/ Top Lonely Leads in the UK
"The climbing is not too desperate, but spaced protection, the isolated position out of sight of the second, and extreme exposure all combine to yield a big experience for the leader". great stuff, makes me want to desperately do the route but would probably feel a massive relief to get rained off at the foot of the climb...
So what are the best lonely leads in the UK? For me this is a different experience to hard solos and I'd find it hard to think that any outcrop route would be up there, it also implies a certain degree of precariousness. Definitely does not necessarily mean hard technical climbing. My suggestion would be The Boulder on Cloggy, within sight of the second for pretty well the whole pitch but otherwise little gear and you have to keep your head together the whole way. Great route but seems surprisingly unpopular.
The Pause on Etive Slabs had a pitch like that... you hop over the overlap and work up slowly including a scowl at the remains of a rusty peg and swear at various seams that wont take an RP and eventually reach a belay with much releif.
What about P2 of central piller on Esk butress - i thouht it was pretty run out with thought provoking but never desperate climbing - which in no way prepares you for the thuggy final pitch! "a good pitch to second" acording to the guide
The Verger at Blackchurch is not hard but fits your criteria.
"The top pitch is a long and lonely lead..." from Iain Peters' guide.
Satans Slip at the Devils Slide Area, Lundy. E1 5a and a great relief to get a good nut in after about 15m of slab padding
I thought The Pause too, though you missed the bit where you cross the overlap too far to the left, eventually get turned back by a steep scoop and have to reverse it.
And TPS, just stand up eh...
Pinnacle Arete on Cloggy feels pretty out there.
Edge of Eriador on Scafell East Buttress is another. Also on Scafell, the top pitch of Saxon.
At a much more amenable grade, the traverse pitch on Fionn Buttress on Carnmore is wild for the grade, a mere 4b but with overhangs above and below.
The start of Murray's Direct on Dow Crag. The traverse is dubiously protected with a peanut and you are out of sight of your second at the belay. The exposure feels worse than it really is and knowing the traverse isn't very well protected makes for an exciting first pitch (in my book anyway).
Tabula Rasa, Langcliffe? Do it and you'll see. One's hold on life feels extremely precarious. It couldn't be lonelier.
The Roaches seems to do well in this respect: Elegy, Smear Test, and a couple of times on Apaloosa Sunset. Might just be me though....
Great topic! Lonely leads are my favourite type, and several favourites come to mind instantly.
Blank on the Goat Fell Slabs. I remember more stances than runners between them.
The Verger at Blackchurch as already mentioned. I led that top pitch but actually found that less frightening than watching Mark lead the entirely disposable second pitch.
The top pitch of the Fang at Tremadog. Perhaps I missed lots of RP placements (or just had no RPs at the time - I can't remember).
I followed that big traverse pitch on The Boulder as part of a three. Only having two runners on my rope made it a scarier prospect than most leads.
The Boulder sprang to mind as soon as I started reading your post. It was my first E1 lead, and I'd convinced myself it was only HVS really, just without much gear. Only 2 runners in nearly a full rope length of steady 5a climbing was probably a bit less gear than I'd bargained for though.
VS 4c - only pro a Peanut? Must have been very lonely when Murray did it!
Another vote for Satan's Slip or indeed Devils Slide itself. It might be an "easy" grade but it sure is lonely.
If we were allowed overseas I'd like to add Great White Book at Tuolumne. I remember a full rope run out with no gear at all until the belay. Only 5.5 I think but the mental stress for me was all there contemplating a slippette....
Another vote for the verger. Lonely top pitch, a relief when you finally reach the arÍte.
I heard that he had big balls, I only had peanuts ;)
I'm surprised by the top pitch of Saxon I only seconded this pitch and I bow to ALC's superior knowledge of these things but I seem to recall after the initial struggle with the offwidth plenty of gear and a big ledge before the final wall?
The Boulder - it's a lonely second as well!
Perhaps the Great Flake pitch on the Central Buttress of Scafell? The present-day route leads out onto the face of the flake, out of sight and communication with the second. The leader teeters up the face very much alone in a sea of rock for a good 20 metres (at least that's my memory), eyes fixed on the safety of the top of the flake.
Tormented Sole and The White Scoop at Stoupe in the Moors are both long, easy and mega lonely. The Tormented Sole is really rather incredible, with good runners metres away and move after move of balance. Wicked line!
In reply to this post I would suggest the following are lonely leads:
Suicide Wall (Route2)
and Extol is in a league all of its own as regards 'way out there'!
Pinnacle Arete has very good gear so you feel quite safe, ans Satin's Slip is technically easy ground and quite escapable by a traverse into Albion.
Another vote for The Fang at Tremadog. At the lower grade I think Arrow Route on Sron Na Ciche must be up there in terms of exposure and lack of runners albeit at VDiff.
I remember the top pitch of Kipling Groove being lonely in the sense of v exposed and out of sight of the second, but the protection good where you needed it, so it could savoured.
My loneliest ever lead was top pitch of Jericho Wall (E2 5a) - so scary it's no longer in any guidebook.
Devil's Kitchen is quite 'lonely' at V Diff :)
Top pitch of The Fang: agreed.
There are some very lonely solos on the Cuillin Ridge, and Clach Glas.
Yes, Arrow Route is very naughty at V Diff. I think it should be graded higher. More like severe/hard severe.
A good call. Did it mid-morning, when it was sopping wet and greasy beyond belief. Had rubbish gear - too small, maybe a piece every 30 feet. As we finished, it dried out and turned into a 10 minute solo delight. But, by then, my feet hurt too much!
Got to be some on slate.
Probably high tor and avon candidates for limestone.
Grit, theres always people about, though the 2nd pitch of great west road at Millstone was somewhat in need of friends.
I found Pigs on the wing at pembroke, though well protected, something of a mind game where support would have been an advantage.
Lundy - there are plenty, Centurion, Meninirons, dark power all made me go "F* me!" at somepoint. I know there are plenty more which truly are lonely (holiday in cambodia?)
Traverse of Mercury, North devon. Especially as I didn't know if I was going the right way.
Desolation Row in The Great Zawn.
I'm sure for many people this is the first 'proper' route that they get on in The Great Zawn. Just abbing in took some commitment from me since the history of the place, the cold, the dark, and the thought of setting off on that big seemingly never-ending wall (slab?), but climbing all the while into the light, just feels pretty audacious for your HVS punter.
With plenty of rests, loads of gear and no easier way out, you know you've got to keep going. But then the rests aren't that great and the gear, though plentiful isn't that inspiring, so it chipped away at me and I took, ages.
I think poor Andy was lonelier belaying me in the zawn though!
Last Slip at Avon is a pretty lonely lead despite being next to a major trunk road in the heart of the city. It's an exercise in keeping your nerve and not fluffing it until the peg is clipped. Very similar to Green Death I should imagine.
Cornwall has a few contenders too. The Baldest and Deja Vu require a highly focussed leader.
yes i had the same experience.
Really? thats brilliant!!
I've led the top pitch of Fang twice. The first time, I did find it a pretty protectionless experience. The second time I spent more time looking around for gear, and managed to get perfectly adequate gear on the hard section.
