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/ Scottish rock guidebooks - opinions?

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TobyA on 22 Aug 2018

As long as the weather isn't completely awful next week I'm going to Scotland for a week's climbing tour. I did this two summers ago with the same friend who is flying over to the UK for the trip; we got as far as Reiff, climbed in Glencoe, on Stac Pollaidh and at Diabeg as well as doing a route on Gimmer Crag in the Lakes on the way up and even stopping for a few routes at Trowbarrow before heading back to the airport on the last day. It was a great trip but totally reliant on being flexible to go where the weather looked good in Scotland.

I have the SMC area guides for all of Scotland, but the ones from the 90s along with Kev Howett's big bumper guidebook also late 80s or early 90s vintage. I think I can justify getting some slightly newer information, but what are people's opinions on the relative merits of the Latter-two volume rock climbs books versus the SMC Rock Climbing in Scotland book? I was looking at them in the shop yesterday and notice they all claim The Long Climb (VS) is a great climb, something that no one who has done it and left their thoughts on the UKC database seems to agree with! Gary Latter's books seem to have more cragging in them, the SMC book has the attraction of having everything in one volume, although I suspect info on the classic mountain routes up to VS/HVS which is where we are operating probably hasn't really changed at all.

Thoughts?

Thanks all.

Fergal - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

RE. the long climb thought this was excellent, the experience will depend on competency, it was a fun solo for me, if you are out of your comfort zone it may well be less appealing,  the guys having epics seem to fit into this bracket.

AlanLittle - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to Fergal:

The latest one is certainly a candidate for the "classic logbook entries" thread

vscott - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Hi Toby,

as you say - Latter has more valley cragging than SMC select - though for full coverage you need both Latter 1+2.

Personally generally found the SMC select workably adequate for follow the weather road trips as long as you’re not headed out to the islands. Enjoy! 

Doug on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Not used either guidebook but think the Long climb is a good day out, being long & finishing near the summit. As already said here & on other threads, it seems some find it a bit of a nightmare & I suspect they have unrealistic expectations &/or limited experience of rock climbs on big mountain crags. Approach it as an alpine rock climb & you'd be fine.

I've always regretted not trying Minus One Direct when I climbing well enough to have had a chance of climbing it. 

elliptic on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Me and my GF use both, and the SMC book is fine if you want a single volume you can actually carry with you, but the Latter guides are definitely better for browsing through (bigger pictures!) and have more access info etc.

The extra low-level cragging options are useful for iffy weather and  in some cases the mountain coverage is better as well - on Stac Pollaidh the SMC book has (I think) four routes all E grades while the Latter book has twenty or so including good stuff at lower grades eg. Release the Bats which should definitely be on your list if you didn't do it last time. I haven't yet found any areas where the SMC book has significantly more coverage.

 

Simon Caldwell - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to Doug:

I suspect that many doing the Long Climb are only doing so because it's in Classic Rock, and don't otherwise do so many big "alpine" mountain routes. Clachaig Gully also gets more than its fair share of negative comments, but is a great climb of its type - probably most who do it will never do another gully climb (apart from The Chasm and Great Gully, both of which also attract some interesting comments)

TobyA on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to elliptic:

Thanks - we did an HVS on Stac Pollaidh last time which was great fun (although Derbyshire HS ;-) ) and I think I remember swapping between the very perfunctory description in the old guide and the UKC database page for that climb!

Release the Bats (VS 4b) seems very new - is it in any guide yet?

TobyA on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

I perhaps sidetracked my own thread by mentioning the Long Climb - I don't actually have any plans to do that. The forecast is for wet snow on the top of the Ben this weekend anyway! But if we did go up there I'd be more interested in doing the NE Buttress (possibly with that long Sev up the lower bit) as that's the only one of the four great ridges on the Ben that I haven't done in either summer or winter.

spenser - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Great Gully is an absolute giggle in comparison to the long climb!

The long climb is definitely best treated as an alpine route, I survived the first match with it, not sure I'll arrange a rematch without some cold conditions!

GrahamD - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

My partner has one of the Latter guides, I've got the SMC compilation (as well as the Howett guide and a few SMC definitives).  In terms of accuracy across a handful of crags / routes we both rate the SMC compilation a lot higher than Latter's.

Smelly Fox - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

The FA date is wrong for that route. It was done pre-80s I think.

