UKC

ARTICLE: Collecting the Classics - Tales from a Classic Rock Completionist

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 UKC Articles 29 Apr 2021

Rachel Crolla recalls the highs and lows of completing all 83 climbs in Ken Wilson's book Classic Rock. Puerile tickers, take note...

Soaked to the skin by driving rain, rattling off a string of expletives, crushed between the sides of an impossibly slimy chimney and squirming in the filth with an unwieldy rucksack… that was when I became hooked. It was a terrifically feisty VDiff, which no one would find easy. The climb was Great Gully on Craig Y Ysfa and from this point on I was obsessed with Classic Rock.

Read more

1
 Offwidth 29 Apr 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

There are photos in my gallery of a drier Clachaig Gully for others interested in a drier ascent for the list. We really need a replacement Cornish climb for Terrior's Tooth where the start fell off. Lynn and I still have a few to go... notably the Cairngorm climbs and The Chasm.

2
 Michael Gordon 29 Apr 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Good stuff. Clachaig Gully is well worth it's inclusion - after all, it's a traditional 'classic', with all that that implies. And the essay is excellent. But it's definitely not to be taken lightly at the grade.

 PaulJepson 29 Apr 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

Didn't Ken Wilson say that he regretted not including Right Angle (HS 4b) in Classic Rock? That would make a good replacement. 

If it has to be the same crag then Pegasus (HS 4b) is supposed to be cracking. 

 Offwidth 30 Apr 2021
In reply to PaulJepson:

Either would be OK by me. Terrior's was a HS mascarading as a VD in any case (for the bold true start). Maybe Lands End Long Climb would be the best replacement (another varied VD that should be HS for the true line). I should imagine The Chasm stops most completing the list (a very long VS with traditional technique required at the grade and not often in best condition...... defeats a few extreme leaders)

 Michael Gordon 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

A fun thread might be which Classic Rock routes could (theoretically) be replaced with better alternatives. Raeburn's Arete into North-East Buttress would seem like a good swap for The Long Climb. 

 Sean Kelly 30 Apr 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

I've ticked most of those south of the border but had desperately poor weather whenever I've gone north of the border. 3 trips alone to Being Shuas were washed out. Likewise the Cioch Nose. And my last visit to the remoter crags of Cairngorm resulted in 84mph winds! Perhaps I should attempt them in winter as it seems to have much better weather.

I really enjoyed the article though. Well done!

Post edited at 08:44
In reply to UKC Articles:

What a great read!

as somebody at the start of their own Classic Rock odyssey (two ticked off on Tryfan last weekend!) I enjoyed this enormously and it got me even more motivated. Thanks!

 C Witter 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> A fun thread might be which Classic Rock routes could (theoretically) be replaced with better alternatives.

That would be a good thread, definitely. For the Lakes, VS or below, maybe:

1. North West Arete
2. D Route
3. Haste Not
4. Bilberry Buttress
5. Eliminate A
6. Giant's Crawl
7. Moss Ledge Direct and Jones' Arete
8. Mickledore Grooves
9. Bridge's Route
10. Innominate Crack
11. Eagle's Nest Ridge Direct
12. Eagle Front
13. Oxford and Cambridge Direct
14. The Coffin
15. New-West Climb

To be fair, you can't improve at the grade on Bowfell Buttress (VDiff), Tophet Wall, Murray's Route or Troutdale Pinnacle.

Post edited at 09:59
 PaulJepson 30 Apr 2021
In reply to C Witter:

There is this ticklist which has the alternatives suggested in one edition:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/set.php?id=75

 C Witter 30 Apr 2021
In reply to PaulJepson:

Yeh - it's a good list, I've looked at it before

 Darron 30 Apr 2021

That list appears in the first edition under ‘Other good routes’ (a list of alternatives to the main ones in the book and ‘Other worthwhile climbs’.

 Offwidth 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Seems a way better combination than Long Climb in my view.

 Sion Roberts 30 Apr 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Hi Rachel - Without a shadow of doubt, this is by far and away the best article that I have read on UKC for a long time, it really resonated with me.

Thank you for sharing the magic.

Sion

In reply to UKC Articles:

A really really good read. You can feel the adventure and the pleasure you’ve taken from it all, oozing from every line. Kudos for completing it and extra kudos for this fab article. 

 John Whittaker 30 Apr 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

One of the best articles I've read on UKC in ages. I usually get bored reading them and just look at the pictures but this kept my interest all the way to the end.

Great article and great achievement Rachel.

 Basemetal 30 Apr 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Absolutely first class read, Thanks!

Great photos too. I'm glad to say I had a much drier Clachaig Gully experience, though I did manage to spend 24 hours in it.

 janegallwey 30 Apr 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Brilliant article, really made me smile.

 lithos 30 Apr 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article, very enjoyable - I still have a bunch in Scotland to do....

BTW the ticklist is here, I was a bit surprised it wasn't included in the article. https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/set.php?id=8

In reply to UKC Articles:

Brilliant account, Rachel. I am ticking my way through Snowdonia Classic Rock for the Joe Brown Challenge. Whilst I have climbed many of them already, I am enjoying the focus that comes from a list as well as the mild anxiety that "shall we go to the coast" brings, as there is nothing on my list at the coast! Bravo, great piece. 

 GrahamD 01 May 2021
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> A fun thread might be which Classic Rock routes could (theoretically) be replaced with better alternatives. Raeburn's Arete into North-East Buttress would seem like a good swap for The Long Climb. 

