Let me first give a little introduction to this seemingly exaggerated title for the post. I was climbing in the Avon gorge today, seeing that most of the rock was wet; and we had managed to foul up awfully and have only one half rope between us - we decided to venture into the lesser known territory known as 'the Amphitheatre'. Aside from 'Giants cave buttress' and maybe the small but significant bouldering area 'Harvey's wall' at the bottom left had edge of this area, this is a mostly neglected and under-used part of Avon. It could be argued that this is justified, the guide giving little confidence, being all but devoid of starry epithet. However, the are some very reasonable routes. The grape-vine tells me that 'Rockers Revenge' is a bit of a cult-classic amongst Avon hard men (not to say I fit into this category!), and Fossible is certainly worth its star. At the more challenging end of the spectrum is the alluring 'Spinor', 'Little Red Rodney' (both seemingly nerve jangling - but rewarding) and for the real power-house climbers 'Red-alert' and 'All systems' should be a great Avon test-pieces. These climbs are all woefully short of traffic, so I bring the reader attention here.
But why do I say all this? Well firstly I feel some justice needs to be done; and if justice is too strong a word, equilibria should replace it. Without being a pokey little rock-bore, whose sole purpose is to wine about the punters. Sure there are punters who come to Avon and do Gronk, Morpheus, and the selection of 'safe HVS's' on SBB; then bugger off back to the squeaky clean, Peak district fashion-crags. But I have been there too - climbing 10 3* routes in a day is fun, no doubt; so I couldn't be so close-minded to ignore this allure. However, considering Bristol is a sizeable town, and the Avon Gorge hardly has access issues ... why don't we see more people down there, enjoying the quasi-classics, as well as the big lines. Perhaps it is human nature to remain grooved (forgive the pun) into seeking ease and instant gratitude.
! ATTENSION FOR THOSE 'CUTTING TO THE CASE!' I think there is great hope however, and my seminal point of this article - recently there has been an enormous clean of the Buttress (climbers) LEFT OF Suspension Bridge Buttress – ie the long-lost North Wall. It appears from cursory glances, that this has the potential to increase the amount of climbing in Avon by a quarter. Aside from some newly opened stunning 60m faces, there are cracks and groves aplenty. The current guidebook mentions 10 routes on a buttress that is at least the breath of Upper Wall, whose current tally is in excess of 25.
I would like to thank whoever conducted this clean out (my thoughts are the council – but if a generous climber, hats are well and truly off!) but hasten to add that the buttress is far from climbable. There is some serious weight of mud and felled vegetation occupying the ledges, which will require a lot of effort to remove. But doubtless to say there are rewards to be had in the form of names in guides, of this I have little doubt. So this is a call to arms, climbers get down to North Wall and start routing! Who knows, Avon could become more attractive to outsiders for it – and maybe even host some headlining cutting edge climbs that have been missing since the 80’s. To mark this rejuvenation I suggest a new name – “Grime wall” (in honor of the great buttress on the Buchaille) - discussion on this one encouraged.
Ps. I wanna be your dog (woof woof) – should be more or less free from loose rock, after an accent this afternoon – this buttress, contrary to disparaging comments from the current guide, is well worth a look into, lovely face climbing and slightly slabby.