TobyA on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

Cheers Graham - I've seen a few comments on routes here questioning some of the descriptions in the Latter books, but then in my older guides they still have some of those proper 'freedom of the hills' style descriptions like "climb the buttress towards the right" for a multipitch 150 mtr route!

Has anyone done Butterknife (HS 4b)? I've never climbed on that hill and that would seem to be the classic.

Doug on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

I remember Butterknife as being good but it was a very long time ago (was a long weekend of superb weather just after end of first year exams). And if you walked in & the weather turned you could probably still manage Great Ridge (Diff ?) in the wet as a consolation. The harder routes to the left (I think) of Butterknife look good as well but have  never tried any of them

Flashy - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

I own the previous edition of the SMC Scottish Rock and also the Latter guide. Since buying the latter (boom boom!) I haven't touched the SMC guide. Gary Latter's guide has way more information, especially on lower crags where the weather might be a bit better and also at lower grades.

Post edited at 13:20
skog on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

I've done Butterknife.

It's a good climb, with one really great pitch, on a brilliant hill.

There are several other routes around it which are worth a look too; if you're efficient you could do more than one.

elliptic on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

> Release the Bats (VS 4b) seems very new - is it in any guide yet?

As mentioned above I think it's actually older than that, and in the Latter guide IIRC.

Another example from last Saturday, when we went to Glen Clova to make the best of a poor day and did Cauldron Crack (HVS 5a) which is a terrific little micro classic but not in the SMC book. Latter gives two or three times as many routes on those crags (which are a lovely spot for easy access cragging).

daWalt on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

personally, I'd get Scottish Rock Vols 1 & 2. covers the best of mountain stuff and has loads of lower level cragging; which I suspect you'll likely make use of during an August week.

Butterknife is very good (and the direct finish too); but the walk in is quite an interminable slog and probably best to get a couple of routes done to make the toil worthwhile........

Take a trip out to Ardnamurchan if you're in and about Garbh Beinn area and the weather is looking mixed.

TobyA on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to daWalt:

Thanks - yeah, I've not done anything on Ardnamurchan, it was discovered just after I left Scotland so I don't think any of the routes are in my guidebooks. I was out that way with my family a couple of years ago - we saw an eagle just sitting on a fence post watching us from maybe only 30 mtrs away, very cool, and the rock looked really interesting.

Big Lee - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

I've very limited experience with rock climbing in Scotland, but the SMC guide was pretty poor for Syke's sea cliffs when I visited a few years ago. There were very few topos and the text didn't really make up for this by telling you where the routes lay. It was as if the text descriptions had just been cut and pasted from the definitive guide.

Andy Nisbet - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Sad that the new SMC Wired selected guide is still a year away, with lots of pictures, and all the routes mentioned above. Butterknife is VS 4b **** in that guide - just scrapes into VS. And might even be on the front cover.

Post edited at 18:01
elliptic on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

Looking forward to seeing that when it comes out Andy!

Michael Gordon - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Scottish Rock Climbs is too select for my liking, so out of those I'd get the Gary Latter books. Alternatively if you're going to an area a few times it's worth considering the (new) definitives - Northern Highlands South and the Cairngorms guide are particularly good in my opinion.

oscaig - on 22 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

SMC - Wired selected collaboration sounds great - their selected Pembroke and Lakes volumes were pretty good. 

In general I think the new generation of SMC area guides is just superb (Skye Sea Cliffs, Inner Hebrides & Arran, Highland Outcrops South, and Outer Hebrides all brilliant). But if I was heading that way and planning to just go with the best weather for a week I'd be very inclined to get the Latter guides - which have lots more options more topos etc than the old single volume Scottish Rock (the fact that there's a replacement Wired guide in the pipeline probably tells you that in itself).  

In reply to TobyA: Go on - get both. You can cross-check description/grade where there is overlap.

Butterknife is very good - also Scimitar.

if you’re looking for some accessible but atmospheric sea cliffs don’t miss the Second Geo at Sheigra. As a gentle intro Shark Crack is a well positioned HS.

 

Andy Moles - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

For what it's worth, I climbed Butterknife recently and would definitely give it *** rather than ****. The third pitch is a bit of a scrappy and arbitrary meander.

But then it's generally my view that recent Scottish guidebooks have been over-generous with stars. It may entice more people to buy guidebooks and visit the crags, but it also creates disappointment when the routes are less than stellar.

