/ North East Scotland Grades

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Fiend - on 01 Jul 2013
Surprisingly for such a local-centric area of esoteric rock and fickle conditions, a high proportion of the current grades are actually correct, and those relative few that aren't are usually obviously wrong. The trick now of course is for people to transcend the local stomping ground over-familiarity and stick with nationally correct grades that will apply to anyone visiting the crags, not to people who lap the routes as training. The North East Outcrops, as perculiar as they can be, are intrisincly interesting and enticing enough to be described fairly and accurately - this includes a few star ratings that could perhaps go up?? (and not that many that should go down, apart from the whole of Portlethen and most of the Angus quarries, of course).

All routes are listed with objectively factual (or factually objective in a few circumstances) grades for first time onsights in reasonable and dry conditions.

Stiff:
Leaning Meanie, Long Slough - 5b start, generally strenuous
Birthday Treat, Clashrodney - 5b start, generally strenuous
Soundgarden, Rock Band Cliff - very hard crux with the bare minimum of safe protection
Quickdraw McGraw, Berrymuir Head - very strenuous throughout, as hard as typical E2s
Chunky's Edge, Coble Boards - tricky, strenuous, thuggy, worth E3 (**?)
Italian Stallion, Floors Craig - top roof is nails
The Boxer, Floors Craig - solid E3, hard crux on poor holds with pumpy gear
Depth Charge, Craig Stirling - top end of grade, sustained and committing start
Mumhammed Wira Bin Jamel, Brown Crag - very steep at the grade, pumpy and awkward finish
Kevin's Fault, Harper's Wall - desperate and at least E1
Vulture Squadron, Grey Mare Slabs - top-end of grade but rests just keep it E2, brilliant route (***!)
The Sorceror, Arthur Fowlie - a solid E1, goey crux and dangerous moves after it
Hidden Treasure, Hidden Treasure Wall - probably E3, hard crux cranking in strenuous position
Sandanista, Covesea - probably E3, hard crux cranking at start
Tails Of Power, Tarlair Crags - E3 6a, steep, committing and desperate to onsight
Lipp Service, Rosehearty - hard E1, even after warming up on E2s here! Very strenuous and committing finish.
Peel's Wall, Pass Of Ballater - nasty piece of work, serious reaching break and awkward once there
Witches Tooth, Glen Clova - benchmark E2 5c, awkward crux and sketchy above until step left
Clairvoyant Reality, Glen Clova - very dangerous start
The Wildebeast, Glen Clova - very dangerous start if climbed direct off boulder, hard blind crimping with terminal landing

