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Lancashire / North West Offwidths

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 JRJG 01 Oct 2020

Good morning folks. 
I’m looking to begin trying* (struggling/fighting/crying)* some off widths climbs. 
I live in Preston Lancashire.
Does anyone have any suggestions for suitable localish routes/venues? 
If not low grade then perhaps easily top rope able. 
I am reasonably happy at foot and hand jamming but have never really got stuck into a proper offwidth.
I have had a look through the tick lists but could only find Yorkshire/peak specific compilations. 
 

Many thanks in advance for any recommendations. 
 

JRJG 
 

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 Baron Weasel 01 Oct 2020
In reply to JRJG:

Aladinsane at trowbarrow? 

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 C Witter 01 Oct 2020
In reply to JRJG:

I don't go in for this peculiar form of perversion myself, but what about Aladdinsane (E1 5a)? Hopefully that will cure you.

Edit: BW beat me to it by 1 minute!

Post edited at 09:59
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 profitofdoom 01 Oct 2020
In reply to C Witter:

> I don't go in for this peculiar form of perversion myself, but what about Aladdinsane (E1 5a)? Hopefully that will cure you.

Great photos, thanks, and it looks like a superb route

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 JRJG 01 Oct 2020
In reply to Baron Weasel:

That’s the one route I had thought of myself. Thinking of top roping it as I’m not ready to lead e1 or whatever it is offwidth. 
thanks anyhow 

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In reply to JRJG:

In theory, top roping is discouraged on the main wall at Trowbarrow. 

Anyway, what about Samarkand (VS 5a) at Anglezarke. More than a crack, but awkward enough to be considered for this kind of thing. 

Or Orange Groove (VD), which is apparently V Diff. Presumably so it can be ignored my most, including me because I'm fat. 

Central Crack (HVS 5a) is hand jam size but very good too.

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 George Frisby 01 Oct 2020
In reply to JRJG:

Heptonstall if it's not too far. Bull's crack and forked lightning crack have bits of OW on them. Can set up a long TR off the stakes at the top too with a bit off effort and a few rope protectors. 

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 Jon Read 01 Oct 2020
In reply to JRJG:

While it doesn't climb exactly like an offwidth (there are some holds somewhere), it's a good attempt: Fool's Gold (E2 5b)

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 neilh 01 Oct 2020
In reply to JRJG:

The infamous Delilah at Running Hill Pits

Makes you sweat just look at the " exhausing start"

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 tmawer 01 Oct 2020
In reply to JRJG:

The Mangler ay Blackstone Edge might fit the bill.

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In reply to Jon Read:

Yes, where were the holds?!

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 C Witter 01 Oct 2020
In reply to Jon Read:

> While it doesn't climb exactly like an offwidth (there are some holds somewhere), it's a good attempt: Fool's Gold (E2 5b)


You cruel bastard... How could you recommend this to someone? Tut tut ;)

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 Andy Farnell 01 Oct 2020
In reply to Jon Read:

> While it doesn't climb exactly like an offwidth (there are some holds somewhere), it's a good attempt: Fool's Gold (E2 5b)

E2 5c? It used to be HVS. It's probably 8c in real terms.

Andy F

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 George Frisby 01 Oct 2020
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 Brad Jackson 01 Oct 2020
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AndrewSmith45 01 Oct 2020
In reply to JRJG:

Not sure about the North West but the Yorkshire Moors and Northumberland has some cracking off-widths. The sandstone is generally 5-20m and there's some lovely fissures. One of my favorites is Fallen Arch at Barkers Crags, another is Gehenna at Beacon Scar.

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 JRJG 01 Oct 2020
In reply to JRJG:

Thank you very much everyone for your suggestions so far. 
I’ve got a nice little group of climbs and venues from you all. 

A trip to Brimham, to Yorkshire and across to the peak look like the best bet. 
 

JRJG 

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 Lankyman 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Steve Clark:

> In theory, top roping is discouraged on the main wall at Trowbarrow. 

Steve, it's definitely not on to top rope on Main Wall (and abbing). I applied for the job there as warden and read the reserve specs. The whole quarry and surrounding woodland are SSI protected and the fines for infringement are pretty stiff. Alladinsane is off width but there are lots of holds inside the crack so you don't really need true off width techniques. You should carry long slings to thread the chockstone!

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In reply to Lankyman:

Yes, I understood this has always been the case since it was purchased by LCC and access got formalised. The was a sign, but I can't remember if it's still there. 

We did see some shirtless d***head tandem-abseiling down Jean Jeanie with his girlfriend last year. He got his foot stuck in the top crack and they both ended up upside down with much screaming. We had a word after they got down. I very much doubt she will be doing it again. 

