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Coronation Street - tell me your experience!

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 combatrock 22 Jun 2020

Hi 

Hope everyone is keeping well in these strange times... So, I have set myself the ambitious goal of climbing Cheddar's Coronation Street in two years time (ish!). This route has been a dream of mine for a long time, so finally going make moves towards achieving it. To get me even more psyched for it - tell me your stories of climbing this route please! Did you have an epic, was it less/more intimidating than you expected? Do you look back with a shudder or a smile? Anything you would do differently? I want to hear it all - the good, the bad and the ugly!

Disclaimer - I am fully aware this is a serious route, and as I haven't climbed trad for years I will of course be getting lots of mileage in with more experienced partners and booking a multipitch skills course (or 10) before trying this, and if that takes 5 years instead of 2 so be it

Thanks

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 profitofdoom 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

> ..........Cheddar's Coronation Street.... Did you have an epic, was it less/more intimidating than you expected? Do you look back with a shudder or a smile?

Done it once, led the 5b pitches, IMO it's a really great route, memorable, and I look back on it with a big smile. No epic, and not intimidating for us. My wisdom is, [1] it can take longer than you expect - winter days are short - leave plenty of time - don't get caught out on the second 5b pitch as darkness falls.  [2] I wouldn't do it as my first E1. [3] It needs a slightly cool head and a competent second. [4] Personally I wouldn't like to do it if it was damp or wet anywhere

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 combatrock 22 Jun 2020
In reply to profitofdoom:

Thanks for the insight! Good advice and much appreciated. Yes, I intend to get lots of exposure and general E1 level practice before considering this. My partner is more experienced and, well, just a better climber so I will probably give him the honour of the harder pitches!

Thanks again

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 Sl@te Head 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

I climbed Coronation Street in the mid '80's and really enjoyed it, however it did turn out to be a bit of an epic!

I'd had a series of recurring dreams that year and wierdly I had it in my mind that I was going to die on a climb before the end of the year. We climbed Coronation Street on boxing day and it was definitely going to be the last climb of the year!

My climbing partner Mitch initially wanted to share the pitches but lost his head after seconding the first, bonus for me as I got to lead all the pitches. The 'Shield' pitch was amazing though my partner got even more spooked seconding this. I carried on up the next pitch with only the scramble pitch left to go. Mitch fully lost the plot seconding the groove pitch and clipped himself into one of the pegs refusing to move up or down. It then got dark, all I could see was my day glow yellow Ron Hills made famous by Jimmy Jewel around about that time. Benighted and with no head torches and long before mobile phones were invented, we patiently waited for the third member of our team (who had decided not to climb) to come to our assistance. Luckily he had a spare rope in the car and made his way to the top. My premonition of dying on a route before the end of the year played on my mind as we waited for the rescue rope to be lowered down. The rescue made no sense as Mitch seemed happy to climb up the rope and top out in the dark but was reluctant (an under statement!) to second the pitch on our own ropes. I eventualy finished the scrambling pitch in total darkness belayed from above making sure that I'd get the route ticked cleanly, so no assistance from the rope. Mitch never climbed again and I didn't die that year...

Post edited at 13:49
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 combatrock 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Sl@te Head:

Oh wow, thank you for that story! The day glo Ron Hills really make it That sounds like a Big Day Out alright... Freaking out and refusing to move up or down is my nightmare, I did this on my first trad lead at Stanage many moons ago, completely missing the bomber thread right in front of my face as I was so panicked, all of about 15ft off the ground. Ah, memories! Glad your premonition didn't come to pass and if Mitch was going to quit, I guess it's a good route to make your last... Having a back up team member in the car sounds like a good idea right now!

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 Sl@te Head 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

Looking forward to reading about a few more epics on this thread, hopefully they don't put you off as it's a brilliant route

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 nikoid 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

I've done it 3 times and always found it tough and awkward in places. The trouble is getting good conditions, it has always been damp/cold for me and difficult to stay warmed up. At least the first pitch is a bit of a lead in. It really catches the wind higher up so don't be fooled by it feeling ok at the base. Also if it's a half decent day there will be other people with the same idea so start early. But yes it's a good objective and you'll be chuffed when you do it!