I think **** should be the preserve of a small number of routes whose excellence is really undisputed and complete - Shibboleth, Steeple, Diabaig Pillar, Prozac Link, etc.

Robert Durran - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> I think **** should be the preserve of a small number of routes whose excellence is really undisputed and complete - Shibboleth, Steeple, Diabaig Pillar, Prozac Link, etc.

I think a list of "undisputed" Scottish 4 star routes would create a lot of dispute! In fact I would dispute one of those you have listed - certainly not better than all routes outside Scotland which I think is more or less GL's definition.

I thought Butterknife excellent but agree certainly not **** by any measure. If you had to choose a **** contender on Garbh Bheinn it should be the utterly brilliant Excalibur.

Post edited at 11:08
Andy Nisbet - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

I think (and it's only my opinion) that lower grade climbs get a raw deal with stars. Since you lead E grades, you'll never find a mild VS a great experience. It can never have multiple pitches of steep sustained rock. And in general, if a route gets 4 stars, then expectations can be such that you can only be disappointed.

heleno - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

We used both on a recent trip to some far NW areas we hadn't visited before.  As you might expect, we found the Latter guide great for inspiration and overview, and the SMC guide better for the comprehensive detail.  There were also a few minor errors in the Latter guides, so it was useful to cross-check with the SMC guide.

Robert Durran - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

> I think (and it's only my opinion) that lower grade climbs get a raw deal with stars. Since you lead E grades, you'll never find a mild VS a great experience. It can never have multiple pitches of steep sustained rock. And in general, if a route gets 4 stars, then expectations can be such that you can only be disappointed.


So should stars be grade adjusted, with the idea of pointing people at the best routes of a grade/grade band on a crag (**/***) and the best route of a grade/grade band in a whole area (****)?

Andy Moles - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

> I think (and it's only my opinion) that lower grade climbs get a raw deal with stars. Since you lead E grades, you'll never find a mild VS a great experience.

The latter part is not true, I have a great time on good easier routes. But I don't think it's elitist to apply the same standards of quality across the grade spectrum. If there are no 4 star Diffs, so be it, there just aren't.

> if a route gets 4 stars, then expectations can be such that you can only be disappointed.

Sounds like you're not convinced by the 4 star thing either...

Andy Moles - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think a list of "undisputed" Scottish 4 star routes would create a lot of dispute! In fact I would dispute one of those you have listed - certainly not better than all routes outside Scotland which I think is more or less GL's definition.

Undisputed is a bad choice of word, I just mean setting the bar higher really.

If GL really thinks that, say, The Painted Wall on Lewis is better than anything south of the border, he needs to remove the tartan spectacles and go south a little more often!

 

Alex the Alex on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

Are you saying there is a better climb than Inbred south of Hadrians Wall?!

 

Btw is there an up to date list of all SMC/Latter four star routes? I found this but I thought there were more? Pabbay etc? And how often do new routes qualify for 4 star? 

https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/set.php?id=155

 

(p.s. Pincer trounces excalibur Robert ;). Menghini too!)

 

GrahamD - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to heleno:

> As you might expect, we found the Latter guide great for inspiration and overview, and the SMC guide better for the comprehensive detail.  There were also a few minor errors in the Latter guides, so it was useful to cross-check with the SMC guide.

That pretty much mirrored our view.  The style and presentation of GL's guides was great but too many errors.  Erring on style over substance.

Bob Peters - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Spent June in the highlands and islands on a 'follow the weather' trip. Between us we had both Latter guides and the SMC selective. 

Echoing what others have said, the Scottish Rock books are great, modern & photo-topo oriented. Brilliant bedtime reading. 

The descriptions in the SMC guide are probably more detailed on the whole, but we found them quite hard to follow. Particularly on Skye.

Latter guides were masses better for valley cragging around FW.

Personally, the combo of the three is completely justified. We often carried the SMC guide with pictures of the Latter guide topos & description.

If I was only getting one, it would be the Northern Scotland Latter guide.

Have a great trip.

Robert Durran - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Alex the Alex:

 

>  Pincer trounces excalibur Robert ;). Menghini too!)

