/ If the rain comes, they run and hide their heads

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Tim Chappell - on 12 May 2014
How much fun can you have in a wet weekend at Brimham (Saturday) and Clachnabeinn (Sunday)? Actually you can have loads, especially if you're not pushing the boat out on grades and have a set of dry clothes in the car.

But it did set me wondering. Climbing rock, especially slappy smeary rounded rock like Yorkshire grit and Aberdeenshire granite, is quite different in the wet. So different that it arguably ought to be recognised as a separate subdiscipline, with different grades. Why isn't it? Or is it, and I am just ill-informed?

After all, wet climbing is necessarily something that happens quite a lot in Britain. Maybe we should bite the bullet and recognise it as a different activity from climbing in the dry. Might give even give us a new reason to get out on wet days too.

Pekkie - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Unfortunately, sandstone eg Merseyside/Cheshire, weakens when it's wet making hold breakage more likely. Don't know about gritstone which is a similar but stronger rock. I've done routes in North Wales in the rain - good fun if they're slabby and well protected - but I can remember a desperate struggle on a route at Tremadoc - never again!
Bulls Crack - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

It seems like a good idea for the first few minutes then quickly wears off in my experience.
MG - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

You should write "Slimy Rock". An instant classic I am sure.
davidbeynon - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

3 replies and nobody has mentioned Lockwoods Chimney...
andy_e on 12 May 2014
In reply to davidbeynon:

Doing that from 12pm to 6am, in the dark after a few pints was one time plenty!
Offwidth - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Climbing in the wet slowly trashes climbs, especially lower grade gritstone and I would recommend people don't do it for this reason alone (as well as it being unpleasant). Climbing soft sandstone in the rain I would class as vandelism. If you want to do something on a wet day scramble or go for a walk: don't ruin the fun for climbers in the future.
danm - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I've had some great fun and titanic struggles on mountain crags and rhyolite outcropss in appalling weather over the years. We used to call it slime climbing. Gimmer Chimney in monsoon conditions and gale force winds was particularly memorable.

I leave the gritstone alone when it's wet though, too easily damaged especially if you get crap all over your boots. Only thing that's fair game are classic squeeze chimneys where any damage won't make much difference to the climbing - Stanage has got some awesome thrutching if you seek it out.
Offwidth - on 12 May 2014
In reply to danm:

I'd agree with that chimney exception unless they have sections with standard climbing where friction is crucial. We included the Troglodytes tour for that reason in the latest BMC guides. There are also a few routes in caves like the ones inside the one at Shining Cliff.
Tim Chappell - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

I never heard that before. How does it trash climbs?
JamButty - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

If you prepare for it and adjust your grade accordingly its actually great fun.

Having said that lots of rain is one of the reasons I started Caving!!

Mike Stretford - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Offwidth:
> If you want to do something on a wet day scramble or go for a walk: don't ruin the fun for climbers in the future.

Yeah, if you don't mind rain too much then an aerobic activity that keeps you warm seems sensible. Rain dribbling down my sleeves has never appealed, I go for a walk or a bike ride. I wouldn't class choosing not to be outside as some sort of cowardice as the op implies.... for some it's just good time management to do inside stuff like DIY.
Post edited at 12:25
Tim Chappell - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:
> I wouldn't class choosing not to be outside as some sort of cowardice as the op implies....


No such implication. Google the thread title.
Post edited at 12:27
danm - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Offwidth:
I know, I'm in it, pictured halfway inside the crag! It was dry that day, but we were all far too hungover for anything you could fall out of.
Post edited at 12:34
Tim Chappell - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

This is quite useful about rock damage through climbing in the wet:

http://climbing.about.com/od/ClimbingFAQs/a/When-Can-You-Climb-On-Wet-Rock.htm

Executive summary: don't climb sedimentary in the wet.
Mike Stretford - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> No such implication. Google the thread title.

I don't need to google it I know it.... I'd say the song doesn't make the point you were hoping, but I'll take your word for it on what you meant. On second thoughts maybe 'cowardice' was the wrong word from me, but you seem to be suggesting a solution to a non-problem.
Post edited at 13:37
1poundSOCKS - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Isn't grit sedimentary?
Tim Chappell - on 12 May 2014
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

It is, and granite isn't.

There were loads of other people climbing at Brimham too.
1poundSOCKS - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I was on a route in the rain at Almscliff on Saturday, not deliberately, it started wanging it down when I was on it. Didn't realise it would cause extra damage though. I backed off out of pure cowardice. :)
Tim Chappell - on 12 May 2014
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Yes, that's what it was like at Brimham. There was a bit of wind, so things were drying quite fast--then getting wet again in showers. Two huge instructed parties carried on top-roping regardless. They were on the route at Lover's Leap that Busy Lizzie and I actually wanted, so we went along a bit and they shouted 'instructions' to me as I attempted to lead a bottomless corner :-)

