Song (I got pumped but had no probs seconding), Split Personality (just one hard move IIRC) to routes like Sunlover, Zeppelin, The Sun (was E2!), Darius (E2!). They're just not in the same league.


> [...]
>
> Ah, so that's where you're going WRONG. Left Wall should never have been downgraded from E3. I am RIGHT about this. It is a non-negotiable fact. Left Wall was always the definition of bottom end E3 and most grading confusion in the UK can be traced back to its now WRONG grading.

If Left Wall was E3, then that would push up the harder routes like Darius and The Sun to E4! And yet I can do those, but I can't do the E4s I've tried. This all smells of big stinky swinging bollox to me.

Dave Kerr - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> [...]
>
> The comment was based on comparing Monkey Man, Seal Song (I got pumped but had no probs seconding), Split Personality (just one hard move IIRC) to routes like Sunlover, Zeppelin, The Sun (was E2!), Darius (E2!). They're just not in the same league.
>

Throw Wombat into that mix. Reiff E4? ;)
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> [...]
>
> The comment was based on comparing Monkey Man, Seal Song (I got pumped but had no probs seconding), Split Personality (just one hard move IIRC) to routes like Sunlover, Zeppelin, The Sun (was E2!), Darius (E2!). They're just not in the same league.

If The Sun E3, its very bottom end, probably even bottomer than Left Wall. I wouldn't argue with E2.

Anyway, you havn't told me what top end E3's you've actually LED (and therefore are in a poiition to comment on) in th NW!

> If Left Wall was E3, then that would push up the harder routes like Darius and The Sun to E4!

WRONG (The hardest of the three is Left Wall).

> And yet I can do those.

So that makes you a solid top end E2/bottom end E3 climber! (Unless you can tell you've done stuff like The Swirl.....
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> [...]
>
> The comment was based on comparing Monkey Man, Seal Song (I got pumped but had no probs seconding), Split Personality (just one hard move IIRC) to routes like Sunlover, Zeppelin, The Sun (was E2!), Darius (E2!). They're just not in the same league.

If The Sun is E3, its very bottom end, probably even bottomer than Left Wall. I wouldn't argue with E2.

Anyway, you havn't told me what top end E3's you've actually LED (and therefore are in a poiition to comment on) in the NW!

> If Left Wall was E3, then that would push up the harder routes like Darius and The Sun to E4!

WRONG (The hardest of the three is Left Wall).

> And yet I can do those.

So that makes you a solid top end E2/bottom end E3 climber! (Unless you can tell you've done stuff like The Swirl.....
Jon Stewart - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> If The Sun E3, its very bottom end, probably even bottomer than Left Wall. I wouldn't argue with E2.
>
> Anyway, you havn't told me what top end E3's you've actually LED (and therefore are in a poiition to comment on) in th NW!

I haven't led any top-end E3s in the NW. I've led a bunch of E3s that are actually E1/2, and a low-middle E3 in the shape of Monkey Man. I would love to try The Swirl which I've heard actually is hard E3, but they said that about Monkey Man too...
>
> WRONG (The hardest of the three is Left Wall).

Well if you have a personal competition with Fiend as to who can be the wrongest, that's fine, but please don't involve me.
>
> So that makes you a solid top end E2/bottom end E3 climber! (Unless you can tell you've done stuff like The Swirl.....

Exactly right, well done. I can do the odd top-end E3 if it suits my style, like the Archangel.

Michael Gordon - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I suspect you're a better climber than you say you are. Try some Reiff E4s and see how you get on - Headlong, Spaced out Rockers, The Screamer etc (only seconded the former, not been on the others, but know they have generally good gear).
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)

> I haven't led any top-end E3s in the NW.

So why did you clearly imply you had at 10.07 when you posted "I fail on top end E3 in any area except NW Scotland"!

It is becoming hard to take you seriously.....

> I've led a bunch of E3s that are actually E1/2, and a low-middle E3 in the shape of Monkey Man.

So you've revised that down from "middle" earlier in the thread. You'll soon be telling me it's E2!

> Well if you have a personal competition with Fiend as to who can be the wrongest, that's fine, but please don't involve me.

No need any more. You've already won and I am competing with Fiend for second place.

Jon Stewart - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> So why did you clearly imply you had at 10.07 when you posted "I fail on top end E3 in any area except NW Scotland"!

Because MM is supposed to be top-end E3 and I did it alright.

> It is becoming hard to take you seriously.....

No one is asking you to do that.

> [...]
>
> So you've revised that down from "middle" earlier in the thread. You'll soon be telling me it's E2!

I found it easier than many E2s - ones I've failed on. Make of that what you will.
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Try some Reiff E4s and see how you get on - Headlong, Spaced out Rockers, The Screamer etc (only seconded the former, not been on the others, but know they have generally good gear).

I backed off the pitch before the break is gained on Spaced Out Rockers (I'm told this is the E4 bit) because I found it too bold and scary (though it was a bit greasy) and I was going well by my standards (E5 at Ardmair the day before). I also failed on Headlong (crap aren't I?) in greasy conditions having made several committing moves and lacking the stomach for more (running out of cams). I don't think either is soft!
The brilliant Screamer, on the other hand, is relatively amenable/soft at E4. Having said that I wouldn't fancy testing the gear which protects the moves to the good horizontal slot.

Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)

> Because MM is supposed to be top-end E3 and I did it alright.

According to Fiend, but that only reflects his lack of stamina ;-). It's actually lower solid/stiff. Fact.


Andy Moles - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

Well, it's nice to know that someone thinks some of the piss easy E3 ticks I've mustered in that part of the world are hard :)
Andy Moles - on 23 Jun 2013
I feel that decimal points should be introduced to grades to clarify their precise difficulty.

Thus Left Wall would be E2.8 and Diabaig Pillar E2.0, etc.
Colin Moody - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Andy Moles:

Left Wall is 2.7
Adam Lincoln - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> According to Fiend, but that only reflects his lack of stamina ;-). It's actually lower solid/stiff. Fact.

I actually thought Monkey man was pretty hard for E3. I had to down climb the start to take my jumper off. So it must be E4. ;-)
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Adam Lincoln:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> I actually thought Monkey man was pretty hard for E3. I had to down climb the start to take my jumper off. So it must be E4. ;-)

So was that from above the hard move or from below the hard move when you realised there was a hard move?





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Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Colin Moody:
> (In reply to Andy Moles)
>
> Left Wall is 2.7

No, it's 3.0. How many times do you lot need to be told?

Adam Lincoln - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Adam Lincoln)
> [...]
>
> So was that from above the hard move or from below the hard move when you realised there was a hard move?

Id done the hard bit, but didn't know it at the time that it was the hard bit. I thought there might have been more hard bits to come after the last hard bit.
Harry Holmes - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend: The Quickening at Reiff is a soooper soft E5.
Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Adam Lincoln:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> [...]
>
> I'd done the hard bit, but didn't know it at the time that it was the hard bit. I thought there might have been more hard bits to come after the last hard bit.

You should have realised that had there been any more hard bits to come after the hard bit then it would have been given E4 but it isn't and so that there were no more hard bits that there was no need to downclimb the hard bit.

Robert Durran - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to naffan:
> (In reply to Fiend) The Quickening at Reiff is a soooper soft E5.

No it's not. It's E4 (Grit E3).

Rick Sewards - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:

Hi Andy, I think The Con-Con's wandered between grades depending on the book - Gary Latter's book at least gives it E1. Got to admit it was a very long time ago (like all of my Diabaig ticks) - my comments on the Gairloch routes are more recent and to be taken with a slightly smaller pinch of salt. Though I do remember that Northumberland Wall didn't give me the frighteners at a time when I was leading no more than E2 and so (in keeping with the spirit of this thread) I'm reasonably confident that any suggestion of E3 is WRONG. In fact, as I recall it wasn't the hardest E2 of the trip - that prize went to The Pincer on Garbh Bheinn.

Rick
Adam Lincoln - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Adam Lincoln)
> [...]
>
> You should have realised that had there been any more hard bits to come after the hard bit then it would have been given E4 but it isn't and so that there were no more hard bits that there was no need to downclimb the hard bit.

Ill know for next time that if there aren't any more hard bits after the initial hard bit, then i don't need to remove my jumper.

Offwidth - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend:

Keep up the good work Matt and the button pressing ;-) Wish I had the time to do a similar NW scotland list at sub-HVS (it would be wrong as well of course, as I'm a peak climber, never-mind that I've also climbed pretty much everwhere major in the UK).
Colin Moody - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Rick Sewards:
In fact, as I recall it wasn't the hardest E2 of the trip - that prize went to The Pincer on Garbh Bheinn.
>
> Rick

A Dougie Dinwoodie route, he said it was wrong when it was upgraded from HVS.
Michael Gordon - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Michael Gordon)
> [...]
>
> I backed off the pitch before the break is gained on Spaced Out Rockers (I'm told this is the E4 bit) because I found it too bold and scary (though it was a bit greasy) and I was going well by my standards (E5 at Ardmair the day before).

Ah well, I've decided I don't really fancy the never-ending handrail anyway.

I also failed on Headlong (crap aren't I?) in greasy conditions having made several committing moves and lacking the stomach for more (running out of cams). I don't think either is soft!

It's an outstanding pitch. Yes there is some committing climbing on the initial wall though sure you'd find it fine in better conditions! Felt like two E3s on top of each other - a stiff burly one followed by a nice exposed steady one.

> The brilliant Screamer, on the other hand, is relatively amenable/soft at E4. Having said that I wouldn't fancy testing the gear which protects the moves to the good horizontal slot.

I've been told The Gift is easier technically but more bold?
Robert Durran - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> It's an outstanding pitch [Hrtadlong] Yes there is some committing climbing on the initial wall though sure you'd find it fine in better conditions! Felt like two E3s on top of each other - a stiff burly one followed by a nice exposed steady one.

I used up all my mid size cams on the greasy, burly lower bit and then had nothing for a key placement higher up, so downclimbed to good gear and lowered off. Must go back!

