/ Advice for potential soloing challenge

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SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
So I've been focusing on my ML assessment lately (thankfully will be over one way or another by mid next week...), and really itching to get out climbing. I've only got the weekend of the 17/18th December free. I've decided that I want to do something different than roped climbing, and so I came up with the idea of soloing some Diffs on grit. For a challenge I was thinking doing 50 Diffs in a day should be doable for a punter like me. I've found this ticklist which has 70 http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/set.php?id=152 - and claims to be all of the Diffs at Stanage.
What I wanted to ask was for any advice whether this particular challenge is a good idea, whether anyone else would potentially want to join in, whether any of the routes in that ticklist are major sandbags (i.e. I'm not quite ready to solo Severe atm, unless they were a microroute), any any general advice for soloing in winter at that time of year, and advice for planning and doing such a challenge.
My general plan would be to inspect the guidebook thoroughly (and draw on any routes that are missing), print off a ticklist, and plan out the "sections" with the same descent route, and then switch indoor training in the 2 weeks before to be endurance. On the day, arrive super early, and just crack on - doing any really easy routes in approach shoes, and slightly harder ones with climbing shoes.
Andy Hardy on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

50 routes on pretty much the shortest day of the year? Best practice climbing with a headtorch!

You have on-sighted E1, so I would say do them all in boots / approach shoes - If you take 2 minutes to change boots 25 times that's nearly an hour from your available daylight.
SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> 50 routes on pretty much the shortest day of the year? Best practice climbing with a headtorch!

70. ;)

If I get 7 hours of climbing in (9am-4pm), that's 10 routes an hour, or 6 minutes per route. As long as I'm doing the routes rather quickly, that seems do-able to me. If I got 8 hours of climbing in, 7 minutes per route.

> You have on-sighted E1, so I would say do them all in boots / approach shoes - If you take 2 minutes to change boots 25 times that's nearly an hour from your available daylight.

I would probably only bother with climbing shoes if it was smearing or smaller holds (e.g. maybe some of the routes graded VDiff on the ticklist). Most of the routes I looked at so far are big chimneys of corners, which I'd do in approach shoes for sure.
C Witter on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

I'm not sure about Stanage, as I've still never made it there (to my shame). But, if you can OS E1 you might enjoy soloing above Diff - I wouldn't rule it out. The hardest I've OS led is a couple of carefully selected short HVS routes and I still find VS to often be intimidating. But, I've OS soloed short (6 - 10m) VS routes and Severes. You just have to pick your route. I kind of feel that a compelling line makes a better solo than an "easy" thrutch or awkward choss, and when I solo I feel like I have to really want to climb something to bother risking it. Otherwise, you get to the crux and, even if it's very doable, end up thinking: why am I here on this crumbling pile? Of course, making your own judgements about soloing is crucial, so by all means ignore. Also, I enjoy that with soloing you can get in a lot of mileage, but when I'm soloing I kind of listen to my body, trying to follow my sugar, tiredness and adrenaline levels pretty closely, and stop whenever I get too giddy, rather than pushing on.
SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to C Witter:

> I'm not sure about Stanage, as I've still never made it there (to my shame). But, if you can OS E1 you might enjoy soloing above Diff - I wouldn't rule it out.

I'm not ruling harder solos out, but I just found that from my previous solos (very few of them), Diffs were more likely scrambling, and VDiffs were more like climbing. I thought that at this time of year, I'd want to be moving constantly without spending really any time route reading. Also if I don't solo Diffs now in my 'career', when will I ever do those routes? :p
I've only soloed about 5 routes before, so I think getting in loads of Diffs is a good, relatively safe 'base' to the pyramid.
CharlieMack - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

In way of tips:- 1, Don't be dissuaded from backing off any route for a starter. I've done a similar challenge, and probably plowed on a few times i shouldn't have because i got caught up in the challenge.

