These days people are more realistic of what you can achieve on the web. This realisation comes quickly. No one that has ever stepped down that path is under any illusion about how much hard work it takes to build and maintain an interesting website that people can actually use and return to again and again. In the beginning there were hundreds of climbing websites, now most of these have disappeared into a wisp of cyber ether or they are cobweb sites, suffering from neglect and frozen in time circa 1999. The "under construction" signs have been taken down and no one gets fooled by the false promise of "coming soon." So what's out there now that's worth visiting and not just for the odd glance, but that actually has some substance, either providing inspiration or good solid information that can actually help you get out there and climb. Each month at UKC.com we'll be featuring the best of UK climbing on the web. OK, as is my nature, occasionally we may digress to include some good ones beyond Her Majesty's borders, maybe something like the Short Span or similar.
If you want to see the results of hard work combined with a passion for bouldering look no further than yorkshiregrit.com. If only every bouldering area had a website as detailed and as extensive as this (or as good as Greg Chapman's Lakesbloc which we shall look at later this year), but there again every bouldering area doesn't have a Jon Pearson. Sites such as these are doubly impressive as they are basically commercial-free. People like low-profile Pearson and husky-voiced Chapman do it for love not money. Love of doing it and love of spreading the good word to others.
Yorkshiregrit.com started in November 2001. For each cliff there is a description, a crag shot, a map, a list of problems each illustrated with action photos, sometimes a video (QuickTime 6), comments by those who have done the problem, a problem description and an increasingly popular voting system for the grade. Just the right amount of info to wet your appetite but saving the main course until you are actually at the cliff. There are 54 crags described, 1,184 problems, 1,482 photos, 78 videos and thirteen guides to take with you to the crag.If you are going to visit the Bridestones, Calf Crag, Eaves Crag, Hellifield, High Crags, Ilkley's Rocky Valley, Lord's Seat, Rylstone, Slipstone, Swastika Stones, Whitestones or Widdop be sure to check out Yorkshire grit's handy pdf booklet guides. Excellent navigation gives you several ways to access the information including a useful site overview that includes a map of the area and an overview of each crag included. We spoke briefly with Yorkshiregrit's creator Jon Pearson.
It's one of the most comprehensive climbing area website I've ever seen. Do you do it full time?
No. It took a lot of time and effort to create, but now that it's all set up it doesn't actually take much time to maintain - typically a couple of hours a week, depending on how much I have to add.
Who are the major contributors?
Initially all the contributions were from me and my friends. These days a lot of people send me stuff - either photos/videos of established problems or new problem reports. Paul Clough regularly sends me stuff, particularly for crags I never get round to visiting myself. Dave Cowl and David Sutcliffe have sent lots of new problem reports and photos this year. Plus lots of other contributors.
Do you have full coverage of all Yorkshire bouldering?
Not even close. The ideal would be to cover all the crags, with photos of all the decent problems. Most of the crags are on the website now, but they're missing a lot of problems, particularly in the higher grades. The coverage of the major crags is generally rather poor. I think the strength of the website is in covering a lot of previously little-known crags which actually have superb climbing - e.g., Lord's Seat, Rylstone, Clattering Stones etc.
Will you be making a guidebook out of the info you've collected?
I'd love to write a guide. In fact I've made a start, and have a lot of half-finished chapters. But as I'm sure you know, creating a guide takes a lot of hard work, and I just don't seem to have enough time, so I doubt it will ever get finished. I've finished the Sliptones chapter though .
I looked at the pdf guides. Do you get a lot of downloads?
Quite a few. I don't have the numbers to hand. I even saw somebody with a laminated copy of the Slipstones guide once.
Could you tell me a little about yourself, age, occupation, location, how long climbing and any other useful tidbits......are you a self-taught webmeister?
I'm a software developer. I started the website as a way of learning new software skills. Been climbing for twenty years. Done a lot of trad, a bit of sport, plenty of walking & scrambling. I've always enjoyed bouldering most. I've lived in Yorkshire for six years, currently in Harrogate. That should be enough - the article is about the website, not me, right?
Both. That you on Desert Island Arete?
Yes. Handsome devil, aren't I?
Yes I suppose you are, and 34 and single, well at least anyone interested knows where to find you! You do get around a bit I see yorkshiregrit has expanded a bit to include bouldering in Donegal
Jon includes a handy list of Yorkshire grit links on his acknowledgements page.Rockfax have their Yorkshire Bouldering Guide by Alan Cameron-McDuff.The Leeds Wall downloads page has several bouldering topos by various authors. JP Hotham's Yorkshire Bouldering pages are useful. And off the web are "Yorkshire Gritstone", edited by Dave Musgrove for the Yorkshire Mountaineering Club and "Wild Bouldering in Yorkshire", by Tony Barley and Nigel Baker. Here at UKClimbing there is lots of information in the database including live weather conditions and short-term forecasts.
And when you return from a trip to one of Yorkshire's bouldering areas you can contribute to yorkshiregrit.com by submitting comments about a problems grade or quality, submit a photo and video by going hereand you'll be making this site richer for everyone.....just for the love of it and the love of others .......right?
Andy Pollitt follows his interview with Chris Hamper with another of Britain's top climbers of the 80s, Mark Leach.
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