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In reply to combatrock:

I've only done it once and my overriding memory was being cold. Worth taking a thick belay jacket. 

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 GrahamD 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

I remember doing it a few years ago, on the first weekend restrictions lifted.  We were the first team on the route after an early start from Cambridge and glad we were !

First pitch needed cleaning but after that it was great fun.  Having got back down and walked up to the carpark, there was definitely a bit of a light jam on the route and the last party had to bail as light was fading. 

Next day we did Traverse of the Gods at Swanage. Only two routes in a weekend but 19 pitches.

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 combatrock 22 Jun 2020
In reply to nikoid:

Thanks for the info! I will definitely need to wrap up warm and have handwarmers stashed in every pocket - I get frozen fingers on single pitch sport routes!

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 combatrock 22 Jun 2020
In reply to GrahamD:

That sounds like an amazing weekend! Very early start seems to be the consensus - I would hate to spend so much time getting ready for it, psyching myself up and then not getting on it because I didn't arrive in time

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In reply to combatrock:

My experience echos that of others, which is that it is a truly excellent route - one of the best of its grade in the country. The fact you have to bide your time and wait until the restrictions have been lifted make it all the more special, as you've really got to want it - not least because of the potentially cold conditions you'll likely have on the day itself. As a result, treat it more like a mountaineering expedition: start early, take some warm clothes and - depending on how fast or slow you are - some snacks and a headtorch (if you're quick you won't need them, if you're slow you potentially will, so best be prepared).

One positive of doing it in the autumn is that if you play it right you'll have a summer full of trad under your belt. This is clearly a benefit, as the route itself definitely favours those with a trad head, as there's bagful of exposure, but the actual climbing itself is (I would say) quite well protected. That said, it is quite sustained, hence it's useful to have some fitness in the bank to get you up it.

Sure there's a load else I could say about it, but will leave others to share their experiences.

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 Andy Chubb 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

I did it back in 1976 as my 5th or 6th E1. My mate lead the first pitch, and I think the nerves got to me while I was belaying him as I had an overpowering need to run down to the public toilets in Cheddar village and compose myself. Fortunately Pete was still waiting for me when I got back, so I tied in and set off. While leading the second pitch I nearly came off with shock when a crow flew out of the chimney crack right in front of my face. There's a stiff move getting through the overlap on the third pitch, and then I got the Shield (this being before part of it broke off). That was OK, and I belayed off lots of gear at the foot of the groove pitch. While bringing in the rope for Pete, I had time to look around me and take in the position. At that point you are well out from the foot of the crag and can gaze down to about the middle of the lay-by at the bottom. You'd be hard pushed to bail out from there. Best to just focus on the job in hand! Pete lead the next pitch and I followed, to find he had set up a spiders web of a belay using most of our remaining gear. 'None of this is any good' he told me, but thankfully waited until I got there to let me know. And then it was done and I recall a feeling of utter exhilaration at having climbed such an iconic route. I think there was a photo of Bonnington on the first ascent on the cover of Mountain magazine using an etrier to get round the shield. At least we did it clean!

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 Albert Tatlock 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

It’s a really nice street, with good neighbours.

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 Hooo 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

It's the most memorable route I've ever done, so much so that I wrote my one and only attempt at a trip report about it. I've just had a poke around my computer and posted it below. IIRC it was the first weekend of the autumn that the route was allowed, I left home at 04:30 to get to Cheddar and it was -2 when we arrived. 

In memory of Chris, RIP.