You've clearly not climbed Elegy at the Roaches then! The crux may be 5c, but the hardest part is 5a.
I don't have much to add, other than to heartily support suggestions of the Mercury traverse on Carn Gowla and Satan's Slip on Lundy. Last Slip at Avon and Elegy, as already mentioned, are very much worthy candidates too.
Sarcophagus on Gable and The Exorcist on Lundy were the first two which sprang to mind.
Bochlwyd Eliminate HVS would get my vote. I remember climbing up from the break and thinking where's the gear? As my rope snaked out all the way back to my belayer, finally got a rock 9 in near the top. Phew!
Sacre Coeur E2 on Blackchurch. Never totally desperate but the belayer out of sight way below.
The Coal face on Suicide Wall, Bosigran
Good shout, at the grade it's a big lead
Always being a bit of a 'big lad' lonely leads were often my way of getting the higher grade ticks in:
The Boldest - not very hard but a nagging worry you might be going the the wrong way
Capital Punishment - too serious to recommend to good friends
Deja-Vu - couldn't stop or get back down on the crux section so kept on pulling
Shibboleth - another in the 'not too hard but I hope something turns up soon" catagory
I was terrified watching my partner lead that pitch - if there'd been anything decent to ab off we may well have bailed. When he brought me up to the stance I felt like he deserved a reward and so I kindly offered him the lead on the top pitch (which I had previously had dibs on) as a treat for battling through the choss and vegetation. He refused, can't understand why...
Someone else mentioned Holiday in Cambodia and I'd agree, I found that an isolating experience despite there being loads of other climbers around.
Red Wall was quite lonely, couldn't really see or hear my partner and was just lost in that huge wall, paranoid of going off route and climbing myself into biscuity peril.
Years ago I did American Shrapnel on Lundy. An isolated zawn, no-one knew we were there and it felt pretty run out. When I looked down and saw my second adding another piece to the belay I know we were both taking it seriously.
What about Grey Wall on Glyder Fach? Bold for its day, and bold for now at VS
Aries at North Pembroke. Not terribly long and you can probably see your second if you look down. Pretty easy climbing but with awful consequences!
Traverse right at sea level from semi-hanging belay then start up the climb proper. Get a sketchy nut, about 7m up. And again another sketchy one at about 8m higher than that, and then run it out to the top.
I think you mean Grey Slab on Glyder Fawr...
Excellent call. The amount of atmosphere and intensity packed into just one pitch of climbing is truly outstanding.
Roaring Silence is a good one for mountain routes: the name sums up the experience well. At Pembroke, I felt distinctly lonely on the amazing Gravy Train - I don't remember having to go particularly far from gear, but you're completely isolated from your belayer and the entire rest of the world on that one...abbing in through the cave you feel like you've entered some sort of underworld, and getting back to dry land is quite a journey. I guess the classic in Pembroke is Star Wars.
that was my immediate thought as well!
Rastus, Cilan Head.
(Probably applies more so to other routes there but I've only done this one.)
Agrippa on Craig yr Ysfa - the first two pitches in particular - run-out and incredibly exposed - I think there's a clue in the name, though I seem to remember the rock being immaculate and none of it being too hard. By comparison, my memory of Aura (mentioned above) was that it never felt too run-out though I did it earlier when I was younger and braver. They're both superb - my favourite cliff in North Wales, and I still have unfinished business with Pinnaclissima.
The top pitch of Planet Waves on Space Buttress, right in the middle of the range where few people wander past, fits the bill nicely too - you just can't tell what the holds and gear are going to be like up ahead. With 60m ropes and a big rack (with several long slings!), it would be even better as a single pitch (watch the tide though!) as its only flaw is the out-and-back diversion to the belay.
Top pitch of the Grooves on Cyrn Las. Second feels lonely too.
Chicken run, North Highlands - North.
First you have to get up there, then you have to find it, then you have to ab into it and then, when you step into the open book corner all you can hear is the sound of the sea...................and there won't be another climbing party within 50 miles.
The belay below that loose pitch on The Verger is rubbish isn't it? I'd forgotten how that added to the whole experience.
Another one - Exposure Explosion at Ogmore - most of the stances are hidden in corners with most of the climbing out of sight as well as out of earshot.
where is that?
The top pitch pulls out on to an arete above the whole of the crag and is very airy.
Sarcophagus is a good call, feels very committing.
All the routes on The Boulder on Cloggy are lonely leads
To Sean Kelly: Extol is poo!
I thought Green Slab in Mousetrap zawn was a very lonely lead at VS (it was then anyhow), it felt a long pitch with worthless runners, and I was leading E4 occaisonally at the time.
The second pitch of resolution direct springs to mind. Not particularly bold, but with unobvious route finding, out of sight from your belayer, on a serious cliff with big exposure.
If the first pitches of Robert brown or lyme cryme were the second then they would be perfect. ..but they're too close to the ground.
A long time ago now, but traversing out on the shield on central buttress felt pretty lonely?
Some of the aretes at tremadog must be up there.
Have to agree about pitch two of The Fang - you're not that far away from the belay, but it feels rather isolated even so. I enjoyed that pitch hugely, very much my style of climbing. Kipling Groove is another good call; out of sight of the second, with the crux moves still to come; another very enjoyable lead.
I remember feeling quite isolated on the first pitch of Central Buttress at Avon. 70 feet long, with the last gear at 30 feet and the crux at the end. Even though you can still see your second, you know they won't be much help... Given E1 these days, I think; a moderate HVS 4c when I did it.
Plus 1 for Arrow Route. A lot of Sron na Ciche feels lonely.
Another lonely lead is Devil's Spine (VS) on Lundy. Feels distinctly odd and intimidating climbing a mass of vertical sea grass which makes it difficult to see the rock or the holds. In fact the holds are good, but it doesn't feel like it.
Cordelia , North Pembs.
On a totally isolated face. The second pitch traverses above a sea cave to gain a bottomless groove.
Only a passing boat will be aware of your existence and as for other climbers - well, I've been trying to find someone to compare notes with for the past twenty five years and am starting to think that it's a short list of one and his name is Martin Boysen.
For me probably the first time on Prophecy of Drowning. Pulling round the corner into the hanging groove on the first pitch. Just the two of us on the island, no means of communication with the rest of the world, boat not coming back for another three days. Brilliant.
Maybe not in the same class as some of the other routes mentioned, but Coloured Slab at Caswell Bay, at severe I found 4 bits of gear in 20m, but 3 of these were micros. A very serious route for anyone with a standard rack!
Dexter at Avon - another from the "Minor league lonely leads in the UK" series. After leaving the crack on the second pitch you are left to pad up what feels like miles and miles of blank slab without gear or holds to speak of, with your belayer out of sight and cold comfort from the roar of passing traffic. Eventually you hit the break and some sort of positive holds and man up for the final metre or two to the belay. Apparently there is an uber thread in the break but I missed it and went from the top of the crack to the belay without a single piece of gear. And this when expecting a relatively stress-less road-side bimble, oh Avon!
