Roaches Upper Tier I am considering soloing “the sloth” on the upper tier, I was hoping for some beta and advice on how to prepare as I’m comfortable with climbing 5a but then I can flash a soft 7a in a gym, but from my understanding it is very different between outdoor and indoor. Any advice would be appreciated.
Make sure the area beneath is clear of innocent bystanders. A really wet day or late at night should be OK.
If you have to ask it's probably a bad idea
Climb another 200 grit routes, then think about it again.
Climb it on lead. Then half way through thank your lucky stars your on a rope.
If you've climbed it a number or times, feel confident and conditions are good and still want to solo it then ask yourself the question why?
Actually, if your profile is genuine and you really are 16, I'm sorry. I need to be clear; I was joking. It's a ridiculous idea. Have you ever even led HVS? Let's put it this way, if I was going up to the Roaches to solo an HVS, it wouldn't be the Sloth.
You could always do what I call alternative soloing. Place gear on lead up until the sling around the block at the back of the roof, find yourself in extremis on the lip cos you're weak and can't jam, and then go for it anyway on face holds and some how find yourself on top. Actually, scratch that.
While bits of it are similar to a juggy roof climb you might find indoors, it's a whole different experience that you can't really prepare for climbing indoors. Trad grades also don't compare well with indoor sport grades, although the Rockfax tables are pretty good!
I would really recommend climbing it with a rope and gear on lead or second (depending how much placing gear you have done, I really wouldn't recommend it as a learning to place gear route!)
Get back under the bridge
Having attempted to onsight solo Flying Buttress Direct (E1 5b) which is in someway a similar proposition I have the following comments:
I set myself strict limits on how tired I was allowed to feel and down climbed as soon as that threshold was reached. This led, in retrospect, to me backing off near the top and reversing back through the entire roof. I do still have the onsight solo awaiting me as everybody agrees that a controlled retreat to a rest preserves the onsight.
I was also soloing a lot of gritstone routes at the time!
I'm thinking this might be a troll...
Fairly impressive reversing the roof, I don't think I could have, you'd have likely found it a lot easier to have pushed on for the top!
To the OP:
What's your motivation?
Why not find a friend and lead it?
It's far from the ideal candidate for an onsight solo if you're not used to gritstone climbing.
Your profile points towards someone who isn't a troll so here goes:
You're comparing two different grades on your post. Don't take advice on soloing, and most importantly, don't solo The Sloth.
Trip trap trip trap went the bridge.
0/5 for trolling ...
weak sauce and not good at all.
crawl back under the bed or mommy's lap to grow.
I agree. I had however set myself limits. I was not going to go any higher than I was 100% confident in down climbing. I met that limit and backed off.
At the time I was soloing a lot of routes and that was the rule that made me happy. Generally I always stuck to it although there were a couple of routes where I pushed it a bit far.
It's regarded as E1 territory and HVS climbing. Just looking at someone climbing it from the belay on Right Route put the willies up me, and he was cruising it with a rope.
If you would feel comfortable cutting loose on a horizontal roof, 20m off the deck then more power to you. However I would suggest you have MANY grades in hand to attempt it. Once committed, there is no way you're getting back to the cheese block. If you make it to the lip and fudge it, there's a good chance you're dead.
You'll be fine, just don't let go, 7a gives you plenty in hand.
> I do still have the onsight solo awaiting me as everybody agrees that a controlled retreat to a rest preserves the onsight.
That's one long shakeout you must be having. Surely you can't still be pumped?
When I was just a bit older and maybe only a little bit wiser than you, I attempted to solo The Sloth onsight. I pulled round the lip and found that the holds were covered in snow (it had started snowing without me noticing). I reversed safely to the ground. So best pick a day without snow showers. Probably avoid rain too. And have a bit in reserve in case of retreat.
It was in 2009.............................
> Having attempted to onsight solo Flying Buttress Direct (E1 5b)............ backing off near the top and reversing back through the entire roof.
