So, while out for a bit of exercise off-territory at Stanage the other night I had a look at this HVS just left of the bumbly nemesis (but actually pretty easy) Gunter at High Neb.
After finding the initial mantel quite awkward, I just couldn't work out to get any further than the next obvious foothold. Intrigued, I arranged a toprope but barely got any further. Obviously I'm now old and weak and short, and there's an extra bit of post lockdown rustiness but it's been a while since I couldn't get up HVS on a rope.
On the logbooks it doesn't look much travelled by Stanage standards, and there are a few gritstone wads on the list, but is there some beta that would allow a mere mortal to get to the first break (and preferably the second one too)? HVS 5c implies a boulder problem to me but there's no obvious gear and it isn't a good landing...
Hmmm. That's exactly the sort of route I used to climb, or at least have a look and try, all the time when I lived in Sheffield. I remember the name, but it seems I didn't do it for some reason. I'm guessing cause the landing is bollox and the line uninspiring? That would be my usual reason for walking away and not bothering...
That is absolutely no help to you whatsoever, I'm just procrastinating (car to empty of junk, shopping to do, should even go to the tip, all within the next hour).
Short, little HVS 5c's are always a bitch on grit. They'd typically get a Font grade if done now. It's also quite likely that if you went back on a cold, crisp day and feel infinitely easier.
I've done the route, but can't remember it at all. Soz.
> I'm guessing cause the landing is bollox and the line uninspiring? That would be my usual reason for walking away and not bothering...
It's actually quite an attractive little wall but the landing isn't great. Mostly, though, it just seems to have quite big gaps where there aren't any holds.
> Short, little HVS 5c's are always a bitch on grit. They'd typically get a Font grade if done now. It's also quite likely that if you went back on a cold, crisp day and feel infinitely easier.
I did wonder whether it was mostly done by locals for whom 5c was a path or perhaps over a big pile of pads with spotters.
It'd be from well before the days of pad piles (medical condition?). Anything small and hard (oh dear) was hvs 5c, eg. NTBTA, DIY, etc.
Always worth looking at our website (needs a browser that still supports Flash, like Puffin)
We thought E2 5c...technical moves between blind breaks and no gear to a sloping ledge. A dangerous sandbag.
> A dangerous sandbag.
I haven't survived this long without breaking my legs without spotting these!
Can you reach the first thin break from the little pockety foothold just off the first ledge? Surely not? Scratching up standing on the little black crystal - 6a at least?
Just checked my logbook and I did it in 1993 (pre pads) but unfortunately can’t offer any beta as I can’t remember a thing............
Sorry but I can't remember that much detail. I was climbing well at the time, a mid-extreme leading friend led it, who helped me a lot with BMC checking, and that was the notes and grade view from the time.
Edit..just checked the logbooks and Mike led it on July 3rd 2010.
I’ve got a feeling I was there when it was put up, mid ‘80s I think, but can’t remember who it was. Shaun Hutson used to use that phrase I think. Too long ago now. I guessed 5c/6a when I did it again with pads. E1 would have been ridiculed for that route back in the day, but maybe reflects a more modern landscape fairly.
Just looked up first ascent, it was John Allen in 1986.
I also did this back in the days of living in Sheffield and evenings on grit. I don't remember any specifics, just hard and scary.
I'm intrigued, though...
"Obviously I'm now old and weak and short,"
Was there a time when you were not short?
> "Obviously I'm now old and weak and short,"
> Was there a time when you were not short?
Unfortunately, these things are cumulative.
Yes, it's a physical fact that one does actually get shorter with age. At 71, I'm about ¾" shorter than I was at the age of 18.
No, no, no, the foot/inch has got longer, it's due to decimalisation or 5G or Europe or something. Now we have Brexit we can have iconic British blue tape measures and you will have your 3/4" back!
Thanks for removing the scales from my eyes. At last I can see a possible benefit of Brexit. I'm so glad that your new 'revised' measure will be that nice blue colour that we all adore.