As we arrive at the car park we can see a couple of guys gearing up. There's no need to ask what route they are doing, I know they've beaten us to it. I'm not that disappointed, it's still bloody cold so I don't mind waiting for it to warm up a bit. They are quick and efficient at gearing up, so probably faster than us anyway. The second tells me that this is his second attempt at the route; last year his partner fell on the second pitch and banged his head so they'd had to retreat. He was determined to get it this time. 
A couple in a car pull up and the guy gets out.
"Are you climbing this?" he asks me.
"Yes"
"Is it OK if I jump off?"
"Eh?"
"A base jump, is that OK?"
I point out the line of our route, and suggest he jumps off the top of Crow, off to the left and steeper. I can't decide if he's serious.
We watch from the car to keep warm. After about an hour the leader has reached the first belay. These guys are not as fast as I'd hoped, and it's turning into a long wait. Now the second is back at his car, taking his rock shoes off. What the hell are they up to? I wander up and talk to the guy's girlfriend, who has been taking photos. She tells me that she's slipped over and broken her arm.
"At least I think its broken, what do you think?" She says calmly, pulling up her sleeve to reveal an obviously wonky wrist.
"Yep, that's broken."
So the leader abs down and they all head off to A&E. Hope they get it next time.
I've bargained with Chris that he'll do the two hard pitches and I'll do the rest, so off I go on pitch one. 45m at 4c, should be a nice warmup. Within a few metres I realise why the other guy was so slow. I pull away vegetation to reveal a foothold. Clean foothold with hand to reveal polish. Clean shoe on trousers. Place foot on hold. Clean hand on trousers. Try and warm up hand enough to feel fingers. Place hand on hold. Move. Repeat. An offwidth crack looks like a welcome respite, but on reaching into it a shower of dirt cascades over me. I can't see any other option, so it's several moves of the dirt shower before I get to the top of it. This is without doubt the filthiest route I have ever been on.
The conditions gradually improve, and eventually I spot a pile of tat that signifies the first belay. Its a hanging stance in a niche and I wedge myself in well, as I figure I'm going to be here a while. I can't see Chris, so there's nothing to do but look at the view. It is stunning, the huge cliff is all around me, the sun is coming up on the steep slopes opposite and it looks a long way down to the road below. It already feels very high and exposed, and I'm only one pitch in. 
I hear a long loud rumble above me. Instinctively I lock off the belay and try and squeeze further into my niche, expecting a shower of rock to come whizzing past. Instead, a parachute opens right in front of me. He can't be more than 10m from the wall. Mr base jumper was serious, and he has done as I asked and jumped off Crow. It's a perfect opening and he glides down and lands in the middle of the road, narrowly missing someone picking litter and a passing car.
Eventually Chris appears over the bulge and he doesn't look happy. The filth and the base jumper have freaked him out a bit, like me he had assumed the noise was a huge rockfall. I resist the urge to remind him that this route was his idea, instead I point out that the next pitch looks a lot nicer, which is true.
Chris heads off on pitch 2 and is soon out of sight, so I'm back to looking at the view. Then another climber appears and joins me at the belay. After a bit off shuffling we both get comfortable and we're getting along fine, until I come to leave, when we discover that he's managed to climb between my ropes. As his second has already started, there is no alternative but for me to untie one rope and retie.
The pitch is a nice soft 5b with interesting moves, and it's in good condition. It's a revelation after pitch one, and I quickly skip up it and arrive at the belay in confident mood. Chris, however, declares that he found it desperately hard and doesn't think he'll be able to lead another pitch. The thought of leading pitch four fills me with dread, I'd specifically chosen my leads to avoid that one. The guidebook declares that if you found the previous pitches hard, then it will finish you off. I tell Chris that if we're going to retreat, then we need to do it now. The next pitch is a traverse, so retreating after that will involve a multi-pitch abseil into unknown territory. Talk of retreat bucks him up a bit, and he agrees he'll give it a go. Decision made, I eye up my next lead.
Pitch three is the famous shield pitch. It's only 5a, but the psychological crux as this is where the route gets a bit serious. It's 5m up an easy crack, then a 5m traverse. The traverse has only delicate smears for the feet, and no chance of placing any gear. So, if you fall off the far end, you swing right back down to the nice chunky ledge that we're standing on. I scoot up the crack, reach across as far as I can and place a cam, take a deep breath, and go. It's pretty easy, although the best foot placements are very polished. I cruise across, I've got one hand on the block at the end, nearly there now... My feet ping off and I'm hanging by my hands. I look down for something to get my feet on, but I can't focus on the rock, just the 75m of empty space between me and the car park. I can't fall off here! Using all my arm strength, feet scrabbling like a novice on a toprope, I manage to wriggle into the awkward gap between the block and the overhang. Safe. The rest of the pitch is trivial and I'm soon at the belay. I could really do with a nice solid stance so that I can relax a bit, but I'm not going to get it. I've got a tiny sloping ledge, big enough for half a buttock, and three rusty pegs. 
I get a few OKish wires in to back the pegs up, and that will have to do. I've just about recovered when Chris arrives, declaring the pitch to be so easy that it's boring. "It's a bit different on lead" is all I manage. This is good news though, as he sets off on the dreaded crux pitch with renewed confidence. Within a few metres he shouts that he's got some good gear in, and I start to relax a bit. He's making good progress, getting gear in, it doesn't seem to be that hard. Now he's past the roof and onto easier ground. The crux is done, we have the route in the bag... And he's off! He's a good few metres above a rusty peg, and he ends up halfway down the pitch. At least it held, those pegs are better than they look. We haul him back up to the peg and he does the roof again, this time making it to the belay. I find the pitch strenuous but OK, and I manage it clean, even ending up with several extra wires that I didn't realise were supposed to be stuck. Another precarious belay ledge, barely big enough to stand on.
We're really high up now, and I feel mentally and physically exhausted. I'm checking and double-checking everything I do, nervous about making a mistake. The last pitch is easy climbing, but loose, vegetated and almost devoid of useful protection. I carefully move up, testing every hold before committing, and then I step onto lush grass in blazing sunshine. It's a beautiful afternoon, and we've been in the shadow of the wall for six hours. I feel like a huge weight has lifted, it's such a relief to be standing on solid ground.
We follow the path down and descend the steps. Hordes of overweight tourists are panting their way up, and they give us strange looks as we pass. In the pub later I glance in a mirror, I look like I've been lying face down in a ditch.

