/ Recommend me a winter trad climbing destination? (UK)

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jsmcfarland - on 12 Sep 2013
Hi there!

Been sport climbing for a year(ish) now and I'm operating around french 6a-6b tech grade, and have just learnt to trad climb with Tony Penning (what a legend!). Anyway, already planning my first proper trip somewhere and would like some recommendations as to a good location. Somewhere with lots of HVS' and E1's to get stuck into would be good. I seconded some E2's which was dead fun while learning, but easier stuff is definitely a must while I'm learning! Anywhere that isn't usually in crap condition in November time would be lovely.

Any ideas chums?

Thanks
victim of mathematics - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland:

Pembroke.
GrahamD - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland:

Pembroke is the obvious one. Swanage is another possibility. If you are starting leading I think you'll find a world of difference between 6a/b and E2. Chose routes that you are confident in being able to protect under the pressure of leading
jsmcfarland - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to GrahamD:

Just had a look at Pembroke, there seems to be 5 guidebooks for the area! Is there a certain section that comes out as the best for my level (beginner trad, but ambitious :P) or is it all fairly similar?

Thanks for replying so quickly
Jon Stewart - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland:

Personally, I'd rather climb on Peak grit in November if it wasn't raining than in Pembroke. Pembroke pitches are big, intimidating things that I like to do when the sun is out and the atmosphere chilled (as in relaxed, not as in how it is in November). Warming up is difficult on the big pitches you get down there and belaying can be a lengthy thing. I wonder also if you get rough seas at that time of year, which would make the whole thing utterly terrifying as well as cold.

The advantages of Peak grit are that the atmosphere is very relaxed, and you boulder around to get warmed up, bring loads of clothes to belay in which don't then need carting up the route, and do short pitches with superb technical climbing. Admittedly it's nowhere near as spectacular as Pembroke, but it's a lot more relaxed if it's cold.
GridNorth - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland: If you went on one of Tony's courses I suspect that you are based in the South West in which case Wintours Leap and Shorncliff are convenient. I would agree that Pembroke could be a little intimidating for someone at your level.
jsmcfarland - on 12 Sep 2013
I'm based in the southeast, but travel doesn't bother me too much :)

I learnt trad in the Wye Valley and Symonds Yat so the best option might just be to go back there as I'm already familiar with the area, and save Pembroke and up north till I'm a little better. Thanks for your help everyone!
Exile - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland:

If you go for Pembroke I'd recommend going to the St Davids area, (North Pembroke) first as it's a bit friendlier in terms of the size and angle of the routes. The rockfax selected guide is a great starting point, (rather than the Climbing Club 5) for your first visit - if you get really bitten then start buying the others. All the crags in this guide in North Pembroke are south facing so get any sun going. I'd build up on some easier routes first, (plenty in the area,) as the whole sea cliff climbing thing adds another dimention. Also learn to abseil safely and factor in the need for an ab rope for lots of Pembroke venues.

Having said all this, I'd also think about the grit. I get cold easily so generally the shorter grit routes are a better option for me in the winter months - and if it's really baltic you can always boulder.
johncoxmysteriously - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland:

I wouldn't start on HVS/E1 if I were you, though I applaud the notion.

Pembroke is a terrible idea. It's not that great weatherwise in November and sea cliffs add a dimension you don't need for your first few routes.

I don't know where you are, but in the SW loads of venues would be better, like for example Chudleigh, Goblinís Combe, Three Cliffs Bay, Wintourís Leap, Shorncliffe and Dartmoor (weather permitting). Itís best to get some kind of handle on stuff like putting the gear in before starting to deal with other issues like not accidentally drowning. One thing at a time.

If you must go to Pembroke, then Iíd suggest Porthclais as a good place to start. Or the traditional Saddle Head, which is a cliff above the sea rather than a sea cliff (or bits of it are).

jcm
GrahamD - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to Exile:

I'm of the opposite school of thought. If you are used to sport grades, then the steep featured limestone of S. Pembroke is way friendlier than slabbier venues.
GridNorth - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to GrahamD: Physically you are quite right but I don't believe that's the issue. It's more to do with keeping your cool and placing gear in difficult situations.
GrahamD - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

What constitutes difficult depends on what you are used to. For strong but inexperienced climbers, a steep crack that swallows wires and hexes is much easier than a slab of the same grade with fiddly small wire protection.
Jon Stewart - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to GridNorth)
>
> What constitutes difficult depends on what you are used to. For strong but inexperienced climbers, a steep crack that swallows wires and hexes is much easier than a slab of the same grade with fiddly small wire protection.

Don't strong but inexperienced climbers often do pretty well on those routes, placing terrible gear without really fully comprehending what's going on? OK, so maybe that's not really "doing well"...
CurlyStevo - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland:
have you already lead HVS / E1 ?
jsmcfarland - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I've led some VS/HVS at Symonds Yat and they didn't seem too scary but it all depends on the route I guess. So far I'm leaning towards going back to the Wye Valley in the winter, depending on weather of course, unless anyone can change my mind : )
Jon Stewart - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland:
> (In reply to CurlyStevo)

> So far I'm leaning towards going back to the Wye Valley in the winter, depending on weather of course, unless anyone can change my mind : )

Here's Mr Dawes having a go!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stfW7fOu5XM
Dino Dave - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland: Surely winter's grit season...
jsmcfarland - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to DavidRex:

that's my point, I have no idea. If you can point me to a good trad beginner winter climbing area I'm all ears
jrk2673 - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland: One from left field, Sardinia. Should be sunny and if you have enough of trad you could always revert to sport.
seankenny - on 12 Sep 2013
In reply to jsmcfarland:

When you say trip do you mean a weekend away, a week or a fortnight? Because for my money, if you've got a week in November, go somewhere warm (if you can afford it). You'll do more climbing in El Chorro in November than the Wye Valley. If you are keen for trad then you either have a grim time or go to America, Australia or S Africa!

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