/ Scariest route at each grade
What is the collywobbliest route at each grade?
Probably Exposure Explosion at HVS
The only VS that has really made my stomach churn just looking at it would be Dream of White Horses (which might be HVS now). Although it turns out the climbing is not hard for VS.
I got collywobbles on Terrier's Tooth, which we believed was going to be VDiff, but turned out was more like unprotected 4b/4c moves way above a nasty boulder field/the sea (and now I gather is harder still?).
Perhaps for Diff, that revolting Queen Mary something-or-other at Cligga Head? Or the wonderful Douglas boulder, which was easy but completely unprotected climbing?
VD - Arrow Route
I've never been so creeped out on a route as committing to the pillar on Spantastic. Fairly irrational and I'm sure most people just get on with it, but I couldn't shake off vivid imaginings of a total collapse scenario.
3 Pebble slab is well scary at VS
It's a very personal thing, of course, but at E5 I'd suggest The Andromeda Strain. Something to do with the name, I think, as well as the situation, the appalling look of the thing and the (apparently; I've not been near it) very serious climbing.
The Green Slab, Gogarth at HVS
Scariest route I ever did was scoop connection at Lawrencefield. I'd already done Billy Whiz and Suspense so thought I'd be OK on it ... which I was ... eventually.
What grade is California Arete? It's a hard man who doesn't find that at least a little thought-provoking.
I thought Green Slab was a fairly ordinary sea-cliff outing which would be regarded as one of the solider classics at Carn Gowla, but it does seem to alarm some people.
On that last theme, I've heard The Tomb is promising in this area, especially if it's still E2, and for HVS the traditional suggestion of The Almighty takes a bit of beating.
Anything in Boulder Ruckle...
I don't know what people find scary about this route. It's ace. Unless you didn't read the bit in the guide about the good hexes to belay off at the end of the 2nd pitch are were just using the tiny threads?
I'll agree with the Douglas Boulder Direct Start to Tower Ridge at VDiff. We had to start simul-climbing with 60m of rope out and the only runner was at 10m!
Whaup Edge at Eastby is a bit of a frightener at VS.
I'd second Arrow Route. Scared the beejesus out of me when I was starting out.
Anything on GO wall at the Heap :O
Did Scoop Connection a couple of weeks ago. A very thrilling experience! I got my smallest cam in a peg scar, half hanging out, to protect the traverse. Better gear below that but all adds into the head game needed to shuffle across that ledge, further and further from the gear...
Done Suspense, but yet to do Billy Whizz.
East ridge of the In Pin at mod - I remember soloing it as a 16 yr old and getting such a confusing mix of messages from my brain - both 'this is amazing!' and 'oh god have you seen down there?!'
For me it wasn't so much the leading - you're absorbed in what you need to do and just get on with it. It's when you realise that there's a complete joke of a belay (multipitch winter route) and after 15 min of futile scratching around and swearing you just have to sit there, letting your imagination run riot, hoping your second really, really doesn't make a mistake.
I can't remember the name of the route and the grade was frankly irrelevant.
Agree with that. Top 2 pitches thought that if the leader fell at any point the three of us would be goners. Needs a health warning in the grade E1 4b seems appropriate.
Ha ha! The ab in is scary enough, never mind the climbing!
But seriously Bottomless Buttress (Hard Severe) gets scary quite quickly particularly when you've been away from the scene, are shaking and can't get any gear in (you can really if you calm down a bit!) because the exposure is there and the boulder landing is far from looking inviting.
> Probably Exposure Explosion at HVS
...then go for the repeat!!!
Yeah, got that feeling whilst I was soloing it during the Ridge traverse.
When the CC were intending to do a guide and I was briefly the editor, I intended to use the FA's quote about Green Slab - "we thought it was a poxy route, and quite dangerous.", while retaining its three-star status. That would have given a good picture.
I don't remember feeling either the belays or gear were particularly bad, and nor did my partner (a first date too, IIRC).
It's equally scary at E1
Green Cormorant Face - v committing to get to and bold on P1. Thankfully not too hard.
War of the Worlds, VS at Shorn Cliff, got really spooked on this as a warm up. Cruised E1s and E2s after.
Top half of Pull my Daisy?
No one said Archangel yet? I get scared looking at it.
Not Scary at all at a genuine HS
The name came to us both simultaneously! I have seldom felt as apprehensive seconding a route, especially as my belay consisted of two rattling opposed wires. 70ft out Pat shouted down to watch him!
Breakaway Henna has to be a candidate at XS.
Dreadlock Holiday Compass Point at E4.
Terminal Trajectory Warton Main Quarry at E3.
Death Rattle Gulch Land's End at E2.
Swastika Etive (crux pitch in the wet!) at E1.