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In reply to Hooo:

Best post I've read in ages.

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In reply to combatrock:

Just for info.

High Rock has been cleaned by a Cheddar Caves team and is now as good as it is likely to get. If you can get on it this Autumn I'm sure you will find the initial section a much more enjoyable experience than it has been for a long time.

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In reply to combatrock:

Not a lot I can add to Hooos account. I followed by mate Jim B up it many years back it and I too felt inspired to write up a trip report but sadly I no longer have it. What I remember is 2 dirty pitches then it all changes for the better. Good climbing follows. I remember crossing the sheild and fighting to stay calm - definitely not a good place to fall off. I remember the stance after the shield - not quite the sanctuary I was hoping for. A small ledge, a few old pegs, lots of dodgy looking tat and a gaping void below you. I didn't cruise the crux (it was wet) and will confess to pulling on a runner. I recall the last pitch being straightforward and when I arrived at the top I remember thinking wow. Jim just said "too early for the pub, let's go caving"

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 kingholmesy 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

My wife dropped me off in the gorge on a cold, dank December day to climb Coronation Street while she went into Bristol shopping with our 6 month old baby.

We didn’t start until quite late after my climbing partner persuaded me to get on the route, despite the unappealing appearance of the first pitch.

My abiding memory is topping out just as it got dark and hearing my daughter crying from the parking below while having her nappy changed, then sprinting down to meet my wife.

A great day out!

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 kingholmesy 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Hooo:

The unexpected “crack” of a base jumper’s parachute opening in close proximity while I was leading The Crow almost caused me to jump out of my skin.

Presumably a different base jumper ...

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In reply to combatrock:

Brilliant thread.  I've thought about it some but never got on it.  It's always been a couple of grades out of reach so far....and the way my climbing is going perhaps for ever but still it's nice to share the fear and elation oozing from the thread.

Back before I had kids and had time to spend hours at work wishing I was climbing there was a good webpage by the Willerups, in fact it is still linked from the route description at the top, but now seems to go nowhere.  Luckily the Way Back in Time Machine enabled me to dig the description out which I'll post below so it doesn't get lost in time:

Used to be (and perhaps will again one day?) here: http://willerup.com/climbing/cstreet.html

"15OCT95 I spent the last three years in Bristol and in two weeks I am leaving for the states. Mathias arrived a few weeks ago to live in England for a while. This was the perfect time to do a Willerup ascent of Coronation Street in Cheddar Gorge. The climb had been on my wish list for a long time as I had climbed in the gorge several times before, each time admiring the awesome line.

