Nice article Rob, I love stuff like this.
I still stand by wringwraith being e5, although top end. So good though, glad you've mentioned it.
Ghost train instead of grezelda?! Are you insane?!
Hellbound in 1 does indeed look like it'd be one hell of an undertaking, and a contender for the best route in the south west.
And finally, you didn't include carribean blue or free the spirit on sanctuary wall! What were you thinking!?
> And it was Jason Statham, not Vin Diesel... 😉
Erm. No, the first XXX was Vin Diesel as `Xander Cage' (in "xXx"). Then it was Ice Cube, as `Darius Stone' (in "XXX State of the Union"). And then it was Vin Diesel again, as `Xander Cage' (in "XXX Return of Xander Cage"). Statham starred in the vastly superior `Transporter' films, and is now also involved (alongside said Vin Diesel) in the latter `The Fast And The Furious' films. Apparently...
> Nice article Rob, I love stuff like this.
Me too, and not least because of the conversation that follows. It’s the kind of thing that should really take place in a pub, but given that you’re in Devon and I’m up in Derbyshire we’ll have to settle for this.
> Ghost train instead of grezelda?! Are you insane?!
Interesting one this, as I’ve done both but it was Ghost Train that was the one I’d always wanted to do, then had something of an ‘experience’ on - hence its the one I remember. This highlights the sort of head vs. heart decision making, as when I really think about it Grezelda (clearly) has the better climbing. However, were I to go back and make the decision again I’d still include Ghost Train (which may or may not answer the question re: sanity 😂).
> And finally, you didn't include carribean blue or free the spirit on sanctuary wall! What were you thinking!?
You’ve caught me red handed here, as I should really have included one of these, but - and please forgive me for this - I have a confession to make: I completely forgot about them. It’s amazing how you can stare an article like this in the face for months and still miss something as obvious as either of these.
Hopefully I’ll get down south to do them sometime within the near future, but given that I’m almost exclusively bouldering at the moment I don’t think I’d fare overly well!
In fact, on that note - you fancy a crack at Devon Sent sometime?
Cheers Ramon, knew you’d like it - couldn’t be more up your street.
I promise once I’ve got this bouldering lark out my system I’ll be back, stronger (and possibly more injured) than ever before.
In the meanwhile, keep Kendrick busy 😉
Souls is a tricky one, because - at least in my eyes - it is tainted by the fixed gear situation. Clearly an amazing route, but ultimately marred in its current state.
The interesting one I didn't include at Pembroke is Free Masonry, which I vaguely recall Caff saying was equivalent in quality to Conan. That said, it hasn't had a great deal of repeats and is, at least from what I gather, a blend of extremely series, quite loose, and highly committing. In fact, I think I'm correct in saying that Charlie Woodburn + Neil Mawson tried to repeat it and had to abseil into the sea during their retreat. Maybe another one to add of for the 'specialists'.
With regards to Dreams and Screams, that is an obvious omission as it's clearly up there with the absolute best. Maybe it should have gone on, maybe not, but I'll leave the article as it is for the time being. The best thing about these articles is the thread that follows, because you realise how many good routes there are out there (and how many are missing from the list)!
I'm on my armchair on this one too, as I haven't done them either.
I remember Caff saying Flodden was amazing, but no push-over at the grade (no surprises there). Suspect the others are also amazing, and similarly hard, but I think the main reason they didn't get in is because amongst the people I asked they weren't mentioned.
Maybe I asked the wrong people, maybe the Dubh Loch style is a little out of vogue, who knows? Either way, it's good to have the acknowledged within the thread.
What lifts KoK into the "best" category? I seconded it years ago when I was vaguely capable, and don't remember it's quality leaping out at me like e.g. London Wall. It's near neighbour Golden Tower is often touted as the finest route Lancashire has to offer but it struggles to reach 2 stars (if and when it's clean).
I keep hoping smally will log on and pass comment himself. It's a rare treat having him on here, so if you're reading this Iain - let us know your faves (irrespective of whether they're on the list already).
Andy, any others you can think of while we're at it?
A couple of things I didn't think to suggest Rob, and which wouldn't have been fit for inclusion anyway because they are recent and will have had few or no repeats, but which should be of interest to people reading this thread:
Jules Lines climbed an extension of the Cupid's Bow (E5 6b) overlap, no change in name but given E6 and ****.
Wild Side (E6 6c), which crosses the main corner on the upper tier of Carn Mor, also given ****.
A good read - thank you.
Ghost Train currently sports a 2m thread at the end of the run-out, clipable by most before what should be the final heart-stopping move. This somewhat tames the runout, a big part of what makes the route so memorable. Isn't it also 'tainted by the fixed gear situation'?
I think it's worth putting 'currently' into context, because it's sported a very similar sized thread for as long as I can remember (10 years+). I'm not sure whether the two things are connected, but it would be quite possible that this is the reason it has settled to E6, as opposed to it's original(ish) grade of E7. It would certainly be a different proposition altogether if it was short...or if it had its original bolts in...