Thinking about it I'm often struck by how the juxtaposition at the gorge of a procession of people zooming by in the warm, comfy cars and buses completely oblivious of you tenuously tethered to the crag intensifies the feelings of vulnerability!
P1 of tennis shoe direct?
All the routes on Sunset Slab are like that! Take Dawn Walk, perhaps the most dangerous severe in the country...
What is this route?!? It's bugging me. The description is very familiar. It's Paul Williams, isn't it. Something on Cloggy? Is it The Axe?
Hmm, Dawn Walk's on my tick list too hey-ho!
Completely off topic - that piece about you doing outreach work in schools was good, and made a few of us in Bristol Physics smile!
Hazy Days ?
(I'll go and look in a minute)
Dawn Walk's very easy, just don't fall off the traverse or you'll (probably) hit the floor. I remember one little stabby move at the end (with no pro) to get up to the belay that can feel a bit spacey due to the runout.
You have no idea how much champagne that piece has cost me...
Edit: Happy to play on DW when I'm back in March if you want.
I'm on the finishing slab of P2 on the much maligned front cover of the current Trem guide. I was relaxing at that point, the earlier sequence on P2 is the real crux.
Also at Trem, I found the main pitch of Grotto quite a lonely lead. Hard climbing for the grade most of the way and well out of sight for most of it.
Any of the main pitches on routes on the Mot have a rather lonely feel to them eg. Diagonal. Soon out of sight, spaced gear and slightly spooky.
Some of the routes at White Ghyll also have that feel. Not for their boldness but very exposed, out of sight, lost in a sea of overhangs and corners eg. Haste Not.
Haha - I can guess! Sure Avon in Spring, though honestly with two children under 3 I do more of my climbing on the internet than in reality but by all means look me up when you are back.
The second pitch of Pagan on Gogarth LH Red Wall is a bit like that: step up then over a roof and you can't see your belayer and you are in the midst of the crux on somewhat dubious rock with the gear back beneath the roof.
Good call on Agrippa on Ysfa - i'd forgotten about that one, i always thought it deserved more stars. Another vote for the great flake pitch on central buttress as well, i remember getting to a few feet below the big ledge at the top with the clag coming in and getting pretty gripped.
fun thread this, brings back lots of good memories
The big pitch on Gormenghast - and even the top one come to that. Especially on a dull day in the Lakes with few out even walking in an already quite isolated valley.
Oh what nostalgia. KG, my first Lakes ďVSĒ lead, exhausting myself trying to get a drilled out nut in at the crux and going into the mantle-shelf with only the peg below me (1966). Mark you I found Diagonal on the Mot with a meccano nut on a bit of shoe string as protection and out of sight quite exciting too. Getting an attack of the willies on the Boulder following Martin Harris in 1968, standing abandoned at the bottom of Desolation Row cold and tired on a March day, and so many of the others, mostly as a second. To add a couple more routes. Committed lead on Bloody Slab with no protection and the contact lens in my one good eye popping out (1987). But my strongest memory of abandonment is seconding Welcome to the Cruise on a damp blustery day of 1993, when my leader couldnít hear me and one of his ropes jammed pulling them in, so I had to do the wild traverse on the lip of that monstrous overhang unprotected.
I'd say Grey Slab is bomber protected cf the bold pitches of The Pause (ie just a little run out but tamed by small modern cams). Some people mentioned Arrow Route where I'd disagree as its fully in sight and its OK up pockets to a short bold sequence where they get worse; below the crux is in a place you can wait for rescue or reverse, Id say HVD but some may think it justifies S 3c.
For a lower-grade valley climb, I always thought pitch 2 on Eve at Shepherds in Borrowdale felt pretty lonely, certainly for someone pushing into that grade.
Climb out of a groove and traverse a slabby wall, out of sight of your belayer and with relatively sparse protection. Certainly feels very lonely when the crag is empty.
Heart of the sun at Baggy, but it was December getting dark and starting to drizzle so I may be a little biased but by god I felt lonely!
Make that two for Cordelia, though it was a long time ago and I remember little (1985).
Lot's of good suggestions here though. I agree with Fang, though you're seldom really on your own at Tremadog. Likewise SuperDirect on the Mot. The gear's OK but it's a long way with no real easing off after you lose sight of your belayer (depends where your belayer is I guess but that's how it felt to me).
> Memory Lane
I wouldn't call either of these 'lonely'. Flashdance has a potentially dangerous fall but it's over fairly quickly. And on Memory Lane the mostly gearless upper arete is so easy (compared to the technical pockets lower down), and also so enjoyable, that it is more of a romp.
Furthermore, I agree with whoever said that it is difficult for outcrop climbs to be 'lonely'. 99 times out of hundred you can either back off or be rescued and be back on terra firma in no time. Only mountains or sea-cliffs really give (me) that feeling.
My take on lonely leads is that they don't necessarily have to be run out, but you have to be alone i.e. out of sight of your second and preferably anybody else, with retreat or rescue being difficult, and climbing which requires mental energy and focus.
One of my favourite 'surprising' lonely leads was Surprise Attack at Mewsford in Pembroke. After balancing through the tricky low 5c crux (in full sight of your second) it's very easy to let your guard down and think it's all over. When in actual fact you've got another 20m of solid E1 climbing, out of sight of your second, and with only the sound of the incoming sea for company. Great route.
Coloured Slab is a tricky little route at Severe, but I think Great Slab, slightly to the east, is a better suggestion for a lonely lead. Once on the slab proper, you are quite isolated, and there is no gear until a massive hole half way up, which takes a huge hex, and nothing again til the top.
Hazy Days on Cloggy it is, I've never heard anyone talk of it let alone do it but it does sound irresistible doesn't it?
Run of the Arrow, Shelterstone. Not done it, but abbed past a friend who called for reassurance on the holds to come, having just placed a Friend #0 about 20ft above a single RP3.
Couldn't believe it when the new guide gave it Diff!
>After balancing through the tricky low 5c crux (in full sight of your second) it's very easy to let your guard down and think it's all over.
Well, it is, isn't it? Strange suggestion.
Get a map of Scotland and look along the North coast. About half way along you will find Strathy Point. It's out on there.
Another vote for Shibboleth. Pitch 4 (5b) in particular felt pretty lonely!
found it, p342
Not many will remember the Porthole Direct at Avon, above the road at the traffic lights I think. Now covered in mesh but it gave a young leader with minimal gear the fright of his his life. Had to go up, couldnt go down. Only just made the top moves facing a decker onto tarmac from far too many feet!
Ooh it could have all gone so wrong!
Technically, yes, which is why I was surprised at how lonely it felt. Maybe it was the atmosphere. Which, I think, is my point.
Not leading .....but the most lonely I've ever felt on a climb was being last on a rope of three on the last stance of Dream of White Horses contemplating the most scary and unlikely looking traverse across the zawn with potentially big swings!!
As it happens it goes quite easily.
gimmer string top pitch.
Not having anybody diss Extol.
It is well worth doing even if all the quality is in the last 25 metres.
