/ The worst
A climb called "Archangel" at Castle Eden Dene, County Durham.
Do you mean absolutely or relative to expectations? The worst route I've ever done was at Horseshoe, but I was expecting it to be shit (being at Horseshoe), so I wasn't that surprised. Whereas Queen Mary/Jane (can't remember what it was called) at Cligga Head had 2 stars, so to find a lineless chossheap was very disappointing.
And do you just mean the climbing, or the whole day out? The f*cking around trying to find the crag:actual climbing ratio on South-West Climb on the Devil's Jump (which was a thoroughly mediocre route) takes some beating on that front.
"Gettin the Hump" at Westdown Quarry, Somerset, appallingly loose,no redeeming features.
for me it was a rising sports traverse over a ledge, the line stayed parallel to the ledge so it was always 3 meters below you. It was just there to squeeze in a 3rd pitch. Poorly bolted so for almost the entire route both the leader and second would have decked on the ledge from every move, except for 1 or two meters by each bolt (not to mention rusty bolts). The rock was a weird water worn RAZOR sharp asian limestone. The crappy anchor forced the ab line over a knife edge. the rock was dusty, I was also sweaty and being mobbed by mosquitos.
I definitely used the phrase 'f*ck my life' :)
here's the ukc route description -
14m. Access from either route #5 or #6 in this area. Exposed and a little run out over a suspect ledge, also dirty as it doesn't see much traffic .... possibly for very good reasons.
Just whatever you feel was the worst you have done for any reason!
I'd like to add a controversial choice, Golden Fleece at Symonds Yat. Utterly crap
I'm afraid it's both solid and has a line. Even if you think the climbing is crap (I don't agree, although being shiny limestone it isn't totally amazing) then that immediately puts it a country mile above a huge number of routes!
Flying buttress at stanage. Supposedly the most popular route in the country and its just poor. It's gone beyond polish, the holds are sunk into the rock so its like going up steps kicked in neve.
That was its main failing, it looks good but then the climbing was a massive let down and completely uninspiring. I'd rather climb choss than climbing that bland, at least it keeps your attention!
Ah, but it's all about the eye of the beholder - see I think Queen Jane and Cligga is alright & pretty solid for the area :)
Trungel Crack at Shining Clough!
Though I didn't "do" it - manfully took a couple of mild falls before giving up and putting Oceanic onto it, as he usually can clean up my mess pretty swiftly. Not this time!
It is just dreadful. The dried lichen in the main crack kind of flakes off and it feels like you are climbing inside a vacuum cleaner bag. The "escape route" onto an HS is death on a stick. Hard to protect and impossible to build a convincing belay (just ask Tall Clare :-) )
I have several in different contexts as a prolific checker who enjoys obscure routes. The worst philosophically was a cluster of attempts to climb something at Stannington Ruffs. You approach the climbs via soft mud containing all manner of nasty sharp metal objects with disgusting organic waste mingling with the various historic ages of plastic and when you get there the rock is dusty shite that can just snap in your hands. I vowed never to return unless in a hard winter when a culvert looks like it might form a reasonable ice fall and to do my best to ensure it never gets full treatment in a BMC guidebook ever again. Before that Route II a VD at Gardoms was a realisation that climbing every route below a certain grade on peak, grit was not going to happen if I ever wanted to climb with other people. This was when being eaten by ants when climbing vertical heather and braken. Another was on Ulex at Rivelin as it was in the Rockfax Pocketz guide so I assumed given the very tight selection it must be much better than it looked and easily bypass the gorse but nope. My message to guidebooks is just be honest. I 'm very pleased for instance the YMC use hollow stars to indicate quality climbs IF they are clean but have a tendancy to gettig dirty and or overgrown.
I did a bunch of utterly worthless new routes at Plump hill quarry once. Just for a lark; never really thought anyone would take them seriously. A couple of them have fallen down since. Which is nice.
There's parallels here to the Worst Film thread, in that if a route is so bad it can become worthwhile or even fun because it's bad. Something like Generously Cut Trousers at Chee Dale in an excellent example.
The worst route is one that doesn't even have notable badness to commend it. My vote in the Peak would go to Chocolate Blancmange Gully but there's a lot of eminently forgettable competition out there.
I'm scratching my head over a cup of coffee re. your phrase 'the worst philosophically', Steve.
Do you mean to say you've had even "worse" experiences than that described in your excellent book Fiva!!? :)
The answer to that, truthfully, is yes, or at least as bad, in completely different ways ...
The first pitch of the Nuis chimney on Arran.It's like climbing on rotting greasy ball bearings
SAvernake on raven crag, langdale
chossy, green, minging
Astral Stroll at Carn Gloose.
Or more specifically the version we did which we thought was AS but was actually on a completely different crag - we got to the top moaning that was one of the worst routes we'd ever done and is no way a three star classic - oops!
I think my worst was a one star VS at Swanage. My mate Phil (an E2 leader) took about an hour as he disappeared round a blunt arete and finally appeared on a chossy ledge/belay half way up the cliff. I couldn't understand why he had taken so long...until it was my turn to climb. A true tottering pile of choss. The next pitch (which was my lead) was a slightly overhanging wall, coated with large pebbles/rocks. They ALL wobbled a bit. We abbed off the crap belay (very carefully) and ran away.
It may not sound crap but it was by comparison to the fantastic three star routes at Swanage (Thunderball, Thor etc. etc.)
I always wanted to do that one! Started climbing when I lived in Richmond, and so the old paperback "North of England" guide was my first ever guidebook - I think it gave it VS, three stars and a rave review. I did once go there on my own and had a look (some time in the 80s) at Archangel - I think even then it looked neglected, and harder than VS, but I never went back with a partner to find out. I did solo a severe called "Nothing" up a layback crack, which was actually quite good and made of good rock, though some of the other rock in the Dene was clearly rubbish.
Just wondering, did Archangel have bad rock or was it just very neglected? (i.e. could it ever have been good?) All a bit academic now, as I understand (from these forums) it's now banned for conservation reasons anyway.
I'd always wanted to do it too! My brother seconded Stu Wilson on the first ascent and they raved about it. I finally got round to it in the 80s. The rock wasn't particularly loose, nor the moves uninteresting for the few metres where it emerged from the soil and ivy. I dare say that if you were to abseil down with a JCB you could make it into something worthwhile, but why bother? The Durham Denes are scenic gems in what was historically a ruined area. Leave them be.
The climbing there is profoundly trivial anyway, the result of local boys searching for climbing in a somewhat crag-starved part of the North East. Stu (who I still see from time to time) was always very good at sniffing out esoterica and some of his later discoveries, like Armathwaite, are excellent.
Archangel was an early effort and memories of Golden Youth may have affected his opinion of it. I must ask my brother Pete about it...
A slime filled crack called "Richards Sister" at Stanage would be a contender, although I have done a few crumbling chossfests in my time.
I dont think its utterly crap. Yeah its Polished, and not overly inspiring, but its a good Confidence booster for new Leaders, Takes as much Sound Gear as you can carry.
A much Better route just Right at about same Grade is exchange Though. The Druid is also good but slightly harder.
Sticking at the yat for a worst Though, ill offer vertigo, Short, Polished, thrutchy, rubbish.
Exodus of plastic penguins maybe or one of the new sport routes up and left of Rippemoff :-(
I can't remember what its called but a chimney at anchor church caves would be a contender for me. Anyone suggesting routes at stanage etc simply has not poked around foul foul holes enough.
fantastically bad! Didn't even know it was a recorded route, I just wandered up it until committed then shit mesel. Snapping holds? pah, pick any 10 on there and 9 will snap! <well pull out anyway>
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