Whether or not it should be that long is another thing altogether, but let's put it like this - I don't see many subsequent ascentionists shortening it. I also see threads as a completely different ballgame to pegs and - in turn - I also see Ghost Train being a completely different to the likes of Souls, Light at the End of the Runnel, The Witching Hour, and The Subterranean (just to name a few) which are ultimately ruined as a result of the pegs placed throughout.
That said, I wouldn't necessarily wish to see the thread on Ghost Train get any longer
That is is just not true at all. When were you last on the route? I was on it last saturday and the thread is about 80cm long and can't be clipped until past the jugs. Unless you put a draw on your way down and you can clip from the good hold, and is still a stretch. If you want to clip it right AFTER the heart stopping move hard move, you have to put a 120cm sling in addition to the thread, and i know it because that's what I did. If, as you said, you could clip before the heart stoping move, you would need a 2mts long sling clipped to the 80cm tat. No one does that, not even me! What would be the point? If you don't extend the thread, falling off trying to clip it is a real possibility as some of our friends can testify.
Good point Rob. In fact, that tat is so uninspiring that John McCune, upon getting to it and clip it, felt so not convinced by it that down climbed back to the hard move to put a cam behind the sidepull jug right after the wobbly horn. I had a VERY close look at that and it does not look good if you ask me. I tried to back it up but I couldn't, I only learned about the cam later. Without the tat it would definitely be E7 IMO
> Good point Rob. In fact, that tat is so uninspiring that John McCune, upon getting to it and clip it, felt so not convinced by it that down climbed back to the hard move to put a cam behind the sidepull jug right after the wobbly horn. I had a VERY close look at that and it does not look good if you ask me. I tried to back it up but I couldn't, I only learned about the cam later. Without the tat it would definitely be E7 IMO
So just to clarify “uninspiring tat” for any would be o/s - flash attempts...are you saying the thread needs replacing ...thus John felt the need to reverse a little to back it up with the cam and you added a 120 sling after the run out moves OR is the rock the thread is in poor/thin.
Great lead Ramon....I bet the beer went down well that night. Like many, I’ve toyed with getting on this route for a while...such a long while that I’m not sure I’ve what is required anymore as it’s been so long I’ve gotten old! Ha ha...maybe not too old yet though....
Fab article Rob.
The rock is fine, it does look Gibson must have drilled it, but it's a tight hold so you can't fiddle any other thin tape behind the existing tat. I'd say it probably needs replacing, although it probably will hold a fall most likely. I didn't replace it as I run out of tat sprucing other routes in Pembroke recently and haven't had the chance to re-stock.
And yes, I got pissed that night in celebration... Shouldn't that much of challenge to onsight it for a man of your stature.
Thanks for the clarification re: length Ramon. I was rushing to finish that last message before I went out, and only as I was in the car and driving did I think "actually, 2m sounds like quite a lot". I then went on to wonder whether this was an actual assessment from having been on the route, or a guesstimate from afar, and from your experience last week it's sounding like the latter.
What routes have you re-thredded mate?
in reply to rich k
we’ll do it this coming trip
in reply to rob greenwood
whats the score with souls now? I seem to remember something about a hex?
I think I'm right in saying that the fixed gear is...or maybe I should say 'was'...a sideways hex hammered into a hole/pocket. Whilst this is (from what I gather) still there, it may/may not surprise you to hear that after 34 years it's not in the greatest shape. Furthermore, due to the nature of the placement it sounds like a tricky one to a) remove and b) replace, then there's the matter of whether - if you could replace it - whether you actually should, as it'll only rot again.
All that said/done, I haven't actually done the route - or inspected the placement first hand - so take that all with a pinch of salt, but from those I've asked that's the gist of the response I've received. The actual opinions of how hard it is seem to vary wildly too, ranging from "it's piss" to "it's utterly, utterly terrifying". It's one of Caff's party tricks to throw unsuspecting leaders at it and I know of at least two people - Jack Geldard and Calum Muskett - who have had 'experiences' on it as a result, neither of them positive (and let's face it, neither of them are shit?!).
That said, I - probably much like you - am curious, but will almost undoubtedly ab down it first to assess the lay of the land. Life's too short...
> That said, I - probably much like you - am curious, but will almost undoubtedly ab down it first to assess the lay of the land. Life's too short...
Thanks Rob, font of knowledge as usual! Hope fatherhood is still enabling that keenness and psyche to be kept in equilibriam, haha!
As you say, I may have a cheeky ab to have a look for myself.
See you at the crag.