As we rack up in the car park below the climb, two cars pull up with other climbers. It is obvious they have come to climb the same line, but luckily we can start off first so that upwards progress is not blocked by occupied stances, falling rock etc. The first two pitches are shared between the country-wide classic Coronation Street and the less serious Sceptre so they get a lot of traffic. We discuss what to bring with us on the climb - an estimated one hour per pitch gives at least six hours of climbing, so we bring lunch, water, warm clothes and trainers for the descent which result in a fairly heavy pack to be carried by the second. The leader would also be pretty loaded: a full rack including a dusin camming devices to see us through the steep cracks coming up the next 400 ft or so.

We are of roughly the same technical ability. However, on any given day we climb one of us tends to climb with more attitude, more determination, more "Yoooor!"

I start climbing the first pitch - a 110 ft 4b. The first 10 ft are a good indication of what the route will offer: non-trivial bridging, steep, but with excellent protection. The rock induces a mounting feeling of uncertainty with its vegetation, some polish and the odd loose block. The guidebook calls it the unmistakable "Cheddar Quality". This is not a climb to be rushed. The stance confirms it: the in-situ gear comprise a crumbly peg and a bleached sling but a couple of good nuts make it safe. Mathias, new to Cheddar rock, arrives shortly afterwards confirming the feeling that if this was 4b, we were not looking forward to the 5b pitches further up. We exchange gear without much conversation and he leads up the next pitch which is shorter but very similar to the first one. A small roof is negotiated on good holds and he sets up a hanging stance in a groove below an overhang. I join.

This becomes the moment of truth. At this point, Sceptre splits off timidly to the right where our route goes straight up through some very steep terrain - the first 5b pitch. We are not sure we are going to be able to make the original proposition. We didn't find the first two pitches particularly easy, and are we now going to embark on four pitches all graded two to four grades higher than the beginning? From here on there would be no easy possibilities for retreat! Should we climb Sceptre instead? An enjoyable VS which we know we can do. Coronation Street will be here for another day. The morale is low. We ask ourselves: "why do we climb"? Some contrived answers are given only to buy a little more time to make the decision. Two other parties have now started climbing below - one has reached the first stance bringing up his second and another leader is setting off. I have wanted to conquer this climb for about two years -- and suddenly I make the decision: let's go for it! The worst that can happen is... well, never mind... let's just do it anyway.

I have wanted to conquer this climb for about two years -- and suddenly I make the decision: let's go for it!

I set off to the first overhang, fairly easy because of good holds. After this, however, the rock bites back. It gets steeper. The footholds disappear. Handholds become handjams. Bridging does it, but it is tiring - the familiar leg-wobbling could start any time now. A second and larger overhang comes up that can be tackled on its left side where the crack continues upwards. Now it becomes technical and tough on the arms. Luckily, the protection is still excellent. I pull up in jams trying desperately to get the feet right, but it does not work. Reversing the move proves complicated as well, because the rope is jammed in the crack at waist-height. Damn. I waste lots of precious energy getting it free and finally re-establish the awkward bridging position below the overhang. I look down: suddenly 200ft above the car- park the whole thing feels pretty damn serious. The other parties are moving towards the second stance now. "Maybe I should come down from this shit!". Mathias mumbles something in reply. Some tense moments pass, and I make up my mind: another focused attempt reveals some finger pockets out left and some better footwork sees me through the crux. It's not over yet, though. Another 20 or 30 ft with not much in terms of resting spots finally gets me to a relatively good stance on top of a pillar. I express the relief with a deep and sincere "yoooor!" - the viking cry trademark of the Willerup Brothers. It is possible to fight through the 5b stuff, so there is a chance we can make it. The gloomy mood from the second stance is changed significantly. Mathias puts on the backpack and climbs the pitch. It turns out to be really tricky to negotiate the overhangs with the heavy load on the back but he makes it, and joins me on the pillar.

At this point, a handful of our friends from Bristol arrive at the bottom. Many "yooors!" etc. are exchanged and we feel energised by the company 200ft below. The next pitch is "The Shield" - a vertical crack is stopped at about 30ft by a humongus roof. The route traverses left under the overhang and past The Shield, a big block suspended on the wall and blocking the way to the hanging stance further left. To get past The Shield you have to hand-traverse in an extremely exposed position. Getting a hand free to place protection will be difficult and we discuss the size of the cam that might slot into a crack behind The Shield and the wall. Mathias takes the lead and climbs up the crack to the overhang. He is about to traverse left as a light drizzle starts over the gorge. He were are, beyond the point of no return, and the route is getting rained on! Luckily, we are under the roof so the current part of the climb is not exposed to the rain. However, we wonder how the following pitch, a very steep 5b, is going to be - water and limestone is not a pleasant combination for climbing. Mathias takes a few moves to the left, places a cam or two in the crack under the roof, and steps back right. The section is difficult because there are no footholds on the wall below the roof. He has to commit himself to step left, make a few moves to the Shield and then make a truly scary move around it.

