/ What's the longest you've ever left a route for?

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Last night I fulfilled something of a lifetime ambition by climbing London Wall at Millstone.

This route has been high on my to-do list for many, many years, but until last night it had evaded actually being done (or tried for that matter!). It's over four years since I moved to Sheffield and the route has been within my ability all that time - in fact, it was probably within my ability five years before that too - yet until now I've managed to avoid it like the plague by doing virtually every other route at Millstone instead, or just not going to Millstone. This got me thinking: why do we put routes off for so long?

I thought there's got to be some entertaining shared experiences out there, so what're the routes that everyone else has left and what were your reasons why? It's often classics that you really want to do, with a bit of a reputation. London Wall is a classic example, but there's got to be others: Cenotaph Corner, The Rasp? What I find particularly fascinating is the avoidance tactics used, in my case I got on Master's Edge before London Wall simply because the latter intimated me so much (despite the former being two grades harder, as least I could top rope it and not put myself through the turmoil of leading, what was for me, the main event).

Thoughts on the back of a postcard...

Postmanpat on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:
36 years? Cenotaph Corner. Made a half hearted attempt when I was 17 and came back to do it when I was 53. I moved to another continent, had a career, wife and family for much of that period so I was seldom fit enough and seldom in the right place when I was fit enough.

PS. Many congratulations on London Wall. A splendid tick (and way out of my league)!
Post edited at 11:38
Chris the Tall - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Took me 25 years to get round to doing this Sacre Coeur (E2 5c)

Now admittedly I hadn't got down to the SW very often in that time, and had never been to the crag, but I saw a pic of Seb climbing the route on the cover of the NUMC journal in 85 (taken by Simon Lee IIRC) and decided I wanted to climb the route

Hat Dude on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Cemetery Gates - I've always said that I'll lead it or not do it at all; one evening 30 odd years ago I went to the Cromlech with the sole intention of doing it only to find a party just starting on the route, there wasn't enough daylight to wait, so led the Corner instead.
Somehow since then being at the Cromlech has never coincided with me being fit enough, motivated enough, with the right partner or there's been too much of a queue.
Though it still may be possible, it's looking more unlikely and would take a major effort to get back to a level to be able do it.
Stu Tyrrell on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:

> 36 years? Cenotaph Corner. Made a half hearted attempt when I was 17 and came back to do it when I was 53. I moved to another continent, had a career, wife and family for much of that period so I was seldom fit enough and seldom in the right place when I was fit enough.

Cen and Cem Gates - 50 years maybe, will still do them one day!
Adam Long - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I remember going to Millstone in my first month at Sheffield Uni in'96, and my climbing partner jumping straight on London Wall. Despite being on the British comp team at the time, he failed. I finally led it in Sept '11, 15 years later. No harm in waiting 'til your ready. Not so much intimidation as wanting to be fairly confident I wouldn't eff it up. Even so it was still in doubt until the last move, I spent so long at the top rest that my belayer had to phone home to rearrange school pickup.
Hat Dude on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

A bit off topic but London Wall features a couple of times so though I may have posted this before, I'll recount watching probably the best bit of climbing I've ever seen.

In 1992, a mate & I were sitting at the top having just finished Great Portland St when a guy led London Wall making it look easy; between each move, he'd dip his chalkbag, blow on his fingers and do the move in the smoothest fashion. At the top he called down to his partner to see if she wanted to follow. she said she didn't fancy it so he proceeded to down climb, taking out his runners in an equally smooth unhurried way, not even jumping off the last bit.
stp - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I first tried London Wall in the 1980s for photographer friend but it was so hot and humid I quickly gave it up as a bad idea. Never have been back to it (yet). Perhaps because after failing to flash it I lost motivation to do it at all.

My longest project to completion was Mescalito at Malham. I tried to do the second ascent in 1984 shortly after Ron did the first. Needless to say that didn't go so well. I got back on it in 2015 and finally redpointed it last year - so a 32 year project.

I think the reason it took so long was that I just didn't go to Malham that much and/or I wasn't in shape to try it. Still got several other projects started back then I'd like to finish off but I think when you're older it's much harder to find regular partners for multi day projects. The only solution seems to be get fit enough to try to do stuff in a day.
Dave Garnett - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:
At less exalted grade I was with a group of Venture Scouts who threw themselves (unsuccessfully) at Saul's Crack in 1975. I didn't try it then but always knew I needed to come back and do it.

Which I finally did in 1996 having just spent some years on bigger and steeper things in Cape Town. It's amazing how intimidating things become, the longer you leave them.

Saul's Crack isn't even remotely bold, I just knew I needed to cruise it smoothly and not spoil it by cocking it up!
Post edited at 12:20
1
Robert Durran - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

It's the routes for which I really, really, really don't want to blow the onsight. Which for me means the safe E5's which I think I have a chance of onsighting, which is not many, so they are a precious resource not to be squandered lightly. I first seriously thought of trying London Wall in '98 and still not been on it. Chemin de Fer at Dumbarton is another one. Also that classic 7b on the Tunnel Wall. Just give me a couple more years (or maybe decades) to get fitter and stronger.......
johncook - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

My longest ever was Third Flatiron, Saw pictures in late sixties, did it 3 years ago. Similar with Bastille Crack from the early 70's. Followed by Supercrack which I saw pictures of in (In Mountain,) 1978. Didn't get to do any of them while I lived in the States, but crammed them all in in a 7 week holiday there (Along with many more!).
Closer to home, Flying Buttress on the Cromlech. Was taken up Spiral Stairs in the 60's, and got better and climbed most of the routes around it, then went up Flying Buttress with Lesley at the end of last year. What a great route, something for everyone.
I had a break from climbing for a while and am now working back through routes I have done and routes that were on my hitlist then and some that are new to my hitlist. My hitlist continues to grow and grow!
It is hard to know what I have waited/delayed the longest, but the ones above are some of the contenders. (remembering is a problem, you know, senior moments!)
jon on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Just give me a couple more years (or maybe decades) to get fitter and stronger.......