Solid:
Jester, Long Slough Red Rocks - tricky all the way
Mind Games, Bruin Cove - generally tricky and good value
Over The Top, Souter Head - hardish crux
Yellow Peril, Clashrodney - quite pokey
Mao, Sickle Row - sustained and fiddly gear in the middle, good value (**?)
Bat's Belfry, Earnsheugh - double barrelled crux makes this hard-ish
Little Strawberry Went Into The Sea, Berrymuir Head - top-end of technical grade for start
Trapped, Coble Boards - very bold with sketchy gear
Of Mice And Men, Coble Boards - good gear but bouldery crux moves
Acapulco, Newtonhill North - very steep at the grade
Nanaimo, Dykes Cliff - cranky
Silkworm, Silkie's Cliff - distinctly awkward for 5a
Pinko Subversive, Red Wall - bold, pokey start with minimum protection
Jammy Dodger Finish, Munich Buttress - genuinely hard jamming (***?)
Red Bull, Red Tower - balancy and committing, good value
Captain Pugwash, Hidden Treasure Wall - technical and cranky with hard earned good gear (***?)
Banana Republic, Covesea - solid and committing moves through crux
Tango On The Black, Rosehearty - intimidating and committing (***?)
Stealeye Span, Rosehearty - awkward, slopey start, hard work to get easier ground
Coming Up Roses, Rosehearty - pumpy and committing
Stinker, Pass Of Ballater - only a couple of moves but pretty arduous ones
Larup Head, Pass Of Ballater - weird eliminate start is close to 6a, but easier above
Red Wall, Glen Clova - solid 5b climbing
Fiend - on 01 Jul 2013
Spot-on:
Red Death, Long Slough - good value after crux, not just a boulder problem
Mythical Wall, Souter Head - a bit pumpy but safe
Lob Off, South Cove - a bit bold and a bit goey but fine once committed
The Pretender, Bruin Cove - tricky but reasonable
Mong, Sickle Row -
Trunk, Sickle Row -
Mao Tse-Tung, Sickle Row -
The Prisoner, Clashrodney - committing but safe (**?)
Death Cap, Earnsheugh - mostly steady but final crux makes it definite E1
Weird Sister, Earnsheugh - steady crux section but variety of challenging climbing and a bit of boldness (***?)
Arachnid, Red Band Cliff - steady but steep
Shawagunks Wall, Red Band Cliff - tricky cruxes but good rests and gear, fine route (***)
Nirvana, Rock Band Cliff - pokey but fine
Siva-Guru, Findon Ness - typical steepness but fine
Armed Conflict, Findon Ness - typical steepness but fine
Upside Downwindies, Downies - short and sharp but reasonable
Cream Doughnut, Downies - steep but brief
Execrator, Berrymuir Head - nasty start but reasonable gear for the pump and steady finish
Downies Syndrome, Berrymuir Head - very obviously E4 6a (a good grade harder than Paranormal and Bobalouie), steady 6a but two committing cruxes amongst general pumpy steepness, and small cams make no difference to cruxes. Very fine route (***!)
Sprunt's Route, Floors Craig - steep but cramped shakes help
Blockbuster, Floors Craig - bog-standard one-move wonder
Coup De Grace, Floors Craig - cranky start but fine
Sair Fecht, Floors Craig - spot on cruxy route
Bad Medicine Waltz, Dykes Cliff -
Caucasian Chalk Circle, Dykes Cliff -
Exasperation, Dykes Cliff -
Black Mass, Brown Crag -
Incontinence Crack, Brown Crag -
Domestos, Brown Crag -
Weaklings Wall, Brown Crag - steady climbing and gear, but a proper onsight challenge
Davidson's Delight, Brown Crag -
The Excited Atom, Fulmar Wall - tricky but brief
Strawclutcher's Wall, Meikle Partans - tricky-ish crux but obvious
Incubus, Arthur Fowlie - slightly steadier and safer than The Sorceror
The Crimson Tide, Red Wall -
Crazy Horse, Red Wall -
Neanderthal Man, Red Tower - quite bold but enough rests to work it out, very good
The Silver Surfer, Round Tower - cranky and committing but ultimately reasonable
Ramadam, The Round Tower -
Tyrant Crack, Round Tower - committing but short-lived crux with good gear (***?)
The Killing Moon, Meackie Point -
Lonely, Hidden Inlet - more reasonable gear than it looked
Not So Lonely, Hidden Inlet -
Sole Fusion, Promontory Wall -
Soul Mate, Promontory Wall - committing up arete, steep finish, but okay
Aesthetic Ape, Cummingston - decent gear but a committing crux with superb moves
Diedre Of Double Doubt, Cummingston - steady but shoddy protection and serious higher up, fall off and pretend it isn't E2 eh
Dancing In The Dark, Covesea - adventurous but steady (***?)
Urban Gorilla, Covesea - does exactly what it promising, cruxy fun
Three Of Hearts, Rosehearty - steep but mostly safe
Jason's Follie, Rosehearty - steep but mostly safe
Treasure Hunt, Rosehearty - steep but mostly safe
Fall Of Adam, Rosehearty - steep but mostly safe
The Essential, Rosehearty - hard bouldery crux low down, but good rests higher and an easy finish make it reasonable
Afterglow, Rosehearty - typically pumpy despite good gear
Crumbling Dice, Pass Of Ballater - thrutchy and committing but fine once done
Black Custard, Pass Of Ballater - only a couple of moves but arduous enough to make the grade
High Steppa, Pass Of Ballater - benchmark safe bouldery route
Cold Rage, Pass Of Ballater (at E4 6a) - quite reasonable overall but hard crux and general uphillness make it spot on
Anger And Lust, Pass Of Ballater - does exactly what it promises, but quite reasonable
Blutered, Pass Of Ballater - not too bold but tricky 5a getting to the easy VS jamming finish
Alcoholics Anonymous, Pass Of Ballater (at E2 5b) - bold and bouldery start, needs care

