Okay so it’s a new year and we are in lockdown, so time to consider some climbing ambitions. Apart from a load of trad routes I want to do, I would like to see if I can get to the lofty heights of sport 7b over the next couple of years. I’ve managed a few soft 7a’s this year.
In the Peak, low in the grade but not likely to be down-graded, not too cruxy.
The two obvious classics are Old Man River (7b) and Big Zipper (7b) (which is worth the 7b upgrade in my opinion). Both offer stellar climbing on clear features but are often wet with the Cheedale Cornice being the fickle beast it is.
An obvious candidate is Countdown (7b) but since it broke the bottom move is much harder than the rest of the route and leaves it feeling disjointed, a shame for such a Fawcett classic, you will also repeatedly kick your belayer in the head.
From looking at my logbook 7b isn't a great grade for the Peak, with better routes sitting either side of that grade. For below I suggest the absolutely brilliant Open Gate (7a+) at 7a+, if you haven't climbed it already, and if you are looking for a project Garderobe (7b+) leaves everyone surprised at its quality and Meterol (7b+) is ***, hidden away in a lovely quiet part of the dale too.
Hope you're well.
Loads of 7bs in Cheedale, iirc. In the mid-90s I started on the Embankment and worked my way through them. Then elsewhere in the Dale, e.g. Daylight Robbery and stuff on the Cornice. But have been away for a long time, so many may have changed (more polish/holds breaking?) Other people will have far more up to date info.
If you ever get down to Portland, loads more there. Anyway, don't get injuried, enjoy the journey and have fun!
Maybe mind of a turbot? Or beef it? Agree with big zipper if it has been upgraded.
Others I've done in Cheedale are systems malfunction, daylight robbery, old man river. There are all good and worth getting on, but either cruxy or not particularly low in the grade.
I would go for the above rather than anything at the Tor or elsewhere to begin with.
What sorts of holds/styles are you best on? It's always easier to break into a new grade in a style you're more comfortable with.
This is just the thread I needed, as I could do with a bit of psyche for the year ahead - not to mention some distraction from present day events.
I'd second Guy's suggestion of Big Zipper (7b), as it's an amazing route and undoubtedly 7b. I'm not sure how many times I've done it, but clipping the chains has never felt easy, and the route isn't over until the rope is through the gate.
That said, when it comes to other Cornice classics I'd opt for Snails of the Riverbank (7b) over Old Man River (7b), but both are good. I think the former suited my style (i.e. having a long reach helps), which relates to something Mischa HY has said regarding finding a route that's suitable to your strengths.
On that note, whilst they might not be 7b, if you can climb the likes of Martial Music (7a), Clarion Call (7a) and Whose Line is it Anyway? (7a+) then the chances are that you're probably operating at 7b at virtually every other crag in the UK barring the one you're climbing on. There's very few giveaways at the Cornice!!
> Martin - Moat People - definitely more 7b than 7b+, and it has a cunning rest just pre-crux...!
Funnily enough I was going to suggest Moat People (7b+), but didn't want to bust out the big downgrade. As always, I wasn't sure whether it was soft or if it just suited my style and was going well at the time (which, if I recall correctly, I was). From previous experience, when you're going well you tend to attribute it to everything being soft, rather than you actually having got better. This is definitely something I'm guilty of, hence my reluctance to say things are/aren't soft.
The same could also be said for Brachiation Dance (7b+). If you happen to like big moves on big holds then this could well be 7b (as opposed to 7b+), as it's quite basic once you've got it all dialled; however, if you don't like big moves on big holds it'd probably feel like the living end!!
> What sorts of holds/styles are you best on? It's always easier to break into a new grade in a style you're more comfortable with.
Well I’m weak so really steep stuff is not my style. I have only managed to redpoint 4 7a’s last year and I would say they were all soft, so I am being ambitious. My thinking is to try a few more 7a’s this year and then a soft 7a+, then in 2022 when I am 60 and may have more time to climb try a 7b.
I see the sport climbing as a way to keep fit for trad climbing adventures, but its good to have an ambitious target.
> Until the very last move, that is...!
Ha, yes - you're quite right there. It isn't over til it's over!
Going along with what I was saying within my previous post, context and form are everything though, and I suspect I was going well at the time. Having had a look back through my logbook it transpires I did it twice the day I did it, then when I moved onto working Free Monster I'd use it as a warm-up/warm-down, frequently throwing laps on it. I found Free Monster utterly desperate in comparison, but such is the nature of climbing at your limit vs. climbing a few grades below.
That said, if steep stuff isn't Martin's style then Brachiation Dance is probably the last route I'd suggest.
> Maybe mind of a turbot? Or beef it?