... but sadly, older. There comes a point where it just doesn't work like that anymore. Then the trick is climbing them while you still can!

Trangia on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Cuillin Ridge in one go.

Took me 30 years with numerous failed attempts - all weather related - to finally do it.

When you live in the deep South and have to take pre booked leave, you can't just drop everything and go for it when the weather looks settled in the same way that those who live in the North and Scotland can.

Huge feeling of satisfaction when my holiday finally coincided with a window of good weather.

Even then we did it by the skin of our teeth. Arrived in Glen Brittle just after lunch in glorious weather after a 16 hour drive. The forecast said it was going to be good the next day, then a period of more unsettled weather, so we decided to go for it there and then. . Got as far as Collies Ledge before it got dark and bivied there.

Up and away by 5 am the next day. We were in the cloud but it was dry, so navigation became challenging, but we succeeded. Utterly knackered at the end but over the moon with pleasure although desperately thirsty having not taken anything like enough water.

Getting back from Sligachan to Glen Brittle was another story, but involved great trust from total strangers we had met on the Ridge going the other way and who had lent us their car keys to drive their car back from Sligachan so that they would have their car waiting for them at the end!
brianjcooper on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:
> Last night I fulfilled something of a lifetime ambition by climbing London Wall at Millstone.

Congratulations Rob. A brilliant tick in anyones book. Miles above my standard.
I once got half way up Cemetery Gates before running out of scaffolding. It's still on my bucket list!
Post edited at 13:17
radddogg - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Hat Dude:

Have you seen the condition Don Whillans was in when he did it as his "last climb"?
Kevster - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Dream of white horses is quite elusive for me, technically it's a warm up grade, but logistically never happens. I've planned a good 7 trips in the last 4 years to finally get it done, all have failed in one way or another. I have yet to even see it in person. Gogarth is a long drive for me, and although I've been to north Wales many times, the final drive is a rare occasion.
My climbing career hasn't been long enough to top the epic years of some here. But I've been aware and inspired, AND capable for at least 15 years.
It's now to the point that ill let my 2nd take the lead on all the pitches should they want to. I know it'll be fun, and the are other routes out there to aspire to too.

London Wall, that's still on my list. Maybe I should try and fail rather than never try at all......... I might just scrape myself up it anyway!
jon on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Kevster:
> Maybe I should try and fail rather than never try at all......... I might just scrape myself up it anyway!

That's a FAR better attitude than all this 'oh, I'm saving it for the onsight' bollocks.
Post edited at 13:28
Mike Highbury - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing: When I started climbing in the early-1990s, people used to speak about Ocean Boulevard in hallowed tones... A SW Climbs tick but really steep and tough. F*ck, only the brave... In all the times down the Ruckle I never even went to the OB wall.

Twenty years later I was chatting to Sue Hazel at the Marmolada ab and, for some reason, mentioned that I'd like to do OB. She looked at me like I was somewhat lacking (that seems to be her default look for me) and I left it at that. Considerably calmed, obviously, the following Saturday I went down to do it. As I abbed down the RHS of the wall I looked across and, as is often the case with these things, said to myself, is that it?

What can one say? Littlejohn gives it 5b/c but that was before we lived at the wall all week.
Hat Dude on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to radddogg:

> Have you seen the condition Don Whillans was in when he did it as his "last climb"?

Yeah but he could rely on something I can't - skill
Robert Durran - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to jon:

> ... but sadly, older. There comes a point where it just doesn't work like that anymore.

I'm not there yet though!
LastBoyScout on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:
Took me a good few years to get round to doing Comes the Dervish and Debauchery.

Still haven't attempted Dream of White Horses or Last Tango in Paris - about 20 years and counting.

I still have unfinished business with Stroof, Orpheus Wall and a couple of others - all over 10 years now.

Edit to add Left Unconquerable
Post edited at 13:49
jon on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I'm not there yet though!

Ah... but how do you know?
HeMa on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

It sort of depends.

I think I have actively saved a few lines as projects as they are close to my possible OS limit. But I have not felt right when I've been there. But to be honest even if I've "saved" them for now close to 10 years, realistically I have been fit and good enough to actually climb them for the last few years. That said, I think I have spoiled most of them by now, but there are still a few that are waiting for all the start align properly. The lines in question are often striking lines at a grade I'm not really comfortable to OS, so I guess I value them "more" than some not so nice lookin' ones. Heritage might also play a role...

So the reasons have been (in chronological value):
1) I'm not good enough
2) That's a cool line, I'd like to OS it
3) This is an uber classic line and the first XXX, I really like to OS that one

That said, I live in place where simply by counts, Stanage Popular has more routes than I have at my disposal within 2 h drive.... So I often end up saving some lines for reasons 2 and 3 and instead work on some other lines close by, that might even be harder. And when I feel just right, I'll give one of the saved lines a proper attempt (which now seems to end in failure, meaning that I have another route to add to the ever growing to-be red pointed list).