> I've been told The Gift is easier technically but more bold?

Just different and thuggier (though I climbed the lower section on the left - definitely committing. I think you can go right (more technical?))

French Erick - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:
> (In reply to Fiend)
> [...]
>
> Yep,(E1 BTW for anyone who doesn't know it) though "land of the dancing dead" to its right is a little stiffer.

I found it well stiff... onlu just avoiding an almighty pisser on that flake crack. Great route though, stiff E1 5b*** in my books. I shouldn't like see it upgraded.
French Erick - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Colin Moody:
> (In reply to Rick Sewards)
> In fact, as I recall it wasn't the hardest E2 of the trip - that prize went to The Pincer on Garbh Bheinn.
> [...]
>
> A Dougie Dinwoodie route, he said it was wrong when it was upgraded from HVS.

That one is nails. Agreed
IceBun - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend: Ho ho,no wonder you think Downies Syndrome is E4;) Skeletons Spot on at E3? Softmair eh?
Colin Moody - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to French Erick:

Where was the hard bit on Pincer?

I thought it was OK (but it was a long time ago and I was seconding).
French Erick - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Colin Moody:
I don't recall much. It was 8 years ago and I too was seconding. My leader was going well at the time and did not breeze up it as usual. I seem to remember something at 1/3 height that looked and felt thin with not much obvious gear. I remember however a general feeling of it being hard!
I really need to go back to that crag.
Steve Crowe - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Rick Sewards:
I did White Hope (E4) on Garbh Bheinn and found it hard and bold. I thought it ought to be E5 but perhaps I got lost and climbed the wrong line or missed some good placements?
Colin Moody - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Steve Crowe:

It is given E5 in recent guides.
Wilbur - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Fiend) I fell off Westering Home, QED must be top end. Not like I'm crap or anything.

Westering home has one hard as nails, totally safe move.

Should be hvs 5c IMO

IceBun - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Fiend: I hope you are going to perform the same community function for the North east Outcrops so that we know what the real grades are for the next guide;)Thanks in anticipation.
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Steve Crowe - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Colin Moody:


Oh great,quite right too! (It is still E4 elsewhere on this site.)
Rick Sewards - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Colin Moody (and others):

Right, this was all a very long time ago (14 years to be precise), but my memory of The Pincer was not of any one hard move (it was graded E2 5b in guidebook I was using and I didn't disagree with that) but just of continuously hard (or at least, not easy!) climbing with continuously uninspiring gear (small wires in cracks behind expando-flakes, if I remember rightly). I also seem to remember that there was a bulge which looked intimidating (maybe about 2/3 of the way up), but here the gear got better and after that I think it was easier. One thing that might have changed matters is that I've noticed that this photo http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=148771 and also Scottish Rock Climbs clearly show (and describe) it starting in Chela and moving right to the arête - I'm pretty sure I started at the lowest point on that picture and stayed on the RH side of the arête all the way (which is what was suggested in my old (1992) Glen Coe guide I was using at the time). Anybody know what the original line was? I remember it felt hard and a bit scary right from the start.

This is all very geeky and somewhat off-topic, being not quite in the NW (though the right side of the Great Glen!) and more importantly out of place on Fiend's list on account of being on top of a bloody big hill!

Rick
victim of mathematics - on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to Wilbur:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>
> Westering home has one hard as nails, totally safe move.
>
> Should be hvs 5c IMO

It's never 5c, and there's a couple of moves before it's all over. Softish E1 5b * seemed right to me.
Jon Stewart - on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to victim of mathematics: it is pushing 5c. I like the hvs 5c suggestion
victim of mathematics - on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Applying your sort of logic. It can't be 5c, because I'd have had to try really hard if it was. And HVS 5c is one of those shit grades that you normally only get on grit, or other places where they pretend that anything that happens in the first 5m doesn't count towards the adjectival grade.
Jon Stewart - on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to victim of mathematics: on grit, hvs 5c is a code for this highball boulder problem could be anything up to v5 and is probably very dangerous too"
Colin Moody - on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to Rick Sewards:

We did it 25 years ago and also started direct the way it was described in the guide and shown in the diagram. I have no idea why they got it wrong in later guides.
Looks (in the photo) like there is a crack starting from the left so maybe someone went that way to get gear and changed the description.
There is a photo of someone starting it direct in Gary Latter's guide.
Michael Gordon - on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to Wilbur:

I think Westering Home is hard 5b but as you say very short. You could give it HVS but I think most HVS climbers would struggle to onsight it.

One star, two at most!
Robert Durran - on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
>
> I think Westering Home is hard 5b but as you say very short. You could give it HVS but I think most HVS climbers would struggle to onsight it.

Definitely 5c, fiddly small gear and quite a hard E1.

> One star, two at most!

Indeed. One of the most overrated routes at Reiff - only so popular because it's near the road.

The Pylon King on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to Wilbur)
>
> I think Westering Home is hard 5b but as you say very short. You could give it HVS but I think most HVS climbers would struggle to onsight it.
>
> One star, two at most!

Another classic E0

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