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 C Witter 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Lankyman:

> Steve, it's definitely not on to top rope on Main Wall (and abbing). I applied for the job there as warden and read the reserve specs. The whole quarry and surrounding woodland are SSI protected and the fines for infringement are pretty stiff. Alladinsane is off width but there are lots of holds inside the crack so you don't really need true off width techniques. You should carry long slings to thread the chockstone!


Unfortunately, it doesn't stop people. Lots of shunting on the main wall, too - though, slightly more ambiguous and probably fine in my book, as the rope remains more or less static.

Post edited at 19:52
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 Tyler 02 Oct 2020
In reply to C Witter:

I don't understand why top roping is worse than other forms of climbing from an access PoV?

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 webbo 02 Oct 2020
In reply to AndrewSmith45:

> Not sure about the North West but the Yorkshire Moors and Northumberland has some cracking off-widths. The sandstone is generally 5-20m and there's some lovely fissures. One of my favorites is Fallen Arch at Barkers Crags, another is Gehenna at Beacon Scar.

Gehenna is not an off width crack, it’s a straight forward jam crack.

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 Lankyman 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Tyler:

> I don't understand why top roping is worse than other forms of climbing from an access PoV?


It isn't in most places. At Trowbarrow the rock faces are designated a SSI and at Main Wall it's for the trace fossils that cover the wall. Top roping and abseiling are banned to try and prevent them being broken off any more than lead climbing already does.

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AndrewSmith45 02 Oct 2020
In reply to webbo:

Sorry, I'm quite new to climbing and I'm a dwarf. Could you explain the difference please? I thought an off-width was a fissure in the rock.

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 GPN 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Tyler:

> I don't understand why top roping is worse than other forms of climbing from an access PoV?

Clearly it’s absolute nonsense. See also the bolting ban on Red Wall...

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 webbo 03 Oct 2020
In reply to AndrewSmith45:

Off width is a crack wider than fist jams.

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 Sam Beaton 03 Oct 2020
In reply to AndrewSmith45:

It's a crack wider than a jam crack but narrower than a chimney. So you can neither jam it nor get inside it and wriggle up it. Pure off widths can't be laybacked and require very peculiar techniques to climb

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AndrewSmith45 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Sam Beaton:

> It's a crack wider than a jam crack but narrower than a chimney. So you can neither jam it nor get inside it and wriggle up it. Pure off widths can't be laybacked and require very peculiar techniques to climb


Thanks, that makes sense to me now. I'm starting to pick up the lingo, I'll get there eventually!

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 C Witter 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Tyler:

The Main Wall is obviously a special place in terms of the fossils in the rock. I think the ban on top-roping and abseiling is:

1. To stop the erosion caused by poor top-rope set-ups, which cut grooves into the rock where the rope rubs back and forth over and over
2. To make it inaccessible to group-use, which can really add to polish and damage

RE: bolting the Red Wall: that would mean retro-bolting good trad routes, many of which already have traditional protection possibilities. It's already a very busy wall and top-roping is allowed there, so headpoints are doable. Izzy the Push, for example, is very safe if you search out the protection carefully. I've not tried to lead others myself, but I've scanned the logbooks and seen people lead them... I'll probably find another headpoint 'project' there myself at some point over the winter. The difficulty of working out the protection only adds to the enjoyment in my view.

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 GPN 03 Oct 2020
In reply to C Witter:

Groups are already banned from Trowbarrow, so that shouldn’t have been a consideration. I suspect that the toproping/abseiling ban came about through ‘compromise’ whilst arranging access, and the climbing ideology of those doing the negotiations. I genuinely can’t see that the ‘ban’ serves any practical purpose whatsoever. How popular would toproping/abseiling on main wall be even if it wasn’t banned? Is there top rope damage at the top of the Assagai/coral sea walls where toproping is allowed? How does abseiling cause any more damage to the rock than climbing on it (given no group use)...


What irks me about this (and the bolt ‘ban’) is that it mixes up access and conservation with climbing ‘ethics’. They’re separate issues which I think are best kept separate!

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In reply to Sam Beaton:

Surely pure offwidths can be laybacked, but it's a ludicrously strenuous way of making upward progress!

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 webbo 03 Oct 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

Ok next dry day, we all come and watch you layback Goliath followed by Right Eliminate. Once you’ve done those a trip to Brimham to layback Giggling crack. Let us know when you are up for these ;)

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 Lankyman 03 Oct 2020
In reply to GPN:

> What irks me about this (and the bolt ‘ban’) is that it mixes up access and conservation with climbing ‘ethics’. They’re separate issues which I think are best kept separate!