So I now go mainly pebble huggin' (at least there's a lot, and even quality stuff... and new stuff), and almost always go for a flash (yet end up projecting for 15 years).
1
Robert Durran - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to jon:

> Ah... but how do you know?

Because in the last week I've onsighted my two first ever Ratho 7b's after trying virtually every one set for 13 years!
Ged Desforges - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

London Wall had a bit of a history for me too Rob. I'd put it off for years, always managing to find an excuse every time I went to visit family in Sheffield, always citing the fact that eventually I would have got in a bit more mileage on finger cracks. I made a pact with a friend that we would get on with it next time either of us was up there. Eventually in early 2011 I was driving out with the intention of getting on it, when I learned that the friend had died in a climbing accident. Needless to say it didn't happen that day, and for quite a while afterwards. Eventually in 2012 I went out on a showery day with my girlfriend, tied on, and did it. Quite an emotional moment in the end for obvious reasons, and I think I might have shouted quite loudly.

Afterwards a German tourist came up to tell me he had filmed it and would put it on Youtube. The commentary was hilarious.

What a route!
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jon on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Ged Desforges:

Is that you in the yellow T shirt?
Ged Desforges - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to jon:
Yes. Quality commentary

"we can clap when he comes on the top" etc
Post edited at 14:36
jon on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Ged Desforges:

Yes I noticed that but didn't like to say
Bulls Crack - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> Took me a good few years to get round to doing Comes the Dervish and Debauchery.


On the same day? ;-)

jon on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Bulls Crack:

> On the same day? ;-)

Oh, I feel a tick list coming on...
alan moore - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

When I was young and reckless I laybacked the first move of The Crank, stepped back down and turned my ankle on that little sloping slab underneath. Crawled back to the car park and couldn't walk for a fortnight.
Walked past many times but finally climbed it 25 years later (that's one foot per year).
Excellent little route. Relish every move.
You could fit it on a postcard, let alone the story...

GridNorth - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I retreated after doing most of the first pitch of Great Wall on Cloggy round about 1970. I've been back a few times since but never managed to get the form, the weather or the route being free and available to climb. So I make that 47 years.

Al
In reply to Kevster:

> Maybe I should try and fail rather than never try at all......... I might just scrape myself up it anyway!

Wow, there's some good stories there - so much so that I don't know where to begin. If I had a little more time on my hands currently I reckon there'd be a great article in this, maybe I'll start drafting something up whilst I'm away at (the ironically named) OutDoor trade show next week.

I thought I'd add a few thoughts about Kevster's sentiment above, as this is something that really shone through when climbing on the various international meets I've been a part of. Whilst I wouldn't have it any other way, our rich climbing history here in the UK does give us reasons to climb routes and reasons not to climb routes in equal measure. When climbing with anyone from abroad they tend not to have the same inhibitions as we do, particularly when it comes to saving things for the onsight - as such they just tend to get on them (and often do them!). I thought I'd adopted this approach quite well, but old habits die hard and London Wall was simply too big a tick for me to fully give in to - I needed to save it (although save it for what I'm not sure!).

I think I saved Cenotaph Corner for too long, and ended up doing it when I was an E2/3 climber; as such I had different experience to the one I might have had, but a supremely enjoyable one nonetheless. Sometimes it's nice to flow as opposed to fight for your life!

Jon Stewart - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I've learnt that the longer I leave a route, or the more I build it up, the more likely I am to f*ck it up.

E.g.

Flying Buttress Direct: after about a decade of climbing on Stanage I performed the dangle of shame
Elegy: I loved grit slabs, and had been doing grit E2s for years...ended up stranded in the middle of the slab for about 45mins (not over on the left where the route actually goes) and ended up calling for a top-rope
Eroica: obsessed with doing this route for roughly a decade before finally getting on it, being completely psyched out from the start and falling off the crux

I would like to try to stop building routes up if I can to avoid more of this. The ones that have become built-up already are Pacemaker (E5 6a) for the year I actually pull my finger out and train (probably the only E5 there is that I ever stand a chance of doing), The White Wizard (E3 5c), The Prozac Link (E4 5c)... The occasions when I've done best are on great routes that I haven't built up and have just found myself there on the right day, like Zeppelin (E3 5c), Resurrection (E4 6a), Mastodon (E3 5c), Star Wars (E4 5c) (although in this case the fact that it's an E2 plus a bold move probably helped too).
Chris Craggs - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:
When I first visited Cloggy (1972?) I decided to leave the easier classics (Sunset Crack and Chimney Route) for my old age. I have done almost 40 routes up there but fear I may have left it a bit late to tick those 'easier' classics now


Chris
Post edited at 17:17
Offwidth - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Just really wanted to say well done on LW.

I can't think of any routes I've avoided but being rather obsessive at lower grades (being for guidebook work is an excuse), I've still got loads of classic climbs across the UK towards the top of my grade range I'd love to try before I get too old.
dominic lee - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:
Strawberries.... Finally got round to having a go this spring...on a very hot weekend....so all didn't go well. Watched Johnny Woodward and Alex Lowe trying it on th Bmc American meet in 1981. Didn't think I was good enough back then and ever since it has nagged away at my conscienceness. An onsight was never the excuse for delay, just life and the lack of similarly enthused climbing partners. I might have missed the boat but I hope not. A great route/fight. 36 years !! And counting.
Had already done London Wall by then and a few times since however the last time didn't go well..old climbers knuckles don't react well to peg crack tourque. New shoes are a boon though.
Don't put routes off.... Good effort Rob.
Post edited at 17:37
jon on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Chris Craggs:

> When I first visited Cloggy (1972?) I decided to leave the easier classics (Sunset Crack and Chimney Route) for my old age. I have done almost 40 routes up there but fear I may have left it a bit late to tick those 'easier' classics now

Ah, see - that's what I was trying to tell that Rob Durran. But would he listen? Of course he wouldn't!