I did think Pincer was superb, but I was looking for a route closer in grade to Butterknife. Anyway, Pincer, good as it is, wouldn't get near consideration for my top 5 mountain E2 list whereas Excalibur would certainly be considered for my top 5 HVS's.  Not done Menghini  

 

Post edited at 14:21
Robert Durran - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> If GL really thinks that, say, The Painted Wall on Lewis is better than anything south of the border, he needs to remove the tartan spectacles and go south a little more often!

I think that he is either being a bit tongue in cheek or needs to go a bit easier on the 4 stars!

 

mike barnard - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Alex the Alex:

> (p.s. Pincer trounces excalibur Robert ;). Menghini too!)

I'd say Pincer is considerably better than either of the other two. Just a fantastic pitch! Of course, it is still just one pitch, so no wonder other mountain routes of a similar grade are thought to be better.

Robert Durran - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

> I'd say Pincer is considerably better than either of the other two. Just a fantastic pitch!

I just thought Excalibur had extraordinary character and outrageous positions for  a route of the grade. Pincer was merely conventionally high quality climbing (if that make sense!).

mike barnard - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

Certainly the 2nd pitch is very good. Are the others not so-so?

Coel Hellier - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> . . .  my top 5 mountain E2 list . . .

Do tell ...

Andy Nisbet - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> So should stars be grade adjusted, with the idea of pointing people at the best routes of a grade/grade band on a crag (**/***) and the best route of a grade/grade band in a whole area (****)?


Yes, I think so.

 

Robert Durran - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

> Certainly the 2nd pitch is very good. Are the others not so-so

It is all about the second pitch but the first is a good, tricky intro and the third is best run together with the second to avoid an awkward belay and includes one of the highlights - teetering on top of the pinnacle thing to reach good holds above.

TobyA on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Bob Peters:

Thanks Bob. That's very useful information, thanks a lot. The weather is looking a bit iffy now, but it's Scotland after all - what can you do? Go hill walking I guess!

Robert Durran - on 23 Aug 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Do tell ...

Ok, E2 is easy. In no particular order:
Steeple, Shibboleth, Torro, Angel Face, Cougar.
It is a little trickier if I'm not allowed Cougar because it fell down. Probably King Kong.

While I'm at it, E1:
Needle, Dragon, Trophy Crack, Groovin' High, Minus One Direct.

And E3, which is an embarrassment of riches, so trickier, but I'll go for:
Temple of Doom, Sumo, Uhuru, Enigma, Black Spout Wall (though I hesitate to leave out Titan's Wall..... )

And HVS:
Centurion, Cyclops, Bludger's Revelation, Excalibur, Gob

mike barnard - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

I think my top 3 mountain E2s are still Steeple, Haystack and The Bat (Torro goes in my E1 list and I'm yet to do King Kong).

Coel Hellier - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

That's a good tick list, I'll need to get busy . . .

Robert Durran - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

> I think my top 3 mountain E2s are still Steeple, Haystack and The Bat (Torro goes in my E1 list and I'm yet to do King Kong).

Unfortunately Haystack is now given E3 (and it doesn't make my E3 list!)
If Torro were still given E1, it would be in my E1 list.
I think King Kong is better than The Bat!

Post edited at 08:54
Andy Moles - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think that he is either being a bit tongue in cheek or needs to go a bit easier on the 4 stars!

Ach I know he's only winding up the English like. But the SMC is equally guilty of doling out too many stars in recent books, in the Skye sea cliffs guide for example there are **** routes where consensus is more like **.

Andy Moles - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

> So should stars be grade adjusted, with the idea of pointing people at the best routes of a grade/grade band on a crag (**/***) and the best route of a grade/grade band in a whole area (****)?

> Yes, I think so.

I can see where you're coming from with that, but I still think that *** and **** star routes should be reserved for routes that stand up in comparison to anything, not just being 'the best of a bad bunch', which in some cases your principle would allow for. It's not like ** isn't recommendation enough.

That's my thruppence, based on quite often hearing people say things like, "yeah it was good, but it wasn't that good."

 

Post edited at 09:11
Colin Moody - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

>  in the Skye sea cliffs guide for example there are **** routes where consensus is more like **.

 

I suspect these routes had not had many repeats when the guide was written and therefor there was no consensus.

Andy Moles - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Colin Moody:

In which case perhaps a little more circumspection is needed on the part of first ascensionists and/or guidebook writers. Though it's easy to understand getting a bit carried away, pretty sure I have.

In any case my point holds, if the bar was set higher not so many routes would be classed as the best.

