Gritstone Bouldering Winter Round Up

by Dan Varian Mar/2011
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+Dan Varian repeating Cypher at Slipstones, 135 kb
Dan Varian repeating Cypher at Slipstones
UKC News, Mar 2011
© Mark Savage

+Mark Katz on High Fidelity, Caley. , 194 kb
Mark Katz on High Fidelity, Caley.
UKC News, Mar 2011
© Mark Katz Collection
For the first time in months my car thermometer has been glowering two threatening digits at me: 16ºc... Enough to rock the foundations of any grit boulderer, spring is coming and as more of these days creep by I think it is about time to look back upon, what has generally been, a great winter for gritstone bouldering.

A useful catalyst for many of the peak developers this winter has been the threat of omission from the new guide (being produced by Vertebrate Publishing) and obvious projects revealed by nice new photo topos. Whole new venues have sprung up since the last edition came out 6 years ago.

Some great development spearheaded by Mike Adams et al has led to many notable new boulders being found around Woodhead Pass on the "northern" peak grit. Problems up to Font 8A have gone up in this area in the last few months.

More info can be found on Redclimbing.blogspot for now, until the new guide comes out.

When it comes to FA's this winter season one line has stolen the show. Iain Farrar plugged an obvious and proud gap that is the wall below Twikker at Millstone. Even more amazingly the problem only yields via extreme contortion involving matching a rounded undercling in the back handed position with elbows pointing to the skies. More conventional but brutal 1/4 pad (of your fingertips) crimping follows for another 4m. To give: The Bed of Procrustes, Font 8A+. A stunning addition and one which has added a lot of quality and variety to the harder problems of the peak.

Further south, a flurry of activity has led to Clifftop Rowtor and Stanton moor being brought up to date with some more cutting edge problems (although if you ask me problems like Bus Stop Mantel will always be desperate)

  • For clifftop happenings see here: UKC News

At Rowtor, David Mason bagged the obvious left arete of The Abyss from a sitter to give a brutally powerful 8A called Pink Lady. With some serious undercling and pinch burl you might have to double check your rock type, but yes this is gritstone and yes those moves are unashamedly hard. One for the board climbers me thinks!

VIDEO: Pink Lady

+Dan Varian on Stanton Deliver - Font 8A+ ish, 168 kb
Dan Varian on Stanton Deliver - Font 8A+ ish
UKC News, Mar 2011
© Nick Brown

+Dan Varian on the Darkest Cloud - Font 8A, 142 kb
Dan Varian on the Darkest Cloud - Font 8A
UKC News, Mar 2011
© Nick Brown
At Stanton I spoilt one of the most beautiful lines on grit; Spare Rib, by chalking up the groove just to its right. This ended up being a lot harder than I thought and full details can be found on the Beastmaker Blog. Sufficed to say it was a pesky little number as nature has been scant with the footholds on the upper part. Stanton Deliver is roughly 8A+, although very morpho, and it's about as tense under foot as walking through the Korean demilitarized zone.

Western grit didn't escape unscathed this winter either, and my locust fingers also clutched their way up. The Darkest cloud a looming prow on the back of the 5th cloud (roaches), which comes in roughly at soft 8A.

One of the two obvious projects at the Nth cloud also fell (also at the roaches) This one is The Nth Power and is roughly soft 8A+ish

Up in North Yorkshire Martin Smith climbed the stunning Brownian Motion straight up the wall at 8A+, which points the way for more conventionally sized climbers, although loving tiny crimps also helps on this proudly blank line. More info on his Scarpa Blog.

Also up that way a small man with ridiculously strong velcro hands by the name of Mark Katz pulled out one of the most impressive ascents of the year in the form of the 5th ascent of High Fidelity, this Dunning masterpiece is reputed to be hard for the grade and reachy... That'd put most people off I reckon, but Mark likes to live by the rule of if "if I can reach it I can crush it" even if the "holds" he reaches between are considered poor by Font 8B standards. Proper strong that man!

A few significant repeats have been occurring on the other big numbers too. The Ace has seen impressive ascents from Paul Robinson, mentioned previously on UKC News and Micky Page also on UKC News. These two are rather well acquainted with harder grades than this mind so it comes as no great surprise that they both pissed it (once the sun had gone in).

Up At Slipstones Ryan Pasquill beat Cypher in a crimp-off in a pretty conclusive fashion. As his only other session on it had been about 5 or 6 years ago and all Ryan could remember was that his fingers looked really bendy on a photo Adam Long had taken of the starting crimp... So basically 8B in a session. I was with Ryan that session flinging my leg wildly to no avail, luckily for me I went back and bagged it next session in a few goes too.

One final thing is that many of these ascents and repeats have been captured for a forthcoming bouldering film being produced by Outcrop films.

Suffice to say it will hopefully be a tasteful number roughly picking up where Stick It left off all those years ago, and lots of fine problems have been done since then on this grey and windy isle. Americans, high fives and RAD whooping will all be kept to a minimum.

That's about it for this round up I reckon, sorry if I've missed any other significant ascents from the winter out. Feel free to ruminate over it in the forums.


Article collated by Dan Varian who likes hanging off Beastmakers in the hope it'll make him stronger.

It's worth thanking Five Ten , Scarpa, Tenaya, Arc'teryx, SmartWool and importantly, Moon for their continued support of many of the above mentioned people.

Thanks go to Nick Brown Photography (Outcrop Films) and Mark Savage Photography.


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