2, Put a hand warmer in your chalkbag! Makes such a difference. A great tip for general winter time trad climbing.

3, Plus 1 for doing it in approach shoes. You'll be unlikely to be standing on any small edges, mainly just smearing, or standing on ledges. So approach shoes will let you stay comfy all day, keep your feet warmer and increase downclimb/walk round times. If it feels tricky, see tip 1.

4, Check out where the nearest descent is. On Stanage, quite a few of the descents are a long way away, so you might be better downclimbing a Mod, or potentially one of the blocky, chimney style Diffs.

5, Please see tip 1 again
galpinos on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

Good luck!

A couple of things:

- I would say comfy all day rock boots myself as they'll give you confidence in your feet, especially when you're tired. They are not all big chimneys.
- You don't seem to have added in anytime for eating and drinking.
- 6 minutes per route is to check the guidebook & your list, find it, climb it, and get back down - that's quite fast imho.
C Witter on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

That sounds fair enough - and the challenge of 70 Diffs does appeal to me! Also, I do love a good chimney - the sort where falling out seems less likely than getting stuck...! Enjoy!
GrahamD - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

I'd have a list of a lot more than 50 and definately take it up at least as high as severe. That way you can walk past a few you don't fancy the look of (or can back off rather than push on unsafely) and still achieve your 50. For me a secure severe (e.g. jamming) is a better bet to solo than a slabby diff in anything but perfect conditions.
SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to CharlieMack:

> In way of tips:- 1, Don't be dissuaded from backing off any route for a starter. I've done a similar challenge, and probably plowed on a few times i shouldn't have because i got caught up in the challenge.

I think that's going to be the key, and why I'm planning to stick to Diffs mostly. I don't have such a good clue of when to back off of a route, as I usually prefer to just have a try and fall off if I fail - not an option when soloing.

> 2, Put a hand warmer in your chalkbag! Makes such a difference. A great tip for general winter time trad climbing.

Ah that's a good one. I had read it before but forgot about it.

> 4, Check out where the nearest descent is. On Stanage, quite a few of the descents are a long way away, so you might be better downclimbing a Mod, or potentially one of the blocky, chimney style Diffs.

I'll try and include the Mods in the planning stage, and look at any of the Diffs I could downclimb.

> 5, Please see tip 1 again

Noted
SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to galpinos:

> Good luck!

> A couple of things:

> - I would say comfy all day rock boots myself as they'll give you confidence in your feet, especially when you're tired. They are not all big chimneys.
Even on descents? I really do hate damp grass in rock shoes. I also thought that if I did that it would mean by shoes are dirty for the next climb.

> - You don't seem to have added in anytime for eating and drinking.

+ 5 minutes total ;)
I don't take big lunch breaks when climbing/walking, and I think I could gorge half a flapjack while descending. Drinks will be a bit trickier. Either I leave a bag somewhere central and reach it halfway through the day, or carry a small bag all day with water. I've tried to get my partner to come along as a support crew, but negotiations are still pending.

> - 6 minutes per route is to check the guidebook & your list, find it, climb it, and get back down - that's quite fast imho.

I think given enough research, I'll be able to pretty much memorize all of the routes and descents. I've been to Stanage a few times, so have a pretty good idea of the 'landmark' climbs that I can use as references to find the others. Finding the descents from above will be trickier though - I hadn't considered that actually.
SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> I'd have a list of a lot more than 50 and definately take it up at least as high as severe. That way you can walk past a few you don't fancy the look of (or can back off rather than push on unsafely) and still achieve your 50. For me a secure severe (e.g. jamming) is a better bet to solo than a slabby diff in anything but perfect conditions.