We are of roughly the same technical ability. However, on any given day we climb one of us tends to climb with more attitude, more determination, more "yoooor!". We feel this pretty early when spending a day at a crag. Today was my day, probably because I have been wanting to do the climb for so long. Mathias knew this and decided than instead of comitting himself to the left, he backs and lets me do it.

I am sitting in an awkward position with the left foot on The Shield. It is not a resting position...

It took a lot of fiddling with the ropes to put me at the sharp end, but as I set off I can enjoy the placements that Mathias had left on the first part of the pitch. At the roof I start traversing left towards The Shield. A handful of quick exposed moves and I am sitting in an awkward position with the left foot on The Shield and the right foot somewhere else. It is not a resting position, however: I hang from the left arm, shake out the right, change arms, and repeat the process. If I am going to make it I have to the the next moves overwith. So I go out on The Shield, hands on the top, feet scraping on the slimestone trying to get some friction. A few more desperate and extremely exposed moves finally gets me intoo the groove behind The Shield. I am shaking all over from fear and tense muscles, but I made it. The hanging stance a bit further left is "interesting" - a handful of rusty pegs and only a loose block to place pro. As you are hanging there, you can see your car and some spectators 300ft directly below. What an awesome place to be! I take in the rope and Mathias sets off once again on the difficult section. Being the second on a traverse can be more terrifying than leading it, because the leader tends to place protection before difficult sections, not afterwards. Out of my sight, he goes left to The Shield, takes out the camming device that I put in just before it. He can only see the rope going around to the left - not where the next piece of protection is. If he falls, he will swing hard left and against the rock below. Once again, the backpack wasn't making things any easier. He goes for it, makes the desperate moves and arrives at the corner, shaking like I was.

The next pitch is according to the local folklore, the hardest. The rain, which had now stopped, was not going to make it easier. Psyched up from the wild traverse, I set off on the steep pitch. Lots of bridging, handjamming, and a couple of small strenuous roofs makes it an absolutely brilliant pitch. The line follows a wide crack which swallows our complete arsenal of camming devices. I arrive at the stance, a wide pillar, after enjoyable climbing but feeling that the traverse was definitely harder. We exchange the usual climbing commands "standplads!", "det er mig!", "du er sikret!", "jeg kommer!" and Mathias attacks the steep pitch. We have now been on the route for perhaps more than six hours and we are getting tired. Mathias arrives at the stance exhausted, shaking his head in disbelief and grunts "f***ing hard...".

The last pitch is a short 5a slab but a formality compared to the three pitches below. We arrive at the top of the gorge, relieved and with a great sense of accomplishment. We hike across the edge of the gorge and descent a gully full of loose rocks. Below, we are greeted by our friends who followed our progress the last four pitches of the climb.

And then we went to the pub."

And then we went to the pub - priceless!

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 LankyBeta123 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Hooo:

Send this in for an article. Cracking job!

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 Wendy Watthews 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

A couple of years ago Joe and I were the first to get on it the weekend restrictions lifted. Joe took the first few pitches stingy nettles and all, I led the traverse. I failed to be elegant  at all and somehow managed to get in a precarious saddle position at one point. Feeling shaky after the traverse I set the belay up with the rope to purposely make it difficult and so he had to lead. 

Joe wasn't having any of this and quickly made his own belay by adding extra screwgates and slings to the gear. Feeling trepidation I set off on lead slowly, keen not to move to fast so I had less to down climb when I backed off and handed it over, having at least given it a go. Then farffar the ground a high pitch cry "Mum look at that girl climbing, she's amaaazing". Beggar, it seemed I had too much pride to not at least pretend to be a strong female role model. So I continued, thankfully it wasn't as bad as I let my imagination believe. Joe took the slightly chossy last pitch.

