/ REVIEW: ROCKFAX - Southern Sandstone Climbs

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Southern Sandstone Climbs montage, 5 kbSouthern Sandstone local, Tom Gore, takes a look at the new Rockfax guide to his home turf.

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In reply to UKC Gear:

I couldn't agree more about the French Grades. They may be considered contentious by climbers who've been going there for years, but to newcomers they'll actually provide a meaningful indication of difficulty that - bless them - the English tech grade never really did (or at least not with great accuracy).

I also owe a word of thanks for your 'Secluded Sandstone' article Tom, I've subsequently made it to a few of the venues and they've all been great.

Dare I say it, but what with the new guide being published I'd actually consider a weekend down there from the Peak
Thinker01 - on 05 Oct 2017
In reply to UKC Gear:

35 quid tho! Rockfax seem to be loosing their already sometimes shaky grip on reality!
1poundSOCKS - on 05 Oct 2017
In reply to Thinker01:

> 35 quid tho! Rockfax seem to be loosing their already sometimes shaky grip on reality!

Sounds like a massive guidebook, that took 5 years to produce. The reality is Rockfax is a business.

How much do you think it costs to produce and how many do you think they'll sell?
beefy_legacy on 05 Oct 2017
In reply to UKC Gear:

Is the bouldering coverage comprehensive? It's not quite clear from the article but the blurb says it does sport and boulders?
pasbury on 05 Oct 2017
In reply to UKC Gear:

Makes me hanker for my introduction to climbing 30 years ago at university. Every Saturday we'd get on the train to Eridge or Groombridge station, grovel around at Bowles or Harrisons until our arms were like wet newspaper and round it off with several pints at the Huntsmans.
In reply to Thinker01:

For what it's worth I'm not involved with Rockfax pricing, but from what I've seen of the guide it provides what I deem as 'good value'.

Whilst it's a bit of a tanget, I filled up my car with petrol yesterday - it cost £70. People don't blink an eye about spending this sort of money of fuel, it's just a given (and given the choice I'd have rather have spent the money on two guidebooks!). Still, it's a necessity if I want to get to the places I wish to go. A guidebook is much the same, whilst I could go climbing without one - or use an older edition - I choose to buy them so that a) I can find the routes and b) so that I can be inspired to go places I've never been before.

If a guidebook manages to achieve that then I'd say £35 is a bargain!
In reply to beefy_legacy:

From what I've seen: yes.

I'll see if we can get Daimon to pass comment on exactly how comprehensive it is though, as I'm a long way from being local!
Offwidth - on 05 Oct 2017
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Come on Rob, all modern UK guidebooks are fantastic value but have to be priced so low as too many climbers are too bloody mean. Does anyone know any simple tools that track such things in terms of historical inflation; as even on cover prices they seem historically cheap to me compared to the price of a pint (eg in this case of the order of 10 in most parts of the UK) before we even take the extra costs of full colour printing and much larger sizes into account.
In reply to Offwidth:

> Come on Rob, all modern UK guidebooks are fantastic value but have to be priced so low as too many climbers are too bloody mean.

Maybe my message before wasn't clear enough, but that was the exact point I was trying to make

daimon - on 05 Oct 2017
In reply to beefy_legacy:

> Is the bouldering coverage comprehensive? It's not quite clear from the article but the blurb says it does sport and boulders?

Hi, the guidebook is comprehensive enough to reflect actual boulder problems and mutated routes that are often done as problems due to overgrown top-outs etc. The book does not note all of those problems which are only the start of routes (unless meeting the criteria mentioned above). It does reflect the current view of local climbers in the area concerning what needs to be noted and does not, concerning bouldering. Its worth noting that Toad Rocks is appearing in topo form for the first time and the guide very much expands on what has been noted previously in the area.

Hope this answers your question.
derryclimbs - on 05 Oct 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> Come on Rob, all modern UK guidebooks are fantastic value but have to be priced so low as too many climbers are too bloody mean.

In fairness, I think that the target audience for this guidebook, (i.e. Southern city dwellers who are itching to get outdoors and away from their keyboards and desks) are probably more than likely and able to pay that much, and more I would bet.

Dirtbag climbers are unfortunately a minority these days. Current 'dirtbags' all seem to have a VW T5 it would seem.

In reply to UKC Gear:

Really impressed with the photography in this. Good work Damion!
Ramon Marin - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to Thinker01:

It's a free world, you don't need to buy it if you don't want to
beefy_legacy on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to daimon:

Thanks, sounds good. I'm thinking about buying either this one or the bouldering guide. I'm not sure I'm likely to do much top-roping down there.
daimon - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to beefy_legacy:

Just give your self a half tick for any routes you do that finish at the first brake , otherwise, it has everything you need and more. Best if you have a look at a copy in a store perhaps and you will see. Cheers.
ashtond6 - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to UKC Gear:

Yessss success! Another big blow to the useless English tech grade
GrahamD - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to ashtond6:

Err as long as I've climbed on SS the grades bore little relationship to the UK tech grade as part of the adjectival grade. I'm pretty ambivalent about a one guidebook choosing not to use them on SS. Has no bearing on the use of UK grades on traditionally protected routes
Offwidth - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to GrahamD:

What an odd and very ironic statement. UK tech grades were effectively developed there and from 4a to 6a they always seemed pretty OK to me.
Gordon Stainforth - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Yes, just slightly harder that's all (about half to one technical grade harder than elsewhere), but very consistent. The grading works quite well in that if you can get up SS 5b quite easily on a top rope you're likely not to have much difficulty on-sight leading a pitch of 5b elsewhere.

PS. The guidebook looks an absolutely lovely production, a real labour of love. Even though I no longer climb, I'm tempted to buy it as a kind of souvenir
Post edited at 12:29
Offwidth - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I found them easier than Peak tech grades above 5b.
Nath93 - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to Thinker01:
£35 for something that is, with a bit of care, going to last you over ten years (probably longer) or until the next guide comes out is actually a really good deal!

And think of all the good times and fun you'll have as a result of that "extortionate" amount..
Post edited at 12:54
ashtond6 - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to GrahamD:

They will be gone soon enough, don't worry
Doug on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> What an odd and very ironic statement. UK tech grades were effectively developed there and from 4a to 6a they always seemed pretty OK to me.

And based on French (or rather Fontainebleau) grades
In reply to GrahamD:

> Err as long as I've climbed on SS the grades bore little relationship to the UK tech grade as part of the adjectival grade.

Trad tech grades and Sandstone top-rope grades may not have been equivalent in difficulty, but they were being used in the same way.

When doing the conversion in this book we came across routes of UK Tech 5a that spanned sport grades of 5/5b to 6a+. In the higher grades the range was even wider with a UK Sandstone tech of 6b being anything from 7a to 8a sport. This isn't incorrect use of the tech grade though since, on trad routes, UK Tech 6b can span E1/2 up to E8. But tech grades were never designed to be used on their own.

The measure of the worthiness of a grade is whether the climbers doing the hardest climbs use it to communicate the difficulty level to each other. On sandstone climbers doing the hardest routes have been using sport grades for years.

Alan
GrahamD - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I possibly wasn't clear. To me not using Uk tech on SS makes perfect sense these days. Using IK tech on trad as part of adjectival grade also makes perfect sense. Dropping tech grades on SS doesn't really have a bearing on its use where it makes sense and works

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