Plastic Iceberg Warton Main at HVS (nothing holding up the top roofs).
Yeh, I can agree with The Green Slab at VS/HVS.
I do wish that you hadn't said that
>(nothing holding up the top roofs).
On that last theme, Rattler at Swanage would be distressing if one were in an over-imaginative mood.
Countdown to disaster for E8
For VS I nominate Vicissitude in the Boulder Ruckle. Loose and runout climbing followed by off vertical soil and a pretty poor belay stake (at least it was when I did it). Possibly the most scared I've ever been climbing!
For VS i nominate the Russian at the yat.
For HVS I nominate the bold step left round the corner onto the traverse pitch of Munich Climb with the sombre warning from the (old) guide book "there have been too many fatalities on this climb" ringing in your ears.....
Except for all of the gear, of which there is plenty. Even the crux at the start of the 3rd pitch has a decent (albeit low) runner to stop you factor 2-ing the (good) belay.
I'd be happy with it at VS with a suitable warning about those who have only ever climbed at Stanage might want to stay away. Although what that sort of person thinks they might find in Mousetrap Zawn other than a world of terror, I don't know...
It was VS in that guide!
Oh, actually, that reminds me of some HVS in the Ruckle, possibly called Viper? I suspect thought these experiences could be multiplied in some of the more off-piste areas of the Ruckle.
But for really scarey, climb at Cilan, I've posted this before, but it remains my most scarey route ever.
Al Evans recalls a new route ...
"My scariest ever climbing moments were on a route called Pathos on Cilan Head. Myself and Rod Haslam had spotted a parallel line running above Jack Streets route Lime Street and decided to give it a go. Now, Lime Street follows a big horizontal line about 15ft above a huge roof which is itself about 40ft above the sea. Our line was about 15ft above that. I started off up what looked like a fairly solid corner and indeed turned to be ok, but no runners. After about 40ft I placed an 'ok' peg and set off to traverse the break. The further I went the worse the rock got. No real handholds and eventually I was just kicking footholds in this strange rock like badly stuck together pineapple chunks. Finally I got to the ledge we had been aiming for completely gripped and emotionally drained. Now things started to turn serious. No belay. Well I got 2 knife blades about three quarters of an inch upwards into a thin crack in the roof above the ledge. Well there was no way I was going back along that traverse so I shouted to Rod that I would just jump off into the sea. You can tell how gripped I was.
Rod would have none of it and insisted he would come up and join me. He got to the peg unclipped it and we now had 40ft of rope out with no runners between us, an imaginary belay, and Rod about to climb the loosest traverse I'd ever done to join me. As he climbed towards me I watched in horror as the rock showered down from under his feet. Rod just coolly complained about the state of the gardening I'd done. When he saw the belay I could tell from his face that until then he hadnt believed how bad it was.I was totally gripped. We were in the middle of this huge unclimbed face about 70ft above the sea, no real belay, no way were either of us going back along the traverse and not knowing if we could climb out of the thing. Plus side was the rock had got better!
I hatched a plan, "Rod, this is what we do, I'll lower you down to Lime Street where we know there are good pegs. You belay and take in the rope, brace yourself and I'll jump off, then prussik up to you and we'll escape up Lime Street."
"Al, you've gone mad."
So plan B, Rod continues along the traverse for about 15ft. Whoops of joy as he finds a crack that takes a Leeper up to the hilt. Above is a long corner leading to a tree. Rod sets of up this, complaining about the lack of pro, so he is slow and careful. I see him finally arrive at the tree and put a sling round it, I'm happy now but Rod is still strangely quiet. He traverses about 15 ft left and finds a good crack in a corner which takes a big Hex belay. Fab.
By now its rapidly going dark so throwing caution to the wind with the big tree runner directly above me I blast up the crack. Its about 35 ft and probably only 4c but with no runners and considering the position it was a bloody good lead. Seeing me nearly fall off a couple of times through the carelessness of speed. Rod implores me to be careful. I arrive at the 'tree', its the biggest sea cabbage plant I've ever seen and might have just about held a squirrel monkey!! I traverse across to Rod. I look happily at Rod's stonking belay and we've only got about 25ft of perfect layback crack to the top and safety. For the first time in several hours I begin to see survival as a real option. I set off up the layback crack happily and its only as I get halfway up do I realise that what was a parallel crack when I set off is now distinctly wider towards the top.Just as I'm about to think hand jamming might be a better option Chris Jackson and Jack Street appear at the top of the crag and suss out that flake I'm climbing up is about to head for a dip. They brace themselves and grab hold of the flake holding onto the crag until I make the top. Anyway its a great route, Pathos HVS 4c 200ft, get out there and do it!"