Steady:
Brain Death, Long Slough - only short but powerful and reach to onsight with nasty fall onto slab, definitely E2 5b
Cirrhosis, South Cove - technically excellent but good RPs, low in adjectival grade
Red Army Blues, Sickle Row - enough rests and good gear to make it steady, great moves (***?)
Sea Wall, Souter Head - bold but shortlived
Streetwise, Clashrodney - shortlived
Pterodactyl, Earnsheugh - brief and reasonable crux
Laa-Laa, Downies - committing but good rest and safe enough
The Paranormal, Berrymuir Head - just thin and bold off the deck, then steady through, gentle
Auto Da Fe, Berrymuir Head - soft E4 but clearly E4, a definite adjectival grade harder than the Paranormal & Bobalouie. Easy moves but very steep with real danger before break. Gear in the block of The Flatulent Alien is....gear in The Flatulent Alien, but if this becomes default then it would be E3 (***?)
Black Art E2 var, Berrymuir Head - shortlived and reasonable
The Electric Chair, Craig Stirling - reasonable throughout with care (**!)
Omnivore, Craig Stirling - reasonable throught with care (**?)
Jaded Ledge Lizard, Johnsheugh - steep, committing, and "out there" but steady....once it's done (**/***?)
The Dirty Doosen, Johnsheugh - some shoddy rock but steady with good rests
Black Auk Down, Johnsheugh - generally steady but committing
Pooh Pooh, Red Wall - straightforward, a couple of tricky moves between rests
Monkey Puzzle, Munich Buttress - good value moves but enough rests (***?)
Jungle Book, Red Tower - good gear and mostly reasonable traditional climbing
The Prophet, Cummingston - committing but short-lived crux with good gear
Family Affair, Covesea - steep but juggy and decent threads
The Growl, Covesea - steep but steady
Dave's Dilemma, Logie Head - reasonable
Sea Anemome, Logie Head - reasonable
Dark Star, Logie - Head reasonable
Living Through The Lambada, Rosehearty - reasonable crux low down, steady above with Peenuts and care
Sorceror's Apprentice, Glen Clova - steep and wobbly but steady climbing

Soft:
Blind Faith, Clashrodney - safe and restful in the groove, maybe E2 but maybe morpho
Bovver Fly, Red Band Cliff - one move wonder
Bobalouie, Berrymuir Head - safe short and easy, steady E3 5c
Raging Bull, Floors Craig - very steep, but E2 would be fair, reasonable gear and holds
Rhythm Of The Heart, Johnsheugh - borderline, could be easy E4 5c, steady moves but very precarious above lip with esoteric gear
Rock Lobster, Brown Crag - probably hard E2, looks bold but safe and steady, easier than Muhammed...
Wireless Wall, Silkies Cliff - cranky but brief, probably E2 5c
Impending Doom Direct, Meackie Point - safe and only committing for a couple of moves
I-Ching, Cummingston - E2, good rests, good gear, just a couple of moves
Fingers Wall, Cummingston - hard E2, boldish but fine on correct line (*)
The Prow, Cummingston - E4 5c to lead, totally wild but hardest moves are safish, excellent fun (***?)
Bottle Dungeon, Covesea - steady E3 5c and a fine, fun route (**!)
Smith's Arete, Pass Of Ballater - probably hard E4, only very bouldery / reachy start is hard, and the tied hook is good. Soft E4 with a pad. Brilliant moves above.
IceBun - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Fiend: Cheers Fiend, very useful. Some funny old thoughts there, obviously climbing well some days and other days not so well. Glad you edited out the worst of your slagging off of folk you don't know and have never met. Sorry you had such a hard time on Downies Syndrome, seems to have got under your skin a bit;) Cheers Neil
Offwidth - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Fiend:

Keep it up ... Scottish mountain crags next ?;-)
Murko Fuzz - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Fiend:

If you're not already involved with guidebooks, you probably should be. Like Mr Bankhead; he's another organic encyclopaedia.
Michael Gordon - on 01 Jul 2013
In reply to Fiend:

Hmmm, I've only done a few of these but wouldn't say they were as bad as you've suggested:

Birthday Treat (Clashrodney)- do you mean stiff for E1 (guidebook grade) or HVS? Because it's definitely overgraded at E1. Benchmark HVS 5a!