That is a very sensible idea. However I seem to have become attached to the idea of doing all of the Diffs in a day. I think I'll make plan A to be all the Diffs, but if I find a few that are too offputting, I can switch up to a plan B that includes less routes, but more secure climbing.
deacondeacon - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

I used to do this a lot and tbh I'd recommend changing your plans a little. Start at Birchen, it's not as damp this time of year especially in the mornings and you can easily get your first half done in 2hours, then drive to Baslow and do the same again.
You'll realistically have your 50 by dinner time.
Stanage is possible, but conditions and scrittle can be fickle at this time of year especially through the rarely travelled easier stuff at either end of stanage. Also Stanage is so spread out you'll have a fair bit of walking to contend with too.

Wear approach shoes, but really crank the laces up nice and tight.

Have fun and try not to over think it. Don't race, you'll piss 50 easily (people have done 500) just a gentle plod and you'll cruise it, probably by one.

Id personally recommend doing it on your own. You don't want. To be getting cold waiting for someone and you don't want to feel like your chasing someone while soloing.
Scarab9 - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:


> I don't take big lunch breaks when climbing/walking, and I think I could gorge half a flapjack while descending. Drinks will be a bit trickier. Either I leave a bag somewhere central and reach it halfway through the day, or carry a small bag all day with water. I've tried to get my partner to come along as a support crew, but negotiations are still pending.

if you don't want a small rucksack on (though might be a plan anyway to carry an extra layer and snacks?) maybe get a running belt that will hold a bottle. Or some belts have modular attachments such as for bottles which might fit on to your harness with some thought.

50 in a day with current daylight sounds quite a challenge, add the cold and it doesn't sound like the most fun day, but good luck and hope you have fun.
I've done quite a bit of soloing up to HS I'd just say be wary that there are definitely diffs that are fine with gear but to solo might feel sketchy. Stanage seems to have more a theme of sandbag vdiffs so you may be ok, but you do come across ones with horrible moves on polished rock. Don't get caught up in the challenge so much you forget to think through whether you're happy on the route, and try to be aware of what you can downclimb if it's not going well.
steveriley - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to deacondeacon:

Birchen is a good shout, I once did 87 routes either side of a bivvy night there. You'd probably need to push the grade a touch higher though.
SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to deacondeacon:

> I used to do this a lot and tbh I'd recommend changing your plans a little. Start at Birchen, it's not as damp this time of year especially in the mornings and you can easily get your first half done in 2hours, then drive to Baslow and do the same again.

Hmm - I will take a look and see if I can get enough routes at Birchen. I have done a few easy routes there before. I must admit I would prefer to do the challenge at a single crag, and I do like the thought of having done 'all the Diffs at Stanage' in a day.

> Stanage is possible, but conditions and scrittle can be fickle at this time of year especially through the rarely travelled easier stuff at either end of stanage. Also Stanage is so spread out you'll have a fair bit of walking to contend with too.

I should have mentioned I would only do the challenge if conditions were right. The plan B would probably be some walking in Snowdonia or so. I don't mind the walking either - gives me some time to recover.

> Have fun and try not to over think it. Don't race, you'll piss 50 easily (people have done 500) just a gentle plod and you'll cruise it, probably by one.

That was part of my motivation - knowing that if others can do 10x as many routes in a day (with many being way harder) surely I could do 10% of that on the easiest routes.

> Id personally recommend doing it on your own. You don't want. To be getting cold waiting for someone and you don't want to feel like your chasing someone while soloing.

I was thinking more than if anyone else was coming they do it at their own pace, and then it just means you have someone to reminisce the day at the pub with. You'd have done all the same routes so would have a lot to talk about presumably.
SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to Scarab9:

> if you don't want a small rucksack on (though might be a plan anyway to carry an extra layer and snacks?) maybe get a running belt that will hold a bottle. Or some belts have modular attachments such as for bottles which might fit on to your harness with some thought.

I think a small rucksack is probably a good idea. Shouldn't make much difference

> 50 in a day with current daylight sounds quite a challenge, add the cold and it doesn't sound like the most fun day, but good luck and hope you have fun.

