/ Who’s your desert island first ascentionist?
after the success of the best single pitch in the country thread, I’d like to ask this....
if you were going to live on an island whose crags were made up of the routes of only one UK first ascentionist, who would that be?
bear in mind that you’re gonna have to live with these routes for a long time, so be careful what you wish for, unless you want to live the rest of your life grinding up Rock and Ice ‘classics’ 😳
Looking forward to seeing what comes up
Easy for me, though I’d have to get a lot better to make it last to its full potential.
The big guns are being brought out early!
A huge number of routes and a variety of styles. I also look forward to having 20 years worth of well bolted, but mediocre quarried routes for my dotage.
> unless you want to live the rest of your life grinding up Rock and Ice ‘classics’ 😳
For a huge number of characterful routes, in a wide variety of styles, in interesting places all over the UK, in the VS to E3 range, it will be Joe Brown.
Toss up between Pat Littlejohn or Joe Brown. Cant i have two ?
> Gary Gibson
> A huge number of routes and a variety of styles. I also look forward to having 20 years worth of well bolted, but mediocre quarried routes for my dotage.
Will the day come on your island when you say ‘ I’m going to spend some quality time at Goddards Quarry’?
> Toss up between Pat Littlejohn or Joe Brown. Cant i have two ?
It wouldn’t be so much fun then....anyway, neither of them are the ‘right’ answer 😊
Can I have Steve McClure please? That way I can be 100% sure I'll always have something I haven't already done to work on.
Robin Smith. A "Smith route" generally finds an elegant and devious line through uncompromising territory. I don't think I have done a bad one.
I have to second that about Smith routes. Good summary.
I'm sure all the above are very worthy candidates, but I'm going for Colin Kirkus. Wonderful lines and nearer my grade!
In my dreams it would be Mick Fowler or Andy Nisbet. Meanwhile, back on planet earth it' most likely Harold Reaburn-still marvel at Crowberry Gully done with hobnail boots and step cutting!? WTF?
> if you were going to live on an island whose crags were made up of the routes of only one UK first ascentionist, who would that be?
Has to be Joe Brown
As PLJ has been taken I'll go a generation earlier and offer Tom Patey.
For an interesting life I would go with Menlove Edwards.
Or Allan Austin (In my dreams)
However I could probably second Chris Bonington.
A. N. Other. Often the most interesting and unpredictable
Johnny Dawes. If I have all the time in the world, I might as well aspire to Braille Trail etc.
Otherwise, yeah Pat Littlejohn.
> Will the day come on your island when you say ‘ I’m going to spend some quality time at Goddards Quarry’?
That's exactly it. I've driven past a thousand 3 star grit routes twice this week to have a good quick hit of obscure limestone sport. I've done, and then repeated a lot of Joe Brown routes. On my desert island I want to still have the occasional onsight to do.
Sometimes quantity has a quality all of its own!
It may look as if I'm just copying others, but like Graham I have a problem deciding (ridiculous really to put one in front of the other). Joe Brown, Pat Littlejohn and Johnny Dawes are for me the big stand-outs - because they have had that extraordinary vision of seeing 'crazy' route possibilities where no-one else has ... and then done them. ((Quite a good example of free will, actually. Nothing pre-destined them to do those routes: they invented them.))
Gary Gibson would really be the sensible option. Thousands of routes, Prognosis and Diagnosis at Pic Tor were my first GG leads after I’d not been climbing too long and made me feel like I was getting somewhere. He got a bad press, most of his routes that I’ve done have been great, even brilliant.
However, my choice is the mighty John Allen. Stuff to lead, London Wall, Great Wall and loads more, but the main event is the all the highballs over a stack of mats. I’ll take his gritstone micro routes to a desert island. West Side Story, Moontan, Chip Shop Brawl, Shirley’s Shining Temple for starters please!
John Allen. There's something special about his routes. I'd take the lot and do (fail?) them on a shunt. I'd have his boulder problems down by the beach. Let's set sail for happiness.
This is off topic, as they are not UK first ascensionists, but as Ivm a continental guy I"d prefer the Remy collection. Some sport, some multipitch sport, some more alpine stuff and probably enaugh to last the rest of my life.
If we have continental stuff then Jacky Godoffe trumps everything and that wouldn’t be fair 😎
Pat L. It’s not close.
My brain says Pat Littlejohn, but my heart says George Smith. The sheer quantity of four star routes, in places I love to climb, makes the former the rational choice. But my dreams are made of the upside down world which the latter pioneered so flawlessly. A tough decision.