Chris Craggs - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to jon:

I could maybe handle the routes - but the walk up from Llanberis - I doubt it

Chris
deacondeacon - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Well done Rob London Wall is a route that completely psyched me out. I left it for ages, then got on it with full on butterflies, shaking with nerves, and got nowhere on it. Hopefully when I get back on it and try again I'll be a little more relaxed.
I've been disappointed a few times because of climbing routes that I've waited too long to do. When I climbed Left Wall on the Cromlech all I could tell myself all the way up was 'I wish this was harder, I wish this was harder'. Repeating it was much more fun and I could just enjoy the positions.
I've left Archangel, The Don etc too long now and can't imagine climbing them these days. I find it really upsetting, but you never know I may end up underneath them on one of those perfect winter mornings, turn my head off and start laybacking for victory.
If routes are safe I tend to just get stuck in now, as failing on a route is a significantly less depressing outlook than never getting on them.

Great thread by the way
Martin Bennett - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Chris Craggs:
I have the same story but relating to the Scafell East Buttress Mild VS Great Eastern - always felt "let's get the plethora of brilliant HVS E1 E2 routes done and leave that for old age", thus it must be about 45 years since I first contemplated it. Trouble is now I'm old I don't think I can be bothered walking up there!
Like you I've done nearly 40 routes on Cloggy and, it being an easier walk, would like to get up there and do 3 more for the round figure total, it being my favourite crag. Trouble is any partner now would be a generation or two younger and be aiming to do the classics rather than hold my ropes on esoterica just for the ticks!
Post edited at 20:21
Andy Nisbet - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

You didn't say that you had to have succeeded. There's plenty of new winter lines I spotted back in the 80s, and I'm waiting till the next ice age.
Mark Kemball - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Chris Craggs:

> I could maybe handle the routes - but the walk up from Llanberis - I doubt it

You could always take the train!

Al Randall on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Martin Bennett:

Hi Martin. I've still got 4 routes that I would like to do on Cloggy, that I have not done before. Scorpio, Silhouette, The Axe and Great Wall. I reckon I could lead the first 2, you can lead the second Just name the day.

Al
Martin Hore - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I've got quite a number of Classic Rock ticks that I'm fairly deliberately leaving to one side at present in the (possibly vain) hope of setting myself the challenge to complete the full set after 70. Sounds like a good challenge to keep me active anyway.

Now Hard Rock after 70 - that really would be a challenge. Has anyone succeeded?

Martin
Martin Bennett - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Al Randall:

I've done the first two Al - even led Scorpio. I did get sufficiently ambitious to consider Great Wall, and even ask a mate for "the numbers" (what now seems to be called "beta") on it, but then that purple patch ended and I still await it's return!
The Axe? Never mind name the day - the most apposite phrase can be lifted from Buddy Holly's back catalogue - that'll BE the day!
jon on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Mark Kemball:

> You could always take the train!

He could talk them into accepting his bus pass...

Chris Craggs - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Mark Kemball:
> You could always take the train!

Now that is an idea

Chris
Post edited at 20:59
Dave Kerr - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I've left a whole crag for 26 years. It is my secret shame that I've never climbed on Lochnagar. Now, if you were a Peak sport climber that wouldn't be terrible omission but as a Scottish trad and winter climber it most certainly is.
kevin stephens - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Martin Bennett: done those 4 but on the lookout for partners on Woubits and Mostest

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Rock to Fakey - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I like this thread... Wellington Crack, Ilkley, was one I always wanted to... i watched JD breeze up it with ease a few times back sometime in the late 80's and always wanted to get on it, but only if i was confident i could have it,... there probably was a time but i'd moved away + seemed to forget about it.
How would it compare to Wee Doris, Stoney... Welly looks harder to me.
Having 2nded Call to Arms at Sanctuary Wall recently, i know i currently am miles below the fitness level required... + i found it hard to believe C2A is only e4 5c. But i can imagine Welly crack being on that level, a fair bit less steep, but smaller holds...
Wee Doris, which i did back then, must be easier than both though ?
I'm far from familiar with that grade, but Wellington Crack is back on my wishlist, for next year or within 2 years, if i can get over this bizarre shoulder back + neck grief!
Big Ger - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

A short and comparatively low grade one for me, Aerobic Wall (E2 5c)

First saw it in about 86 or so, will be doing it next year, honest.
craig h - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Still having a 20 year rest from the Strand at Gogarth. Set up the route placed a couple of nuts, but for some reason it didn't feel right so down climbed removing the gear. Possibly time to get on it again as the on-sight is still there ;-)
Martin Bennett - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to kevin stephens:

> done those 4 but on the lookout for partners on Woubits and Mostest

Done 'em Kev.
Michael Hood - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Me and a mate failed on the second pitch of Matinee (HVS 5b) in 1977 (I think) and I've never tried it since although it's still on the list.
TobyA on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Failed on Westering Home (E1 5b) at Reiff, in 1995 on my onsight attempt. Went back up there (from Glasgow - home at the time) in the '96 and fell off it again - top move is tricky! Met a girl, left the country, came back to the country, started a PhD, left the country again, had kids, bought a house etc. etc. until last summer I found myself back at Reiff. Fell off the same move again, so seconded my mate up at it and then finally 'sent' on my second lead attempt that day - 22 years after first trying. Very chuffed to have put it to bed.