Back down in sunlight and good time, it was a brilliant day out, one I won't forget. 

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 Mark Davies PK 22 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

Brilliant route. Did it when I first moved to Bristol, mid winter of course. Ended up seconding the penultimate pitch and leading the final pitch in darkness with no head torches.

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In reply to combatrock:

I would recommend getting on it when you’ve got solid experience at E1, including some multi pitch exposed routes around HVS - E1. Some of the routes at Avon or mountain crags such as Cloggy would be good preparation. It’s a big route by British standards and with the exposed traverse it’s quite exciting at the grade and retreat is problematic. So you want to have suitable experience so that you enjoy it as opposed to having an epic.

At the same time, don’t leave it too late as if you’re cruising E3 multi pitch you probably won’t enjoy it as much. I thought it was a good route but not really worth three stars. That could be because I’d done a lot of much more exciting / adventurous multi pitch routes, so it somewhat paled in comparison.

Suggest doing it on a nice warm day in October after a dry spell. No need to make the experience less enjoyable by doing it in the middle of winter. There’s a fair bit more daylight in October as well.

If you get there and there’s another team on the route and they’re slow, there are other multi pitch E1s available in the Gorge. In fact they could be good experience for Coronation St. The first time we went to do it, there was a team on P1 moving at a glacial pace so we just leafed through the guide book and did The Heaven and Earth Show instead, which was a good route. That’s E3 but there’s a classic E1 next to it which would be a good consolation prize.

This might sound obvious but take approach shoes up the route. The Slowworm Gully descent is unpleasant at best and it’s probably best to descend the path back to the  visitor centre. You wouldn’t want to do either in rock shoes. 

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 combatrock 23 Jun 2020
In reply to all the kind people who have shared their stories:

Thank you all so much for your brilliant, hilarious and somewhat terrifying replies! Base jumpers, babies and bailouts - this route has seen it all! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all your responses and am now even more excited to start getting the skills and experience I need to tackle this. And of course excited for all the routes I'll do on the way, and that will be available to me once I've got the trad head on. I've been loving the sport climbing over the last few years, pulling hard at my limits, but now I'm getting older and in some ways past my physical best in an athletic sense, I'm looking for different experiences, adventurous experiences that aren't just 'hard moves'. I think the journey to climbing this iconic route will give me that experience, and more...

Right - time to dust off the nuts (so to speak) and get out there

Post edited at 10:41
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In reply to combatrock:

I did it over six consecutive weekends in the 1990's. Three times we were comprehensively rained off: twice on the ground; once we were caught in an apocalyptic rainstorm just beyond the Shield and had to retreat. That was on a Sunday in January; the next Saturday we were back first thing to collect our abseil gear, which had gone. The fourth time a late start and lingering in the cafe meant we queued for an hour before giving up and doing something else. The fifth time the weather was fine, but the climbing ropes were still in London. The last time we were fortunate in that it was not raining and we had only a biting wind and the occasional snow shower to contend with, which at least meant that we were the only party in the Gorge. I recall the second crux pitch being something of a struggle as I couldn't feel my hands, and shivering on the final belay. If I remember right we also made a bollocks of the descent in rock boots and had to walk miles round, although that may have been another occasion.

jcm

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 jcw 23 Jun 2020

Here’s my tuppence worth.

“Thursday 6 February 1982 my birthday (48): CORONATION STREET (XS). Superb, and all the better for being snatched in mid-week”. Simon Richardson was giving a lecture on the Wednesday to the OUMC on our Kishtwar expedition (and its prolongation in Annapurna by the three ex-students who’d recently returned), and suggested as a birthday present doing the route next day if the weather were good. In the event, it was dry and had been for some time (but broke shortly after). Drove down and on the rock by 10.50. 4 1/2hrs for the route. Absolutely no one about. Simon (21) of course led the whole thing and as an experienced second, I followed reasonably efficiently but found the cracks at the top very strenuous and had to have a rest or two. But wow, what exhilaration.  Multipitch, the exposure what it should be. as too the commitment on what was then graded XS: worthy of being capitalised in my diary. And it was all the more fun as it represented the sole occasion I’ve gone AWOL in 38 years as a don.  But it was only a joint class and my colleague quite capable of taking it on her own.  