Last time I led it, had to pull a grass sod out of every jug, no complaints, just thought how many people are missing out on the experience.
Soliloquy on Eagle Crag, Grisedale felt pretty bold and commiting.
On Cloggy Guinevere was more than exciting, pulling onto the arete and then commiting to the traverse, out of sight of my belayer, on snappy "spillikins" with marginal gear really focussed the mind, the thought of carrying on into Taurus for the Pinnacle Girdle was just too much to bear.
Another Extol hater! Seemed fine to me
Knowing you ... knowing what you mean!!
More good words, from one of our oldest contributors.
I remember them all.
When you stand on the tiny crystals you are totally committed and the sense of loneliness is there, one of the best routes in Tremadog, don't fall off Silly Arťte...
You had to be there!
Gob on Carnmore in the mist.
Anything on The Far East Buttress of Cloggy.
The Boldest - not hard, but you always feel you could be heading the wrong way after the groove.
Bloody Slab - when running both pitches together for maximum atmosphere.
Positron's big 3rd pitch.
Capital Punishment, Idwal.
The Long Reach, Etives.
The Great Arete, Llech Ddu - the top pitch is very dramatic.
The Skull, Cyrn Las - the top pitch as dusk was falling accompanied by drizzle, was certainly lonely, tiring and scary.
Ok, first time I felt this was probably my first HVS lead, The Buttonhook Route on Kern Knotts. Since then I think Equus on Gimmer seemed pretty spooky. The last gear I got was just as I crossed Kipling Groove. Long way to the top from there, and I foolishly passed gear placements by as the climbing was easy only to find that those placements ran out.
Appointment with Fear
Some of Julian Lines routes in the Cairngorms must be up there too.
Have to agree with you about the top pitch of Planet Waves fitting the bill. Superb but blind climbing with just adequate gear (unusually for Pembroke), when doing it I was certainly glad that we'd managed to escape back up the ab rope when rained off during the first attempt.
Agree with the suggestion of America, I'd noticed the absence of gear on the 2nd pitch, and the angle of the other two, whilst abseiling past, so that on arrival at the foot when my climbing partner asked which pitch I wanted to lead I replied "erm, none of them", fortunately an arrangement that suited both of us well!
Also agree with the earlier poster re the suggestion of Central Pillar on Esk Buttress, and suggest in a similar vein Astra on Pavey Ark which also has intricate climbing with just adequate gear when you're out on your own a bit.
Andromeda Strain, like most stuff at Carn Gowla, has a particularly lonely atmostphere (cos nobody else is ever climbing there?)
I'd say anything on the upper tier of Carnmore would feel "out there" in the mist :-)
I did think of the main pitch of The Great Arete, very isolated. Shikasta on Scafell East Buttress is similar - a groove in an arete, you can't see anything close by.
Not sure about Capital Punishment, I thought it was steady and quite "friendly"
Going round the corner to get to the first belay.
Disappearing into the dark on the second pitch.
But above the 5c boulder problem the climbing is piss, Hard VS groove climbing. It felt like an enjoyable well protected romp.
I thoroughly agree with that sentiment...! The higher you get up that arete the more scared you get. Unbelievable route though.
I watched the FA of The Cumbrian: it looked pretty lonely.
Maybe the big Dyer's Lookout pitch?
The top pitch of Suspense in Stennis Ford felt pretty out there. Out of sight of belayer, runout, loose topout and massive exposure.
Expecting to Fly on Stac Pollaidh, exposed on a clear but windy day, took 2h 30 on the lead, unsatisfied with the gear most the way.
Total relief to hit the final crack and place gear, only to turn into horror as its gopping wet.
Hazy Days: I did it many years ago. It was very lonely on reaching the arete. I thought I was stranded there a long way from the last decent gear after finding that the little RP cracks I was hoping to use wouldn't take anything. Eventually found a good inventive and hidden alternative placement and managed to press on, finding the moves very hard but easing quite soon.
At its grade, how about the Knight's Move pitch on Grooved Arete?
The crux is right next to the belayer and its all protectable.
That wall is bit funny sometimes. On a sunny day it's quite benign, but on a midweek late afternoon early evening, when it's quiet, an overcast sky, chilly and a bit damp in places, - it felt a bit "unfriendly"
Of course, this was also pre friends and cams, and in battered EB's - well that's my excuse!!!
That's cold comfort if you're leading at your limit in that situation.
I was thinking more of the 'lonely' in the OP, rather than the technical aspect.
So was I thinking of the OP: spaced pro, committing moves, out of sight of the belayer. I'm anything but elitist: my choices at VD would be something like The Arete on Continuation Wall, or the upper slab on Wrinkle.
+1 for Chicken Run, brilliant route and very committing into the corner, once there your on your own. It would be interesting to hear if anyone else has done it or knows of anyone having done it.
Come to think of it, there are surely some contenders in the low grades..maybe on Scafell? Both Main & Manx Walls are good fits, whilst the traverse on Haste Not in Langdale has seen some competent heads dissolve!
Up a bit and I must confess to finding Dovedale Groove intimidating and lonely (I'd had a bit of a disagreement with my partner on the other end....)
Agreed, and the Knights Move itself is very over rated. Loads of holds and plenty of cracks for gear.
On the other hand the crux crack on Bowfell Buttress is a lot more serious, but hardly lonely as you are right above a wide ledge close to your second.
The bold step right on Pitch 1 of Ochre Slab, Bosigran is character building as is the bold step left then across the face to Teufal's Crack on Munich Climb - that is a lonely lead.
Indeed, I know quite a few folk leading VS that were psyched by the long bold bit on Munich that is supposedly a path.
Agreed; you just make one or two moves away from your belayer and you suddenly feel very alone
whilst the traverse on Haste Not in Langdale has seen some competent heads dissolve!
Yet it's also one of the most exhilarating pitches grade for grade in the Lakes - or Britain for that matter - IMHO.
Re Haste Not
Yes agree, a peach of a route, full of contrasts and certainly surprises. Best done with mist swirling up the Ghyll!
It was my first VS lead many years ago and it scared the sh*t out of me! Been back to do it again since and it didn't seem to be so bad second time round. It's VS in my (old) guidebook, but I'm told that its since been upgraded, and the sombre warning "there have been too many fatalities on this route" has been removed from the text. There was nothing liking setting the scene for a good psyche up in those days!!
Not hard to arrange that, in my experience of climbing in the Lakes, anyway.
I found an excellent hidden runner so it felt ok to me!
Similar memories for me too circa 1977
We'll have to form a club. 4 members so far.
Count me in to the Cordelia faction. Steep, insecure and very remote feeling, with a very unconvincing belay on the first stance. For me, Journey to Ixtlan at Carn Gowla is the distant runner-up.
And another for Cordelia. I think we invented some variation on P2 which looked to be better protected (but harder) but looking again at the guidebook I realise that I just can't remember...
Another vote for Prep Tales too...(the whole route is pretty out there). And also while we're in Pembroke, Sealhunt
Wow all credit to you for doing the route, respect! Did you think it was actually a good route? I note its not in your favourite climbs! Any recommendations for similar, unpopular routes, particularly on Cloggy?