Agreed! I've led it twice in the last 30 years at VS, but am now basking in the upgrade! :)
I haven't actually done it at HVS - I wonder if that will make it harder? :)
Or indeed Cormorant outside the quarry top out - I can't think of any specific routes off hand (selective amnesia) but its the only place I've felt compelled to cut steps in the mud with a nut tool.
Surely anything in Mother Scarys Kitchen.....just abbing in put the willies up me!!!
i hadn't read that , if i had then maybe when i did that route, i would have been more scared of that move than the wobbly block i was belayed from .
its a good move . :)
I can completely agree with anything on Cilan Head Al.
Did Vulture (against my better judgement, and in the recklessness of immortal youth), and never felt safe at any point. One of those routes where getting up/off it in one piece, is not necessarily down to what you do.
Loose, poorly protected, and the gear on the belays was noticeable by how non-existent it was - recall the belay at the end of pitch 2 being a sling round some seagull shit, and sitting on the rope coils.
The relief when we finally reached the top after 5 hours was so great, I gave up climbing for about 6 months afterwards, and very nearly discovered God!!!
Graded classic XS at the time IIRC.
The only other route I would say matches it, was Original Route on The Old Man of Storr on Skye - graded HVS at the time (now E4 6a - and still undergraded at that). A route which is the most appropriate to be renamed 'Deathwish' :-)
Scariest Severe I've done was Stennis Chimney (or could have been Maelstrom chimney, whichever is harder) on Stennis Head at Pembroke, the 20 foot swell and spray hitting us didn't help though.
Soiunds like Rod has a case of not reading the guidebook - Dream has been HVS for as long as I have been aware of it; TT is well known to have a 4b start unless you did the RH start which was V Diff until it fell down a few weeks ago; Queen Jane at Cligga is a brilliant route if you have a dry day and go the right way - better than anything else down there.
Quarter Deck at Higher Sharpnose. Falling on the gearless second pitch would have been death for both of us up to 35m or so the belay was awful. After that it was just me. Found some gear 5m from the top.
Third Time Lucky at Meadfoot Quarry scared me alot too. Terrible gear and hardly any of it.
Matravers 1st pitch was quite concerning
I thought that DOWH when VS when we did it, but I might be wrong. The climbing's VS climbing anyway, even if the route is HVS.
I was expecting TT to be easy (VDiff in classic rock, I think?), so even though I think I knew it was really HS when I set off I was unimpressed to find that in fact it was basically a solo at stiff 4b up to the prominent ledge.
As for Queen Jane, I just remember everything about that crag being loose and rubbish. It might just be Victim of Mathematics' persistent slagging off of the route that has coloured my memory.
The Crescent at Ravenseugh, Severe, bloody terrifying, one slip and you would end up at the bottom of the crack, being fed sandwiches on the end of a long stick for the rest of your life.
A mountaineering route instead, but the ledge shuffle and chimney on the North-East Ridge of Aonach Beag (Diff) were pretty nasty.
Did it after 2 weeks of drought and it was still slimy. Briefly at one point in the chimney I ended up facing outwards with my arms behind me with slipping feet, one of the only times I've felt fairly scared whilst soloing.
Pretty committing out there due to just how remote it is, and if you do it before June you can't see if you have the remains of a cornice to get through until you are very nearly at the top.
I think for the grade of HS Soap Gut (all the way to the top) on the milestone buttress at Ogwen must be one of the scariest climbs if done in a long time.
Definitely HVS in the guide. Definitely VS climbing. Whether that makes it a VS though is a different question.
Nope, it really was that shit:
Walk in across an abandoned industrial estate and a wasteland covered in scallies on trail bikes - check
Enormous rotting zawns full of burnt out cars and dead shopping trollies - check
Rock that you could pull apart with your hands - check
Forgettable climbing - check
Belay at the top on a single stake which was 97% rust - check
It almost made the Devil's Jump look good, although it wasn't particularly scary, just utterly without merit.
Did a series of easy boulder problems at Shipley Glen at the weekend. Most scared I've been on easy bouldering since problems on the Dame Juanne Mauve, mind you some were a little damp.
God, everything there is so terrifyingly high. Did my hardest ever problem there - only got up it because I was too scared to fall off...
Wrinkle, Carreg Wastad at VD (or S depending which guide you read). The top section has some worryingly loose blocks.
Left wall @ E2......... Couldn't resist.
I found the 2nd pitch of Great west road at millstone quite exciting, had to give myself a good talking to before committing to the moves.
At VS I thought Tartra, swanage was just dangerous, though others I know disagree with me.
Theres some stuff at Avon too, 2nd pitch of last slip did me in, and theres that E1 by the ramp - Mikes something or other. Pleased I had a grade in reserve when I did that.
Apart from the shorter ones!