How tall are you? I too retreated from high on the route from an onsight solo attempt. I only just managed to get purchase with my feet back on the slab by swinging and I am 6'4". I felt it might have been more or less im possible for the short!
6ft. I worked out a reversible method first and I did the retreat onto the slab a couple of times first before heading further up. I had many grades in hand at the time and had a static'ish method if I recall.
This was for me what made trying to onsight it acceptable.
Go and lead Pedestal route (just to the left but uses the same start) and then come back and tell us if you fancy soloing the Sloth.
7a indoor vs HVS fist jamming and hauling on friable grit flakes...
I'll be honest it's not one I'd consider soloing. It's a great route, but the flakes you haul on through the roof flex a little from memory and may come off one day, then through the roof it gets a little more 'traditional' fist and hand jams from memory. What's your reason for wanting to solo it anyway?
Please let me know when you plan to solo it, I'll gladly shout up advice!!!
It actually used to be graded HS back in the day, but stiff at that grade! The climbing is relatively easy for the grade. We sometimes used to downclimb it, but the flakes are a bit creaky so that,s probably the main risk. You should absolutely know if you can solo it before you set off.
> It actually used to be graded HS back in the day ...
The Sloth? I find that difficult to believe. In which guidebook?
> You should absolutely know if you can solo it before you set off.
That's not possible.
That is possible if you have enough grades in hand. Most solo climbers of harder routes absolutely know what they can or cannot do. No one I know has a death wish.
I think reversing Sloth, after the roof, is far more impressive than actually getting up it. It's not something I would relish. I seem to recall pulling out of the roof back to the vertical was the crux but this was in the late 60's so memory may be failing me. If memory does serve you are going from sharp jugs, albeit that you are hanging upside down to having to pull round on awkward hand jams.
To the OP: You are far, far too inexperienced to consider this, it's not a sensible idea. I don't care how many indoor 7a's you can get up, this is simply not the same in any shape, size or form.
I’ve wracked my fading memory and I think you’re correct. Sorry about that, but it was a long time ago. It was graded VS in the Roaches guide circa 1968/9. I think the argument was wether it was HS or VS and VS won out in the end.
No it isn't. I have solo climbed lots of routes, up to whatever my current lead grade was. You can know if you can climb the route, but you can never know if you can solo without injury or death. So many other factors to consider. Holds snapping, rockfall, being more tired than you expected, etc.
If you’ve soloed up to your lead grade, you might be lucky to be alive. I never really considered objective danger, but took extra care. Jimmy Jewel and Paul Williams we’re caught out by that. I hasten to add all this was a long time ago and some of the routes we soloed at Stoney was pure stupidity, but we got away with it.
> If you’ve soloed up to your lead grade, you might be lucky to be alive. I never really considered objective danger, but took extra care. Jimmy Jewel and Paul Williams we’re caught out by that. I hasten to add all this was a long time ago and some of the routes we soloed at Stoney was pure stupidity, but we got away with it.
I'm pretty sure there was a Don Whillans quote in one of the old guidebooks in which he said it was HS
Well he made the first ascent, so there you go.
Up to the Cheese block no problem then the roof, especially with no beta, ohh scary, hands left? hands right? jam? where do my feet go, ohhh its a long way down, I can't reverse, even a bit...
Can you operate confidently with that drop? -splat!
Assuming you do make it to the lip and you know where you're going and you're not blindly slapping for something good while your arms drain and your feet aren't finding anything that will hold you and the creaking flakes and the missing crumbly bits don't freak you out to might make the lip.
The worst bit, the horrible thrutchy balancey squirm into the big crack with your feet under where you can't see and the bulge pushing you out and that horribly insecure part chicken wing in the great man-eating crack (that you can't seem to get into) as your other hand flails around trying to find an actual hold but all there is is rough roundness - sure you've got friction galore but it's useless unless you can press and if you press you know you will surely, slowly, fall backwards out of the crack...
I actually think I might have nightmares about this tonight.
What a brilliant route and what a terrifying prospect.