The adjectival grade on such routes is simply that which an average competent leader of the grade has a better than average chance to ground up onsight (without mats). It's at least high end E1 and I'm sticking with solid E2 unless we missed something. UK trad grading is a brilliant system for onsighting up to the mid extremes and I find it depressing how commonly it is misused by people who should know better.
I did get to help upgrade another JA HVS gem to E1, The Vegas Years (it's possibly an E2)...imagine something like The Link at Stanage with even more exposure and no pro for the crux.
At Curbar: the Big Rocker hanging arete, it's bold but brilliant on the crux section out to the base and up. Well worth its star.
I think checking all the sub E1 routes (and as many above that as I could) on the draft Curbar script was probably my favourite experience in the Froggatt work. It was hard to find partners, often hard to climb the routes, and just as I was beginning to despair at the task, my pal Liam stepped up and all the remaining routes were done in a few glorious weeks.
> At Curbar: the Big Rocker hanging arete, it's bold but brilliant on the crux section out to the base and up. Well worth its star.
> I think checking all the sub E1 routes (and as many above that as I could) on the draft Curbar script was probably my favourite experience in the Froggatt work. It was hard to find partners, often hard to climb the routes, and just as I was beginning to despair at the task, my pal Liam stepped up and all the remaining routes were done in a few glorious weeks.
That sounds great. We're definitely spoilt with routes and guidebooks in this area. Whenever I climb anywhere else I always find it strange that obvious variations, eliminates and 'squeeze betweens' aren't documented. Just because a route isn't 3 star doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile (an exception to this is Southern Sandstone where eliminates etc are truly in force 🙂.
I knew a climber who still had his medical records from when he was called up for military service in the 1950's, which contained his height at the time. Therefore he knew exactually how much he 'shrunk' over the years, I do not remember the actual amount but it was considerably more than 3/4".
> OK, I get it. It's the John Allen 6a kind of HVS.
Well, of course. If it's graded HVS 5c and it's by John Allen, it will involve scary 6a climbing. Offwidth's problem (and yours too, by the looks) is that he doesn't understand how the grading system works.
I see that I soloed it exactly 25 years ago; I remember nothing about it at all, but no doubt I would now suffer the same fate as you.
Thanks for helping prove my point. Attitudes like that just damage trad grading and hence the future of the trad game. The route quality doesn't change with a fair grade (which I clearly thought was scary 5c, not 6a).
I happily praised John, over a pint at guidebook launches, for the quality of movement in these less famous lines of his. He shared the joy of climbing movement and didn't seem the least fixated on labels.
> Thanks for helping prove my point. Attitudes like that just damage trad grading and hence the future of the trad game.
All the classic routes that people do have had their grades reviewed and reviewed and updated and inflated over decades and decades. The future of trad climbing does not rest on there being a consistent-as-possible grade provided for every last tiny eliminate on gritstone! Your checking work is valuable because it improves the quality of the guides, and that's great so thank you, but trad climbing is not threatened with extinction because of quirky grades on obscure routes (now more likely boulder problems) that reflect the culture of the time they were put up.
I think it's funny that there is a very specific difficulty and style given by "HVS 5c, F.A. John Allen 1986 (wink)" which only a handful of people in the world understand.
> I knew a climber who still had his medical records from when he was called up for military service in the 1950's, which contained his height at the time. Therefore he knew exactually how much he 'shrunk' over the years, I do not remember the actual amount but it was considerably more than 3/4".
Ah. Good to see it confirmed with other people.
It's funny how it's no longer 'melodrama' and grading becomes more serious when it's at higher grades. All we looked for was rough consistency for all routes on an edge sub- extreme. We didn't mind if some areas felt a bit harder on average than others but we always lobbied to remove dangerous sub extreme sandbags.