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 The Grist 23 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

I did it on a warm feb day a few years ago and found it pretty uneventful. Enjoyable route and a little awkward in places and well protected. At the time I was climbing e2 with relatively ease. I do recall thinking that I wish I did it 20 years ago when e1 was my top grade. I definitely could have had a fantastic epic on it then. 
I do recall it was pretty cold and damp.....

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 neilh 23 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

Mid 80's 4 of us drove down from Manchester for the day to do it.

All I remember is the awful chossy first pitch and being distinctly unimpressed. If you were use to climbing at Stoney, then it was nothing special from a difficulty point of view and it was a bit broken up.. The exposure was not particularly awesome.

Never been back.......

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In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I love that story, John. The multiple attempts. It's just so true of most people's climbing, ... particularly the bit about 'the climbing ropes were still in London.' Ouch. I like to think that many, perhaps most, on UKC have 'been there.'

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 JimR 23 Jun 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I’ve done it a few times and enjoyed them all, last time was with eric who suggested it as the warm down route at the end of the day🙂we did finish in the light, though, just!

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 David Coley 24 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

Hi,

I've done it several times. My favourite way is in a group of 3 with a jet boil and some big coats.

Some comments:

The belays are currently at their best for a long time. 

Don't even think of doing it if it is damp. The temperature is not the problem (more clothes, including on the legs, gloves for belaying), but if damp the friction is poor. 

Make sure you like and trust hand jams, finger locks etc.

I have watched many parties on the route and many spend as much time faffing at belays as they do climbing. As de-faffing is something you can practice and there is no reason why you can't be super slick whatever grade you climb, it is an obvious thing to try and improve for such a route. Many teams could remove 2 hours from the route by being slicker. Reviewing the relevant skills by visiting multipitchclimbing.com might help. Also consider taking a video or time lapse camera to your local multi pitch venue. Start filming the moment you arrive at the crag. Before you set the sacks down. Film a 3 or so pitch route (pick a grade that you are comfortable with, i.e. a grade where you would be happy to onsight several routes of that grade in a day). Calculate the ratio of two numbers: the time spent climbing (i.e. leader or second moving) / time from arriving at crag to having the ropes coiled on top. Reflecting on this number (called the Climbing Ratio, CR) can help to be a spark to de-faffing. Analysing the footage further by looking at how long it takes to get the second moving off the stance, or swapping the gear can help to see where focus is most usefully employed.

Enjoy.

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 julesmckim 24 Jun 2020
In reply to combatrock:

Such a great, iconic route. Good luck with the preparation and training. Try and find the Jim Perrin article Street Illegal and then when you're climbing it you can be thankful you have ropes! 

My mate John and I bunked off school in the early 80s to do this with a fresh driving licence and not a lot of E1 experience. Restrictions were just lifted. We noticed with alarm a family parked below us as we moved into the upper pitches.

It's got it all.. even the stuff you don't really want. Polish, earth, veg, old pegs...but more than made up by the brilliant climbing and breath-taking positions. Like other accounts here, the alternating leads plan fell apart for us too, so I ended up doing the upper pitches feeling more than a little freaked out by the belay at the end of the Shield and the technicalities of the pitch above.

Probably my favourite UK multi pitch experience. I lost touch with John but randomly bumped into him last year. This was the shared experience we revisited and compared our different memories of.

His final memory of the day was us driving off, feeling pretty cool, The Rolling Stones Wild Horses playing as loud as our crappy cassette player would allow.

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In reply to combatrock:

If you drop a camera from pitch 4 it breaks. 

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 profitofdoom 25 Jun 2020
In reply to Bulls Crack:

> If you drop a camera from pitch 4 it breaks. 

Gone in a flash. You should have focussed on what you were doing. I told you the exposure was bad

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In reply to Bulls Crack:

You didn't buy the one with the free fall detecting auto-deploying parachute attachment then? 😁

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 profitofdoom 25 Jun 2020
In reply to Michael Hood:

> You didn't buy the one with the free fall detecting auto-deploying parachute attachment then? 😁

That's a good idea. I wish they had one for humans too

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 PaulTanton 25 Jun 2020
In reply to Albert Tatlock:

is that your cat at the start? Makes a right racket at night 

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