Thanks for the suggestions and the stories, drizzle on the top pitch of The Skull! I'll make a ticklist of the routes.
Another vote for that pitch on Shibboleth, lonely and absorbing from memory...
Voyage of the Beagle on the Dubh Loch is pretty lonely, out of sight of anybody on the crux linking the first two pitches, and then the phenomenal slab and stepping round the arete on the 'voyage' pitch with just space everywhere.
Apophis on Lochnagar was lonely too. Stood on the rest before the big runout to the crux, with 10m of runout already completed and nothing but the wind for company!
>Another vote for Prep Tales too...(the whole route is pretty out there).
I don't know about that. Pretty in there, I'd have said. It's hard to think of a less out there route, really.
Sealhunt's lonely in the sense that you can't see your second, but fairly friendly otherwise, I'd have thought - gear, rests, etc.
The big pitch on Il Duche at Tintagel..
For me it has to be red, yellow, pink and green ... on the Rainbow slab in on the Llanberis slate. Or maybe California arete.
I would love to climb that route, but given the scrittle and damp that one is likely to encounter, plus stories like yours of the unsatisfactory gear, it's one I doubt I'll be doing onsight if at all. If I knew it was clean and dry and chalked I'd be keener, but I can't see that happening often.
California Arete is a good call.
I done this last year not really thinking about what it would entail. I have to say, I thought it was a really amazing pitch. As I'm fairly short I had to literally let go and slide down the coffin groove. Very fun and interesting.
I did Sealhunt on a long trip climbing lots of harder routes in Pembroke and I thought it was a stunning route and tremendously enjoyable. I think though, if I'd done it at the top of my grade it could have had a really lonely feel. I think the gear was good but maybe spaced(?), and the situation, suspended over the sea is really special. The best E1 in Pembroke I think (although that's a tough call with Strait Gate).
You'll piss up it. Everyone knows that N.W. Highlands E4 is really only E2. Warm up with Road To Nowhere and Strangeways at Reiff and then nip up there feeling confident in the afternoon ;-)
Given your wild inconsistencies on what you think constitutes an E3, I think I'll take your advice about bold E4s with a pinch of salt (however it was intended!).
> Given your wild inconsistencies on what you think constitutes an E3, I think I'll take your advice about bold E4s with a pinch of salt (however it was intended!).
Just trying to sandbag you with a few solid E4's given that you seem to have gone round the N.W cherry picking the soft touches :-)
Actually, I don't think Expecting to Fly is all that bold; it is just a really big pitch requiring an extensive rack of cams - I bottled the last precarious move onto the slab when all I had left to put in was a very undercammed gold camalot. Bailing and retrieving ther gear was "fun". Great climb and quite a hard E4 though.
Especially done solo
Agony on castle rock e15a felt a bit scary, top pitch even more so, facing 150 ft ? Ground-fall, but it's probably fallen down by now!
Not sure I'd describe it as 'lonely' but it is certainly out there, and yes, one of the very best VS pitches anywhere. I guess sliding down that coffin slab must be pretty thought provoking for the short.
Well yes, obviously! Still feels pretty lonely though, especially on the first pitch.
Philistine on High Crag is another route that springs to mind...
I remember Mousetraps 2nd pitch being a lonely lead, it's E2 5a and a slab (so not too hard) and after what felt like an age (probably 5m) i saw some pegs and thought - finally something to clip - only to find they'd rusted through ! so kept going till i found a decent nut, then again ran it out to the belay.
Remember belaying Gregoritis on 2nd pitch of Troach on Cloggy and watching him do the lonely lead, then i did pitch 3 (about HVS 5a) and that being a lonely run-out along the traverse till the arete !
Also, if you are a VS leader the 2nd pitch of Overhanging Bastion on Castle rock of Triermain is a lonely lead. Although it's probably not going to exist much longer !
Remember doing this as the 'warm-up' in 1974. My mate led the first pitch and found little pro. I led the top pitch and found nothing. In the end, it seemed simpler to solo (as it were) to the top.
Suitably 'warmed up', we proceeded to compound our errors. But that's another story!
For what it may be worth....
first main pitch of Astral Stroll...drop down the groove and a traverse...very lonely, no pegs just rattley nuts...and a noisy sea
Crinoid, at Telegraph Hole, when I realised the pegs weren't there beyond the overlap..
I reckon Cairngorm granite is where its at for lonely leads. Run of the Arrow must be up there with the loneliest - but likewise haven't done it (...yet). Voyage of the Beagle another. Cupid's Bow another - I was way past the crux but I was gubbed and it just kept on demanding hardish moves with the gear not immediately proximate and my belayer miles away, out of sight.
In the same area, Curving Arete can feel a bit 'out there' - especially in a typical Cloggy mist! It's not that hard, but you certainly notice the lack of gear on the main pitch, and your second may as well be down the pub if things go pear shaped...lol
The angels eye at Wintours Leap. 2nd pitch, you leave a nice comfy cave and that is the last you see your second until they're nearly at your belay. Gear a bit spaced, a couple of in situ pegs that don't look like they would hold a fall, a wandering route that never seems to quite fit the descriptions being shouted up and sandwiched between an e2 and an e4. In the full summer sun trapped on a shimmering wall of rock it felt very lonely but enjoyable at the same time in some weird masochistic way.
One of my better climbing experiences.
Without re-reading this excellent thread - has anyone mentioned any of the Blackchurch stuff?
Antichrist felt a bit edgy at times, and the Verger (especially the top pitch) is very 'out there' for the grade.
Philistine - the best pitch I ever lead in the lakes, but the section above the roof to the slot seemed a lot bolder than E1 to me.
Fantastic crag, fantastic rock, fantastic position.
Aardvark on Pavey Ark?
Plenty of gear on Curving Arete - I got plenty of sling runners (using cord rather than tape) on it, especially around the crux.
Aardvark, hmm, there's a big break halfway up the arete to gather yourself. It's good but not exactly lonely.
There's a theme running through a lot of the candidates mentioned so far - aretes or ribs. Maybe it's the extra degrees of exposure afforded by such features.
Apparently not, if you go the wrong side of the arÍte - as Crusher found out.
Well out of my league, but The Bells The Bells seemed pretty lonely in the Onsight film.
Your a better man than me, or are you talking about 'psychological' gear :-)
The Cad gets a bit serious in it's top half, and some of the gear in the bottom half feels a bit fragile too, but The Bells looks a real potential trouser filler.
I didn't find the top pitch particularly lonely - I remember laughing to myself every time what I thought might be a runner wasn't. My second, who hadn't much liked OB, never climbed with me again!
Another lonely lead on Cloggy is The Shadow, or at least it was back in the early 70's (and no doubt when it was first done in the early 60's)
Is that lonely? I'd have said your second was quite well placed to shout abuse at you if progress wasn't quick enough. Mine certainly took the opportunity.
Surely this is the nub of this whole thread? What A might consider a well protected, friendly path on their ascent, B may have had a totally different experience. Il Duce has been quoted as a good example of a lonely route. Virtually everyone I know, including myself, who has climbed it would agree, with the obvious exception of jcm. The same is true of many of the routes at places like Blackchurch, Exmansworthy or Carn Gowla. Loneliness is a state of mind.