> That is possible if you have enough grades in hand. Most solo climbers of harder routes absolutely know what they can or cannot do. No one I know has a death wish.
I would respectfully disagree about absolutely knowing what you can and can't do. There are two obvious variables - the state of the route and how you're feeling/operating on the day. Re the former, Robert's account of getting round the lip on the Sloth and finding the holds covered in snow, is a perfect example.
Re the latter, Jim Perrin wrote a great essay once about soloing in Bus Stop quarry, just down the road from where he then lived. He'd soloed stuff like Massambula, Scarlet Runner (on which a hold later snapped on me; luckily I was seconding), 1000 tons of Chickenshit. And then, a day or two later, he backed off Gnat Attack. Maybe he was tired. Maybe his mind was distracted and he wasn't in the mood. Maybe, as he wrote, he simply didn't fancy a particular move.
Which brings us to the third, crucial variable. With soloing, as long as you've got grades in hand (and here I totally agree with you - get grades in hand!), relative security of moves probably matters as much, if not more than grade (e.g. sharp 6a crimps, versus greasy 5b slopers).
If you solo as a way of life, you know full well that somewhere in the chamber is a bullet with your name on it. The trick is dodging that bullet.
> relative security of moves probably matters as much, if not more than grade (e.g. sharp 6a crimps, versus greasy 5b slopers).
To illustrate that I found soloing the slopy 4a/b traverse on Sword of Gideon far more worrying than the 5b moves on the direct start. Although there's also a bit height difference too!
I backed off part way through the roof, tucked my tail well and truly between my legs and haven't been back since. This was decades ago. It's that kind of route with a presence and an atmosphere out of all proportion to it's height. People stop and stare whenever someone's on it. One time I watched a guy go for it with his only runner a floppy sling on the cheeseblock. He really struggled on the lip and I thought he was done for, possibly in a very public and horrible way. Thankfully he just about managed to get back to the merely vertical and throw some more gear in.
Well, usually you know how you feel physically and modify your aspirations accordingly. That’s not to say that something might happen “en route”, as Al Rouse found out whilst soloing Kirkus,s corner and dislocating his shoulder which led to a hairy human pyramid rescue and surgery.
I think eyes might tell me the state of the route, but an unplanned retreat from round the lip of Sloth would be scary
I've always added an extra component or grade into my analysis.
I call it the popoffability factor.
It is my impression of the random failure chance. It's very different to the difficulty and could be thought of as an answer to the question of, if I climbed this move a hundred times, how many times would I fall off.
This can be seen at work with Alex Honnold on Freerider. He chose to solo the technically harder boulder problem pitch over the teflon corner as despite being easier the corner is notoriously popoffable.
Best troll for some time. Too often people spoil would would otherwise be a successful one by replying to their own thread, but you've managed to avoid the temptation and remained silent throughout. Well done!
> He'd soloed stuff like Massambula, Scarlet Runner (on which a hold later snapped on me; luckily I was seconding), 1000 tons of Chickenshit. And then, a day or two later, he backed off Gnat Attack. Maybe he was tired. Maybe his mind was distracted and he wasn't in the mood. Maybe, as he wrote, he simply didn't fancy a particular move.
I remember finding one move on Gnat Attack harder than anything on Massambula (and that's iffy enough - I'd never have soloed it)
> Best troll for some time.
I think creating a credible profile as a 16 year-old is cheating. That's why I cracked and gave some sensible advice. Maybe I was trolled but at least I don't have naive teenager on my conscience.
The only person I've ever seen climbing down The Sloth is Simon Nadin. I was taking pictures of him on his route Loculus Lie for my Peak book (he did it several times so that I could get different angles, shots) and used the Sloth as his 'descent route'. Made it look about as easy as coming down stairs.
Or is it a good Troll. It is too reasonable to be a good troll.
If you feel you are comfortable climbing 5a and generally flash french 7a then onsight soloing HVS is a reasonable thing to aspire to.