I think you have to take a less 'climber-centric' view , George? The ban on top-roping Main Wall is very specific to that wall. It's full of fossils that just don't feature on Assagai Wall. There could be a complete ban on climbing there as it's so important to preserve the geological features that are so rare elsewhere. We're lucky to have climbing on it at all - the deal with Lancaster City Council was a compromise between total ban and climbing it its least impactful form. As C Witter says, top-roping  has more impact by its nature than leading. Just imagine if anyone could top-rope those very bold 'in-between-the cracks' lines? The fossils would be drastically reduced in no time. I think I first climbed on Main Wall in the late 70s and can remember popping footholds off from the sides of the classics like Jean Jeanie.

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 Rick Graham 03 Oct 2020
In reply to webbo:

> Ok next dry day, we all come and watch you layback Goliath followed by Right Eliminate. Once you’ve done those a trip to Brimham to layback Giggling crack. Let us know when you are up for these ;)

Probably depends more on how rounded the edge of the crack, but laybacking offwidths is usually something done by seconds after the leader has udged their way up .

Fairly well known that protection is virtually impossible to place whilst laybacking offwidths and that you cannot use any hidden holds inside the crack. Most UK offwidths are not the real deal that you are often faced with in , say, on  US granite and are usually graded for climbing "inside".

It is often possible to climb some short offwidths more easily by laybacking but by no means all.

Post edited at 20:33
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 GPN 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Lankyman:

I simply don’t buy the idea that lead climbing is less ‘impactful’ than top roping or abseiling. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen people inadvertently climb Jean Jeanie at A0 ;-) As far as I can see the only impact of the ban is to very, very slightly reduce the number of climbers on Main Wall. I don’t believe that if the ban was dropped then there would suddenly be queues under Blow Out (unless word gets out that it’s a massive soft touch).
 

Whether the top roping/abseiling ban was actually necessary to get access I don’t know. Obviously if it was then it’s a price worth paying.

I’m not sure what relevance all of this has to the op though! As was pointed out above Aladinsane doesn’t climb as an off width at all (fortunately!).

Post edited at 20:43
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 webbo 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Rick Graham:

Having seen one leading light of late 70’s try to layback Goliath unsuccessfully despite him being able to solo it fairly easily climbing it as an off width. I just found Johns post saying they could be laybacked not having a great deal of reality.

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 Jon Read 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Lankyman:

I've climbed with possibly the world's biggest fan of Trowbarrow for at least 2 years, and even been there myself a couple of times too, so how come I don't know about this ban?

It's not mentioned in the UKC logbooks section, other than a rather vague "Nature conservation area - some requests to climbers to stop loss of fossils on main wall.". Plenty of RP ascents on the main wall section there. 

I'm not disagreeing with the restriction, just wanting to highlight that the message is demonstrably failing to get across to everyone. 

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In reply to webbo:

Gosh! I was not advocating laybacking offwidths as a good technique, but in reality I have seen it done by very strong climbers. I have even heard of someone laybacking the Harding Slot on Astroman, who admitted it was the most strenuous thing he had every done!

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In reply to webbo:

As is Fallen Arch, both are pleasant VS / HVS jam cracks

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AndrewSmith45 03 Oct 2020
In reply to webbo:

> Ok next dry day, we all come and watch you layback Goliath followed by Right Eliminate. Once you’ve done those a trip to Brimham to layback Giggling crack. Let us know when you are up for these ;)


My friend led Right Eliminate. I followed her on second and got in a right mess, I asked her what to do and she said "squirm". I fell off exhausted 30 seconds later. After a long rest I had another go, trying to layback it. The crux was the most strenuous thing I've had to overcome but I'd never been on a route of this nature and I was determined to show her I could do it. I carried on laybacking and made it to the top. She was quite proud of me and I have to say I was quite proud of myself. Then she up an abseil to go fetch her 3 cams.

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 Lankyman 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Jon Read:

> I've climbed with possibly the world's biggest fan of Trowbarrow for at least 2 years, and even been there myself a couple of times too, so how come I don't know about this ban?

I have no idea - do you have the Lancs guidebook? It's stated in both the latest and the previous 'Brick' editions. Have you read the signs as you enter from the road? There was a sign bolted to a boulder below Main Wall too.

> It's not mentioned in the UKC logbooks section, other than a rather vague "Nature conservation area - some requests to climbers to stop loss of fossils on main wall."

Ask Gregg Chapman why - he's the crag moderator.

> I'm not disagreeing with the restriction, just wanting to highlight that the message is demonstrably failing to get across to everyone. 