I'd like to have a few routes I might manage;-)
Must admit that it’s really difficult, and I hadn’t considered Pat Littlejohn which would give loads of sea sun and limestone, or George Smith. I could live with Simon Panton’s NW boulder problems.
which got me thinking about a bit of an all rounder, so my last and final decision is....John Dunne. I get Malham, Ilkley and a great swathe of other totally classic stuff, and a lifetime falling off them. That’s me dunne ;-)
Would anyone ever tire of repeating Aurthur Birtwhistle's:
Upper Tor Wall
All beautiful routes in stunning locations...
Lakes-centric and lower grades, but what about Jim Birkett? Tick-list courtesy of C Witter here...
You beat me to it!
Arthur Dolphin for the grades I climb and aspire to climb
Birtwistle was a decade ahead of his time really. He also soloed the first pitch of Vember (the drainpipe crack). On Priscilla Ridge, Pulpit Ridge, and Diagonal, he had no protection at all.
Just been re-reading his interview in your book: you've got to wonder what would have happened if he had transferred his use of chalk in the gym to prospecting new routes and how it would have changed UK climbing history.
> Bentley Beetham
You beat me to it! After all, I'd need some routes I could do.
that was my thinking exactly. I'd hope for something like the WSW Ridge of Toubhkal higher up on the island too.
You'd have a lot of sunbathing to do
Me. My desert island is covered in unclimbed rock.
But Pat Littlejohn, obviously.
No one has mentioned Whillans yet. I know he didn't do that many lines but they nearly all had character and a grim struggle for most.
> No one has mentioned Whillans yet.
> I know he didn't do that many lines but they nearly all had character and a grim struggle for most.
>> No one has mentioned Whillans yet.
>> I know he didn't do that many lines but they nearly all had character and a grim struggle for most.
> Question answered.
Do the rules dictate that the lines have to be tackled in the same style, using equivalent gear?
Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not putting down Whillans or his routes. Many of them are fantastic. But if I could only climb one person's routes, I'd choose someone with less of an attraction to routes that end up with words like struggle or desperate in their guidebook descriptions. But maybe I'm just sore about being bested by Chequer's Crack!
> Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not putting down Whillans or his routes. Many of them are fantastic. But if I could only climb one person's routes, I'd choose someone with less of an attraction to routes that end up with words like struggle or desperate in their guidebook descriptions. But maybe I'm just sore about being bested by Chequer's Crack!
Don't worry, I never thought you were putting Whillans down! I would also never choose Whillans on this thread, though I admire his climbing achievements a lot. PS like you I couldn't manage Chequers Crack (HVS 5c) !
This was a possible choice for me as I have done several of his routes and could possibly still do them. Then I remembered Downfall Groove - given Severe at the time but HVS in later guides. He was some climber - I am still looking forward to reading a Biography of him.
Thanks for this reply. I have read Craddock's book (borrowed it from an owner as it is out of print) but I felt that it fell short of being a biography. Much of the content was simply a re-visit of Puttrell's own diaries. It didn't really reveal the character behind the achievements. However it is great that at least there is a catalogue of the climbs of a remarkable pioneer. If anyone has a copy to sell I would buy it for a sensible price.
> Do the rules dictate that the lines have to be tackled in the same style, using equivalent gear?
Hiya, you get the crags with the lines and climb them however you want to. (Gets ready to duck) bolting grit is ok, it’s your crag, knock yourself out if that floats your boat ;-)
>Much of the content was simply a re-visit of Puttrell's own diaries.
None of JWP’s diaries remain these days. His collections of cuttings and memorabilia do, but no specific diaries.
>It didn't really reveal the character behind the achievements.
I don’t believe Craddock was a climber, nor That he had any connection to the Puttrell family. A family member told me that he was looking for a book project and someone suggested JWP.
To understand the man you really have to take a long look at his collection and photographs; they’re fascinating.
> You'd have a lot of sunbathing to do
I reckon I can knuckle down and face up to that if forced.
Bloody Hell! I've read the whole thread and there's not one mention of Ron!
Lord of the Flies
The Cave Routes
Who wouldn't aspire to have those, plus all his other classics on a desert island?
Another vote for Pat Littlejohn.
John Earl or Bob Hutchinson would be my choice
Someone who's not yet been mentioned, but produced some top-draw routes: Al Evans.
To be honest, I'm not even sure what that list would entail, but it would be great to find out. I'm sure I've spotted his name as first ascentionist much further afield that expected. But, at the very least, there are those great Trowbarrow Routes, North-west Passage and Freebird on Gogarth... what else? Could someone put a ticklist together?
