The Gritstone Season Has Arrived

by Duncan Campbell - UKC Nov/2013
This news story has been read 13,833 times

Jacob Cook dwarfing The New Statesman, E8 7a, Ilkley, 99 kb
Jacob Cook dwarfing The New Statesman, E8 7a, Ilkley
© Chris Macrow

The grit season is finally here, and after one of the best summers the UK has had in recent times, its not shaping up too badly either. With first ascents of last great problems, repeats of hard testpieces, and lots of people out there making the most of the great recent conditions.

Mainly it has been all about the repeats during the beginning of the season as people get the grit feeling and flow back. First up, Jacob Cook climbed the brilliant line of The New Statesman, E8 7a, at Ilkley. Commenting on his ascent, Jake said:

"New Statesman has got to be one of the king lines of grit! The route is probably around french 8a to toprope, featuring a highball boulder crux followed by a tricky, insecure move higher up in quite a dangerous position. I climbed it headpoint style over two sessions.

Unfortunately I am too weak to do the crux the way I've seen other people do it in videos. Luckily, after jumping past the first few moves, I was able to use some unlikely looking, seriously bendy and wildly dynamic beta to lank my way through the crux without pulling on too many of the terrible holds, winner!"

David Mason made a very impressive headpoint of Meshuga, E9 6c, in a single headpoint, read more about David's ascent here. On the same day, Katy Whittaker also headpointed another classic hard grit route, Gaia, E8 6c. This is Katy's first route of the grade, though she has climbed plenty of E7s including some recent ascents of Paralogism, E7 6c, at The Roaches, and The Bad and the Beautiful, E7 6b at Millstone. You can read more about Katy's ascents on the DMM Blog

Nathan Lee has kept his foot on the pedal since climbing the first ascent of Unknown Stones, E9 6c, at Wimberry with ascents of Meshuga, E9 6c and Knockin' On Heaven's Door, although originally graded E9, there has been some contention on the grade. Commenting on the UKC LogbooksNathan said:

"With the cams on the left, no peg. E8 seems spot on. Wanted to do this route for years!".

Ed Hamer powering across Cemetary Waits, E6 6b, Stanage, 164 kb
Ed Hamer powering across Cemetary Waits, E6 6b, Stanage
© Richard Hamer

It all hit off this weekend though, with loads of people geting out, making the most of a beautiful weekend. At Stanage, Ed Hamer made impressive ascents of Cemetary Waits, E6 6b and Shine On, E7 6c, both of which are usually climbed above snowdrifts due to the bad landings. Ed commented further:

"Both Cemetery Waits and Shine On have been two routes that I have wanted to climb for a long while. First up was Cemetery Waits, E6 6B – this is a great route with a rather spicy landing but with a couple of pads you are just alright. It starts with some big moves on good holds and then finishes with an edgy heel hook move to gain the break line. After this it’s all over...Next up was Shine On, E7 6C, this for me was the better climb out of them both. It has a bit of everything on it, from smearing to steep crimping finishing with some pockets and slopers. It felt great to finally climb both these routes especially as they are fantastic solos"

Ed Hamer on the usually snowballed Shine On, E7 6c, Stanage, 143 kb
Ed Hamer on the usually snowballed Shine On, E7 6c, Stanage
© Richard Hamer

Also at Stanage, Cailean Harker managed a ground-up ascent of the classic highball, Careless Torque, 8A, climbing it in just 2 sessions, having previoulsy ear-marked it as a long-term winter project. On his blog, Cailean said:

"On the actual go the climbing felt easy, everything fell into place and Careless Torque was done."

Here is a video of Cailean on Careless Torque: 

Oli Grounsell headed back to the Peak on a break from Uni in North Wales, climbing Brad Pit, 7C+ in a very quick session and then flashing Linden, E6 6b, at Curbar after abseil inspection the next day. 

Also at Curbar, the Johnny Dawes classic, End of the Affair, E8 6c, has seen two ascents in the last week from Jake Haddock and Rob Greenwood. This is Rob's first E8, having only climbed his first E7 a few weeks ago with The Bad and the Beautiful at Millstone, to say he is psyched would, for those that know him, be an understatement.

Rob Greenwood climbing the tenuous final moves of End of the Affair, E8 6c, 50 kb
Rob Greenwood climbing the tenuous final moves of End of the Affair, E8 6c
© Oli Grounsell

Carrying on with the Curbar theme, Kyle Rance has climbed the first ascent of a new highball boulder problem/micro route directly behind End of the Affair. Kyle called the new route Geckomania and after much deliberation graded it E6 6b. Time will tell whether it holds this grade, Kyle explained more on his blog:

"It was a toss up weather or not I gave it a high ball Font grade or a Traditional one. I went for the traditional grade as to me it felt like a solo mindset not a ‘if I don’t like it I can jump off and be ok’ due to the nature of the fall that you would take. Therefore E6 6b was what I graded it"

Here is the video of Kyle on the first ascent:

Fresh from his success on Mecca Extension, Ethan Walker got straight back into the grit season by making the second ascent of Tom Randall's My Kai, E8 6c at Shining Clough. 

The biggest news to come out of the grit recently was the news of Ty Landman's out of the blue comeback, with his first ascent of the Smiling Buttress at Curbar, one of the last great problems on the grit (UKC News Report). Ben Pritchard was there filming and are still trying to get in contact with Ty, but keep your eyes peeled for the video and what Ty has to say about his ascent. Ty climbed the route after pacticing it on a top-rope, soloing it above pads.


Already this season we have seen some big ticks so it is shaping up to be a very good grit season indeed. Lets hope for more cold, crisp, sunny days and more perfect friction...


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