I think it sounds fun. Some of my best days out have been scrambling in crap conditions. I guess I see this as being closer to a long horizontal scramble than a climbing challenge.

> I've done quite a bit of soloing up to HS I'd just say be wary that there are definitely diffs that are fine with gear but to solo might feel sketchy.
I thought that might be the case, I'll have a good look at the ticklist and see if I can identify any.
Greasy Prusiks on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

Go for it on your challenge but remember the number 1 goal is to come back safe and doing 50 routes is a bonus. Falling off a diff solo is as bad news as falling off an unprotected E5, don't be afraid to down climb if you don't like the look of the route.


Eat and drink little and often.

Good luck!
Somerset swede basher - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

I would wear big comfy rock boots and carry a pair of flip flops on my chalk bag string for longer descents.

I find my back off rate is about 10% whenever I go soloing. Don't be afraid to back off if it doesn't feel right. I've backed off severes on days I've also OS soloed E2s.

Eat little and often, a big lunch leaves you lethargic.

You might find you get mentally tired from soloing before you get physically tired.
galpinos on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

> Even on descents? I really do hate damp grass in rock shoes. I also thought that if I did that it would mean by shoes are dirty for the next climb.

A lot of the descents are down climbs or rock hopping, there's not really any damp grass, especially at the popular end. If your rock boots get dirty, so would the approach shoes and they'd be harder to clean before the next route (due to having a lugged sole). A big comfy pair of slippers (5.10 Moccs or equivalent) with socks would be ideal.

> + 5 minutes total ;)

> I don't take big lunch breaks when climbing/walking, and I think I could gorge half a flapjack while descending. Drinks will be a bit trickier. Either I leave a bag somewhere central and reach it halfway through the day, or carry a small bag all day with water. I've tried to get my partner to come along as a support crew, but negotiations are still pending.

Eat and drink a little and often. I generally end up using my hands on the descents but you might be able to snack as you mooch along the bottom looking for the next route. Don't skip eating in order to get to the next route though, you'll pay for it later.

Have a small bag at the bottom of the crag that you keep moving along with you. No need to climb with it in general as the descents are spread out so you'll be going back and forth but might be handy on the odd route where there is a gap between climbs and the descent is in the right direction.

It's also a bit of wander all the way from end to end, don;t forget to factor in walking time

> I think given enough research, I'll be able to pretty much memorize all of the routes and descents. I've been to Stanage a few times, so have a pretty good idea of the 'landmark' climbs that I can use as references to find the others. Finding the descents from above will be trickier though - I hadn't considered that actually.

Remember you'll get mentally tired so your ability to remember what you're doing might falter as the day goes on. I'd write it all down.

I've never made 50 but had a regular 20ish route solo circuit at Stanage, but it was a lot more compact (all in the popular area) so had fewer logistical challenges.

CharlieMack - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

Might be worth looking at Windgather. Think there are about 60-70ish routes there if you include the chossy no star stuff. There are a few VS/HVS, but the majority of routes are the lower end. All the routes are very short, and the rock is fairly grippy compared to Stanage.
Think i've ticked the whole crag in approach shoes in a little over an hour and a half. That wasn't particularly rushing either.

Even if you limited yourself to doing everything up to Severe, and used it as a warm up for 50 Diffs at Stanage. Would give you a good feel for how a big day will work logistically and how you feel post 30/40/50 routes' climbing.
Neil Henson - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

Also treat the grades with a good degree of caution as they become a bit less relevant when soloing. For instance:

1) A severe or hard severe with a difficult start but an easy romp above may well be a safer proposition to solo than a Diff or V Diff with tricky moves higher up, or an awkward top out.
2) Insecure climbing with great protection on lead becomes insecure climbing with no protection when soloing.