Hidden Treasure - I reckon E2 5c is fair, though I found it hard. Would be interested in whether others consider this mid or hard E2.

Witches Tooth (Clova) - an awkward 5b move but don't remember the rest being too bad. Hard E1 I'd say.

Red Wall(Clova) - steady E1 5b. Good gear throughout, would recommend this to someone for their first E1.
IceBun - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Offwidth: don't think he does mountain routes but the central lowlands and highlands outcrops have to be next;)
Offwidth - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to IceBun:

Dont worry I know Fiend... just pulling his leg.
coolboy - on 03 Jul 2013
In reply to Fiend:

Agree good to have grade consensus but why do some people think they're opinions are more important than others? Also there is the grade voting system on UKC without everyone having to write a long rant about what they think! Interesting to read comments of other North East climbers on Facebook who clearly think they have a slight grasp of how the British grading system works and have a bit of experience on the local routes.

Good work!
Dangerous Dave - on 03 Jul 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to Fiend)
>
> Hmmm, I've only done a few of these but wouldn't say they were as bad as you've suggested:
>
> Birthday Treat (Clashrodney)- do you mean stiff for E1 (guidebook grade) or HVS? Because it's definitely overgraded at E1. Benchmark HVS 5a!

Good contender for E0 5a!!

> Hidden Treasure - I reckon E2 5c is fair, though I found it hard. Would be interested in whether others consider this mid or hard E2.

I thought this was hard but safe E2 6a?

> Witches Tooth (Clova) - an awkward 5b move but don't remember the rest being too bad. Hard E1 I'd say.

When I first tried this I thought it was nails and I think E2 is fair.

> Red Wall(Clova) - steady E1 5b. Good gear throughout, would recommend this to someone for their first E1.

I always find this hard but think its E1. Not an easy one though.

Offwidth - on 04 Jul 2013
In reply to coolboy:

The voting system tells you little. The comments can sometimes be useful. Having a consistent set of opinions from someone you know (including knowledge of the type of routes they are more likley to overgrade or undergrade) is gold-dust to a guidebook editor.
coolboy - on 08 Jul 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

Don't buy into that, still just one persons opinion and in this case the guidebook editors probably don't know the climber in question. I'd have thought as many opinions as possible would be best to determine grades. Maybe UKC system isn't ideal but I've found it useful in the past. First ascentionists may get the grade wrong sometimes but all grades usually level out in time to round about where they should be. The North East outcrops are probably used mostly by locals but the crags are well used and I've have thought they've been well described by local climbers with reasonable grades
Offwidth - on 08 Jul 2013
In reply to coolboy:

Do you help in guidebook editing, crag writing as a matter of interest?
coolboy - on 08 Jul 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

No
Andy Nisbet - on 08 Jul 2013
In reply to Fiend:

I hope you've sent the comments to Neil Morrison for the writin of the new guide.
coolboy - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

Neil Morrison has seen this and commented above and I seriously doubt if any of the above will be included in the new North East guide, not much gold dust there!

There may have been something useful hidden amongst that list but the self gratifying style( Get rid of your frustrations and go see a prostitute!) in which it has been presented has just intensely pissed off lots of folk and I think it's all destined to be ignored

Never mind
Andy Nisbet - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to coolboy:

I would have thought still useful but only one person's opinion. The intro might suggest a hidden agenda but the comments themselves seem objective. Only someone knowing the crags (like the authors) can tell. Any opinions are better than none I would have thought.
coolboy - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

Yup, everyone's opinion does count, the accompanying rant on Fiends blog slagging off lots of North East climbers pissed off folk too, that's been edited out now though...
Offwidth - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

Fiend may not be a top pick for UKC political 'how to make friends and influence people' but he was a very keen, honest and useful member of our team on Froggatt. Its all easy to forget that core guidebook teams because of closeness and common experience can drift into a slihgtly unrepresenative mindset that the likes of Fiend are useful in shaking-up a little.
ads.ukclimbing.com
IceBun - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Andy Nisbet: As a guidebook team we are more than happy to take anyone's opinions and put them in the mix. There are certainly some interesting nuggets in Fiend's stuff (Blind Faith at whatever grade Fiend thinks). We will, of course, ignore the wildly inaccurate statements about routes like Auto de Fe and Downies Syndrome;)Just because Fiend had a hard time doesn't mean that all the other opinions are duff.

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