I climbed at that level for many years and during that time onsight soloed 209 HVSs. Whilst the majority of these were short gritstone routes there were a number of bigger more serous routes such as solo trips to Llawder, Crummackdale, Craig Bwlch y Moch, Carreg-y-Barcud, and Ravensdale.
The number I backed off off is multiples of that.
I have never hurt myself soloing. Bouldering however. That is dangerous. I had to stop climbing for several years after breaking my knee bouldering.
> If you solo as a way of life, you know full well that somewhere in the chamber is a bullet with your name on it. The trick is dodging that bullet.
Very much agree. When I was soloing a lot, some days, some moments, just felt 'right' - and that was when I went.
I had days where I onsight soloed E5, and then afterwards backed off a VS.
Softly, softly. I'm not a suspicious man, but those moments of decision seem to carry more weight than others. Instinct is a funny thing.
When I look back on being 16, and in my early 20's come to that, my perception of risk was rather different to my late 30's.
Do lots and lots of climbing on grit, of cracks, and hand jamming, and overhanging hand jamming, and then ponder it.
It ultimately seems to have turned out that emotional risks in one's personal life and leaving the comfort zone in that sense, is more rewarding than physical risks, along the lines of vulnerability and what have you.
My 16 year old self 'had no brain' when it came to physical risk.
Possibly google about the changes in the brain leading up to the age of 25 to do with risk perception...
> Do lots and lots of climbing on grit, of cracks, and hand jamming, and overhanging hand jamming, and then ponder it.
When I've soloed things that were serious, or anywhere near my leading grade, it was always when I'd been climbing a lot and in the relevant style. It seemed like a natural thing to do and I had no doubt as to the outcome.
The idea of just rocking up at a crag I didn't know, on rock I hadn't climbed on, involving a technique I'd barely ever done and soloing the steepest, scariest looking route on the highest part of the crag... wouldn't have struck me as very sensible.
Batshit crazy - in a friendly way - could be my term for it, but we mean the same thing.
Re. Bouldering v Soloing injuries I've had the same experience (albeit at lower grades). I used to often solo at or close to my leading grade (VS/HVS in those days) but only ever hurt myself once (the classic thing of "indestructible" 20-something being blase about an easy route I'd done loads of times) but nearly all my outdoor injuries have happened bouldering (several sprained ankles, a torn knee cartilage, broken hand, broken finger, sprained wrist and several ligament injuries). Isn't there a Whillans quote about the dangerous bit of climbing being near the ground?
It's the absolute golden rule of soloing isn't it - always be prepared to back off if something doesn't feel right. Listen to your body, pick your routes and pay close attention to what condition both you and the route are in that day. I've soloed E2s if they were nice short slabby ones on a good day but have also backed off Moderates.
> [On 'The Sloth']: One time I watched a guy go for it with his only runner a floppy sling on the cheeseblock. He really struggled on the lip and I thought he was done for, possibly in a very public and horrible way. Thankfully he just about managed to get back to the merely vertical and throw some more gear in.
I had the same experience many years ago - except, in my case, the person involved did finally fall off after a hell of a lot of thrashing around and shouting out.
It was a hideous fall to witness: he smashed into the slab below.
Didn't Justin Critchlow solo the Soth, and immediately afterwards someone led it and the main bit of the flake our young hero had been swinging on under the roof, broke?
To the OP: You will die. Please don't.
> Didn't Justin Critchlow solo the Soth, and immediately afterwards someone led it and the main bit of the flake our young hero had been swinging on under the roof, broke?
Yes, I think so. But none of the normal laws of nature apply to Justin.
Do it. Think we're a bit short of Darwin award nominees this year
"The meeting of two eternities, the past and the future."
When I was young and stupid I did a bit of soloing. My solo career ended when a hold broke and I went flying through the air crashed through a tree and ended up unconcious in a gorse bush. I woke up a bit later and staggered off to the pub and that was the end of my career as a soloist!
> When I was young and stupid I did a bit of soloing. My solo career ended when a hold broke and I went flying through the air crashed through a tree and ended up unconcious in a gorse bush. I woke up a bit later and staggered off to the pub and that was the end of my career as a soloist!