We camped at the bottom of Stetind in 2001 I think it was and came up with reasons not to try it, doing other smaller routes in the area before going to Lofoten. Went back and did it about 4 days shy of my 40th in 2013. I think perhaps the biggest difference was having mobile data access and the yr.no forecast in 2013.
Robert Durran - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to jon:

> That's a FAR better attitude than all this 'oh, I'm saving it for the onsight' bollocks.

It's not bollocks. I've got immense satisfaction and buzzed for days from routes which I've saved until the time felt right and then pulled off the onsight. Just another aspect of good climbing judgement.
1
Andy Cloquet - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing: Having partnered with a colleague whom I later found was a non-swimmer, our attempt on Torbay's Moonraker in 1981 ended with support from the Coastguard and RNLI! It has since then eluded my diary for the proceeding 36 years!

Duncan Campbell - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

For me, as you know, it was Right Wall. I stupidly thought that having gone from onsighting E1 to E3 in my first term at uni that I'd obviously be climbing E5 by the summer... obviously this wasn't the case. Every year I hoped might be the year but was too intimidated by it to do it as my first E5. I ended up leaving North Wales having lived there for 4 years without doing it.

For some reason, living in Sheffield kicked me out of a habit of saving routes, and I climbed my first E5 on a mega road trip with Guy VG. We drove up to North Wales from Pembroke and I knew that the time was right. Unfortunately we arrived to rain and it never dried out whilst we were there - gutting! I had another crack later that year but was feeling a bit burnt out and wasn't entirely sure where to go at the end of the crack at the start. So I downclimbed.

I finally got it done, on a cold and windy day in June, 2015 - five years after first wanting to do it! It was a bit wet and I was cold having let Pete and Katy Whittaker lead it before me, but it was done. I knew that day that I was going to do it, or fall trying!

... I must get back on London Wall though!
atthedropofahat on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

The Russian at Symonds Yat. I've climbed harder than HVS, but the reputation is big on it, almost every year there's a serious injury or death on it. A few friends had epics and one guy I used to climb with ended up in a coma from the fall. Add to that my dads mate needed to be rescued from it. I'll need to be comfortable on HVS as I am on VS now to do it
1
jon on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> It's not bollocks.

It is if you've absolutely no intention of ever doing the route! I've a mate who trots this out as a stock reply for any number of routes that I know he'll never do!

> I've got immense satisfaction and buzzed for days from routes which I've saved until the time felt right and then pulled off the onsight.

Similarly, I've had immense satisfaction and buzzed for days from routes which I could possibly have JUST scraped my way up onsight but decided to red point instead for the pure enjoyment of climbing it as efficiently as possible. Just another aspect of good climbing judgement

But just to qualify that a little... I'm more referring to sport climbing than trad. I do think that onsight is an ideal to be aimed at - if not strictly adhered to at all times - for trad. However, it all boils down to personal satisfaction. As long as you're climbing for yourself - and not to impress others - it really doesn't matter what you do.

davidbeynon on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I have been "saving" the long climb on ben nevis for about 15 years. In fact I have been saving the summit for years as I refuse to do my first ascent via the tourist path.

Unfortunately every time I have been to Fort William in the last decade the weather has crapped out and I have spent all my time hiding from the rain.
In reply to Duncan Campbell:

Dunc, those years we lived together when you were pining after Right Wall were tortuous. Now you've moved out my only fear is that someone else is getting the butt end of it with Lord of the Flies.

On that note...

;-)
Ryanfuego - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

800 Kilometers by bike. More than 75 Kilometers by foot when I have been travelling in Georgia, there are also great places for hiking!
mr mills on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Yes well done on sending London Wall Rob...I guess if you'd mention that it had been on your tick-list for years people would have told you that you were well capable of climbing it !

For me it's been 25 years of waiting and counting the years as they fly by to summon the courage to attempt Right Wall, Iv'e belayed a few people on it but have never been on it. I guess it's a fear of failing on such a classic route I guess but as somebody commented it's better to try and fail than not to try at all.

I'm not sure if I'll ever do it now after my accident but I'll second it for the experience and see what all the fuss was about

mills.
jon on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to mr mills:

Accident, Mills?
bearman68 - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to atthedropofahat:

My big one was Red Rose Speedway on SY. I've done the Russian a few times, but can't remember anything about it.

I seconded RRS one day when I first started climbing. It's very steep, and the hand traverse about halfway up completely finished me off. I got up it, but it was hard work and hugely inelagant. I remember thinking, I will be a real climber if I can climb this.

I climbed it about 3 years later, and still remember the great feeling as my left hand got the wide jug below the second crack.

And that was 20 years ago. Top weekend though was Dream of White Horses on the Saturday, followed by Cyrn Glas main wall on the Sunday. That might yet be the best weekend I've ever had, ever.
Mark Kemball - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Not a route, but when I first started climbing, we made plans to go to Lofoten (1974). I finaly went there in 2016.
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

New Dawn at Malham. Have saved for the on sight for 15-20 years! I even belayed my mate on it and didn't watch him on any moves (probably not the wisest thing to have done). Saved Dominatrix for the o/s for many years but did that a few years ago... by the skin of my teeth.