I have however, been very scared several times at the Glen
I was going to nominate some Spanish routes at Riglos, Monserrat or the right side of the Penon but looking at Groucho's, Al Evans' and Iain Peters suggestions, they probably have the extra scare factor.
Check out Wide is love for a 25 meter 6a sport route! Mind blowing.
If over seas sport routes are in then one of the most intimidating routes has to be Fiesta de los biceps at 7a.
Mousetrap, easy for E2 but quite daunting!
People have been worried about those loose blocks for 50 years!
I've done a bit of research. Here are the results of the two fatal accidents which sadly resulted in 3 deaths. No wonder the climb had such an awesome reputation:
"the fatal fall was 17 Sept 1966. The 2007 Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation report said “1966: A report appeared in the Times of a rescue carried out by the Team. The accident happened when four climbers were tackling the Munich climb said to be the most difficult in Snowdonia. “It would appear that Mr Drewe lost his hand hold on the rock face”, said the Coroner. The Ogwen Valley Rescue Team climbed 400 feet up a gulley to reach Mr Drewe and he was lowered on a stretcher. He died from injuries before an ambulance reached the hospital at Bangor 10 miles away."
"There was another fatality on Munich Climb in August 1947, when someone fell off the nose on pitch three and dragged his second off the belay, killing both of them."
In reply to Cheese Monkey:
Try the central climbs at Telegraph Hole next door. Old rotting pegs is virtually all you have. On Flashdance nearly all my gear ie. 9 of 11 runners just fell out. The only decent placements were at the top and bottom, so no use whatsoever. And Blinding Flash is even worse as you are not really sure where you are going. Then there is Nervous Laughter...well named as there is minimal gear and no comforting rusty pegs. But I just love the place. I must have a death wish or something!
Blanco direct vs at dovestones! I laid an egg.
This reminds me of a thread entitled Deep Play, in which the OP invited posters to recall their escapades in that line. About the third poster in recounted an epic he had had while getting stuck six feet up soloing some Diff at Birchens.
My logbook says "Dull, would have been bold without a pink tricam"
So, there you go. A pink tricam turns a memorable route into something dull :-)
At the E5 grade I think Il Duce is quite daunting, particularly if you do it in squally weather... I recall reading about the first ascent when Keith Derbyshire fell off on the fist pitch which caused some belaying problem and Pat Littlejohn to say to Keith, "We're in trouble..." - not words I guess you would want to hear from Pat! Whilst not a religious person I remember I did a bit of praying on that one. But I am sure there are countless scary E5s...
At the VS grade the Direct Finish to The Chasm? obviously more scary with lots of water and a healthy covering of moss in all the runner placements!
Agree with Mousetrap! I remember 10 metre runouts then a cluster of worthless wires, followed by another big runout on loose rock... epically memorable and scary as hell!
Having recently reviewed the Meadfoot routes for a possible guide I think a few do need an upgrade. Third Time Lucky up to E1 5a and I guess Nervous Laughter is also E1 5a for the same reason of awful gear (you'd be hard pressed to find a 5b move on it).
I tend to find the Telegraph Hole (Parson's Hole) routes ok if you have a good selection of micro wires and a lot of patience. Flashdance (E3 5c) has a hidden rock 7(ish) approx. 3m below its leftward traverse - it needs you to climb super direct or a little left of the natural line at the bottom. After that it is down to equalising micro's and tying pegs off.
I recall pointing Matt Thompson (Fiend) at Blinding Flash (E4 6a) saying I recalled the gear was ok. He cursed me for 20 mins as he fiddled with micro wires - then he cheerfully announced it seemed ok and calmly got through the crux moves.
Crinoid could do with an extra peg and is worth E2 at the moment but not 5c.
I thought E4 5b was about right for The Tomb. Scant protection, loose rock towards the top of P1, and a feeling of being an the end of the earth despite only being five minutes from the car. An excellent route though despite (because?) of all of the above.
This route does look truely terrifying - and only gets E4 in my guide I think. Snappy/crumbly rock and virtually no gear apart from the odd manky peg. The climbing looks good, but I'm not sure I'll be getting on it any time soon.
The Slab pitch on "C" Ordinary on Dow. The only time in my climbing when I genuinely thought that I was going to die.
At VS how about Cow Rib at Ilkley short but sharp with a disproportionate amount of exposure.
... that should read loose rock towards the top of P2. The first and thrid pitches are actually very straight forwards. Choose which pitches you lead accordingly ...
Gotta agree with others about the E Ridge of the Inn Pinn, I did it solo a couple years ago, half of me was thinking "not hard", the other half "oh my god..........."