Here's a handy download for anyone who hasn't got the definitive guide (written by people who actually put the time and effort into negotiating the access agreement with LCCC).

https://www.arnsidesilverdaleaonb.org.uk/uploads/2016/04/guide_to_trowbarrow.pdf

Here's the law regarding damaging a SSI (knocking fossils off or placing bolts most pertinent here)

http://www.environmentlaw.org.uk/rte.asp?id=303 To quote:

'The offences carry various penalties, including a fine of up to £20,000 in the Magistrates court or an unlimited fine in the Crown Court for carrying out work without permission, or for causing damage to an SSSI'.

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 JRJG 03 Oct 2020
In reply to JRJG:

Thanks once again for everyone’s suggestions. Since my first post I have bought the Yorkshire grit guidebook and now have a good list of both venues and routes to try. 
 

Also thank you to the Trowbarrow fans for your enlightening on issues regarding fossils, fines and SSI’s. 
 

JRJG 

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 Jon Read 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Lankyman:

Thanks, much appreciated. I'm still in shock I had no idea! Is this a relatively recent development? (i.e., in the past 15 years or so...)

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 Lankyman 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Jon Read:

> Thanks, much appreciated. I'm still in shock I had no idea! Is this a relatively recent development? (i.e., in the past 15 years or so...)


Longer than that. I think it was designated SSSI in 1990 and bought by Lancaster CC in 1997 following a fund raising appeal by the Arnside Silverdale Landscape Trust. I worked with them and the AONB Unit in the quarry for some years as a  conservation volunteer, mainly managing the tree cover in the quarry itself and adjoining woodland. It's very easy as a climber to get tunnel vision and not be aware of other aspects of the places we climb in - I know that's how I was in the beginning. Here's a bit from the BMC website that give the situation:

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/modules/rad/view.aspx?id=185

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In reply to JRJG:

> I’m looking to begin trying* (struggling/fighting/crying)* some off widths climbs. 

> I live in Preston Lancashire.

> Does anyone have any suggestions for suitable localish routes/venues? 

> If not low grade then perhaps easily top rope able. 

> I am reasonably happy at foot and hand jamming but have never really got stuck into a proper offwidth.

Several people have mentioned Brimham. A climb that really fits your bill there is the Brutaliser, but I would recommend trying that one on the blunt end of the rope!

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 gooberman-hill 04 Oct 2020
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 JRJG 04 Oct 2020
In reply to gooberman-hill:

Good shout, remember that being a really awkward start, so could possibly be climbed off width style. 
Cheers! 
 

JRJG

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 C Witter 05 Oct 2020
In reply to GPN:

I think you have a point, for sure. However, there is some damage at the top of Coral Sea and Assagai from ropes cutting into the rock - though, whether this is from conventional leading and seconding or from top-roping/abseiling is not clear. As for abseiling on the Main Wall - yes, I can't see it as any more damaging than leading/seconding and, in addition, I've been forced to do it on a couple of occasions to retrieve stuck gear. On the other hand, if we all abbed off rather than walk down, that would be significantly more traffic overall, which increases wear on the trees and rock.

Counter to the argument that rock climbing is damaging, though, I would say that no-one will appreciate those fossils on the main wall quite like someone who has teetered up them, using them with toes and finger tips.

I think the bolt ban can be interpreted as mixing conservation and ethics, it's a good point. But, clearly, there's nothing incongrous between conservation and a ban on drilling holes in a protected cliff face...

Post edited at 10:56
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 JRJG 12 Oct 2020
In reply to John Stainforth:

Had a trip to Brimham on Sunday. 
Played about on a couple of offwidths at ground level, practicing leg/knee jams and attempting chicken wings and arm barring. 
Climbed a few routes to get used to grit (it’s been a while) then jumped on ‘Jaberwokie’ because it looked interesting. Then had a go at Desperation crack. 
Which, considering it was my first proper offwidth, I was quite proud of myself for getting six inches or so from being able to belly flop out of the top... only for a leg to slip and me end up three feet from the top. After another failed attempt I pulled on a cam and cheated my way to top out. 

One thing I was shocked at was how exhausted I was at the top. Never have I had such trembling in so many muscles at the top of a route. 
 

Looking forward to another visit. 
Some wideboyz turtorial visits might be needed. 
 

JRJG  
 

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 petegunn 13 Oct 2020
In reply to JRJG:

It's definitely a full body workout, I always feel truly beaten up after a selection of Brimhams finest off widths! 

Have you checked out the "Dirty Dozen" tick list at Brimham?

https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/set.php?id=545

Some more here to sink your fists and legs into!

https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/set.php?id=629

https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/set.php?id=624

Post edited at 19:53
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 JRJG 13 Oct 2020
In reply to petegunn:

I’ll be book marking those, 

cheers! 
 

JRJG 

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