Was it a good pint?
> The only person I've ever seen climbing down The Sloth is Simon Nadin.
I was once there, must have been early 80s (stuck on Humdinger trying to sort out the reach). Some guy came along, soloed up Ruby Tuesday, down Sloth, asked if he could solo past me on Humdinger (thought I'd see how to do the reach move whilst "hiding" in the niche), then soloed down Saul's Crack. Might have been Phil Burke but I'm not sure.
At least it showed me exactly how to place my feet to do the move on Humdinger 😁
> Roaches Upper Tier I am considering soloing “the sloth” on the upper tier, I was hoping for some beta and advice on how to prepare as I’m comfortable with climbing 5a but then I can flash a soft 7a in a gym, but from my understanding it is very different between outdoor and indoor. Any advice would be appreciated.
HVS 5a is around F5c->F6a in technical terms, but it's 24 metres long and voted as closer to 5b technical so it could be more like soloing a long F6a+/F6b. If that sounds fine then go for it!
Have you bothered to read this thread? Lacking relevant experience, equating sport grades with trad is a recipe for disaster. And, again lacking relevant experience, basing soloing decisions purely on numerical grades - especially sport ones - is an invitation to an early death.
> Have you bothered to read this thread? Lacking relevant experience, equating sport grades with trad is a recipe for disaster. And, again lacking relevant experience, basing soloing decisions purely on numerical grades - especially sport ones - is an invitation to an early death.
Beat me to it! Didn't he also do it with a paper bag on his head? Keen to get keen!
Go see the latest Brit Rock Tour and watch Jesse Dufton lead it while being totally blind. Might get some ideas of what to expect. Then watch how Neil Gresham goes on whilst being blindfolded and on a top rope.
Hi Mick, I remember going back as a relatively new climber to routes like Hairless Heart, Sex Dwarves, Sniveling and thinking they had been fine to second, surely they’ll be ok to solo. Those three were all responsible for harrowing experiences where time stood still, holds and smears reduced in size to nothing, and the coefficient of friction was decreasing as every minute passed. Unfortunately those experiences are just words unless you are actually stood out on an ocean of blank grit, so it’s difficult to get across to someone posting for advice. So many times over the years repeating the mantra ‘I’m on top rope, I’m on top rope’!
Oddly enough, I never used the rop rope mantra (perhaps I should have) but you've beautifully summed up the 'it all goes to shit' experience where grades (and pretty much everything else!) go right out the window and you're confronting your imminent demise. Sex Dwarves seemed all right on the day (but it might not have been all right on another day). Have never done Sniveling. Hairless Heart seemed another kettle of fish altogether. If you're short of latching the first crimp on the top slab, it's a step up on pure friction and faith. I remember making the move several times, with Paul Mitchell, working the then unclimbed E6/7 to the left. Paul was having a bad night when it came to lead the latter. I was tempted to mutter the immortal line, "Do you mind if..." but thought it would not be well received.
Remember lurching for the break on Pebble Mill, sans corde. Another long reach for a shorty and one you really wouldn't want to fluff. But still seemed no way as dire as fluffing Hairless Heart.
> I remember finding one move on Gnat Attack harder than anything on Massambula (and that's iffy enough - I'd never have soloed it)
The problem with Massambula is not the top as you have a couple of bolts a few feet lower, but the start is pretty iffy and no real gear until that first bolt, a long way up. Gnat attack is really just one move but it must be polished as hell by now. I've soloed more on snow & ice and run it out on a few 5's, but as Mick says it really is a form of climbing Russian roulette.
Incidently, I seem to recall that Tony Ryan actually soloed Sloth in reverse in the early 80's!
>you've managed to avoid the temptation and remained silent throughout.
Or he's already tried it?
This week's Friday Night Video is an extra from the new film from Dark Sky Media: Undiscovered. The film explores Dave's obsession with exploration and climbing new routes in some of Scotland's most remote and scenic corners. This outtake...