Talking of Gogarth, I'm sure Ed Drummond would provide a nice variety - from the deeply pleasurable to the terrifying - and as a bonus, you'd surely get to also read his accounts of climbing alongside the routes.
And Careless Torque.....
my original list to whittle down was
Ron, Ben, Jerry, Gaskins!, Dunne, Johnny Woodward, John Allen.
I was being sensible in the first instance because if you set your mind to it, you can actually do a lot of the John Allen routes/boulder problems, and to my mind it’s the most elegant set of climbs as is the Johnny Woodward collection.
As the two best climbers we’ve produced, it’s aspirational, but Ben and Jerry routes are just too hard. Ditto Gaskins, but there would be a perverse joy in having Il Pirata and Violent New Breed in the back garden.
I’m never going to have John Dunne’s strength or footwork, ditto Ron. So I’m back with my original, insular Peak-centric choice of JA.
I looked it up and my last climb in Pembroke was Get Some In at St Govans, Easter 1989, so for my sins, sea cliff limestone doesn’t seem to float my boat when choosing destinations. I do get how PL seems to be the most popular on this thread though.
I think Al did Windrete at Millstone too, a very memorable route for me .
I mentioned Smith earlier. But it probably has to be a vote for Dave Cuthbertson, for sheer quality, quantity and variety all over Scotland. I've been enjoying a lot of his routes of late.
Eye of the Tiger.
Etc etc. Yes Ron would be my choice too. Picked the plums across the board in the eighties. Surprised nobody’s mentioned Livesey yet. Basher just for supercool....
> Someone who's not yet been mentioned, but produced some top-draw routes: Al Evans.
> To be honest, I'm not even sure what that list would entail, but it would be great to find out.
I'm sure you're right, your desert island would have some wonderful routes on it.
And deep in the litter-strewn woods in the middle of the island somewhere, a big chunk of Stannington Ruffs! ;-)
I'll go French with Manuel Marquez. Arguably, one of the greatest first ascentionists of hard quality lines in history.
I agree about the Ben and Jerry routes. Classics, but (mostly) out of reach.
Livesey produced many, many classics, Gaskins, not so much (and most of them are way beyond most peoples pay grade).
But with Ron, you've got classics on Trad, Sport, bouldering, Grit, Lime, the mountains, sea cliffs. The whole spectrum of UK climbing, at grades which, with some training and effort, are accessible to many.
> I'll go French with Manuel Marquez. Arguably, one of the greatest first ascentionists of hard quality lines in history.
Not on this thread you won’t ... ;-)
If someone in the U.K., probably Littlejohn or, if I maybe wanted a wider blend of styles (my perception, at least, I’m not sure how much Littlejohn has done that’s since been turned into sport, for example, but some days you may not fancy quite so much of an adventure), perhaps Crocker for a slightly more off the wall choice.
Outside the U.K., maybe Piola - it would give me acres of good multipitch trad and semi-bolted granite and other such things, plus a huge range of excellent single pitch sport climbing..... a good pick for variety I feel...
Ray McAffie would be useful, you could have Borrowdale surrounded by a beach, idyllic!
Can you roller skate on sand?
Safest place to do it I'm my experience, takes ages to put them on while wearing boxing gloves though.
It’s a toss up between Pat and Ron for me. Both picked some of the best routes out over what has to be the golden age of British trad climbing.
Maybe Pat pips Ron in quantity but Ron maybe pips Pat in variety?
I couldn’t call who did the best routes.
A tough call.
For me it would be a first ascentionist whose limit was Severe so I could feel all superior and big headed all the time and be the best climber on the whole of that island.
J W Puttrell?
After a quick Internet search on this chap I think he would be too daring and probably a better climber tbh so nah it would be better for me if this climbing partner was scared of heights or a real novice bumbly then I could lord it over them and be all superior, seemingly fearless and really talented in their eyes.
Yea I take that over always going " oh <insert name> how can you be such an incredible climber?" and "man! No way! How did you just climb that?" and "not another bloody E4 5C success ! Thats 200 now this year and I'm still stuck on VS 4C!"
Ps. Just joking 🙂
That Simon bloke who used to put up fake photos of hard new boulder routes on obscure bits of Scottish coastline
You have misunderstood the question
A bit leftfield for many down south but I’m going to go with Dougie Dinwoodie, a host of routes in the NE of Scotland then the likes of Creag an Dubh Loch, Carnmore, Reiff, Kilt and many others. I suspect he’s unknown to many here.
This week's Friday Night Video follows mapmaker Joey Henson who has been drawing stunning maps of the boulders in North Carolina for many years. The film follows Joey and a community of rock climbers as they climb, document and preserve the...