Gritstone Round-Up Jan 2014

by Duncan Campbell - UKC Jan/2014
This news story has been read 11,988 times

Katy Whittaker rocking into the final hard section on Knockin' On Heaven's Door, 106 kb
Katy Whittaker rocking into the final hard section on Knockin' On Heaven's Door
© Nathan Lee

Since the last Gritstone Round-Up, the weather has been pretty poor, with some big storms and very few dry days in which to go out and climb at your limit. Despite this, some have still managed to get some routes done. Hopefully, we are now due some sunny, cold, crisp days, or at least a good summer!

In the last Grit Round-Up, Katy Whittaker was reported having just climbed the Dawes classic Gaia, E8 6c, shortly afterwards Katy made a successful ascent of the Pollit classic Knockin' On Heaven's Door, E8 6c, (UKC News Report). Commenting on her ascent, Katy said:

"The way I climbed it, it is E8 for sure, I have spoken to a few people and they agree, it is maybe just a hard one. Pete and I have had so many conversations about Knockin' when we were younger. I remember one day when we were down in the boulders (probably trying Gorilla Warfare) looking up at the crag and I said if there is one route you or me should never ever do it would be Knockin because it looks like death and has such a terrifying name! It is funny how your perspectives change so much and for me that shows how far I have come with my climbing."

Jordan Buys then made a very quick ascent earlier this year, deciding not to go for the flash as the two people he was watching climb the route on top-rope had very different sequences. After falling on the top-rope flash (justifying his choice on whether or not to go for the flash) Jordan finally sorted his sequence after having a 50% success rate on top-rope for the rest of the session. 

Returning a week later, Jordan had  a quick top-rope, pulled the rope and lead it on his first go, commenting on his Blog:

"The lead was great fun, I truly enjoyed every move and am happy I had to opportunity to be out that day with Naomi."

Also at Curbar, The Zone, E9 6c, has also seen two repeats, from Nathan Lee and Ethan Walker. Nathan climbed the route on 13th of November and his ascent was captured on film for Boreal's True Grip series:

Ethan climbed the route on 3rd of December, with it having been high on his wishlist as he hadn't got round to trying it last winter. After working out a sequence, and borrowing a selection of skyhooks which form the only protection for the route, Ethan felt ready. Although he climbed the route on his first attempt, it wasn't without drama, as Ethan explains on his Blog:

"Smoothly arriving at the gear, I clipped in the rope and quickly blew on my hands to give them a boost. The next bit went fine, and still going strong I took the little left handed pinch. By this point it must have been too much for my little fingers to bear as they seemed to instantly numb up, the last drops of blood squeezed out leaving them verging on lifeless. I could almost feel myself falling backwards in slow motion. It was either jump off here or give it an almighty lunge and risk falling off anyway. I took the latter option and thankfully made it to the good holds and easier climbing."

Ethan Walker on Meshuga, 41 kb
Ethan Walker on Meshuga
© JC

In addition to climbing The Zone, Ethan has also climbed a number of other hard routes and problems including: 

  • Gaia, E8 6c, Black Rocks - Headpoint
  • Meshuga, E9 6c, Black Rocks - Headpoint (UKC News Report)
  • End of the Affair, E8 6c, Curbar -  Headpoint
  • Clippety Clop, Clippety Clop, Clippety Clop, E7 6c, Ramshaw - Headpoint
  • Never, Never Land, E7 6c, Ramshaw - Headpoint
  • Unfamiliar, E7 6c, Stanage Plantation - Ground up
  • Nah'han, E8 6c, Gardoms - Headpoint
  • Balance It Is, E7 6c, Burbage South - Ground up 


Nathan did the sensible thing and escaped to Siurana over Christmas, but just after he got back he managed a quick headpoint of Gecko Blaster, E7 6c, at Shining Cliff. Nathan had hoped to climb the direct - My Kai, E8 6c - but ruined his skin on the start, so had to console himself with Gecko Blaster. Nathan commented on his ascent:

"Gecko Blaster is a pretty cool route. Recently Tom added the Direct Start which was what I was keen to do. However I wrecked my skin on the sharp holds, so did Gecko instead. The climbing on the route is pretty positive, so with a few pads it would make a good ground up proposition."

Other Eastern Edges repeats include; Mark Rankine showing it is still a popular first E8, by climbing Dawes' classic, The End of the Affair, E8 6c, Curbar. David Mason had a brilliant run of form, making quick headpoints of Meshuga, E9 6c, and End of The Affair, E8 6c, and flashes of numerous E7's including; Paralogism, Gecko BlasterFat Slapper, and a ground-up of Unfamiliar. (UKC News Report). Mina Leslie-Wujastyk also made an impressive ground-up ascent of Unfamiliar, E7 6c (UKC News Report)

Stanage Plantation has been the focus of the hard boulder ascents over the past months with The Joker, 8A, having a number ascents. One of those who have climbed The Joker is Cailean Harker, who is now trying to climb the low start to The Joker, which is known as The Ace. Cailean also climbed the sit-start to Help The Young which also weighs in at 8A.

Here is a video of Cailean on The Joker:

Team GB Member, Hamish Potokar also made an ascent of The Joker, the day after winning the Youth British Bouldering Championships. Hamish commented on his ascent of The Joker saying:

"We (optimistically!) headed to the Plantation for some grit action. The holds on the Joker were just about in, and by the time I was warm and ready, the wind had picked up and conditions were feeling pretty good. The first few goes I couldn't pull on, however about half an hour or so I managed to crack the movement and soon after it was done. I left the crag feeling happy to have achieved two very different goals within my climbing."

On Staffordshire Grit, there have been a number of impressive ascents of 'Last Great Problems' with Andi Turner climbing the first ascent of Reg at E7 7a. Reg climbs the prow directly above The Prow, and took Andi 5 years of effort before he made the first ascent (UKC News Report).

Andi setting up for the final move on Reg, highball 7C/E7 7a, 25 kb
Andi setting up for the final move on Reg, highball 7C/E7 7a
© Guy Van Greuning

The really big news, however, was Pete Whittaker's first ascent of The Headless Horseman Direct in early December. Pete graded the route E10 7a, and named it Sleepy Hollow. Andi Turner managed to get the footage on camera and you can find out more in the UKC News Report.

Ryan Pasquill headed in for a quick repeat, though was thwarted by bad weather the first time he went to lead the route. More information in the UKC News Report

Ryan pulling over the roof of Sleepy Hollow, 88 kb
Ryan pulling over the roof of Sleepy Hollow
© Guy Van Greuning (Video Still)
Pete on Sleepy Hollow E10 7a, 38 kb
Pete on Sleepy Hollow E10 7a
© Andi Turner


Also on Staffordshire Grit, Chris 'Gus' Hudgins repeated Jon Read's The Driven Bow, E7 6c, at Hen Cloud, along with Andi Turner. This route takes a direct line up a wall of slopey edges, running out above good gear.

On Yorkshire Grit, the biggest news came from Ilkley, with three impressive ascents of John Dunne's Cindy Crawford, E7/7C by Jacob Cook, Jordan Buys and David Mason, with Jacob and Jordan flashing the route, whilst David climbed it second go, having got cold fingers on his flash attempt.

Here is a video of David on his successful attempt:

Dan Turner and Ben Freeman also both made an impressive repeat of Rhythm, 8B, at Sharp Haw and Flasby Fell, in November getting in there just before the weather turned bad.

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