Eliminate C? I was belaying on that pitch (if we are talking about the same route) as my leader traversed the slab, put the sling on the spike then headed up the exposed and run out arete. As he started to wobble and fret searching for gear I didn't want to mention that his sling had lifted and a fall was not an option, fortunately he found his composure made a few more moves and reached decent gear. Proper scary stuff for VS IMO.
Scariest Grade must go to Death Trap Direct in Mousetrap Zawn E6 5c!
No I meant C Ordinary - Diff. I haven't done Eliminate C.
Sometimes it's not even about exposure though; the approach can spook you.
The first time I went to Gogarth, about 30 years ago, I ran away again after scrambling down the opposite side to watch the waves crash up against Wen zawn.
Exmansworthy feels like never-to-return-land too.
There was some horrible VS on the Lizard where the moves were fine, but the rock was crumbly so the rather sparse gear felt poor and the risk of an unexpected slip/snap felt high... I gibbered to the top and had to have a lie down!
What about the Enchanted Brocolli Garden belay?
>The first time I went to Gogarth, about 30 years ago, I ran away again after scrambling down the opposite side to watch the waves crash up against Wen zawn.
Yeah, but everyone does that.
In leading terms there are loads of climbs out there that give you the jeebies, but you just concentrate and get on with it; controlling (and then ultimately beating the fear) is all part of trad, and one of the great attractions for me over other disciplines.
...the most scared I ever remember being however is seconding Sirplum on a windy day with no communication and a slack rope knowing that an early slip will leave you hanging in space with not enough rope to get down from!!
Yes, following girdles is a scare form all of its own, especially when out of one's depth either literally or metaphorically. I recall an unsympathetic leader subjecting me to an early nightmare on Zodiac, my first sea-cliff route at a time when I could climb about HVS if that.
Lies! I was not calm getting through the crux, I was properly sketching :). Great route though, I do like the variety of situations and angles you get down in the Torquay area. Far more interesting than homogenous bore-a-thons like South Pembroke.
On the original subject:
HVS - Rotwand, Carn Gowla. Described as E6/7 onsighter Tom Briggs as "probably the most dangerous HVS in the UK", I would give it E2 4c for the final section, teetering up brick-sized rocks embedded in steep mud/sand with the possibility of a 40m factor 2 fall onto a shoddy belay.
E4 - Risque Grapefruit, Glen Nevis. Bold enough E4 5c at the start, but then a shocking second crux scraping into a blind, lichenous scoop on smears and insecure holds with at least a 15m groundfall. One to survive rather than succeed and much more serious than Triode and On The Beach.
I nominate Billingsgate at Millstone...I found it slippery, insecure and unprotected. I actually got my second to run around and drop a rope. Just for background I was soloing the E4/E5 Great Slab routes at that time (and had soloed the E6 there by mistake!), and had led stuff like Science Friction, so I was no stranger to gritstone!
I nominate a fairly innocuous little Diff on Lundy – namely ‘The Logan Stone’
It doesn’t look scary and the climbing is as straight forward as Diff gets. But I had a proper heart in mouth moment when sitting on top bringing up my second. I had placed a Cam about half way up which my 2nd duly removed and climbed on but when she weighted the block the entire thing pivoted and swung outwards (the block is about the size of a small office desk) with her holding it. I can vividly remember this playing out in slow motion with me looking on in disbelief thinking, oh s*** if that comes out this entire stack will collapse! My 2nd had the thought of mind to let go which resulted in said block slowly pivoting back into place. I rapidly lowered her off and scrambled off the back pretty quickly. I still can’t believe how far the block swung out and then just settled back into position. I found the whole experience Utterly terrifying!
Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you...
Tabula Rosa (Langcliffe): best done in brown corduroy pants
>Rotwand, Carn Gowla. Described as E6/7 onsighter Tom Briggs as "probably the most dangerous HVS in the UK",
There's a man who hasn't climbed on the main cliff at Blackchurch.
Not that I've done Rotwand, mind.
Maybe that was the eponymous Logan Stone?
Does sound pretty gripping, mind. Jenga's more fun in miniature.
> In leading terms there are loads of climbs out there that give you the jeebies, but you just concentrate and get on with it; controlling (and then ultimately beating the fear) is all part of trad, and one of the great attractions for me over other disciplines.
> ...the most scared I ever remember being however is seconding Sirplum on a windy day with no communication and a slack rope knowing that an early slip will leave you hanging in space with not enough rope to get down from!!
I agree. I had a whimper-fest on Alcasan as second.
Seconded. (Though I did lead it)
I found Mousetrap far less scarey than the next door VS Green Slab.
Though it's decades since I did it I can still remember one of the pitches on Hawk Route (severe), Dow Crag, which didn't seem to have a single gear placement in 20 metres.
For a route which is really scary despite decent gear, just based on its positions, I'd nominate Grooves Traverse on Gimmer (HVS).