Anyway here's a few personal examples from a long and often inglorious climbing career.
Limpet Slab, Halldrine: my first lead, aged 7. Stopped halfway up, no runners of course, and looked down at my grandfather, the waves licking his feet. Definitely a lonely feeling!
Devil's Slide: an early (3rd/4th?) ascent in the 60s. No runners again, damp lichen, skiddy klets, same second, same feeling.
Right Angle FA: Felt very alone leaving the stance on the last pitch. Second, a non-swimming, sandstone-loving Londoner, not happy and extreme(!) climbing to come or so I thought.
America via the original sea level entry. For me a top 10 lonely lead.
Terminal Trajectory, Wharton Main: death on a stick - we die alone!
Andromeda Strain FA: seconded this, but with no-one else around, a crap belay and Pat 80ft above with a solitary rattling wire suggesting I watch the rope, very lonely.
Any of the routes in Deep Zawn on Lundy, when you and your partner are the only climbers on the island.
> Right Angle FA: Felt very alone leaving the stance on the last pitch. Second, a non-swimming, sandstone-loving Londoner, not happy and extreme(!) climbing to come or so I thought.
One of my most memorable routes,that. I was on second and had only been climbing a few months. I was BRICKING IT on the traverse and downclimb at the beginning. I found the final pitch - climbing out into the sunshine as I went - to be bliss.
Iain, on Right Angle I always wondered why you did the downclimb bit? When I did it I just went straight across, it seemed right and at the right grade, I have never understood the dowmclimb. Other than to put the sh*t up your second I suppose.
Perhaps I donít really understand the quality people are getting at with Ďlonelyí. To me it canít really be lonely if your second is in a position to deliver a stream of encouragement and/or abuse. Il Duce obviously feels like a big undertaking, but to me it feels like an undertaking which the team is involved in together.
To feel really alone, in my experience, itís best to be the second. Your leaderís at the top of the crag safe and well, and youíre still embattled. At least when youíre leading you feel your second has something invested in your success, whereas when heís at the top of a sea-cliff he can just tie you off and walk away if he wants.
My personal highlight in this area was Warlord at Swanage one February. The sun had just gone down, it had started to drizzle slightly, and my leader had ineptly arranged for both ropes to get stuck about 50 feet up the pitch, with the result that I stood to fall halfway down the crag if I should fail to negotiate the thing, which leans both outwards and sideways. I didnít have any prussiks or headtorch, obviously. The only relieving feature was that there was a good deal of gear to clip into and rest on, as otherwise the situation might have become rather fraught.
Can't answer that one really Al. I think I was keen to climb the corner from sea level. I do know that John Gerber, my second, was distinctly unimpressed. I also remember wanting to go back for a crack at the line of Behemoth, but John demanded a return to the delights of Bosigran. I notice that in subsequent guides the traverse is considered inferior to the original line.
I've always felt that once I start moving away from my second, I'm on my own, despite instructions, abuse or encouragement. This is particularly so on the big sea cliffs where the noise of wind and wave often drowns out any communication. But as you say lonely is a very subjective adjective. For me it's when the Tom Courtenay syndrome enters my thoughts. 60s film buffs or fans of Alan Sillitoe will get the connection!
Silly ArÍte. You don't know.
Well if you're in the area have a look at this little baby
A completely isolated route which takes a stunning undercut arete above storm washed boulders. I will confess to top rope inspection before the FA but still, definitely the most unforgettable lead I've ever done.
Worth all three stars, but has anyone ever repeated it?
when you have 'the voices' in your head why would you ever be lonely......
I am with your second!
It was a good route but with a rather "unused" feel. At the time I was keen to try something not well known and it fitted the bill perfectly. The position of the crux is amazing: on an arete above the big bulge above Woubits. The second is tucked out of sight under the bulge which adds to the loneliness. The description quoted earlier implies easy climbing for the grade. It didn't feel so to me. OK to near the arete but last moves L and up to a big foothold/ramp were harder and felt irreversible so the trap was sprung. The next moves up the arete were much harder and the best sequence was not obvious. I was very worried about the gear until I eventually found the hidden placement that got me out of jail. I was lucky to have something that (just) fitted.
Some might have been along comedy lines but I was pretty happy with what I got. I thought about E2 5b, easier than something like Troach, certainly not as hard or serious as The Boldest.
My guess is no.
I think I got about 4 half decent bits of gear, but agree there's not much above 5b - though I think it probably warrants E3. I agree The Boldest is much harder and sustained, but ironically it didn't feel as serious as Curving Arete, although that could be due to it being a rare bright sunny day when I did The Boldest, as opposed to a typical overcast and misty day on Curving Arete.
I think the weather plays a big part as to how hard and serious routes feel on Cloggy.
>...I think the weather plays a big part as to how hard and serious routes feel on Cloggy.
Too right. On misty days, 100 feet up on Cloggy in the fog on vertical and damp rock with an eerie silence all around, it's been a real gripper for me. I think it was the silence that really got me [and wondering if my second was awake].
Burning Giraffe, Wintours Leap.
On the second traversing pitch you immediatly step out of sight of your belayer and out onto the front of the GO Wall (very much a no-go area for a wiener like me).
You shuffle along an overhung, undercut six inch wide ledge on your knees, or sometimes one bum cheek, round blind corner after blind corner. At one point a seagull turned and looked at me, then jumped off into space soaring out over the treetops; very disconcerting.
There is nothing underneath, just the odd Pat Littlejohn E4 swerving up from some bottomless groove that you have to hand traverse across, all alone, more than a rope length above the ground.
After 120 feet the rope drag is so heavy that your harness is on sideways. I was very glad to reach the bottomless bat cave on Kangaroo Wall, but even more glad when some company arrived; my old man seconded the whole thing for his 50 th birthday.
Not quite a ground fall if my mate Richie's experience is anything to go buy. He fell from high on the top pitch and stripped all his gear. He then disappered into the trees where he snapped clean through a branch that was at least 3" thick before coming to rest on a ledge about 8' above the ground.
We watched his fall in horror and expected the worst. Amazingly he got away with a fractured femur and crushed pelvis. Lucky, lucky, lucky.
Never felt inclined to do the route myself after that.
Main pitch of Steep Ghyll(lakes) in winter,climbed in the early 70`s. Little protection above the chimney-Friends would have been useful but were not readily available in the UK then!
My vote is for Tumbleweed Connection on Goat Crags. A couple of years ago now, it was late in the season and there wasn't any chalk on the route, which made it hard work. The route starts with a traverse left, around an arete, to a hanging face, exposed and out of sight of the belayer. I spotted a peg high up but took about an hour to weave up the wall to get there. Then comes the delicate crux traverse but I'd had enough by then, and tentatively lowered off, hoping the peg held as the tension on the ropes flicked out the crucial gear they zig-zagged through. Though this may have helped as I only had just enough rope to reach the ground!
