/ NEW ARTICLE: Low to Mid Grade British Sport Climbing
Low to mid grade sport climbing venues in the UK are not exactly as rare as hens teeth but they are also not the most easily stumbled upon. Sifting through guides, magazines and the UKC/Rockfax database will always turn up something, but if you are away on work in an unfamiliar part of the country or looking to get away somewhere different then have a gander at the recommendations below – you never know there may even be something closer to home than you thought?
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=6052
The link to the SWMC wiki isn't right, it is:
Can it please be changed?
SWMC Communications Officer
Hi Matt, have changed that one. I think the article was written a little while ago, and that was the link provided.
The last photo caption has 'lime stone' instead of 'limestone'.
Describing Benny Beg as 'southern' and Rockdust as 'northern' is a bit odd, unless you're only talking about Perthshire, given that they're only about 30 miles apart.
Arbroath is spelt wrong in the article.
Many thanks for changing it.
No worries, we only bought the swmc.org.uk domain a couple of months ago. We're slowly moving over to that domain from the old one. Much less of a mouthful than southwalesmountaineering.org.uk (which is the old and still working link).
Mostly a nice enough read, but given that the author appears to have little knowledge of sport climbing in Scotland, it might have been better to have bounced that section off of the likes of Andy Nisbet so that a little more of the flavour of the diverse types of sports crags on offer (there are over 50 different bolted crags and more than 1300 individual sport climbs in Scotland, none of which are on limestone) could have been allowed to shine through.
I would ignore everything the author has to say about Scotland as its clearly founded on hear say!
You are not totally wrong there Adam. The piece was written some time ago and we were going to put the Scottish section out to the authors of the recent SMC sport guide but didn't. The sport climbing in Scotland is worth an article in its own right.
There is this one covering scotland with a similar theme to your article...
What's classed as low to middle grade? Up to 7a low and 7a+ to 7c+ middle?
Interesting that one Andy. Mid-grade of the whole sport grade span (from 1 to 9b) is around 7a. However the most climbed grade on UKC logbooks is around 5+/6a. I would of thought that 7a+ and up would be considered upper grade although of course this covers a massive range of grades. What do you think?
Hi Mark, great article, really enjoyed it. Re Andy F's question about grades, surely for most UK climbers, F7a+ and upwards would be considered upper grade? However when you consider 'proper' climbers (anywhere), I'd have thought something like F8b+ and upwards would be considered upper grade...
Err... any 'proper' climbers out there?
Yes they do but only as practice for the real thing. :-)
Interesting view. I think its almost completely the opposite. Name a few high performers who exclusively trad climb and remember trad is only popular in a few countries.
Hi Mick - Yes I know exactly what Andy and yourself mean and you are correct - however in the context of Uk sport climbing and this article I think that low to mid grade being up to around the 7a mark is about right.
True, when was the last time you saw a cravat at the crag.
I often wear a buff, does that count?
Difficult this. If low grade is sub E1, then that would be below 6a. Mid grade up to E4, or 7a. Hard would then be above 7a. This doesn't relate to most 'proper' sport climbing, where 7a and below are warm ups, upto 7c+/8a is mid grade, 8a+ to 8b+/c achievable with lots of work and/or talent, above that the rarefied few.
isn't this the problem?, the article is about bolt protected climbing rather than sport climbing per se
As I'm at my trad limit there, onsighting an average E1 is way harder for me than flashing a 6a (which for me is more equivalent to an onsight VS). Yet some better climbers tell me they find protected HVS similar to 5+ (maybe too much time on polished french horrowshow sandbags?) . Sport vs trad grade equivalence is a very difficult topic to pin down.
For me the grade tables seem to work. I'm currently climbing 6b/6b+ indoors and E2/3 on trad. It seems to work better for people who started on trad than the other way round. These days I find indoor climbing very physically demanding but I am 65. Trad climbing, and to a lesser extent, outdoor sport is not often that unrelenting.
Like for like? Well protected steep limestone E2 is the same for you as 6b indoors? I know a few oldies who climb well on balance climbs but suffer when it gets steep.
As long as I can maintain some contact with my feet I can cope but "real overhangs" where you have to cut loose do cause me problems. Some physchological and some physical and of course the one affects the other. :-(
Surprised to see Tintern quarry recommended in an article that appears to be for less experienced climbers.
Here's the classic and oft-quoted introduction from the Lower Wye Valley guidebook:
"The considerable number of bolted climbs described in this guide might give a mistaken impression to some that Tintern is a mecca for mid-grade sport climbing.
For the uninitiated it must be clearly stated that the instability of the rock at Tintern places this crag at the distinctly 'adventure' end of the sport climbing spectrum. It is definitely NOT the crag for the inexperienced. In fact this is not the crag for people of a nervous disposition, the accident prone, the unlucky, the uninsured, those easily disheartened, or anyone with loved ones."
