I've recently been perusing a few coffee table books, namely Classic Rock, but also books such as Bill Birkett's collection of classic rock climbs in Great Britain, Northern and Southern England as well as Chris Cragg's 100 Best Limestone Climbs in Britain. Despite the age of these books, they are really nice to look through and gave me some inspiration for a recent UK road trip.
It got me thinking, these books are around 30-40 years old; are there any climbs that would fit into the category of Classic Rock that have been discovered since say 1990? I spend a long time thinking about this and flicking through some local climbing guides to come up pretty much nothing in the Diff to - HVS range. I know there has been plenty of new climbs done in the last 30 years but I couldn't find any that would now be considered a classic or coffee table book worthy in that grade range. It turns out most of the great lines were climbed much before 1990! I guess the biggest change might be new quarries that have opened up for climbing or sport routes which would have to be pretty damn special to get a mention.
I'd love to hear some suggestions.
So far I've come up with;
If anywhere then probably in the far north west of Scotland (mainland or Hebrides). As you say the obvious classic lines were done decades ago everywhere else
Route Two (HVS 5a) at Diabaig, for example, is as good as any two pitch HVS anywhere. Climbed in 1975 but didn't really become well known until the 90s
There are certainly climbs in those books that should be relegated. Piton Route, for example. Think what it would be like if you were on a Classic Rock holiday? You've hit the Dewerstone, bagged the classics at Chair Ladder, Bosi, and Sennen, had a blissful couple of days over on Lundy, and now up to Bristol to climb a nondescript, quarried, polished, chossy shuffle that relies on rusty pegs above a busy road. CLASSIC.
There are also quite a few routes in Classic Rock that have better alternatives right next to them (Cioch West, for example).
Get Amazon Crack and Mutiny Crack at Burbage in and lose Topsail and Sail Buttress. Wilson must have loved Birchen for some reason. Was it near his house?
For sure! Piton Route is pretty awful in comparison to the lovely granite routes in the South West. I think the story behind the FA in Classic Rock is about the only real interest I got from that route.
In reply to AlanLittle:
I assumed there would be a plethora of Scottish climbs that were not discovered until later on, but as you say generally the obvious classics were climbed long ago.
Another thought I had was a route at Shorn Cliff maybe, not quite 90's most were climbed mid 80's, not quite uber classic, but routes like Organ Grinder are pretty characterful.
I was quite surprised there wasn't any Wye Valley routes in Hard Rock or Extreme Rock. There are loads from Peak District limestone. I've not climbed at any of the Peak limestone honeypots so can't confirm their quality but can anyone who's been to both shed some light on whether the likes of High Tor, Cheedale, Stoney etc. are so vastly superior to Wintours Leap, Wyndcliff, etc. that they wouldn't get a mention?
Chee Tor Girdle Vs Angel's Girdle
Debauchery Vs King Kong
Darius Vs Kaiser Wall
Kingdom Come Vs The Jackal
I think it's quite special to do a 40m single pitch with no deviation up a perfect crack corner to finish with the view you get from the top of Wyndcliff.
If Reptile Smile is in your ballpark grade range, and you’re willing to consider styles of climbing that would never have really been considered in previous times as a source of nouveau classics, then you could look to DWS - in roped form The Conger (E2 5c) is 1979 vintage free but in its modern form (fsa) from 1983, and plenty of other similar things around Portland and Lulworth date from the early/mid-90s.
More widely, any classic DWS that was conceived as a solo rather than a new style of ascent of an older trad route is almost certainly 1990 or later, and given how different the experience is I don’t think looking at the FSA date for older routes is unreasonable in defining when the climb as it now exists came into being (eg Rainbow Bridge has quite a long history as a roped traverse but in terms of the DWs it is today came into being more recently)
And there are some gems there, because DWS opens up stretches of cliff that would previously have been quite difficult to develop (lack of stances etc) or overlooked (in that DWS cliffs don’t tend to be that high given the requirement for a fall to be a sensible length)
If room was a problem then yes the three Peak District crags would take preference over the Wye Valley ones.