Generally when soloing (at very low grades I might add) I am looking for the opposite type of route than when leading. E.g. poorly protected with hardest moves near the bottom of the route, easy escape etc...
ebdon - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

I've no idea of youre expereance on grit but be aware that some easier climbs can horrible thruchy feckers. when having a solo day i tend to wander along climbing what looks good rather than sticking to a particular grade. Allthough this is less usful if youre on a very tight schedule. Stannage is best at this sort of thing at around S IMHO.
jkarran - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

> If I get 7 hours of climbing in (9am-4pm), that's 10 routes an hour, or 6 minutes per route. As long as I'm doing the routes rather quickly, that seems do-able to me. If I got 8 hours of climbing in, 7 minutes per route.

Soloing lots of unfamiliar, likely damp and grubby routes, cold, tired and under (albeit self imposed) time pressure doesn't sound very sensible to me then I've never liked soloing so that's probably colouring my opinion somewhat.

That's 3min for the route, 3min to descend and find the next one. All day. No rests. That's a recipe for an accident.
jk
SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to jkarran:

> Soloing lots of unfamiliar, likely damp and grubby routes, cold, tired and under (albeit self imposed) time pressure doesn't sound very sensible to me then I've never liked soloing so that's probably colouring my opinion somewhat.

I should be able to familiarize myself with almost all of the routes with the good photos available. Not sure why I'd be tired either or cold either (the two are kind of mutually exclusive most of the day). I see the plan as a hybrid of a scramble and soloing. It's a lot like scrambling in the sense I should be able to climb quickly, there are large amounts of easy walking, and I'm not doing overtly technical moves. But it's also definitely soloing because if I did fall off the top I'd be splatted on the floor.

> That's 3min for the route, 3min to descend and find the next one. All day. No rests. That's a recipe for an accident.

I do agree it has all the ingredients for an accident, thanks for the honesty.
Pewtle - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

I've been toying with something similar recently, as I've never gone out to the grit with the intention of just soloing, and I want to see how much ground I can cover..

I'm just going to approach it with the idea of being OK to back off stuff - might be worth going with someone so they can drop a rope down if you get mega-gripped!

Dogwatch - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

> Also if I don't solo Diffs now in my 'career', when will I ever do those routes? :p

Not planning on getting old then?

SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to Dogwatch:

> Not planning on getting old then?

Oh yes, but probably not going to be in the UK then. In fact I might be gone within a few months. ;(
TobyA on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to galpinos:

> - I would say comfy all day rock boots myself as they'll give you confidence in your feet, especially when you're tired. They are not all big chimneys.

This ^.

I've onsight soloed a lot of diffs and vdiffs at Stanage and other grit crags and would agree. Comfy, velcro rock shoes would be best and something like fell shoes that if you want you can carry up the route in bum bag or clip to a belt.

Sounds like I climb to a similar level as the OP, and there are diffs that can polished and surprisingly technical for footholds - in those cases rock shoes will be much better and safer.

My other tip would be know how to jam and wear crack gloves or tape up. Then you have access to a huge number of secure bomber holds that aren't even that dependent on hand/arm strength.
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Cake on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

I know it's Severe, but if you were considering including Crack and Corner it is one to avoid imo. Horrible top if done the normal way.

On the other hand, some of the v diffs and severes have really positive holds and it might be worth considering those
SenzuBean - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to TobyA:

> This ^.

> I've onsight soloed a lot of diffs and vdiffs at Stanage and other grit crags and would agree. Comfy, velcro rock shoes would be best and something like fell shoes that if you want you can carry up the route in bum bag or clip to a belt.

Okay that sounds good. Maybe I can even wear my rock shoes inside some other trail runners as slippers to keep the rock shoes clean. Or I just realized I could bring a big towel to clean the shoes.

> Sounds like I climb to a similar level as the OP, and there are diffs that can polished and surprisingly technical for footholds - in those cases rock shoes will be much better and safer.

That is what I was thinking, and that I would be glad to have rock shoes for those polished sections. Clean rock shoes especially.