Post edited at 13:46
Robert Durran - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> But the SMC is equally guilty of doling out too many stars in recent books, in the Skye sea cliffs guide for example there are **** routes where consensus is more like **.

> I can see where you're coming from with that, but I still think that *** and **** star routes should be reserved for routes that stand up in comparison to anything, not just being 'the best of a bad bunch', which in some cases your principle would allow for. It's not like ** isn't recommendation enough.

Interesting you mentioned the Skye guide. Earlier this year I had a weekend on Skye and after a great day in the mountains, my partner felt a bit unwell next day and wasn't up to doing anything more than belaying on outcrops, so I scoured the guide and came up with The Hermit (E2 5b) (which I notice you've done!) and an** E2 at Flashadder. These salvaged the day and might be best described as local gems but possibly not worth all their stars in a grander scheme of things - certainly if these routes were measured against, say, the routes on the East Buttress of Sron na Ciche, they would not get their stars! Without being well starred, these routes would probably become neglected and dirty and we might not have thought them worth seeking out. So I think there is a case for stars reflecting quality relative to their context (Skye inland outcrops in this case).

 

 

 

Post edited at 17:25
Andy Moles - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Without being well starred, these routes would probably become neglected and dirty

Unfortunately that is the fate of a lot of routes regardless - look at some of the *** routes at Staffin. Scotland will always have more good rock than it has climbers to keep it clean. Crags have a flush of popularity then go out of fashion for years, or the new routing wave moves on.

And by this logic, it's arguably still better to highlight the genuinely great stuff so it doesn't go neglected.

Also with star inflation we tend to forget that even one star is supposed to denote a route well worth doing.

Robert Durran - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> Also with star inflation we tend to forget that even one star is supposed to denote a route well worth doing.

But with star inflation I'm not sure it still means that - it just means it's not complete rubbish probably! Maybe we should embrace star inflation and have 5 starts for the utterly brilliant routes.

 

Colin Moody - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

'Good climbing but may lack line, situation or balance'.

 

Not sure it has ever been called 'well worth doing'.

Deadeye - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Hi Toby

I have used both the Latter books and it seems to me that they both are blessed and cursed by the same thing - being the product of a labour of love.  Blessed because it's a colossal feat to draw all that together, and they're well curated (I don't agree that the longer, mountain areas are short-changed - look at Cairngorm and Lochnagar areas for example); cursed because they at times feel more like a reminder for people who have done the routes than a guide for those that want to (the approach/start notes are an example).

 

Why not buy both?  They're only a few quid in the overall cost of a trip.

mike barnard - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

Folk get too carried away sometimes searching out highly starred routes. A lot of no star routes are worth doing, and ** to me means a great route. Not brilliant or outstanding, but still pretty good! As Andy Moles suggests, if you give too many stars to too much stuff the stars simply lose their meaning.

Robert Durran - on 24 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

> A lot of no star routes are worth doing.

In which case they probably should have a star! Most people have limited time to go climbing, so they want to know which routes are worth doing and how worth doing - that is the whole point of stars!

> If you give too many stars to too much stuff the stars simply lose their meaning.

I agree for the good routes, but they gain more meaning for the poorer routes. This is why I think embracing inflation by going to a possible 5 or more stars might be a good idea.

 

Andy Moles - on 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think embracing inflation by going to a possible 5 or more stars might be a good idea.

I definitely don't agree with that. For one thing it's very subjective anyway, so having even more levels would just make for more dispute. And a harder job for guidebook writers to get it right.

For another, it further undermines lesser starred routes. 

I think the standard four tiers (no stars to three), applied well, is about right.

 

Post edited at 08:43
Tom Ripley - on 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> While I'm at it, E1:

> Needle, Dragon, Trophy Crack, Groovin' High, Minus One Direct.

I’ve not done loads of Scottish E1s but there must be better ones out there than Dragon, which while enjoyable only has one good pitch. No where near as good as the Needle for example.

Andy Moles - on 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I'm with you on that. Great pitch and phenomenal situation, but Gob is a better route overall. I don't think there happen to be as many standout E1s in Scotland as E2s and E3s, for whatever reason, but I'd put Yo Yo and maybe Unicorn ahead of Dragon. 

Robert Durran - on 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Tom Ripley:

> I’ve not done loads of Scottish E1s but there must be better ones out there than Dragon, which while enjoyable only has one good pitch. No where near as good as the Needle for example.

