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Dry Tooling at Masson Lees

© Tom Broadbent

Masson Lees Quarry is one of those typical Peak District Quarries - a bit grotty, slightly ambiguous access and a bunch of good-to-mediocre sport routes. It also has a slightly justifiable reputation for loose rock on the developed sections, and even-looser rock on the 'other bits'. One of these 'other bits' does present a spectacular cave though and this has rather surprisingly been developed into a dry-tooling venue.

Andy Turner climbing Sub Rosa into Marginal Gains.  © Tom Broadbent
Andy Turner climbing Sub Rosa into Marginal Gains.
© Tom Broadbent

Now before everyone starts writing angry posts on the forums about dry-tooling at established crags, the cave section we are talking about here has even been dismissed by Gary Gibson as worthless for sport routes - loose, too steep and featureless, wet and choosy - that's how good it is!

So having received the 'all clear', a small band of aficionados have been tooling away here for the last couple of years. The first to get their DT kit out were Matt Pritchard, Rich Lucas and Rob Gibson (Ramon Marin wrote briefly about a visit he made here). The end result was The Warm-up, M6 but the real deal from these first developments was Sub Rosa, an M10 which tackled the roof of the cave with an even more impressive extension being bolted but not completed, by Rob Gibson.

After a gap of a couple of years, a new wave of development by Tom Broadbent and Andy Turner has resulted in a couple of new lines including the mega-impressive Marginal Gains, M11 which is the completion of the extension to Sub Rosa. On his blog entry, Andy stated that the donation of some fixed Petzl quickdraws for the route by Lyon Equipment made this ascent possible since, "trying to strip them out was IMPOSSIBLE!".

The cave now has 5 DT routes and there are around 80 sport routes in the rest of the quarry - UKC Logbook entry. Tom Broadbent commented, "There are two other lines being developed at the moment. An easier line of about M6/7 and something a bit harder and upside down." It remains to be seen whether the cave is to become a major new classic venue, or another quirky dry-tooling spot with a small but dedicated band of followers.

The dry-tooling cave at Masson Lees
© Tom Broadbent

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9 Oct, 2012
For someone that has never been dry tooling before, are there any rotues here that would be suitable for giving it a go? An M6 sounds quite ambitous for a first go, so does anyone have any suggestions of other locations to try in the Peaks or Leicestershire quarries for M2-4 grades? Thanks.
9 Oct, 2012
There might be some M4s somewhere but I doubt there would be any lower. The M grade is meant to be equivalent to a WI grade and WI 2 is like 50 degree ice or so. What would be the M equivalent? Dry tooling a mod or a diff maybe? I wouldn't anyway - a) you'll look very silly and b) it will probably be a mod or a diff and someone will get upset. I don't think leading any drytool route that isn't pretty steep would be a great idea just because you're so likely to hurt yourself if fall wearing crampons.
9 Oct, 2012
Just ask to borrow the AlpKit FigFours at Nottingham Climbing Centre. Obviously not quite the same thing, but surprisingly not TOTALLY dissimilar, and in any case good fun and feels so different to climbing with your hands. And you'll get more done at the wall than you would faffing around "real" dry tooling.
9 Oct, 2012
Do people wear crampons for dry tooling? When we had a little go at Masson Lees (blissfully unaware that it was an M10!) we didn't. Your experience of this is far greater than mine, so this is a genuine question
9 Oct, 2012
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