Provided that in no way it was then thought of as 'Classic Rock' !  I think part of the the appeal of the the Classic/Hard/Extreme series is the outright quirkiness of the selection.  It most certainly isn't, or never was, just another 'best of' compilation.

 JimR 01 May 2021

I think its me and my mate Phil who are on Napes Needle in the photograph in Classic Rock. I never spotted it for years. I remember Phil saying at the time he'd been talking to a photographer on Needle Ridge. It was a long time ago 1975ish I'd guess.

In reply to UKC Articles:

Really good article, loved reading it.

 Quinton 01 May 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Excellent article and well done for completing the whole tick list. These climbs are the foundation of climbing as I knew it. There are some great climbs here and many of them are more difficult than the grade suggests.

I started climbing in North Wales in 1958 and we worked our way through these climbs in all kinds of weather with minimal gear - it was our learning experience. I had only just started climbing and I particularly remember a cold, wet November day when we did Hope, Lazarus and Groove Above. It was not an easy day out.

I did all the climbs but one that are listed in the Wales section.

When Ken was writing Classic Rock he needed a photo of the Cioch Nose and I gave him, one but he rejected it because he said it was not sharp. Odd, because when I submitted that photo to UKC it was voted a "5"

Anyway, well done again for such an entertaining article. 

  

In reply to UKC Articles:

Thoroughly your writing. Good skills. 

 Babika 02 May 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article Rachel. 

I'm also a female "puerile ticker" so I completely understand your sentiments about structure, focus etc. I get really excited planning stuff. 

Classic Rock is such fun - I'll probably never finish it now as while I've only the Pillar routes left south of the border there's a few Scottish ones that are probably out of my league now. I did get Clachaig Gully done though, many years ago. I just remember thinking "how much longer is this going on? Can't we get out of this bloody gully?"

I know you've done most of the routes with 1 partner but for me they've almost all been with different partners. I feel as if I've got my own set of narratives and stories, a bit like CR, which is very precious to me.

I'm sure you've inspired loads of people in the same way that Ken inspired you and I.

Well done.

 grectangle 02 May 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

Maybe Diocese or South Face Direct? Both a bit harder than Terrier's, but both excellent and classic, especially Diocese, best VS I've ever done. However, I think it would be hard to beat Right Angle for the grade! (at least in Cornwall)

In reply to UKC Articles:

Admitting to having a wee fully clothed just to warm up: a hilarious and thoroughly accurate evocation of mountain cragging in Scotland. Loved it

 PaulJepson 02 May 2021
In reply to grectangle:

Both much too hard for classic rock. Diocese especially, which is borderline hvs. The vs routes in CR (in England at least) are low in the grade and/or 4b. 

 grectangle 02 May 2021
In reply to PaulJepson:

Fair enough!

Should probably know more about classic rock before commenting on a thread about classic rock :/

 Offwidth 03 May 2021
In reply to PaulJepson:

I think the Clachaig Gully with normal dry day flow and The Chasm in anything less than a drought would both be adjectvally harder than those two Cornish VS climbs combined. Some might argue Long Climb is HVS 4b for rock quality, route finding and length. The old adjectival grades in Classic Rock are simply not to be trusted.

2
 Euge 03 May 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article, really enjoyed it.

Thanks

Euge

 C Witter 05 May 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

One question for Rachel: what next? Where do you go after Classic Rock?

 Climbandwine 05 May 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

This - "not to improve my grade, not to lose my skin and temper on hard-won short and tough local gritstone crags, but to travel on what felt like secret ways up mountains and imposing cliffs; not breaking new ground but following in the footsteps of trusted pioneers."

Thank you for a great article Rachel. After spending a weekend at a sport crag surrounded by people obsessed with grades, I needed a reminder that climbing is just as much about the adventure and enjoying the great outdoors. 

 oliwarlow 07 May 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great Article! thanks for a very enjoyable read Rachel.  It certainty evokes memories of a fairly torrid time in Clachaig Gully!  Certainty one I would like to re-visit after a drought just out of curiosity, also one of my favourite write ups in the book.

Cheers

Oli.

 Offwidth 03 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

We did https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/craig_cywarch_aka_craig_cowarch-2263/will_o_the_wisp-40744 last week and thought it worth adding some comments here to help others.

The faint path described in Rockfax, 200m up the footpath, was invisible due to bracken. 300m up the path, just after passing between two big trees, is a faint path straight up to a line of scree (which we used .. an.OK slog ), to an obvious traverse path at the level of a grass band (golden in the June sun). On the way back we followed the traverse line, more easily, all the way back to the footpath: marked by a small cairn about 500m up the path ( 250m above the two trees).

Everything was dryish and with no significant vegetation, so the climb felt low grade VDiff to us. It had Diff style moves, not always immediately obvious, and often exposed. The second needs to be as able as the leader on the traverse. The pitch 5 belay tree (above the steep arete) is looking on it's last legs so be prepared for alternatives (we belayed 8m above, just after the big block). I'm mystified in the logbook notes why people would abseil off the top unless the descent gully is sometimes running with water as the access point is less than 30m from the last of the climbing and it's a fast easy scramble down to the start of the climb, and the main hazard is taking care not to disturb the odd small loose rock. 

A really nice day out.

Post edited at 17:24
In reply to Offwidth:

The descent gully can be pretty much a waterfall at times. You wouldn't catch me climbing anything in Cwm Cywarch at those times though!

 Cornish boy 04 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Congratulations on completing all those routes Rachel. 

Really enjoyed reading your article and found it inspirational. 

Thanks for posting it.


This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Loading Notifications...