I'd agree with these two. Countdown is nails so is Old man River
Also couple of 7bs at Masson Lees which are softish and one at Lorry Park Quarry, Hells Angels?
Subterra at Nettle Buttress?
Martin, I see you have frequented the likes of Horseshoe, Stoney West and Masson.
I'd suggest stepping it up a gear and get familiar with Deep Rake and Lorry Park. You will find a higher concentration of worthwhile routes in the low 7's. Less fragmented and bouldery than the Dale routes.
Well in general what I'd suggest then is putting some more time in bouldering next year, either outside or when things reopen. It'll be a change of pace but will really set you steady for the 7b route by improving your strength and power, plus confidence on harder moves and problem solving.
Any weakness that you automatically confess too is probably one of the main things holding you back from progressing and feeling more solid on routes, so it's best to address this and the rest will follow along 😀
If this is a long term aim and you have only previously climbed a few 7as in quarries, I would just get yourself down to Cheedale (two tier or the cornice) when it dries and get on some 7as, then go from there. You will see a lot more there that will inspire you to train for it. A soft 7b on a chossy crag might be slightly easier but won't provide half the inspiration you need if you are currently a couple of grades below the target.
Another vote for Moat People; did this as my first 7b+ last year having only climbed two 7bs, both the week before and it definitely didn't feel too hard. It's a really good one logistically as well sharing an anchor with a quality 6c+ which you can use for a good warm up.
I also did Mind Of A Turbot at Embankment last year which was really good. Short and a bit bouldery but ultimately on pretty good holds the whole way.
Also as an outside shout, Virtual Insanity at Smalldale Quarry is really good. The line is a bit squeezed in but the climbing is brilliant if you like small holds and techy face moves. There's also some other quality 7a+ lines there which are worth seeking out in Soft Centre and Lost Contact.
Echoing Rob's sentiments, this is exactly the psyche inducing thread I wanted right now!!
Virgin king at stoney. It's a great long line which is easily workable being 5 mins from the car. The crux is about 4-5 moves long on really great rock (for stoney) and the top looks terrifying in that the whole roof looks like it might fall on your head. But it's not actually loose and the holds are huge making it quite exciting in the fun sort of way. It's given 7b+ in one guide but I think that's way out. It's probably bottom end / mid 7b.
On reflection I should have maybe asked about 7a+ routes as that is my aim for 2021, but id had a couple of glasses of red wine ! ... sure most of you can relate.
I think locations such as Stoney, Lorry Park, Deep Rake, Embankment, Masson are likely to be my cup of tea.
> On reflection I should have maybe asked about 7a+ routes as that is my aim for 2021, but id had a couple of glasses of red wine ! ... sure most of you can relate.
I guess one of the best things about sport climbing is that you can just get on stuff. I suspect that if you're anything like me you'll start the year by doing a bit of mileage, then build things up from there. As/when you get to this point it's definitely worth getting on something a little harder to see how you feel. Maybe it'll be a goer, or maybe you'll want to step back and do a bit more mileage at a higher standard, but either way - it's definitely worth getting on a 7b at some point, just so you know how it feels.
On the note of mileage, here's a few other routes at the various crags mentioned which are well worth a look:
As before, each comment re: grading comes with a caveat that I may or may not have being going well at the time, so be warned (and good luck)!
> I guess one of the best things about sport climbing is that you can just get on stuff. I suspect that if you're anything like me you'll start the year by doing a bit of mileage, then build things up from there. As/when you get to this point it's definitely worth getting on something a little harder to see how you feel. Maybe it'll be a goer, or maybe you'll want to step back and do a bit more mileage at a higher standard, but either way - it's definitely worth getting on a 7b at some point, just so you know how it feels.
> On the note of mileage, here's a few other routes at the various crags mentioned which are well worth a look:
> Lorry Park
> On the Road (6c+) - best 6c+ in the Peak
> Supercrack (7a) - long, sustained and superb
> Masson (aka. the ultimate high 6/low 7 mileage crag)
> Long Black Veil (7a) - soft 7a if my logbook entry is to be believed
> Masson Accomplished (7a+) - soft 7a+ if my logbook entry is to be believed
> The Cows, The Cows (7a+) - hard 7a+ if my logbook entry is to be believed
> Nice One Masson (7a+) - more sustained than it is pumpy, but also a little steeper too
> As before, each comment re: grading comes with a caveat that I may or may not have being going well at the time, so be warned (and good luck)!
Some great advice and good suggestions there. I’ve often considered Supercrack (7a) as a route id like to try. Also, Masson probably suits my style, I did Hilti Sound System (7a) a couple of years ago.
big zipper is a great choice, it's even better if you finish properly by getting stood up over the lip. Makes clipping the chains trivial rather than terrifying to watch!
