/ What grade is Andy's slab?
The recent additions to this slab are all graded E7 6a/b (Limpet Lil is graded E2 5c??) with Andy's Slab in the current guide at E4 6a, having been graded E3 6a in the last guide and if memory serves me right E2 5c in the prior one. As a fall would be a ground fall onto sloping and rather rocky ground, I wonder if the grade for this is still too low....apart from a logged "hidden solo" only one named other person has logged it as solo'd.... who could perhaps be considered something of "an expert" at Armathwaite, there are no other recorded ascents other than on a top rope. The UKC suggested grade by the top ropers is now E5 6a/b?
This is a historic test piece climbed pre chalk and sticky rubber in 1974, so way ahead of its time and perhaps deserves an accurate "modern" grade, should this be E7 too, and whatever the grade was there anything much else anywhere at that grade at that time?
Does the comparatively low grade of E4 put people off trying at as it won't have the cudos of the harder graded routes, but still demands the same level of skill and commitment?
A few of my mates that have tried it think its worth E5 as an onsight, because of the top section finishing up the wide easy gangway.
The trouble now?? is that most will mat out the landing (as I did), along with all of the other climbs. So maybe they should all be graded as modern highball boulder problems.
E7 might be a bit high for the others but they are 13m high so a slip off the top would do some damage!
After I had done Lenny Limpet, Scallop and Andy's Var finish I had a trip down to Froggatt Edge to climb on the slabs there to compare the grades.
I found that with Downhill Racer, Heartless Hare, Hairless Heart Great Slab etc they all have good(ish) holds, where if your foot was to pop etc you could still stay on, were as with the climbs on the Armathwaite slab a slip with any foot/hand you tend to fall off.
Technically the Armathwaite slab is easy (6a - 6b) but many of the holds are sandy and easy to slip from, making an onsight solo quite demanding and tenuous.
For what its worth I have seen 2 people hit the deck on Codpeice and know of 2 others also hitting the deck from half height so on the ukc page I have kept the E3 rating. Papermoon also has taken some scalps and at E3 is pretty serious E4/5 could easily be given.
I thought it was very impressive for its time, though conditions (both personal and rock) weren't in my favour. The antithesis of my preferred style though: slab padding with absolutely no handholds, and reachy at points. There's not many sedimentary rock slabs with such minimal features in the UK. Reminded me of sections around Morgue Slab at Helsby.
Grade? No idea. Normally I would expect to be able to flash a 6a slab move on a top-rope but this took about 12 goes and I still wasn't convinced I could climb it. For me, an onsight lead (without pads) in the conditions I found it in would have felt E5+, but I'm getting old and timid.
My memory of the Frogatt routes is that they are much easier technically, but the fall off Hairless Heart would be long and nasty (not if you top rope then like I did though!).
The pad thing does make grading then a bit difficult, as with a platform and pads the fall would be somewhat safer on Andy's slab than the newer routes as it's not quite as high....but if you didn't build a platform to level the landing, even with pads it would be an unpleasant fall and I wonder if the grade should take into account the need to build a platform? All academic for me as I still can't get up it anyway despite having tried it a few times on a rope over the last 30 years! If the weather holds and I clean it, perhaps I will sketch my way up it somehow this year?
I'm off Wednesday morning if your keen, rain due Thurs i think.
Cheers Pete...work gets in the way, or saves the day, again!
Was it correctly graded when first climbed? If so, then shouldn't it be the grades of the more recent routes that are changed, rather than contributing to grade creep?
I believe it has been wrongly graded from the start rather than the new routes being the wrong grade.....a very impressive route for when it was done.
I've climbed Andy's without mats and I would say it could warrant a slightly higher grade. Possibly E5? The critical foot hold to move through the crux is round the arete (blind) and means that a fall would be very serious from here (not down the slab, but off the side straight to the ground). It gets very much easier from there on tho. Having been on all the routes on the slab on a TR I would say the moves on Andy's are quite considerably easier so it wouldn't warrant the E7's the others get. I think the fall could potentially be as serious or more so tho as mentioned above. The crux on Scallop is quite a bit higher than Andy's if I remember right. Armathwaite is really hard to grade because it's so esoteric. No-one really knows from one route to the next whether the gear would really hold a fall (apart from a few exceptions like Erection and Cally Crack). Others just feel really hard to grade, like Pete said, Paper Moon is a good example. Not technically very hard but really scary on lead because there is sand on almost every foothold and you have no idea if that crappy cam would hold any falls. The moves on Andy's aren't that hard if you climb slabs. Seems kinda useless trying to compare many of those routes to other crags because there is nothing really like soft sandstone!
On reflection I would say E4 is about right. I'm sure when it was first done, given the time, the grading situation, and how hard those guys climbed it was somewhat undergraded.
It's definitely harder than E2!
Good effort Dom.
Are you thinking E4 on sight, but when clean and without pads?
Hmm not sure really. I'm probably not the best to give a definitive grade as I haven't climbed lots of things that hard. And I wouldn't be brave enough to climb Andy's on sight.
I'd say hard E4/possibly E5 without pads if you were to onsight it.
Am I talking rubbish Pete, or do you reckon that's about right?
I always think unprotected slabs are a hard one to grade as, stating the obvious, you are always going to hit the floor if you come off.
E4 is probably right for Andy's Slab as the crux isn't too far from the floor. Its just the way you would fall from it, a slip would be totally different to say, taking a controlled jump.
Many of the routes at Armathwaite are technically easy for their grade but people must take into account the poor gear, fragile, sandy nature of the rock. Leading or soloing the hard routes I would say are more dangerous because of this.
On the slab you know you will hit the floor, on the hard protected routes you might still hit the floor but from much higher up as your runners may rip.
Many of the E5/E6's therefore feel easy for the grade technically but are serious none the less
I'd say it's benchmark E4; unless of course you're belayed by Andy T, in which case it may warrant E7.
If there's any females at the crag and Andy is belaying you, I'd say it's tickling E11 ;)
Hope you're well.
Ha ha.... You may well be right. I'm well thanks and plodding on! Good to see you still do a bit.
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