Ulysses. Saved for the on sight. I won't ever do this now I don't imagine, as I can't imagine top roping it. Maybe if it was in safe snowball condition?

A few hard, classic Peak lime E5s, most notably Golden Mile, which I've always put off but am now keen just to have a go at and do, even if it means falling off.

Other obvious ground uppable/classic grit E7s (Balance, Janus, Beau Geste, Masters) saved but now I've seen videos of most of these and would probably be happy enough just to do them.

Mecca. Dogged up it once, in 2001 after having done Staminaband. Keep saying I'm going to get involved, but can't bring myself to join the queue!
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

wrt London Wall, I first tried it on a bitterly cold day having just returned from a Uni trip to Spain where I'd redpointed my first 8a (Lourdes). I thought I was fit. Not trad fit though. Fell out of the top crack.

Went back 10 years later and did it one evening in July after a full spring of loads of trad, sport and bouldering.

It's nails!
davidbeynon on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Mark Kemball:

Good isn't it?
Fredt on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:
40 years, 1967 to 2007.
The Nose.

It was pictures of the Nose in a book that started me climbing in 1967.
Trying to remember the name of the book...
Half past 5.
Post edited at 13:09
Mark Stevenson - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

First, congratulations, that's a fantastic effort on London Wall.

Secondly, what a great thread.

Exactly as you predicted, I delayed climbing The Rasp (E2 5b) for 12+ years.

I also have to confess that it's now been nearly 15 years that I've been "saving for the onsight" Quietus (E2 5c), Billy Whizz (E2 5c) and Archangel (E3 5b). I really, really need to get on them, at least the first two.

However in my defence, I have recently been making a concerted effort to resolve some unfinished business:
The Peapod (HVS 5b) and L'Horla (E1 5b), failed on both 7th April 2002, and climbed them successfully 2nd October 2016.
Stroof (E1 5c), failed 17th August 2002, climbed successfully 6th March this year.
Nonsuch (E1 5b), failed 22nd August 2008, climbed successfully 9th October 2016.
duncan - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

The Rabada-Navarro on Naranjo de Bulnes. The first British ascent was the subject of my first ever climbing slide-show during Sheffield Uni. fresher's week 1978. A seminal event: I'd found my tribe. I got stormed off it in 2015 and finally got up it in 2016. It's a great route, not too hard, in an underappreciated area.

A little later in 1978 I heard Ed Webster talk about US desert climbing. He was a pro. and I was captivated. It took to 2004 to get there and I've still not done Scenic Cruise in the Black Canyon.

These are both in the too-many-routes-not-enough-time catagory. Hard to see past London Wall in the too-intimidating-to-try-don't-want-to-screw-up category. I would have had a fighting chance in 1984 or 1997; I think that boat has now sailed.
Dave Hewitt - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Trangia:

> Cuillin Ridge in one go.

Interesting thread, as others have said. Depends what is meant by a route, but at the lower end, in the walking/scrambling world, there are plenty of timid souls who have put off reaching the harder Munros on the Skye Cuillin. One of my main walking chums, a man with a huge amount of hill time under his belt, had been on M-3 for over 20 years when I first got to know him, the three being In Pinn, Am Basteir and Sgurr Mhic Choinnich. He'd been to within a minute or so of the last of these at some stage but had backed off. In due course he got up all three: Sgurr Mhic Choinnich having gone back alone on a good day when he was feeling confident and found it much easier than he remembered, and the other two after having hired the excellent Mike Lates.

My own situation with the In Pinn was similar if not quite so delayed: I stood at the foot of it on a horrible wet/windy/cold day in July 1986 while four friends gave it a go (three of them managed it, one reappeared out of the cloud after an hour in tears). That put me off the idea for a long time and I kept finding excuses to not go back, before finally getting round to it, on the end of another friend's rope, in lovely weather in August 2004.

In Pinn avoidance isn't quite as prevalent as it once was, given the increased availability of commercial guides, but there are still plenty of people out there who have been round all the Munros bar just the Pinn or various of the harder Skye ones, and some of these people will have been putting off doing it for several decades.
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Pete O'Donovan - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Hi Rob, good job of your onsight of London Wall! Although pretty modest in terms of grades (these days) I think there are probably easier Peak E5's. Shame on you though — you should have got on it a few years earlier and taken a monster fall from the top to get the full experience.

The concept of leaving iconic/hard trad routes (E5-E7) for the onsight, though not exactly new, is the preserve of a very select group of climbers, but there are all sorts of reasons for leaving routes of any grade for another time — fear of falling and fear of failing both topping the list, depending on how serious the situation.

Think you summed it up perfectly with your explanation of red-pointing Master's Edge, with (accepted) top-rope practice, before attempting an onsight of LW. The times they are a changing...

Pete.



kermit_uk - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

London Wall is right up there as a life goal! Effort Rob

Wuthering at Stanage stands out. Every time I was near it, it was too warm or too cold or I wasn't going very well or some other reason. Not sure how long I had wanted to do it but it had always been on my mind and the reasons not to get on it were getting thinner and thinner.

Commander Energy first saw the photo on the cover of western grit and wanted to do it. Took me years and many times walking underneath it with similar thoughts to Wuthering.

In a way i left both too long and kind of pathed them. I always feel i miss some of the experience when I get on things once they are within my ability. A fine line on a classic you desperately want to onsight between leaving it too long and being impatient.