I thought Dragon was fantastic, which is why I included it. And I've done most of the other obvious candidates I think! I did Needle for the first time in many years this summer and was ever so  slightly disappointed, probably because it's not of the same calibre as Steeple. Still makes my top 5 E1's on merit though - I think E2 is just a stronger grade in the Scottish mountains.

Robert Durran - on 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> I don't think there happen to be as many standout E1s in Scotland as E2s and E3s.

So we agree on that then!

> I'd put Yo Yo and maybe Unicorn ahead of Dragon. 

I didn't really rate Yo Yo too much - "nasty" crux, then not particularly enjoyable awkwardness. I did Unicorn the same day and can't remember much about it to be honest! I also did Scansor that day and felt it was the the most memorable of the three - superb, not a candidate for my top 5 E2's though!

 

 

Post edited at 09:10
Mark Bannan - on 25 Aug 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Hi Toby,

Butterknife is a nice route, but I had a far better superb day linking up Scimitar (VS) and Excalibur (just about HVS).

M

Mark Bannan - on 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> I can see where you're coming from with that, but I still think that *** and **** star routes should be reserved for routes that stand up in comparison to anything, not just being 'the best of a bad bunch', ...

Looking at lower grade routes that have ****, I don't think many climbers (myself included) would think that Agag's Groove or Eagle Ridge are 'the best of a bad bunch'; rather they are two of the best mountain routes in the country, at the very least at their respective grades.

Personally, I may be in a minority, but I like the **** system, if it denotes the best routes in the country at particular grades.

 

Andy Moles - on 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Mark Bannan:

You've misunderstood me there. If you go back and read the conversation more carefully, you'll find I did not say that no easier routes are worth all the stars, only that Andy Nisbet's principle of starring relative to grade and area would allow in some cases for mediocre routes to get the highest recommendation.

Post edited at 22:32
Cog - on 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

How many stars would you give Anger and Lust?

I haven't done it but as a 20m route I suspect it is not one of the outstanding routes in Scotland? 

 The 6m finish also gets **** !

Robert Durran - on 25 Aug 2018
In reply to Cog:

> How many stars would you give Anger and Lust?

> I haven't done it but as a 20m route I suspect it is not one of the outstanding routes in Scotland?

It is probably one of the best single pitch E2's in Scotland, so if stars are awarded relative to other routes of  similar difficulty and type then it might be worth ****.

>  The 6m finish also gets **** !

It is equally good (I've done both finishes).

 

Andy Nisbet - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Cog:

> Anger and Lust?

> I haven't done it but as a 20m route I suspect it is not one of the outstanding routes in Scotland? 

I'm with Robert Durran, I think it is outstanding. Almost uniquely sustained and yet, because it is bridging, you can (just) keep going to a final brutal move. Here it is easy to give up, but if you fight through to what looks very improbable ground, each move above gets slightly easier while you get slightly more tired, so it needs total effort to succeed. And it's well protected after the very start.

 

mike barnard - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

My verdict on Scansor was it would be a good route if it was a bit cleaner. The climbing and situations are good though. I think one star is probably fair, again with the proviso that that doesn't mean a bad route!

mike barnard - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Cog:

Re Anger and Lust, I think the current guide just gives it ***? About right I would say. I do think some 20m routes are worthy of ****. But the likes of Peel's Wall is surely too short to qualify?

Andy Moles - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

I agree, short routes can be **** if they are exceptional climbing all the way - and not too short. Where you draw that line is a bit arbitrary I guess. The only route in Scotland I can think of <20m that might be worth **** is The Screamer (of those I have done, obviously).

 

Post edited at 08:53
Robert Durran - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> The only route in Scotland I can think of <20m that might be worth **** is The Screamer (of those I have done, obviously).

There are quite a lot of exquisite short routes at Reiff around E3/4. If the **** is to pick out the best of them, then it probably has to be The Screamer, but if The Screamer didn't exist, then I think others would be worthy - maybe Cran Tara or Seal Song?

 

Robert Durran - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

> My verdict on Scansor was it would be a good route if it was a bit cleaner. 

Scansor just seems to be a route which splits opinion. It's 26 years since I did Yoyo, Unicorn and Scansor, so I certainly find the filter of my memories interesting  -  superb, exposed, clean climbing on the pillar of Scansor is what easily stands out from that day. Maybe I should do them again sometime, particularly since my lasting impression of Yoyo seems to be so out of step with most other people. 