It's pretty obvious trad climbing is in a slight decline and in addition is 'honey-potting' more; so leaving lower grade 'mines' around is just dumb if we want people to lead with confidence and enjoy good unstarred routes and keep them clean and help spread the load.
Generally if the guidebook draft said HVS and when checking we thought E2 we would suggest a grade change to E1. During our work alongside big teams, about a third of non starred routes were upgraded on that basis to be more consistent with the big classics (with a few downgrades). In comparison much fewer starred routes changed grades. We always worked within teams and accepted being outvoted. We also adjusted slightly for what were percieved as grade averages for teams (easiest for Stanage and hardest for YMC). All our trad grades were for onsight attempts without mats. As another sense check only a tiny number of Rockfax grades are two out from our current view.
Where routes are climbed as trad and as highballs there are further complications. As a boulder problem above a stack of mats WFE is I'd guess highball f6A . That combination of trad and font needs to be roughly consistent as well...E1/2 5c means the route doesn't just have a crux start. In a few places the John Cox style attitude had left some sandbag 5a highball routes as fairly graded f6As in bouldering scripts, which is just nuts.
Edit...in the '83 guide (the benchmark when JA climbed WFE), Punklet and Pedlars Rib were both HVS 5c. JA also climbed So Many Classics as an HVS 5c in '84.
Careful Jon, or someone will be handing out a lecture on the grading system. Oh, it just popped up.
I did climb it back in the day when it was a route to solo, and more recently as a Boulder prob like most of the great JA routes. A Boulder grade is prob available and most useful.
So do you think So Many Classics should have stayed at the '89 grade of HVS 5c as well? I'm sorry if I don't share your humour in lower grade climbers facing significant risk of breaking their legs on a joke graded trad lead. Past editors felt it OK to upgrade more popular easier routes of that style, we just made recommendations on the harder less popular ones they missed.
"All the classic routes that people do have had their grades reviewed and reviewed and updated and inflated over decades and decades."
I almost let this slip.. Go back and look at the '83 Stanage guide and see how the sub extreme two and three star classic grades have shifted since then. The answer is much less than most would expect and nothing like enough to justify the grumbles of some old men who want to spin a vision of massive modern grade creep. The only large period of grade creep was when those old men were in charge.....as protection increased through the 60s into the mid 80s (to when we had something like a modern rack) and the crack routes that became much safer mainly stayed at the same grade and the still bold routes often went up.. The earliest Peak guides took great care in grading........climbed in the style of the day with the strengths of the day they made sense. I celebrate that in the most modern guides we are back in that position where guidebooks started. The experience of the route is what matters and labels designed to help shouldn't get in the way of that; whatever the climbers lead grade.
> Well, of course. If it's graded HVS 5c and it's by John Allen, it will involve scary 6a climbing. Offwidth's problem (and yours too, by the looks) is that he doesn't understand how the grading system works.
Well, I guess there only two grades, the ones you can do and the ones you can't.
I'm fine with not being able to do a John Allen 5c move (well, disappointed, because there was a time...) but on grit individual moves can easily be 5b, 5c or 6a depending on conditions, reach, thickness of your fingers or whatever. Let's just say it's obviously pretty thin and technical.
What is less defensible, I think, is to imply that either the hard bit is jump-offable or that, despite appearances, it's actually pretty well protected, which is my understanding of what HVS 5c means. Like, say, Banana Finger without pads. I was going to say Birthday Groove but I see that's E1 now anyway. If WFE carries on being even close to as hard near the top as it is at the bottom it's definitely not a boulder problem.
It's only some old men. The overblown grade creep moaners are very much a minority. Most older climbers I know are a delight to climb and socialise with and very fair minded. As a simple example of this non agist point, I'm retired myself now. Plus I've argued against plenty of specific over-grades here over the yeas from Nosferatu at E7, down to Bowfell Buttress at HS.
I see the rose tinted few as similar to the BMC troublemakers over the last few years. These people don't represent modern climbing, much as they would like to.