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Pete Robins - Dinorwig Slate
Brought up on the gritstone edges Pete Robins is best known for his stylish ground up repeats such as The Promise, originally given E10. But for the last decade he's lived in North Wales making waves at Gogarth, in the Pass but most particularly the dramatic slate quarries that rise up above Llanberis. Slate is home to some of the UK's purest uncompromising lines. It demands a unique style of climbing rewarding those blessed with the gift of perfect technique. Not one lacking in that department Pete has repeated many of slate's hardest routes such as The Quarryman (E8) and The Medium (E7 7a), before going on to add flagship routes of his own such as The New Slatesman (F8b). Co-author of the new guidebook, which should be out this year, here he discusses his favourite slate adventures.
Training For Malham by Steve McClureIn this training series top climber Steve McClure looks at ways to train for specific crags, or types of crags. This month he struts his funky stuff on the catwalk at Malham. When I first visited Malham I hadn't done any really hard sport routes, certainly not anything around the F8a mark. We arrived on the Friday afternoon of a Bank-holiday and wandered up for a look. I was struck by the featured nature of the rock, there appeared to be holds all over the place, everything looked easy, and the routes weren't even very overhanging, or even very long! The classic Raindogs (F8a), looked like it was covered in jugs and I wandered back to the campsite with a confident glow expecting that next day I'd come back and blitz the place, ticking a load of hard routes well above my station. How wrong could I have been! By the second bolt of Raindogs I was completely destroyed, it ended up taking me longer to climb this route than any other at that grade, six days over four years. I dropped my level dramatically but things didn't get much easier with even F7as proving an immense tussle. I left, destroyed, and declared the place wasn't for me and that I wouldn't be back in a hurry!
Get on the Sharp End
I wouldn't admit this to just anyone, but when I was at school, which was a very long time ago, I won a prize. I can't remember exactly what it was for, probably for being the only person who wasn't caught smoking or having sex in the bike sheds. Anyway, the point is that I won a book token and with it I bought the latest state of the art guidebook to climbing in Scotland: Scottish Climbs, A Mountaineers Pictorial Guide to Climbing in Scotland, Volume 1 1971, by the great Hamish MacInnes.
I've still got it. As with all new guides it was a controversial book. It covered both summer rock routes and winter snow and ice climbs. All routes fell between the grade Easy and Very Severe and some had the added warning title of 'Serious'. If you could just about get up a Lake District VS rock route, the open ended nature of the Scottish VS grade could get you (or rather got me) into some quite tricky situations!
One winter route in the guide that was at the top of the classification was Point Five Gully on Ben Nevis; it was Very Severe and 'Serious'. The first ascent of this classic line was done by four people (including the legendary Ian Clough) over a period of five or six days in January 1959, by cutting steps and most importantly not falling off. Today it is graded V,5 which puts it about two thirds of the way up the grading system and it is described as an excellent introduction to Grade V classics - it's not uncommon to have several ropes of climbers stretching from
top to bottom.
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