My mate finished the pitch off but we abbed off the tree belay (not recommended) as we were running out of time.
Can't wait for it all again on Bitter Oasis!
Il Duce certainly can be a lonely second. My inglorious attempt at leading the crux ended in failure but a team behind us headed by the ever enthusiastic and optimistic Nick Hancock invited us to follow them. In hindsight the chances of all of us topping out in daylight on a short winter day were unlikely at best. These chances evaporated when we found the big groove pitch to be wet and requiring a little aid. I seconded Nick on this pitch and then raced up the final pitch in the very last of the daylight. I went back to the car for head torches which had to be lowered to Nick one pitch below and Glynn and Graham two pitches down. The last of them emerged 3 hours after dark and I think would agree it was a rather lonely experience.
Great memories of a week on Lundy with USMC many year ago, soloing Satan's Slip still brings a smile to my face.
Top pitch of the Moon. I felt stranded. The gear wasn't good enough to lower off from so I had to gingerly gibber my way further and further up the pitch. I particularly remember an undercut that I rested on for over an hour. God how I loved that life saving undercut! The relief when I clipped an ancient rusty peg was palpable.
> We watched his fall in horror and expected the worst. Amazingly he got away with a fractured femur and crushed pelvis. Lucky, lucky, lucky.
I have never felt worried about ground fall , 150ft up on an e1. Presumably graded assuming the trees will hold you. Very lonely and well named. Glad your mate survived.
Another sneaky one sorry ladies is Eve on shepherds in borrowdale, the scittering little slab keeps killing people at an innocuous 'mild vs'
Another vote for Central Buttress on Scafell. Although I've done supposedly neckier leads at much higher grades on grit, it felt like another World on that slab. All I got in was an inverted zero, absolutely no idea what a fall from there would have meant.
I did Agony back in 1998, and I thought there was one good runner in the top pitch - a Rock 4 if I recall (how's that for trainspotterish memory after 15 years!) in a crack above the grass ledge - I extended it with a long sling to make sure it stayed in when I went left round the corner onto the overhanging wall, hoping to find more gear and being severely disappointed. However, the newest guide (which has pushed it up to E2 5a by the way - it was HVS when I first tried it in '88!) says the top pitch has no protection - I wonder if your mate's fall shattered the placement?
In the context of this thread, it certainly ticks all the boldness boxes, but in some ways it's not that "lonely" as it's on a popular near-roadside crag and crosses (three times) an easier route. Great route, but having done it once I don't need to do it again!
Just thought of one which ticks most of your boxes, with the addition of insanity :-)
Old Man of Storr on Skye.
Via the Whillan's route - Crap loose rotten rock, crap (make the virtually non existent) gear, hard (make that desperate) climbing. The only role your second plays (more or less out of sight once you're above 30') is to reassure you that the whole thing isn't going to suddenly fall over :-)
After about 90' I couldn't handle the worry anymore, and bailed off a nest of about 5 very dodgy nuts. After a very slow careful ab (a definite 10 on the sphincter scale) I got to within about 2 feet from the bottom, when they all ripped. As I fell back onto my arse, I got a perfect view of the rope and all the gear hurtling from above towards me!!!
Apart from a fairly big cut and bruise on my cheek courtesy of a Rock 5 on wire, I was fine - but if that had happened a couple of minutes earlier!!!!!!
HVS in '74 and no guidebook indication of seriousness, as I recall. Back then, the lack of pro seemed amusing at best, mildly irritating at worst. 40 years on though, from what's been said here, I don't think I'll be going back - or, if I do, I won't bother with a rope.
Yikes, that was close! I take it all back - Agony seems positively safe now.
It might be a subtle distinction but I think there is a difference between a lonely lead and barely disguised suicide, great story but I definitely won't be trying that one!
If I'd have known, I wouldn't have gone near it, but I was informed by a 'friend' that it was HVS and not as bad as it looked!!!
I got my own back on him a couple of months later - but that's a different story :-)
Brilliant. Contender for the best abseiling story ever. They don't usually have happy endings!
a biased answer as i did the f.a,also brilliant climbing that only last week had a second ascent from gus
night prowler at hen cloud,its 6a/6b moves a good 10 meters above the gear.would be a near ground fall from the highest part of the crag
Robert Brown, High Tor. I found this very memorable!
Fun on a freezing day when you can't feel your fingers.
>The last of them emerged 3 hours after dark and I think would agree it was a rather lonely experience.
The Ogmore guide records that a climber I don't otherwise know (I think the name was Charlie Heard, though I donít have the book with me) was benighted halfway across the roof of Davey Jonesí Locker and had to wait for the dawn to be hauled out. Now that really must have been a lonely experience.
On that subject, Tony Wilmott's "rescue" prussik from the depths of Baggy Hole (Long Rock) after his failed attempt at aiding what became known as The Final Lunacy leaving Mike (Percy) Spring trapped in the depths of the cave must have been fairly exciting.
Years later whilst exploring A Buttress at Gowla, we abseiled down the line of what was to become an Edwards route Euthanasia to the wave-swept platform at the base. Then the rain came in so we decided to jumar out. I went first, and all went smoothly until I reached a point, hanging in space just below the roof that is a feature of the route, and noticed that the rope was cut through the sheath and most of the core. I shouted down to Paul that we had a slight problem. His response whilst rapidly moving away from the landing zone was "what do you mean we?" As luck would have it, I had a single MOAC on my harness which after a few attempts I managed to throw into a crack in the groove above the roof.
Without breathing and without any further disturbance of the rope I transferred to the MOAC. Somehow it held and tying off the frayed section proceeded without further traumas to the top. Not strictly a lead I suppose but definitely lonely!
Charlie Heard - first ascensionist of Deep Throat on Triple Overhang Buttress, died in the Himalayas.
You obviously didn't read the Triple Overhang Buttress section of the guidebook very closely - didn't you do Pigs on the Wing in 4 pitches?
Agree wholeheartedly with The Fang suggestions. While the climbing is steady, it felt very lonely up there on the second pitch when that was towards the top of my grade.
Another good low grade suggestion is The Edge at Loudoun Hill, which must be about as 'out there' as you get for VS:
Odd, I'm sure I remember putting in plenty of small nuts in cracks that go 90 degrees across the strata of the wrinkles. Don't remember it being scary.
I've lead Creagh Du Wall on Tremadog (VS 4b) about 5 or 6 times and the route really is a pleasure.
I think the best pitch is the hand traverse that goes out around the corner and you pull up on good moves.
A late entry to this thread, but how about Diagonal on Dinas Mot. My memory might be playing tricks but I seem to remember the crux mantleshelf feeling very exposed, run out and out of sight of the belay.
At least on Satan's slip you can see your second all the way - you can also see how little gear you've put in !
I remember it being reasonably protected, not a mantelshelf at all, and about ten feet off the belay. I was very disappointed compared to the HR write-up.
No doubt the truth is somewhere in between.