Old man river is great, but save it for when you do the direct finish, it makes it so much better!
mind of a turbot is soft, but quite frustrating, you'll either piss it or fall of it repeatedly!
Beef it is nice, but a bit of a cop out (and the anchor is hard to see!)
Hells angels is a good shout. Probably 7a+ if you sidle up the groove more than you know you should, but it feels a bit spicier for it. Definitely take 7b for swinging straight onto the face by the bolt after the ledge.
And finally, a few more to throw in the mix
Whose Line is it Anyway? (7a+) - take 7b for this
Secret Gudgeon Society (7b) - a tricky and bold finish
The Third Order (7b) - good for strong short legged folks
Higher Ominous Bush (7b) - nice and techy, quite low in the grade
Never to Look Back (7b) - great position
Any of the 7bs at the Embankment (chee dale) would fit the bill.
Deep Rake is worth checking out - not exactly pretty but the routes are classic quarried lime face climbing and the ones I've done were all soft, including My Body is a Stemple (7b). When I say soft, I mean they might be about right for the grade but soft compared to Chee Dale.
I found Snails of the Riverbank (7b) (s)nails, on the list of ones to try again... The other Cornice routes are all great and generally solid at the grade (that is, nails at most other crags!). The other Cornice (WCJ) is well worth visiting for a bit of variety and to collect your Incapacity Benefit (7a+) after you've crossed your Rubicon (7a).
Not in the Peak but if you ever find yourself passing by Llanymynech, it's a great place to head for long stamina routes. Not many 7bs but there are a few and loads in the 6c to 7a+ range.
Last time I was at Masson Lees I did Exo6 which I thought was great -I think it’s 7a/7a+. There was a guy next to me on Exorcised (7b) which looked brilliant. That’s what I want to do next time I go there.
Someone pulled the crux hold (already glued on) off exo6 last year (end of September?). So maybe same grade as exorcised now. Will keep getting harder until something new glued on as rest of the rock is cheese.
I'd second the recommendation for Virtual Insanity (7b). Most of the other routes on the main wall there are good or better so there's plenty there for a number of visits.
Big Zipper (7b) is also great. And a great route for getting used to long, safe falls when you pump out just before the chains.
I don't agree with Old Man River (7b) as a first one to go at. Just checked my logbook and I had 4 sessions on it when I was going pretty well. I thought it was closer to 7b+. (Edit) It's a great route though.
This is really making me want to get out on some rock again!
Virtual insanity is a good choice, but very overbolted which makes it hard to focus on the actual climbing!
Old man river is definitely powerful, but probably not sustained enough for the + as it's all in the first few metres.
Hungry eyes is a good shout, though it is prone to seepage later than the rest of the. Embankment. If it is, just get on No Hiding Plaice (7a+) instead.
Never been to Lorry Park Quarry but psyched to get there this year based on positive feedback from at least four different climbing partners.
I agree about no + for Old Man River. But it's a question of style. I'm not very powerful (same as the OP from what he said) and so I found it harder than e.g. Cosmopolitan which is more technical and sustained
yeah seems fair, but that might be because cosmo is only mid 7b anyway ;)
I found the bottom of old man river ok. Crux was definitely the moves up and left from the top of the flake.
> I don't agree with Old Man River (7b) as a first one to go at. Just checked my logbook and I had 4 sessions on it when I was going pretty well. I thought it was closer to 7b+. (Edit) It's a great route though.It has a slightly extended finish and is given 7b+ in guides now. Possibly a bit of a soft one but I agree not a good first 7b.
Two of my favourite Peak 7b's are at Harpur Hill, Ratline and Power of Soul. Both are fairly short so not too much to remember and are on excellent rock. Ratline is sustained over it's 4 bolt length. Power of Soul is admittedly cruxy but more fingery and techy than powerful, almost like a gritstone climb with bolts. Ratline was upgraded somewhere I believe but a friend of mine did it last year and confirmed nothing has changed and it was still 7b (just don't try to climb directly up the crack though).
I also think The Masson Chronicles at Masson Lees is very good too. Rock on the upper section is a little loose but the hard climbing is over by then.
Extended to where? I did it in 2018 and it had the same lower off as Old Man River. Does it go further now?
Originally traversed left at the top of the right facing flake, into groove of that was the river. Has been a direct since 1995 which blasts straight up to a small tree. Consensus for most seems to be 7c for that way.
I did both this year. I think 7b and 7c is right. I thought the direct was piss and well soft and then fell off it for ages, so 7c is probably about right. It is certainly not soft 7b+ as per stps view!
The saga in Australia's Grampians continues as Parks Victoria have released a draft of their management plan for the area. If the plan is adopted, it would mean that access to roughly 80% of the existing climbing would be banned.