I like to keep my Excuses Cupboard well-stocked, so my thanks to Offwidth-- all this 'don't climb rock when it's wet' stuff will come in very handy ;-)
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Offwidth - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:
Grit polishes up much more quickly in the wet when you inevitably get sand on your feet. On grit the sand is granite sand and so very abrasive which matters on popular grit as traffic levels (especially historically) were higher. Some holds on problems on softer forms of grit have been trashed already: go look at the Bridestones or some of the starts at Newstones. I'd say the same problem occurs for all rock types, not just sedimentary but the level of problem is less of an issue the harder the rock and the lower the level of traffic. Another good comparison is the crystal pockets on Idwall slabs or the start of Charity compared to the beautiful rough rock on the rarely travelled easy routes left of Grey Slab. On rarely climbed routes any traffic probably helps keep the routes in condition so I dont see there being an issue.
Post edited at 14:13
SteveRi - on 12 May 2014
Cheshire sandstone is very vulnerable in the wet, like Pekkie says. Doxey's Pool is another.
krikoman - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Go to Cornwall in the wet there's loads of stuff you won't damage there :)
victorclimber - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

4 or 5 pints in the Old Dungeon Ghyll. Bowfell Butress seemed like a good idea the Climb was fine it was the Bloody walk up wet through that wasn't the good Idea
MFB - on 12 May 2014
In reply to victorclimber:

brilliant

can i add gimmer chimney and cresent climb/gwynnes chinmey combo

I think slime climbing has long been recognised as the pinnacle of mountaineering achievement just nobody talked about it
BusyLizzie on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I appreciate the thread title, as it is often sung by my family as we set off on a wet walk, or alternatively as we scamper back to the car out of the rain.

Certainly the wet at Clachnabeinn turned an innocuous-looking climb into quite an adventure :-)
Mark Kemball - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

>
Another good comparison is the crystal pockets on Idwall slabs or the start of Charity compared to the beautiful rough rock on the rarely travelled easy routes left of Grey Slab. On rarely climbed routes any traffic probably helps keep the routes in condition so I dont see there being an issue.

To be fair, the Idwal Slabs routes were probably trashed yonks ago by nailed boots.

Back to the original topic, for the full experience, I would recommend Clachaig Gully on a rainy day. The Devil's Kitchen is of the same ilk, but is really a bit on the short side, you need to stand around belaying to fully appreciate a good soaking.
Michael Gordon - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Sounds like a lot of driving for a weekend?
Tim Chappell - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Michael Gordon:

There was a lot of rain, so scenic driving (e.g. Settle to Arncliffe via Malham) made sense. And I was trying out the new car. And the stereo was giving very good quality on Verdi's Requiem. And Bizzie and I had plenty of talking to do :-)
Stuart the postie - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

In scotland, I find that winter climbing is in most cases, more reliable than summer rock! Longer season too.

Stuart
Rob Davies - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:
I used to have the attitude that if you're going to go out on a wet day you might as well do something that's really, really wet. Devil's Staircase and Great Gully in heavy rain were great experiences. You try to keep dry by wearing big boots, gaiters and full waterproofs but after 5 minutes in the torrent you're inevitably completely soaked. A snorkel would probably help.

Being dragged up Vector in a tropical downpour was even more memorable!

I'm older and wiser now, so I usually seek out the nearest climbing wall on wet days!
Post edited at 21:47
Tim Chappell - on 12 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:
Isn't this a great video? Esp. for 1966?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQCwSqyaRo0

I am the small boy in the tree... almost literally :-)
Post edited at 21:55
I like climbing - on 13 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:

We need a rain grade ! I like climbing in the rain and I like to do it in the best style possible although this can lead to disappointment. A nice wet chimney is fun especially when it's slimy and got fungus on it. Smearing on ice is another bonus and does add interest.
Al Evans on 13 May 2014
In reply to Tim Chappell:
I've posted this before, but it's on topic

Was once climbing in Wales with Ron Fawcett and it had pissed it down solidly for a week. We decided that the route to go and do was Black Cleft on Cloggy, reasoning that as itís always wet anyhow and got its XS grade for that state it would make no difference.

After nearly killing ourselves soloing to the bottom of the thing, Ron set off up the first pitch (after eyeing up a 'new line' on the right wall, now done) and proceeded to gain height as I gradually disappeared under a mass of dislodged grass sods and various other botanical and entomological specimens. Just as I was about to be buried alive in this onslaught of mud and detritus I felt a tug on the rope and realised Ron wanted me to follow the pitch. The water pouring down both from the sky and on the rock cleaned me off a treat and I set off on the pitch which was now a good few feet shorter than when Ron did it, I havenít got a clue what grade the pitch would be in the dry but it was absolutely desperate. In some cases so much debris had been washed down and lodged back into the crack that I literally had to dig into it to find the nut placements so I could remove them.
When I got to the stance, Ron was pissing himself at the state of me, handed over the remaining rack and said "Off you go then".
Right you bastard I'll see how you like it. Less than 15ft up the crack and Ron was already virtually covered head to foot in the disgusting smelling gunge. I was hanging from a nut trying to dislodge a particularly stubborn grass overhang, and Ron said "what do you reckon we go down?"
" Yeh, I really am having fun but at this rate it'll be dark before we get to the top, thereís nobody else on the crag, we've as good as done it (there was about a 100ft to go at least)".
I lowered off leaving the nut and we abbed down and ran straight into Llyn Arddu with all our clothes on and just washed the mud and slime off it was strangely warm, like monsoon rain, or maybe by now we were delirious.
In the pub that night ďYeh great route, you wanna go and do it, but do it in the rain, itís graded for being wet anyhow" :-0)
The next 12 days it was perfect weather.
Post edited at 07:58

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