> My other tip would be know how to jam and wear crack gloves or tape up. Then you have access to a huge number of secure bomber holds that aren't even that dependent on hand/arm strength.

I'm pretty solid with jamming, and I will revise how to tape up again, I haven't worn tape (properly anyway) for ages.
Duncan Bourne - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

I soloed 50 routes in a day to mark my 50th birthday a few years back so it is very much doable.
I started at 9.30 am and I was finished by 1.30 pm with a break for lunch. This was in the summer so a different kettle of fish to a winter ascent. I would say make damn sure that you have warmed up before kicking off and obviously check the weather. I built up to it for several months soloing when I could and doing laps of my local wall up and down. When I did the routes I would climb "up" one and "down" the next in order to get the millage in. I also included two roped ascents Leaning Buttress Direct HVS 5b and Easter Rib E1 5b the rest were solos mostly in the VD- Sev range with a few VS solos. If you are onsighting E1 you should have no problems. Training for endurance is good.
I can post the full list if you are interested?
petegunn on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

Remember to take several rags/towels to clean your feet, quite muddy this time of year, plus less damage to the rock and more confidence in your feet : )
Bulls Crack - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to Andy Hardy:

Should polish them up nicely!

I can barely climb in my approach shoes
Bulls Crack - on 01 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

Why not just do as many as you feel like rather than a fixed number? Just as enjoyable and makes the logistics easier!
Blueso on 02 Dec 2016
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

Fellow 50@50er here - hi there!

I did a similar 50@50 challenge a couple of years ago, soloing 50 routes at Birchen in a day in my 50th year. I did it in early May, and whilst a bit damp it was fairly straightforward and I was finished soon after lunch, after a mid-morning start.

I too spent some time in the preceding months doing a little soloing practice here and there, to ensure that I had my best soloing head on. I started at the bottom end and worked my way along the crag, climbing anything up to about HS (though mostly VD-S) that I fancied the look of at the time. I used Mods and Diffs for down-climbs where possible (they still count!).

I would support comments above suggesting that you should be willing to back off anything you're uncomfortable with. Don't make too many firm decisions before the day, and plan to be flexible about which routes you do.

Physically, I didn't find it too challenging, but it's worth noting that even on a Diff, when soloing more than a couple of metres off the ground, you need to be mentally focused and alert. This in itself can be challenging to maintain over several hours, so pace yourself sensibly, keep yourself well hydrated and be mindful of the risk.

I found the whole challenge very enjoyable and immensely satisfying - I'm sure you'll have a blast, whichever of the variety of venues/options outlined in this thread you choose to go with.

Good luck!
Gerry_Doncaster - on 02 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:
> I came up with the idea of soloing some Diffs on grit. For a challenge I was thinking doing 50 Diffs in a day should be doable for a punter like me. I've found this ticklist which has 70.....and claims to be all of the Diffs at Stanage.

> What I wanted to ask was for any advice whether this particular challenge is a good idea..... (i.e. I'm not quite ready to solo Severe atm, unless they were a microroute), any any general advice......planning and doing such a challenge.

> My general plan would be to inspect the guidebook thoroughly (and draw on any routes that are missing), print off a ticklist

Soloing is a great way to climb. There is nothing like it, it just feels more pure, nothing between you and the rock. I have enjoyed countless memorable days soloing on gritstone edges and I think what you're planning is a great idea.

The best advice I can give you is to forget any ticklist and just follow your instincts on the day. Take a guide book by all means but just work your way along the crag soloing anything you fancy regardless of the grade. Soloing is very much a mental excercise and it all comes down to how you feel about each individual route after giving it a thorough visual inspection first. It's all about the nature of the route rather than the grade difficulty. I have soloed some VS's but have also backed away from soling some Diffs.

There is no reason why you can't be soloing Severes. I have never lead anything harder than VS and have teetered up maybe five or six E1's on a top rope in all my years climbing yet I have soloed no end of Severes.