That one did cross my mind (etched fairly deeply actually) but I'm not sure it counts. In principle, you could be rescued fairly easily if you were organised with a support team and shouted for a rope (not that anyone else arrived until after I'd finished when I did it). I do remember halfway up pausing to brush away the shale so I could rest my forehead on the slab, close my eyes and wish it would all go away. Then it occurred to me that actually this was quite likely if I didn't do something sensible fairly quickly.
However, this was my fault for underestimating it. In priciple, I could have had someone sat at the top with a rope ready.
Lonely, to me implies irreversible commitment; the realisation that you don't have any option but to see it through. You know how it goes. You press on steadily, thinking that a runner would be nice at some point but reasonably happy. You finally come across a potential placement and then spend half an hour of gradually escalating anxiety trying to force some flared crack or shallow pocket to accept an assortment of increasingly improbable gear. When it becomes clear that nothing that will take body weight will stick, you then give up, rerack the random assortment of useless and now surprisingly heavy gear, significantly more tired and frightened than before. You make a couple more moves and then find a blank section guarding what looks like a good rest. You take anything from 5 seconds to thirty minute to man up and go for it, thoroughly frightening yourself nearly overbalancing getting onto quite nice little ledge. It's not bad, but the break at the back you were hoping for is blind and still no gear will go in. Since what lies above looks at least as hard as what you've done, you start to seriously wonder that the hell you are playing at.
If at this point you conclude that because the top is still several pitches away and/or there's an large overhang obscuring it and/or there's no-one else within miles and not even any way your second can abandon any pretence at belaying and jumar out of the zawn... that's when you feel lonely. If rescue is possible but unlikely to be available in time, that's just feeling scared!
26 years ago so my memory could well be faulty, but it was a big lead for me at the time. Very few pics on UKC, but heres one
If the crux is where I think it is then yes it's not as far, nor as much "round the corner" as I remember, although the pic might be fore-shortened. I'm sure the only gear I had was a poor wire by my feet (it might have improved) and the crux was not really a mantle but I'm sure pushing down was involved !
I remember the crux as being to the right of the climber in the pale looking scoop and gear not good (25 yrs ago mind). I think it's one of those moves that if you are going well it goes well if not it all feels very exposed and your belayer a long way away.
Arch Deacon, Mingulay - roaring sea 70m below your feet and undercut, overhangs above you and your second oblivious to your position. Easy climbing, but you definitely do not want to come off. A resident fulmar that did not want to move added to the situation.
The traverse pitch (6?), Fionn Buttress, Carnmore - insane exposure on easy ground, but 'no fall' territory. As with the Arch Deacon your second just sees you heading off and diappearing round the corner into bonkers exposed terrain
Kipling Groove, Gimmer - the crux of the second pitch when you step out of the deep groove, round onto the exposed wall, felt 'out there', and the belayer is oblivious to your situation.
Fine thread - brings back lots of memories
Would agree with the Fang and also Extraction to some extent (though I think I had some RPs for Extraction)
Here's a photo for Diagonal
seem to remember having to concentrate at that point
and great to read about the Old Man of Storr - it's the only rock I've climbed on that you can actually crush in your hand
Very glad I seconded that one
1st belay was a tottering thread that disintegrated when I undid it
I did Diagonal for the 1st time only a few years back so it is still fairly fresh in my mind. At my best, sadly, HVS has never been "easy" but I have to agree with JCM that, having read so much about it, I found the supposed crux sequence rather un-worrying. I suppose if I have been good at any style of trad, it has been bold'ish slabs but I hardly noticed the supposed crux on Diagonal (which I agree is a little to the right of the climber and the pale groove in that photo). Other parts of the route seemed harder and I would still count it as a lonely lead because so much of the climbing on the Mot is about confidence and questing onwards and upwards regardless.
The big pitch on Lorraine Variation, for example, was a lot harder, imho, both technically and in terms of holding it together as the wall steepens and route finding becomes an issue about 30m out from the belay ... "Do I go straight up/right into what seems to be increasingly technical/blank ground, or work my way leftwards towards the obvious crack and hope everthing sorts itself out" (which it does).
All superb routes, including West Rib/The Chain, Western Slab, the Direct etc. The description of the "main" slab pitch on the Direct in Steve Ashton's little blue book struck fear into my heart (to be fair, the majority of his wonderful route descriptions did) but I remember being bemused by the amount of gear I unloaded into that pitch and how easily it went. Nice to get a pleasant surprise once in a while mind.
Funnily enough I think we had more gear on the Fang than Extraction - felt like the only reasonable placemnt on the Fang, I bypassed on Extraction just before the two join. However, the ground up thee is too easy (4b/c) too feel really out there and lonely as an E2 leader. It wasnt a particularly big experience for me - but I could see if someone was leading at their limit on The Fang it could be pretty memorable!
Would also agree that P3 of Diagonal (with the mantel-y 'crux' was much easier than anticipated. P1 in contrast I found really quite scary. (HVS/E1 was at my limit back then and it was pretty run-out and tenuous feeling. Bizarrely it took a significantly harder line on that first pitch than Superdirect, which follows the VS for P1 I think?)
I seem to remember that there has been rockfall in the area of the first fitch a couple of years back so things might be a tad harder. What I personally love about the climbing on the Nose is that it is not obvious where the routes go exactly eg. on Cenotaph there is no doubt which way to go. Its like a game of chess.
Oh yes I had forgotten that one. And while we are on slabs how about long reach on etive.
Definitely the fang...
Probably not heart of darkness as you're not that far from your belayer despite them being out of sight and its not serious..
How about pinnacle ridge on sgurr nan gillean on Skye? I felt pretty lonely on my own in a blizzard when contemplating the 'diff' down climb at the abseil point not that far off the top...
I'll second that, really enjoyable too. And thanks for the nice photo of Diagonal.
Thanks for the photo, I always think threads are enhanced by a few photographs of what people are talking about.
Same thanks to you Chris.
Didn't know there had been a rockfall, but its 7.5 years since I did it now so was probably before.
The Diff downclimb on the 3rd pinnacle looks extremely lonely, even on a nice day. I went round!
Top pitch of Windy Corner, Lulworth Ė miles of steep earth, with your second perched on a foothold on the lip of a roof, lashed to two sea-cliff pegs.
> After about 90' I couldn't handle the worry anymore, and bailed off a nest of about 5 very dodgy nuts. After a very slow careful ab (a definite 10 on the sphincter scale) I got to within about 2 feet from the bottom, when they all ripped. As I fell back onto my arse, I got a perfect view of the rope and all the gear hurtling from above towards me!!!
You got your gear back - what are you complaining about?
A few at Gogarth fit the bill:
Red Wall is a sort of lonely experience for both in the party!
Also some of the routes on Yellow Wall take you out of view of the second and feel out there.
Kalahari at Castell Helen takes the leader up and off across a traverse and then round into a pretty blank looking groove on the edge of all things.
In the Peak:
Setting off across P1 of Alcasan feels sporting
Super indirect on Plum Buttress is super
Last couple of moves onto stance at end of P1 of Delicatessen feel exciting
Elsewhere on the site
In tonight's Friday Night Video, we see Alex Honnold soloing Heaven 5.12d in Yosemite Valley. The route starts 3000ft above the... Read more
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