Did an early headpoint of Ghost Train when the original thread was still in place. It was short - hung down about 6 inches - and the move to get to it felt considerably harder than the preceeding section. Sounds like this move is now safe. Sling lengths are fairly arbitrary but you would think it would have been kept at the same length as was usd by Mike Owen
I top-roped Ghost Train when the sling was shorter. I thought it would be touch-and-go if you fell with an armful of rope pulled through and never tried to lead it. Judging from abseil, it now looks like you can clip from about one metre lower. I think this would make a difference. I could be wrong and I’d need to climb it again to be sure: holds change, memory is fallible, and perhaps it all depends on your reach. A not-shit friend who did it recently thought the longer thread made a big difference. Presumably the person placing the longer sling thought so too, otherwise why would they bother?
I was gently stirring comparing tat with old pegs and nuts but it has prompted some good contributions about what is reasonable. Lowering the clip 3m is taking the piss, what about 1m?
It’s still great climbing and any lead gets you bragging rights in the St Govan’s Inn as far as I’m concerned.
I remember getting to the thread with some relief, clipping it, then looking closely at what the thread was behind and being quite unimpressed. Didn't relax until I'd got the next one too. Has anyone actually fallen onto it?
Anyway this is all irrelevant as grezelda is clearly miles better! I forgot about hunter killer too. How did that not make the list?!
I top roped souls a while back and remember it feeling hard, and that it would be very bold. even if the ehx thing came out, not sure what would go in instead. Its a flared pod. And i couldn't see much other kit about. After lots of difficult climbing and then some iffy protected bits up a stepped ramp feature you get to the bulge and thread which i think was the crux. Glad i never tried it onsight. Not even that keen to headpoint, but also it didn't feel like that amazing a route anyway clibing wise. But.. this is all a fuzzy recollection.
I did Souls back in 2015. I don’t remember a stuck hex but that could be my abysmal memory. I found lots of micro wires up the flake line and thought the rock and climbing was great. The crux is after the end of the flake line, can’t remember if you can clip the thread before the crux or not? I found it ok and hence made the mistake of recommending it to Mike Coles as a good one to warm up on. He had a pretty harrowing experience falling repeatedly onto a half in micro wire with not much other gear below him. Moral of the story is not to listen to me I think.
Ha, between reading Ed’s comments, then reading yours, I think my point about it dividing opinion is proved 😂
Any other Pembroke classics I’ve missed Ali, or a personal preference? Ged is (quite reasonably) voting for Grezelda, and it’s not like Hunter Killer is shit - any others?
Like Andy said, you can't really have a 'Scotland' slot in your list and not include a Dubh Loch route. Flodden, The Origin of Species, Cannibal,The Improbability Drive, Hybrid Vigour.......... plenty of other choices, it's an E6 cornucopia up there.
While Major Domo is a fantastic cragging E6, that's accessible and well protected, what Scotland really does best is proper mountain crags. So with that in mind and in a rough south to north journey, my own shortlist would be ;
Arran. The Sleeping Crack on Cir Mhor, possibly harder than E6 though.
Arrochar. Edge of Extinction on The Brack, recently cleaned and the pegs replaced.
Wild Country on The Cobbler, the route that brought E6 to Scotland !
Ardgour. Kelpie on Garbh Bheinn, just brilliant .
The Ben. The Wicked, very sustained with brutally steep cracks on lower pitches.
Trajan's Column, the crux pitch ticks all the exposure and position boxes.
Dubh Loch. See above.
Shelterstone Slabs. Run of the Arrow, great introduction to the harder stuff.
Cupid's Bow/True Bow Finish, the most aesthetic feature.
Carnmore. Death Wolf, no rests here.
The Wild Side, had to sneak a personal route in. Good memories from an on sight mountain new route, a rare treat getting both hard pitches.
Finally, I have to break the Mountain Crag theme and throw in some Hebridean gems. After all, Scotland does island sea cliffs rather beautifully .
Skye. Death Pirate at Neist, wait for the sunset.
Pabbay. The Bonxie,' Northumberland E3' according to a certain Cumbrian.
Geomancer, sculpted fun.
Mingulay. KnS Special(AKA Firewall) on Creag Dhearg, big sustained pitch without the usual island jugs.
Dream the Dheag Goch on Creag Dhearg.
Obviously plenty of single pich cragging routes and stuff on Sron Ulladale, Orkney and Shetland but the list was getting rather long for it's original purpose
That enough routes for you Rob!
Iain, that post has made my day - thanks for the (thorough) feedback.
I’m hoping to get out in the Highlands next week, when I’m up to see Martin (McKenna). That said, I doubt many E6s will be on the menu!
Hope you’ve been having a good summer.
I think the only other Pembroke one that springs to mind which hasn’t been mentioned is Crimes of Passion done in one huge pitch. It’s definitely a contender for best of the grade.
It's been a strange summer up in Scotland ,so routes have been sporadic and limited. Thankfully the Lakes has been nicer.
Hope you find some dry stuff next week and get in touch if you fancy something near the central belt. Good article, fired up the enthusiasm for thinking about more hill days when the sun comes back.
I think without having a pre-placed draw and having slack pulled out you'd probably hit the ground or come close to it depending on your belayer skills. That should be rare though, as the moves are easy, but you might a bit pumped.