True, but that wasn't my point really. I think when proper 'sports' climbers talk about grade they talk about grades they work, hence they are higher, were as most general uk climbers don't get into red pointing 'projects'. It's a different type of day out most of us aren't used to.
There is a Gower Sport Climbing Rock Fax what you mean there is no guide for South Wales
Thanks for the prompt Martin and Joe Solo I have updated the section with the Gower guides.
Dont forget New Mills bridge pillars... outdoor all weather fun so very useful.
Super useful article thanks :) Except... 'Mid-Wales is a no-no for sport climbing"?! Errr...Llanymynech? I am biased, it's my local, but I think a lot of people would agree it's a brilliant sport location as far as the UK goes.
You must be taking the piss?
I like Llanymynech too, but considering half of it is in England, its not really mid Wales, unless Wales is only counted as N - Mid - S and not East - West!
While "brilliant" might be verging on the over-enthusiastic, it's certainly a very useful venue for anyone in the Staffs/West Midlands/North Worcs/Hereford/Shropshire areas as well as Mid Wales. Much of it south-facing, sheltered from prevailing westerlies, not too much seepage - and although it lacks anything much outside the 6a to 7a+ range, pitches up to 30m in those grades certainly let you clock up some mileage.
The crags are actually all in Wales (by about 50m's :) )! People don't really say East Wales, so yep, its in Mid Wales.
Probably being over-enthusiastic yeh as it's my local, but it's got plenty to go at, and long routes too. Bearing in mind this article is about low to mid grade, I definitely think it should be in there.
< Bearing in mind this article is about low to mid grade, I definitely think it should be in there. >
I was quite surprised at its omission, Llanymynech being the only place where I've actually bumped into Mark.
Haha, maybe it gave him a hard time recently!!!
He seemed to be doing a lot better than I was, although that's not necessarily difficult; while I occasionally climb like an animal I find that these days the beast in question generally most resembles a water-buffalo!
Pahah, maybe not the required climbing technique no, but a brilliant image!!!
I thought that Black Wall and that end was England? They call it 'the English Quarry' at that end at any rate. And the Welsh Quarry is up and behind; Cream Wall and all that lot.
Gonna go and look it up on Street Map now! :)
Haha I earth-mapped it too to check! Slightly hard to tell, but the majority is DEFINITELY in mighty mighty Wales....;)
Hi - Ian and Teleri, Yep should be in there as well and its location is shall we sat - on the border - but I suspect the best is in England? Lee and I are in the process of getting the new guidebook together at the moment.
Btw Ian that line at Wyndcliffe Quarry that was posted about on another thread is 7a (it has has a crimpy and reachy start)
All the best
Hi Mark; hope you're well, and keeping the "inner water-buffalo" at bay rather better than I can manage!
Llanymynech is an obvious omission, but a very understandable one. It doesn't really register among the main-stream climbing areas; it's always on the periphery. The realities of modern traffic congestion make it a real hike, and often a long-drawn-out one, from the main climbing centres of Manchester/Sheffield, North Wales and (thank you, Bristol!) Bristol. But if you happen to live in that limbo in between - "West Mercia" as I believe the Saxons and the modern constabulary call it, never mind the Mid-Welsh (sorry Teleri!) - then Llanymynech is a real Godsend. I think you said you wrote this piece a while back, probably when seasonal consideration wasn't so acute; at this time of year I've found Llanymynech to be a reliable venue when all sorts of other places in The Peak, South Wales Quarries, Avon and Somerset have had their limitations.
Although I climbed there a bit in the 1970s, my first visit in modern times was with a Mr Neil Foster (of this parish), his wife Clare (who, from all accounts [mostly his] climbs much harder than he does nowadays) and a young hopeful called Andy Cave; driving over from Sheffield we initially went to Nesscliff - which was Wetscliff ( much like, I think, the Peak District on that particular occasion) - and continued thereafter to Llanymynech where we had a very good day; apart from me, obviously, who was too fat and weak to get up anything. While I can only speak for myself, I think that our respective water-buffaloes all got some useful exercise and have been back since.
PS Some young whipper-snapper down our way reckons the Wyndcliffe Quarry route is 7b; I'll (probably) have to take his word for it! (no offense to the whipper-snapper, BTW; I'm getting old - humour me!)
Hi Ian. That route could well be harder than 7a it is a boulder problem leading to much easier stuff above. I'll send you the Llanymynech topo proof when I have finished it.
Cheers Mark; looking forward to it.
What's Cheddar like for lowish grades? The article says that it's popular amongst climbers wanting lines in the 5s and 6s, but links to a crag page with exactly 6 climbs at 5/5+ level with most in the 7s.
It links to the page for the south side of the gorge. Have a browse through Cheddar North which is where most of the more amenable sport crags are.
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