I guess it was, when I told the others back at the barn they all just dismissed it and pretty much said 'Oh - that'll be the Logan Stone'
I really can't believe it hasn't fallen down yet, as you say; Jenga but with Ton's of Granite. Maybe this happens to many of the parties that climb the route and it is common knowledge, but I bet if anyone was sitting on that stack when that happened would clench to the point where by if they swallowed a lump of coal they would pass a Diamond.
On the same crag as the Tomb (Carn Gowla), Chicken Flesh at E1 is a scary sandbag.
There are several runners on Billingsgate, albeit small wires.
I always thought Billingsgate was about HVS 5b, and adequately protected?
I think the logged comments on the route in UKC say it all.
Personally, I think the scariest lines are the ones that you aren't expecting to be scary. If you are going to Cilan Head, you know what you are in for. If the guidebook says unprotected or it looks steep and scary, you are normally prepared mentally. It's those innocent looking routes that have give no clue in the guidebook, or routes on a cliff where you can't see where they go from the bottom that can give me the worst scares. You swing round a corner on to a face and realise that the next section is steep and unrelenting with poor gear and your last decent runner is far below...
Or the guidebook description is so poor, that you aren't even sure if you are on route and you can't see where to go next...
I remember having a bad scare on a 1 * HVS (in the old Chair Ladder guide) in the back of the zawn to the right of American Beauty. Great looking line but it turned out to be on totally exfoliating granite where you couldn't trust any holds. Luckily there were enough deep cracks to get some ok gear in
Crescent Climb on Pavey has to be a candidate for Mod. It's big on exposure and early in the season a fair few of the holds are loose to say the least?
Doris's Route (Diff) at Ilkley had its fair share of soloists and leaders asking for a top rope back in the day. 50ft slab with polished rounded chipped holds and no protection. It's since been upgraded to Severe.
Yes! Llewedd does that - lovely looking face draws you in and then a warren of grooves and ribs all with subtly disappointing pro and holds that unhelpfully slope the wrong way and are just greasy enough to make the back of your mind query the friction, and all the while the cirque is drawing a step further in everytime you look away for a minute...
Takes me back to 1st time I did Sirplum. The route was ok but where the rock finished I expected to belay, only to find 30ft of too steep, wet grass to climb and no runners.
Hmmmm... wet grass. There are some routes where the descent to the start has put the wind up you before you even begin. "Easy way down" at Compass Point anyone? Or the land-approach to Long John's Slab at Baggy?
Astral stroll at e1
Had a look on a day with a big sea waves coming under your feet on the traverse then booming, rock face shaking and the reflected spray coming back out 10 ft under your shaking feet, went to pub!
Yup. Had a few of those days.
I did the Tomb expecting E2. First pitch is fine, pitch 2 is quite hard with harly any gear. Pitch 3 has no gear. My Dave let P3. Great route but not E2. Gets E4 5c in the Rock Fax. Not sure about that, hard E3 5c I'd say. You should do it. Take a big cam for the belay.
I remember doing that in the wet with a scrambling rack (ie a couple of slings and nuts). There was very little gear anyway. I just remember all this water streaming down over mossy holds on the traverse to Jacks Rake. Did it again a few years later in the dry and found it very easy.
>1 * HVS (in the old Chair Ladder guide) in the back of the zawn to the right of American Beauty.
You don't mean that; it's American something else. Dream, is it? In Zawn something - Kellys, maybe?
I thought Rotwand was a fantastic route! And properly scary with some very bold climbing (5a on paper thin holds) on the first pitch. The top pitch was straight forward VS when I did it in 2001, though I did have a peg for the belay. Never went back to Carn Gowla either..would love to one day..it's just plain spooky!
Aye the climbing is technically VS on the second pitch...................
Yogi (severe) at Tremadog. On wet rock: My first proper lead.
E1?: From recent experience I'd say the girdle traverse of the Boulder Ruckle.
While it is usually pointless to comment on routes that you haven't done, here are a few who's aura was so foreboding that I didn't fail on, but was (and probably always will be) too scared to even try.....
VD: The Cuillin Ridge
Severe: Clachaig Gully.
VS: Obsenity at Burbage.
HVS: Pigs on the Wing, Sloth, Exposure Explosion, The Crippler.
E1: Coronation Street, Cemetry Gates.
E2: The Strand, Diabeg Pillar (it looked so blank!)
Yeah, the 'Easy way down' at compass point comes one place above 'Breakaway' to make the topn of the most scarey list in Iain Peters giude to N Devon
The Compass Point descent is way overgraded in that list. It's fine as long as you use the five-points-of-contact approach....