 

Post edited at 09:27
Robert Durran - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

>  I do think some 20m routes are worthy of ****. But the likes of Peel's Wall is surely too short to qualify?

So, if a four star system were adopted down south, do you think most gritstone routes should be ruled out for **** on that basis?

mike barnard - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

Now come on, how can you have a four star route south of the border? A ridiculous notion.

mike barnard - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

I think with Scansor it has either been talked up or down over the years to 'amend' what the previous guidebook said!

mike barnard - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> The only route in Scotland I can think of <20m that might be worth **** is The Screamer (of those I have done, obviously).

I'll have to try that route sometime, but in general I agree!

Robert Durran - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

> I think with Scansor it has either been talked up or down over the years to 'amend' what the previous guidebook said!

Yes, I think the "overrated route" thing has a bit to answer for!

Anyway, isn't Big Top as good as those other three? I did it about the same time and recall some great climbing.

Andy Moles - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

Probably creating impossibly high expectations by calling it the best sub-20m route in Scotland, but it is very good.

mike barnard - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

The Big Top is one of the best routes I've done I think. With Unicorn, Yo-Yo and Trapeze also, Bideon probably has the best group of E1s in the country... 

Robert Durran - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

> Now come on, how can you have a four star route south of the border? A ridiculous notion.

I was trying to decide whether any routes south of the border would make it into those "top fives" of mine if I hadn't restricted them to Scotland. I think White Slab might have at E1 but not at E2 (can't remember which it is these days) and Great Wall would be a contender at E3.

Robert Durran - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

> The Big Top is one of the best routes I've done I think. With Unicorn, Yo-Yo and Trapeze also, Bideon probably has the best group of E1s in the country... 

Did I not tell you that C and I bailed after the first main pitch of Trapeze a few years back? Hollow, filthy, unpleasant! Seemed very neglected.

Post edited at 10:05
mike barnard - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

For 'short multi-pitch' cragging routes, Pluto is definitely as good as Inbred.

mike barnard - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Did I not tell you that C and I bailed after the first main pitch of Trapeze a few years back? Hollow, filthy, unpleasant! Seemed very neglected.

You did, but that's not how I remember it...

Andy Moles - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> So, if a four star system were adopted down south, do you think most gritstone routes should be ruled out for **** on that basis?

This is way off topic now, but just for fun. Would I give any grit routes ****?

Probably not. The best short ones like Strapadictomy, The File, Heaven Crack etc, are just a bit too micro. Maybe The Rasp, except the finish is ugly. I personally think the best grit routes are in the quarries, like Edge Lane and London Wall, but the fact they are entirely man made sort of detracts.

 

 

Robert Durran - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to mike barnard:

> For 'short multi-pitch' cragging routes, Pluto is definitely as good as Inbred.

The Langdale one?

Robert Durran - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> This is way off topic now, but just for fun. Would I give any grit routes ****?

> Probably not. The best short ones like Strapadictomy, The File, Heaven Crack etc, are just a bit too micro. Maybe The Rasp, except the finish is ugly. 

What is wrong with micro? If it distills concentrated climbing gorgeousness into less than 20m, I don't see the problem. And I didn't think there was anything ugly about the Rasp - just glorious jugs and jams from start to finish; as good as The Screamer (apart, of course, from the location and view).

 

Andy Moles - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

I'm not saying anything is wrong with them, but I personally would reserve ****, if it is to exist, for a clutch of the most exceptional routes in the country (location and view included), and I'm not sure any grit routes would make the cut for me.

mike barnard - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> The Langdale one?

Yep. As for micro routes, I think there's a limit to how good an 8m route can be. If it's up to an isolated summit or pinnacle there's maybe an added quality to it, but otherwise I'm not sure something of that length would even merit ***.

Robert Durran - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> .......location and view included....

So that settles the question of whether anything south of the border could qualify. In fact probably south of the Great Glen ....

 

Post edited at 11:07
Tom Ripley - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

Neither Inbred or Pluto, though perfectly enjoyable climbs, are worth four stars, or even three really. 

Robert Durran - on 26 Aug 2018
In reply to Tom Ripley:

> Neither Inbred or Pluto, though perfectly enjoyable climbs, are worth four stars, or even three really. 

