Footsteps Of Legends: Neil Gresham's Unrelenting Search For New Lines

In Season Three of Epic TV's La Sportiva Living Legends series, they travel to the Lake District, home of legendary British climber, Neil Gresham. Neil has made a name for himself, putting up new lines all over the world, in all disciplines of climbing. It's in the UK where his routes have had the most impact. From Deep Water Solos and Scottish Winter Climbing to Sport Climbing in Malham Cove, Neil is the consummate all-rounder. He's as strong now, in his late forties as he was in his twenties, and his desire to climb new lines is as strong as ever.

3 Jul, 2020
Good effort on Way out West... A definite unclimbed part of the crag that's been eyed for a long time. Ironed Out looks like one or two new moves so maybe not quite a new route?
3 Jul, 2020

Yeah, did think that about the Iron Man finish. From what I remember, Iron Man climbs to the peg then up and right to the crack in the headwall, where you get the cam and reasonable hold, then a long move out left to jugs . The new line seems to finish directly from the cam by crimpy moves. The description in the news report seems to imply Iron Man finishes left from the peg which is incorrect.

Would be great to see a description for Way out West, that sounds like a wild way through the ground above The Committal Chamber. A good excuse for a return to Iron Crag, a lovely spot.

3 Jul, 2020

Thanks for your feedback guys. For those who are keen, Way Out West starts up Western Union then goes across Committal Chamber to the junction with 6-was-9, then it pulls up and left along a sloping ramp into a scoop under the roof, where there's a good rest. From there, break out diagonally right across the headwall, crossing below the hanging groove and dyno for the jug on the overlap (there's an old peg here but I didn't want to use it so taped it up so you couldn't clip it and placed a small nut instead). Pull over onto the upper slab and finish up this, just left of where 6-was-9 tops out. To me it felt like the line of least resistance up there and it's not eliminate at any point. Hope you enjoy it. Regarding Ironed Out, ho hum! : ) I'm still not quite sure what's gone on here and am trying to get to the bottom of it! I chatted to Al and Glenn about this line a couple of years ago and came away thinking it was new, valid and up for grabs. I've been round the houses trying to work out exactly where the original line of Iron Man goes in the upper part and I've heard conflicting versions. Apparently the line may be marked incorrectly in the guidebooks and the descriptions about the top part are very unclear. I've looked at this bit of wall extensively and my conclusion, please correct me if I'm wrong, is that Glenn went left into Pumping Iron earlier (just above the peg) Al went up the central crack then pulled diagonally left to the arete of Pumping Iron's top groove. If so, this pretty-much climbs the headwall with only a minor deviation at the end and means that Ironed Out adds relatively little new climbing, although it does straighten it via a completely new and I dare say, a harder crux. I guess it's a variant and may barely qualify as a new route but it definitely feels like a really exciting and pure way to climb that line. Check the vid and hopefully you'll see what I mean! To be clear, this isn't in any way to detract from the fine previous efforts of Al and Glenn, who's interpretations are clearly just as strong. It's all good and I guess we see many examples of this sort of thing in climbing these days. In some cases there will be just one obvious line but in others there will be major and minor variants. For me, Ironed Out was a bit of sport to get going at the start of the season and no doubt, Way Out West felt more like it was breaking new ground. Hope to see you out there if it ever stops raining!

3 Jul, 2020

Thanks for that description. I guess the Committal Chamber break will now need another dry spell to rid it of seeps . It's nice to have another line on that buttress to go for that's not death on a stick. Nowt wrong with steep and safe trad. As it's veering to near acceptable for us Scots to now travel, a visit to Iron Crag is tempting.

Regarding Iron Man/Pumping Iron, the photo topo in Eastern Crags (2011) is definately marked wrongly for the top section. When I did Iron Man I got to the peg then moved up and right to an undercut then gained the crack/niche (camalot placement) ,got established on side pulls then lunged leftwards for jug/edge of small ledge and then finished more easily on bigger holds diagonally right. This pretty much ties in with the description for the top section of Pumping Iron, which Iron Man finishes up once it gains the peg. The pic of Duncan Booth (UKC logbook for Iron Crag) shows him just above the camalot placement and where I went out left for the obvious holds. Watching the vid, you move directly up from the side pulls to crimps then gain the better holds. A fiery variation finish, I only just managed to fall onto the jug out left! Those crimps look small.

Cheers, Iain

Edit; Just realised the new section of Way out West would obviously give a very spicy finish to If 6 was 9.

4 Jul, 2020

I have limited memory of the exact line of “The Iron man”, Al Wilson was hanging on a rope taking pictures and shouting instructions at me so I sensibly did as I was told ! Well done Neil on the first ascent they look brilliant. As soon as things dry up I will give them a go, “Way out west“ really appeals.

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