Your right. Zawn Kellys. American Dream is a good little route. The route I'm thinking about probably (hopefully) got washed away this winter
I did it in the dry and the start is tough mod standard climbing on dubious rock with shit gear and poor belays. Its equivalent to a VS 4a in its own grade band and frankly Id rather solo a solid VD. Moff and I saved someones life on this when they fell after their inexperienced second had had enough and when backing off their belay failed. If you cant recognise this route is a sandbag please never get involved in grading mods for a guidebook.
On a similar topic anyone else been more scared on the scramble descent to the old man of storr than on the climb itself.
You mean Stoer, but I think any of the routes on the Storr are probably contenders in the E4-E5 bracket according to the few that have done them. Leo Houlding thought he was going to die, apparently.
Agreed that the Cuillin Ridge is certainly v scary in places. Cemetery Gates is massively intimidating but not truly scary, because the protection is very good, except at the very start. Much, much more scary was Jericho Wall on the next buttress to the right - I've mentioned this many times before here, as my personal biggest scare ever on a UK rock climb. Very, very poor protection.
Trangia mentioned Munich Climb. I did this at least thirty years ago when pro wasn't as good, and didn't find that left traverse too bad because you could at least get a nut on round to the right - you weren't going to kill yourself. It was just its history of fatalities that was off-putting.
I thought Debauchery was pretty scary when I did it about two decades ago (most of the in situ gear had recently been stripped i.e it had been 'cleaned', and the protection was very spaced indeed. a very lonely lead, out of sight of the second, with unobvious route-finding around the crux - the classic old peg and long sling having been removed.)
Just about everything in Taffs Well Quarry, near Cardiff :) … Well :-((
And talking of scary descents, don't most people find the standard descent to the main cliff at Gogarth quite scary??
And talking of scary descents, the appalling gully to get to Amphitheatre Buttress and Mur y Niwl surely deserves a mention?
I remember trying The Old Man of Storr in the late 60's, we knew only that Don Whillans had made an ascent. Took us ages to find the way through the initial overhanging bit. Not very far up we decided we needed to find a way back down, and in those days I never gave up on anything, but TOMOS defeated me. This is the one on Skye btw Offwidth, you scramble up to it not down.
Not the Screw in Zawn Kellys? Currently E3 I think, so it would have been scary at HVS.
Stoer, sorry. I bouldered up aefew metres on storr: reasonable moves but terrifying rock
What about the Gwanant Crack at Severe? Intimidating landing.
Of course, the Devil's Kitchen at 'V Diff' in typically wet conditions is a very dodgy old thing, with plenty of scope for disaster (unless modern gear has tamed it.)
The Gauntlet HVS 5a at Gogarth North Stack. I found P1 lonely, atmospheric and exposed- normal Gogarth stuff- However, scrambling up the very steep, un-protectable, loose, grassy horror show of a slope after P2 with 50m of rope blowing helplessly below was stomach turning, as was my belay. I understand that I missed a path... scary!! First Gogarth experience.
E2- Pavey, Astra
E2- Dudh loch, Vampire
E3- etive slabs, Pinch direct P3(not crux)
In line with the OP's criteria Right Angle (Gurnard's Head) has to be a contender at HS. The fact I got walloped by a massive wave as I approached the second belay added to the foreboding though!
> E3- etive slabs, Pinch direct P3(not crux)
What is the crux, out of interest? Pitch 4?
P1 is Michael,a well protected technical corner.
Meant P4 as the scary one BTW...thinking back it's very scary because stance at the top of P3 is not great.
Do you think the hanging corner is the overall crux or just the technical crux? (I had a feeling it was just the latter)
Against the Odds (girdle of the Detritus buttress on the little Orme)
Quaking ledges, no belays, guano waterfalls, mummified puffins, it's got the lot
> While it is usually pointless to comment on routes that you haven't done, here are a few who's aura was so foreboding that I didn't fail on, but was (and probably always will be) too scared to even try.....
> VD: The Cuillin Ridge
> Severe: Clachaig Gully.
> VS: Obsenity at Burbage.
> HVS: Pigs on the Wing, Sloth, Exposure Explosion, The Crippler.
> E1: Coronation Street, Cemetry Gates.
> E2: The Strand, Diabeg Pillar (it looked so blank!)
The Strand on Gogarth? One of the fluffiest bunnies of a route I've ever done.
I thought that. Well protected, good holds, rests, only 5b!
I suppose very exposed and a bit pumpy in places and quite a long pitch.
Scariest route for the grade HS is Christmas Curry / Micah Eliminate,
I got to the tree belay and was told by a "friend" to go right from the tree to a block then onto the arete , it felt very necky for HS.
Depends what your scared of. For me, well protected steep routes are the worst. The thought of pumping out, fingers uncurling, taking to the air, runners popping, flying upside down, karabiners opening, rope breaking! Hence, most of the others in the list.
