It has been almost eight years since Rockfax published their guide to the bouldering on Yorkshire gritstone. Much has happened since then and the book is now well out of date. New lines have been sent and repeated, standards have risen and bouldering is now more popular than ever. So, it is without surprise that a new guidebook should emerge, but this time it is not from Rockfax but a group of newcomers in the form of Total-climbing.
Total-climbing (total-climbing.com) is made up of Steve Dunning and Ryan Plews, both of who originate from Darlington in the north-east of England. Steve has been hugely active and influential in the development of bouldering in Yorkshire over the last seven or eight years with a long list of hard first ascents and repeats to his name. Plumb lines such as High Fidelity and Ben's Groove Sit Start at Caley, the dynamic Super Furry Animal at Slipstones and the stunning Rhythm on Flasby Fell, are all down to his vision and determination. Ryan is a graphic designer and gritstone boulderer of some 17 years. He is tremendously enthusiastic whether he is out on the blocs or sat tweaking layouts behind his computer. His knowledge of both fields can only be described as outstanding. As the main mind behind the design work he has done a sterling job of producing a layout that is fresh, clear and inspiring.
Due to the vast amount of quality climbing in the area and the wealth of developments that have taken place since the last book, two guides are now going to be released. Volume One will cover the central areas and Volume Two, the Barden Fell and Barden Moor Areas. Both volumes contain hundreds of problems from grade 3 up to 8b. Both are to be printed in an A5 landscape format, in full colour and with hundreds of action shots which will whet your appetite for the awe-inspiring problems that the area has to offer. With contributions from the likes of Alex Messenger and John Coefield, the pictures epitomize what bouldering on grit is all about; crisp winter days, blue skies and having a laugh with your mates!
Each crag contains an introduction and detailed access information. Clear maps show you how to get to the crag and to the individual problems or buttresses. Photo diagrams have been used to mark the problems so that the lines are clear and these are backed up with descriptions so that each one is easy to locate and follow. Every problem on the photo is marked with a coloured line and number. A different colour has been allocated depending on which grade range it falls into. This is particularly useful as a quick reference if you are looking for a venue with a certain grade or with a wide range of grades. One final point worth making is that Font grades have been chosen for the problems this time, not the V grades that were used previously. The grading anomalies of the past should have now been ironed out as a much wider cross section of climbers have been asked to give their opinions this time round. However, I am sure that there will still be the odd sandbag knocking around and hopefully the odd soft touch!
Volume I: Yorkshire Gritstone 'Bouldering Central'
This book includes over 20 crags as well as a history of the bouldering on Yorkshire gritstone. Some of the crags in this guide such as Almscliff, Caley and Earl Crag are already amongst the most popular in the county if not the country and are home to many a classic challenge. The crags included are as follows:
Almscliff, Brimham (including the outlying areas), Caley Roadside and Crag, Clattering Stones, Chevin East, Chevin West, Dove Stones, Earl Crag, Gorple, Ilkley, Ilkley Rocky Valley, Ilkley Pub Quarry, Swastika Stones, Mytholm Steeps, Scout Crag, Scout Hut, Shipley Glen, Slipstones, Whitehouses, Widdop, and Woodhouse Scar!
One notable omission from the guide is that of the Bridestones, or Kebs as it is otherwise known. This decision is not one which has been taken lightly. It is already a hugely popular venue and coupled with the delicate nature of the rock, some of the problems have suffered increasing damage. Although attempts have been made to repair them, it is not ideal and I would therefore urge anyone climbing here to treat the rock with the utmost care.
Volume II: Yorkshire Gritstone Bouldering 'Above and Beyond'
Most of the crags in this book are on Barden Fell and Barden Moor. These areas are a little more isolated, usually requiring a bit of a walk in but can be a great choice if you seek solitude further away from the more crowded central areas. Peaceful and beautifully situated, they may also be the places to go if you are seeking out first ascents of your own. Unclimbed plums exist at all grades for those with the necessary motivation to seek them out and pick them off. Perhaps Yorkshire's next great challenge is up there just waiting to be discovered? Go and see for yourself and you won't be let down!
The areas in Volume II include:
Brandrith, Brown Beck, Crookrise, Deer Gallows, Eastby, Fairies Chest, Flasby Fell, Great Wolfry, Great Wolf Stones, Goldsbrough, Guisecliff, Hellifield, Lord's Seat, Rylstone, Simon's Seat, Sypeland, Snowden Crags and Thruscross as well as a couple of new venues.
Thanks to Jon Pearson of www.yorkshiregrit.com, the online resource for bouldering in Yorkshire for the action photos in this article.
Where To Buy
Yorkshire Gritstone Bouldering Volume I is available from 17th January direct from total-climbing.com and at your local climbing shop. Volume II will follow in March.
Samples of the guidebook layout.