I agree for Inbred (probably). Not done Pluto.

TobyA on 09 Sep 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Never replied to this thread - thanks to all who offered advice. I ended up blowing my birthday money on both of the Latter guides, and - with many thanks to Duncan - also got a pre-owned but unused copy of the SMC selected guide as well.

The week went pretty well despite some cool, wet and windy weather - having full national guidebook coverage helped dodge the showers.

I picked my friend up from Manchester airport saturday evening - Sunday's forecast was for rain everywhere from early. We didn't quite make it to Scotland that night but camped near Armathwaite with the intention of beating the showers to the crag very early and getting some routes done. On Sunday morning this didn't quite work and the rain started as we walked in, but luck was on our side and the steep side wall and large trees above kept the area around Glenwillie Grooves (HS 4b) bone dry long enough for us to do that route and the direct version. Then we got back in the car and drove to Deeside! Monday, we did Eagle Ridge (summer) (S) which was great fun and we were the only climbers in the corrie on what was at least the English bank holiday Monday. Chatted with some squaddies walking up and down who were doing vital national security work, leading the ponies on the hills to carry down stags shot by the Queen's guests!

Tuesday we went to Pass of Ballater as we felt a bit lazy. Oddly, with Dave living in Finland and me having previously lived in Finland, it felt just like lots of little Finnish and Swedish crags I've been to - granite and pine I guess. Best route I led was Medium Cool (VS 4c) which was quite exciting once you've worked out how to get onto the upper slab.

Having the selective guides was really useful then as we decided the next day to try Salamander (HVS 5a) on Creag Ghlas, a crag I don't think I'd heard of before - probably hadn't been discovered when I lived in Scotland. Unfortunately that was the one day the weather didn't cooperate and literally as we reached the bottom of the crag and started gearing up the rain started, and even when it stopped there wasn't enough time before the next shower for it to dry. Looks a cool crag though and the walk in isn't too bad so need to go back there.

Thursday the forecast was OK for the west but actually it seemed to take longer in the morning to dry up than forecast. Eventually we got on Sword of Gideon (VS 4c) which was the target for the day and greatly enjoyed it. After that we drove down for a luxurious night camped in the Ben Nevis North Face car park!

I haven't been on the Ben for I think 15 years, anyway we decided the kids these days are spoilt with the new path now compared to old boot sucking bog of doom of old! Two hours and we were gearing up below Raeburns Arete (S). This was a good, long climb in its own right - and in the shade and wind hinted at the oncoming winter! We then scrambled up the North East Buttress (VD), not sure if we were where the best summer line went (the guidebook didn't make a huge amount of sense after the "hidden gully") as the middle section was lots of loose walking with the odd loose scrambly move but it got much better when I moved back onto the crest perhaps 100 mtrs below the Mantrap. The Mantrap itself is nails! Bloomin' 'eck - doing it direct must feel quite extreme in winter. In summer I thought it could have a V grade - V0 or V1- maybe? ;-) Once at the top we walked down over the CMD arete and over Carn Mor Dearg itself in wonderful afternoon sunshine.

Dave needed to be back at MAN late Saturday afternoon, so we headed south and camped around midnight in the hills off the A74(M), a spot we had found by chance two years ago when doing the same type of trip. We got woken early on Saturday morning by the most charming farmer ever, who very apologetically asked if we were going to stay for a few days, if I could move my car a bit so he could use this rough track to access the moor. The Scottish outdoors access code is a thing of beauty! We decided we didn't have time to get into one Lake District crag not far off the motorway that morning, but instead decided to stop off at that most British of climbing experiences - a Lancashire hole in the ground, Denham Quarry in this case, once nearly back in Manchester. We did a couple of routes there before heading back down for Dave to catch his flight home and me to drive home.

Doug on 09 Sep 2018
In reply to TobyA:

So not tempted by the Long Climb?

TobyA on 09 Sep 2018
In reply to Doug:

I've now been reliably informed it's fine! But it was a cold and blowy day (Dave and I were both very happy to have duvets with us!), so I don't think it would have been much fun on that day.

Post edited at 21:02
Lemony - on 09 Sep 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Shame it was all downhill after armathwaite.

TobyA on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to Lemony:

Ha ha. I'm sure it has its fans and I'd be happy to try the big VS in the middle section, but I don't think I'd visit it  again  overa day on a good mountain crag. 


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