Soloing is less scary.
Don't know what it was called but something at Brockholes Quarry that mostly fell down around us. Very memorable as it was also the first time I'd met Mr Chris Tan (of teh somewhat appropriate Deathproducts fame!)
Thanks for the advice. I'm mightily pleased that I wasn't planning on grading any mods for a guidebook in the near future.
The scramble down the side of the Etive slabs was a bit of a frightener, as was the descent down the western gully of Dinas Mot.
The joys of climbing at Chee Dale
Interesting, I always found both of those descents reasonable (albeit as tricky and intimidating for the inexperienced as advertised) even when damp.
Crux on Castle Ridge (Mod) was interesting for me. After a few hundred meters of quite enclosed scrambling with big walls on the left hand side and being quite covered from the right hand view, you step round the corner and have this huge drop on the right hand side of Castle Ridges North Face, one of my favourite solo's so far !
Not a rock route but North Buttress on the Buchaille, the whole hill side just drops away into Rannoch Moor and I felt this huge sense of exposure I hadn't got from any other hill or route I had been on, plus the climbing through the crux chimney is superb as well!
Interesting, I had the complete opposite experience on this one. Didn't get any of the exposure but also thought it would be 100x better without all the choss. Hell of a line though.
I think it might have been the weather on the day as well, was sunny on and off but the cloud kept looking like it was going to roll in and cover us up but it never did in the end. Probably where the feeling of exposure came from that you are so open to the elements on that particular part of the hill and can see everything sweeping in towards you. It is a big long route !
A bit odd that you didn't 'get' the exposure:
With a big sack full of Hasselblad camera gear plus a heavy tripod, I found it one of the scariest solos I've ever done. With that sack on my back the very steep crux chimney was way more than a 'scramble'.
A heavy bag can make a lot of difference. Not a bad summer scramble, anyone who solos it in winter certainly has my respect though!
Must admit I was a wee bit concerned on it.
At E1 , Mani was a pretty scary experience. Pumped to bits at the top and one bit of ropey gear below me, really expected to come off.
The Lleyn surely has to be good for this type of thing. I came back from a successful trip to the Dolomites one year and the same partner who had done the south face of the marmolada with me balked at the first pitch of Fantan B two weeks later, which I then had to reverse. Never did find anyone else stupid enough...
I remember coming to the end of this pitch and feeling my feet rolling slightly on damp smears. Definitely squeaky bum time. It would have been a 30 plus metre factor two onto the belay if that had gone wrong. I think my second slipped at the same point.
Definitely the E3 pitch of the route.
I think the most scared I've been on a route was climbing a variation finish to Wen (left of the proper finish and right of the main groove. The rock was very spooky and I was having to do some pretty long run outs. It was probably fine but for some reason the situation felt like I may kill myself if I pulled on the wrong hold...
One of those times when I had wished I had read the guidebook properly rather than just following my nose!
Trist, do you reckon the initial pitches of Pinch Direct would be worth E2? I'd love to try this route sometime but have to say your description above is not too encouraging!
Etive is certainly a good place for scary leads. I remember pitch 3 of Jaywalk having a tricky traverse which concentrated the mind somewhat.
I seem to remember the first 2 pitches were awkward but fairly safe with small wires. Possibly top end E2 would be about right.
I think pitch 3 was OK although I seconded this, but pitch 4 was the character building one for sure, although easier climbing that pitches 1 and 2.
Perhaps others will have different opinions though! I hadn't don't that many E3s when I did this.
> Depends what your scared of. For me, well protected steep routes are the worst. The thought of pumping out, fingers uncurling, taking to the air, runners popping, flying upside down, karabiners opening, rope breaking! Hence, most of the others in the list.
> Soloing is less scary.
Intriguing! That definition certainly opens up the range of candidates.
Sports climbing must terrify you!
To be fair FantanB is pretty steady once you get past the 'easy' traverse in on the first pitch. There is even some solid gear in places !
The Russian is HVS. Not even particularly easy for that grade either, although I don't think quite as scary as Desparado or even Windjammer at Dumby, The Bruce at Stone Valley, Hammer on the Etive Slabs, Cioch Grooves or the first pitch of Line Up.
Sad that The Russian was originally undergraded ... with fatal results.
> Sports climbing must terrify you!
...Not as much as indoor climbing; falling off a building - that's scary!
It's often not so much about the route but about expectations. My last proper scare on rock was Piggy Bank at Neist. I knew the traverse would be bold and scary but thought I'd spotted the safe haven of gear and holds at the other side. Turns out there's another 5m or so of not-trivial climbing before you get gear or holds. Probably not hard on a toprope but I got proper scared - I did a lot of swearing and sweating in those 5m...
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