So as I say, take a guide book, start somewhere and just work your way along the crag doing any route that takes your fancy and don't be afraid to retreat or escape if you come across any moves you're not comfortable with. You should find you really enjoy it and will want to do it again and again.
Post edited at 14:59
Duncan Bourne - on 02 Dec 2016
In reply to Blueso:

Excellent advice there Blueso. I concur
John_Hat - on 02 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:
OK, few thoughts, my own preferences only.

1) Windgather has been mentioned, and it's a good venue with plenty of easy routes. It would be my preference as I know it very well indeed. However make sure you can get to 50 happily there as it's quite a decent drive to a second venue if you end up at 45 and daylight is fading. You'll be likely to try something you regret. Birchen has more routes, and if you run out then it's but a short hop to Burbage/Stanage.

2) I'd wear climbing shoes and be religious about cleaning them after each route. It's amazing the difference they make over approach shoes (in my opinion) and if you are new to soloing you need all the confidence you can get.

3) Some of the Stanage routes are long. Hence if you are pushed for time then they are not the routes necessarily to try. For pure knock-em-off-quick try a shorter venue.

4) Do some training in the local wall for endurance in the next couple of weeks. Aim for 40-50 routes indoors on easy ground (3's and 4's). Everyone has an "endurance point" where they get knackered and need a proper rest. It might be every 20 routes, it might be every 10, it might be every 60. I'd find out before the day and pace yourself accordngly.

5) Concentrate totally on the current route, not how many you've done, or which one you are doing next. I made an almost fatal mistake here once on one of my 100-in-a-day jaunts, where I was on a route I had done many times and started thinking about which route to do next. A scrap of wet rock and I was off and heading downwards. A desperate lunge for a passing ledge and I survived to tell the tale. Luckily.

6) Most important - If on the day, you don't feel right, STOP. Go home. Try another day. The general rule when soloing is that if you are not 100% confident you will be able to get up a route, don't do it. If that's the 49th route of the day then so be it.

I would note that most of the above are mistakes I have made myself.
Post edited at 19:00
Jimbo C - on 02 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

Planning out sections is a good call, especially if routes are close enough together that you can leave your climbing shoes on for a while before changing shoes to move on. Obviously getting some of the routes in as descents is an option. e.g. Grotto Slab is a popular and amenable descent. Personally I would go for comfy climbing shoes and leave them on where possible rather than big boots.

Your biggest challenge is probably going to be some of the horror show chmineys that you find at Diff, like Devil's Chimney *shudder*
Mick Ward - on 02 Dec 2016
In reply to John_Hat:

As relevant advice goes, this is pure gold.

Mick
Offwidth - on 03 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:
I'd say its a pretty heroic challenge in December.. short days and conditions in wide cracks and chimneys are almost never good and it is usually very cold, raining snowing or some combination thereof. As such, if conditions were right, I'd have loved to have joined you but sadly I'm busy. If you sack it and want to try it later in 2017 email me.

There are a few unamed but graded lines missing (like the cleft right of East of Eden). Incidently, to avoid confusion Mirror Hopping Days is down as Old Man in the Stanage definitve (under route 94: Ice Cream Flakes). I wish people would stick with existing names in guidebooks as its confusing and counterclaiming a Diff and changing its name is pretty sad (especially when this will have been first climbed at least 50 years ago).

The grades are mainly of course Rockfax grades, all were Diff and HD in the Stanage definitive guide and were checked as such by a fair few lower grade leaders so no, none of the VDs are too testing (in good conditions!)