Cam
mr mills on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to jon:

Hi Jon, yes just over two years back now ! Climbing with my Niece at Stanage Popular, both of us fell from the top, it was so quick not quite clear what happened exactly.
Airlifted to the hospital in Sheffield, both of us sustained bad injuries, so many people who helped on the day and Edale MR was amazing, the doctors and nurses at Northern General Hospital, friends and family so many people to thank...myself and my Niece have made a full recovery and I'm back climbing but my trad head not quite the same !

Mills
jon on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to mr mills:

Wow, that sounds scary - especially as you don't know what happened. Glad that you're OK now. I noticed from the database you were going well at Chulilla - I was there last year trying to gather info on routes, and kept coming across your name!
Cheers.
Dave Cundy - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Martin Bennett:

Martin, name yer route, i've just resigned from my job B-)
mr mills on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to jon:

Thanks Jon, I have got my own version of what happened but wont go into details of it on here...it's a bit of a head fcuk to thing you take somebody out climbing and they get seriously injured while in your care I think about it often but I guess it doesn't do me or anybody else any good.
I think sport climbing will be the climbing I shall be participating in mostly now with some easy trad thrown in somewhere. Chulilla is a great venue and hopefully will get back there soon.

Cheers Jon.
Martin Bennett - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Dave Cundy:

I'll be in touch Dave.
Robert Durran - on 17 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Burning Desire (E5 6b) at Ardmair, God's own crag, more gritstone like than gritstone. I had avoided it for years, but in 2008 found myself at the crag knowing the time was probably right, but feeling down about life in general for various reasons. Found my E3 warm up hard and awkward, then struggled seconding another typically brutal E3. Lay on the grass staring moodily up at the huge roof for about an hour before something clicked and I decided to go for it. Having somehow desperately sketched my way through the crux with some improvised dynamic jamming, rested for ages at the back of the roof utterly terrified of blowing it. After latching the massive jug on the lip, hung there repeatedly shouting "I AM THE GOD OF THE TRUE ONSIGHT" probably loud enough to have been heard in Ullapool. In retrospect, this would have been somewhat embarrassing if we had not had the crag to ourselves, especially if I had somehow fluffed the easy finishing move. Headed off to Reiff with much bloodied hands but all well with the world again.

Timmd on 18 Jun 2017
In reply to mr mills:
> Thanks Jon, I have got my own version of what happened but wont go into details of it on here...it's a bit of a head fcuk to thing you take somebody out climbing and they get seriously injured while in your care I think about it often but I guess it doesn't do me or anybody else any good.
> I think sport climbing will be the climbing I shall be participating in mostly now with some easy trad thrown in somewhere. Chulilla is a great venue and hopefully will get back there soon.

> Cheers Jon.

My own youngest niece is 4 at the mo and very into climbing at The Works, I've been doing a bit of pondering on the responsibilities involved if I took her climbing outside later on. I guess in the end being able to forgive oneself is what can make the difference? I'm glad you both fully recovered.
Post edited at 22:17
wilkie14c - on 18 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

i'm 48 now and have always felt that Three pebble slab has got my name on it, so 48 years i guess.
Once I feel menatally strong enough to onsight VS i'm gonna go for it. I'm hoping for this winter, when the friction is better.
1
keith sanders - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Right wall Cromlech is my desired route Should have done it 26 years ago I was climbing my best when I had a perfect chance, my mate Adrian had just cruised it in the evening, but I had to get my nephew back home before midnight.
I thought oh Ill come back next weekend and do it but it never happened, Just my style of climbing on the feet and a little bit of finger strength good head.

Can I still do it? I'd like to think so but reality might be different, Would have to second it now.

keith s
nb - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Am I right in thinking Alex Honnold onsight soloed London Wall? For anyone who read my comments on his Freerider ascent (Robert Durran comes to mind!) and thought I was being unduly negative (fair 'nuff), I would like to have it on record that I thought his London Wall solo was truly awe-inspiring (oh bollox, I feel like a teenage girl!!)

'Bout 30 years and counting for me :/
radddogg - on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

This is an entry I've submitted to our club journal. Might never make it to print so thought I'd share it here seeing as it fits the criteria.

I popped the boot open and my climbing partner, Tom and I crawled out of the back of the yellow Ford Fiesta. It probably wasn't the ideal weekend camper but the old car had taken us on many weekend climbing adventures around the country. It was winter 1998. Our excursions had so far taken us mainly to Dovedale, Cornwall and North Wales. This weekend we were trying natural gritstone for the first time.

We had arrived after dark so as we achingly crawled out of the frozen car, we caught our first sight of The Roaches. Back then we didn't have Facebook, Google or even easy access to the internet so I hadn't seen any pictures of the crag. We didn't even have a guidebook so I was unaware of what to expect. Consuming the atmosphere, my eyes were immediately drawn to the crag's most striking feature, the vast overhanging roof at the centre of the upper tier. Wow! Could anyone ever get up that? According to a kind climber’s guidebook it was possible.

“The Sloth, HVS 5a. 24m. The crack that splits the enormous roof is a total gripper. The climbing is quite straightforward although mighty harassing and the route feels like E1. Climb to a sitting position on The Pedestal then step right and climb the short tricky wall to the roof (big sling on the massive spike of the Cheese Block). Lean right to get the first of the creaking juggy flakes then launch across these to the lip where solid jamming helps the pull over into the final easy crack. The old roof climbing adage of 'keep your feet on the rock at all costs' is worth bearing in mind.” - Rockfax.

I could never climb this. Instead we climbed many of the classics including Valkyrie, but never contemplating The Sloth. Frankly it looked terrifying, despite being an easier grade than some of the routes we ticked that visit. The whole weekend we didn't see anyone on it; perhaps we weren't the only ones intimidated by it. Part of me hoped my partner would suggest leading it so I could follow on a top-rope but we never did attempt it.

Time and life moved on. I stopped climbing. Lost contact with my partner. Climbing became little more than happy memories. My dream of The Sloth faded.

Fast forward to 2015. Facebook, YouTube and Google. I'd rediscovered my passion for climbing and joined the LC&CC. My new regular partner, Martin and I got an early finish from work and headed down to The Roaches one Friday afternoon. At this point I was leading Severe, Hard Severe at a push. The Sloth was obviously out of the question, but Pedestal Route was an obvious choice for a closer look. As I belayed from the pedestal, I took a look up at the flaked crack, millions of years of geology at work to create an epic pitch. We finished the route and as we collected our gear we saw a potential party looking up from the pedestal before slinking off up the same pitch we'd just completed.
radddogg - on 04 Jul 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

In 2016 I was confidently leading VS and at the start of 2017 I was working hard to get into better shape to push the grade. One week in April, I got the chance for another early finish and I found myself planning a trip to The Roaches. I had been climbing better than ever before, leading a couple of HVS onsight in the previous weeks. Could The Sloth be on the agenda? Facebook chatter on the LCCC page was encouraging and the consensus on the UKClimbing forums was that this was VS climbing that could shut down E2 leaders. I knew physically I could do it but could I overcome the mental challenge?

We talked about what we were going to climb on the journey down in the car. Tony, a regular at The Roaches heeded a warning that we should use this visit to get used to the different climbing style of natural grit, afterall we were used to the Lancashire quarries. Elliot and I decided to warm up on Valkyrie. I led the first pitch, 4b. Tony was right, the natural grit was totally different to the quarried grit I was used to. Rounded and high friction versus square cut lower friction. It took some getting used to and it felt hard for the grade. Following Elliot up the crux pitch felt desperate; it knocked my confidence and I all but ruled out The Sloth.

As we looked at the guidebook to choose the next climb, I thought about what I would feel like if I didn't at least look at The Sloth. Staring up as we approached the overhang looked immense. A party on Black and Tans asked what we were going up. “We're having a look at Sloth” I said, giving myself a get out of jail free card. Despite trying to stall, I found myself gearing up and setting off up the slab and flake. The climbing up to the pedestal felt very easy compared to last time I was here, a good omen I hoped. I got to the pedestal, placed some gear and started to assess the situation. Inside I felt very vulnerable given the struggle on Valkyrie. I decided to go up to the roof, place some gear and down climb to the pedestal; it wasn't too late to back out. The moves to the roof were quite technical but I soon had the cheese block in hand, which I protected with a sling, trapping and backing it up with a good wire. I then went back to the pedestal to rest my arms and psyche myself up.

Breathing deeply, I studied the features looming out over my head. A large black flake system to the right, bearing the scars of previous attempts; bright orange broken holds contrasting against the remaining good rock. A deep groove, disappearing into the darkness, the now dried bright green algae, telling tales about how the groove was channeled. On the lip, to the left of the groove was a further series of flakes but quite a reach from the right flake. Playing the moves out in my head, it appeared there were two options for turning the overhang; a solid fist-jam in the groove or a toe-hook and mantel over the left flakes.

Back on the ground, encouragement was shouted up, breaking the silence. It was time to move. I decided I'd go up and try to get some protection in further out on the roof before coming back down. I moved out from the small flake onto the right flake and got my feet up. The void behind the flake was deeper than I expected, providing a great rail for footholds. My mind was briefly cast back to the guidebook description (keep your feet on the rock at all costs). There was nowhere obvious to get any gear in other than right at the nose. What should I do? A jolt of adrenaline surged, I couldn't do it. My mind told me I couldn't do it.

When leading, I find that in serious situations climbing just takes over and it all just comes naturally. In spite of my mental anguish, I found myself moving out to the end of the flake; the holds were very positive. I had spent a lot of the winter at West View climbing wall and the training was paying off. It felt amazing jugging my way on such steep terrain, something I'd never encountered on any other route before. Although the sling and nut were bombproof, a fall from this position would mean a 5 metre plunge onto the 70° slab and the risk of serious ankle injury. Time to get some gear in! The 3.8 HB quadcam I had preselected was too big but I managed to reach higher and fit it in a widening above. I felt like I was running out of steam but downclimbing was out of the question. Instinct took over and I reached for the large left flake and moved my feet up further - totally committed now. The flake was brilliant and I moved further left, toe-hooking where my hands had just been. I rolled my body over, mantelling with my left arm while trusting the friction of a grit sloper with my right. From here I pulled myself up over the nose and jammed my knee in the crack to rest momentarily and to take it all in. I was going to do it, the worst (or the best) was over.

At the top, as I belayed, I replayed the climb in my mind, moving out along the magnificent flake. In this position with my fingers hooked around the lip of the flake I felt like a Sloth. I wondered whether this was the reason behind the name or maybe it was because of the Sloth’s ability to hang indefinitely without expending energy, remembering the picture of Whillans dangling nonchalantly from the fist-jam in 1956.

The Sloth, a twenty year dream, ticked. Was it hard? Not if you use your loaf.

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