As for the 'good idea' bit and other advice. I'd say depends... if wet its a bad idea you won't make it and you will be damaging the rock even in climbing shoes. You certainly need to get a lot of soloing under your belt before then and if you can't do this Id say don't bother unless you really like high risk. Shoes in December is a tricky call as the ground will be damp (the challenge will likely be too hard for you if the ground is frozen)... maybe two sets or a climbing shoes with an overshoe but you will be walking a long way and wet approach shoes pick up mud and you damage the rock. Other crags are a much better bet as others have said and Id add Wharncliffe to the list... little grass about and positive holds (if steep) at Diff. Take care at Wharnecliffe if you go as unlike Stanage, the definitive Burb Infinity still does have sandbags (a damp Inside Route has stopped a few VS leaders).
Post edited at 10:49
Iain Thow - on 03 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

Baslow is a good place to rack up the numbers in the lower grades. Gullies Wall area gets you 20 odd short routes at D/VD, all close together (I did 24 yesterday evening in 31 mins, although I'd done them all lots of times so that's no great feat). Birchen isn't far off, and the Tar's Wall & Stoker's Wall areas have lots of nice short routes at D/VD with the hardest bits at the start. I've regularly done 50 routes at both venues without going above severe - soloing easy stuff is basically what I do these days, as it's such fun and a good workout. +1 for Windgather too, although as mentioned above it's a fair trip to another crag.
Contrary to some of the advice above, I would say always be prepared to back off. If it doesn't feel right in your head, it isn't right. Falling off a Diff hurts just as much as falling off a harder route.
As said above though, don't automatically rule out harder routes. If you lead E1 then a short severe with the crux at the start might be easier than a longer Diff with the crux at the top (and certainly a safer solo).
Personally I'd go for rock boots and clean them well, but I've always gone for comfortable pairs. One trick in that case is to start at the middle of the crag, do the routes to one end, change to trainers, walk to the far end, change back and do the climbs back to the middle, so that at least your feet get a rest in the middle of the day.
Good luck and enjoy it (it's addictive by the way!)
Iain
Offwidth - on 03 Dec 2016
In reply to Iain Thow:
Forgot to say the list also has some errors. Green Chimney is VD in the definitive (there is an unnamed chimney given Diff next to it). Verandah Cracks Right isn't named as such in the definitive (so if you want named ticks it's out but if you want all lines given Diff in the definitive there are a handful the list compiler missed)
Post edited at 11:08
Gerry_Doncaster - on 03 Dec 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:
Just to add that I think it's a great idea on the proviso that the weather and conditions are right. The fact that it's mid Winter shouldn't be a barrier in itself. I have still got very fond memories of a particular early January day spent soloing at Lord's Seat some years ago.

I agree with others who have said Stanage isn't the best crag for your challenge and would also recommend these three as being the very best for soloing:

Birchen: Lots of amenable short routes with the crux moves generally low down.

Baslow: Short walk in. Lots of amenable routes, often broken up by reassuring comfortable ledges. The climbing there is of a more delicate nature with a paucity of big holds. That's just the way I like it but I know it's not everybody's cup of tea.

Windgather: Very short walk in. Lots of amenable routes with a plentiful supply of sharp positive holds, the like of which you don't often find on grit.
Post edited at 12:56
Iain Thow - on 03 Dec 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

and if anyone is planning on doing all the Diffs in the definitive then the "chimney next to Modesty" is harder than Modesty, which is HS 4c (& used to be VS).
Offwidth - on 03 Dec 2016
In reply to Iain Thow:

Really can't remember it but we have it as D 3a with a tricky exit on our notes.

http://offwidth.uptosummit.com/guides.html

Ill put it on the list to recheck (maybe as part of a full diff solo day)
keith-ratcliffe on 16:52 Sat
In reply to SenzuBean:
Back in the day I celebrated my 40th with a day soloing in the Peak. 20 on Windgather, 68 on Stanage and 21 on Birchens. It was April so more daylight than you have. I stuck with Diffs & VDiffs that I generally knew from previous ascents but I had a few frights along the way - ants all over a ledge I was reaching for on Birchens nearly made me fall off in surprise. It was a hot day so hydration was important - possibly not the case in December. Good luck.

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