Thank you for the recommendation. Which guide book is Gwern Craig in?
Ah Just seen that it is in Meirionnydd; the one guide book for North Wales that I do not possess!
> I was quite surprised there wasn't any Wye Valley routes in Hard Rock or Extreme Rock. There are loads from Peak District limestone. I've not climbed at any of the Peak limestone honeypots so can't confirm their quality but can anyone who's been to both shed some light on whether the likes of High Tor, Cheedale, Stoney etc. are so vastly superior to Wintours Leap, Wyndcliff, etc. that they wouldn't get a mention?
> Chee Tor Girdle Vs Angel's Girdle
> Debauchery Vs King Kong
> Darius Vs Kaiser Wall
> Kingdom Come Vs The Jackal
> I think it's quite special to do a 40m single pitch with no deviation up a perfect crack corner to finish with the view you get from the top of Wyndcliff.
The wall at Wintours with King Kong on it is pretty good, but Darius is one of the best routes in the country and the main face at High Tor one of the best crags, of any rock type. There is little comparison really (although, in my opinion, Debauchery is one of the least good routes on the face.)
Edit to add: I would rate stoney more similarly to the Wye valley crags - less loose but more polished. Windy buttress is better. Cheedale is a different sort of venue and best for sport climbing, I don't really have any comparable experience in the Wye. Chee Tor is really good quality but you need to be prepared for it to be filfthy if you go early in the year, and take several brushes
Well I for one at the time would have much preferred Topsail and Sail Buttress to Amazon Crack and Mutiny Crack. Neither pair should be in classic rock though. The former two are pretty trashed these days due to dogging on cams.
I think some of the choices for those books are definitely a product of fashions at the time and I think the Wye Valley being entirely omitted is one of those. Until the road bridge linked it to Bristol (1960s) it was fairly inaccessible except coming from Gloucester or South Wales which must have had some relevance for hard rock in the early 70s. I think Swanage is maybe the same in that Tudor Rose say could easily sit in the grade range for Hard Rock.
Ive not done much at the other two Peak crags but would agree with what others have said that High Tor trumps the Wye. I don't think that means it doesn't deserve some mention, mind you.
I would have thought that Avon would have been the obvious substitution - whilst the classic and hard rock routes in Avon have history, I'm sure that Zelda or Angels Girdle or something at Shorncliff or whatever has a nicer position than Piton Route and I assume (I've not done the former) that you could swap Malbogies out for King Kong without too much bother (strong line, obvious weakness up a big wall, more peaceful setting, etc). I've done Krapps/Think Pink out of ER and it's very good, but these days wandering traverses like Preter might fall out of favour compared to say Jackal (imposing line, Little John route, *** classic, etc etc)?
Classics emerge over time. I would add Matchless E1, at Oldwalls Point. An adventure in many respects!
Right Angle at Gurnards Head is a glaring omission from Classic Rock.
How were they better in the 60s? Has 10m of climbing fallen off the top of them? They are fine climbs (both one-move wonders) but neither classic. I thought Nelsons Nemesis was far better but still not better than other 3 star routes elsewhere. I haven't done loads on grit but Amazon Crack was a treat. Perfect hands the whole way. Compare the Birchen routes to something like Heather Wall at Froggatt. There just seems to be so many better options.
'Right Angle is also known from Ken Wilson's quote of "one of the few mistakes in judgement I ever made" with it's omission from Classic Rock!'
Because this wasn't there then...
Sail Buttress and Orpheus Wall are also badly affected by cam damage.
If you climbed Amazon as a jamming crack that was eliminate, it's much easier using the arete on the rhs, and the start is scruffy and awkward (not perfect hands). Mutiny is a 4c boulder problem into a short VD. My point was none of these short routes should have been in Classic Rock (except maybe Heaven Crack).
Yeah I saw that when I climbed it and ignored it because you're on a massive thread so it's completely unnecessary. I don't see how that bit of rock not being worn would transfer it into an instant classic though....
Rob's Crack is a local classic and only worth 2 stars.
Organ Grinder (HVS 5a) is 40 ft of excellence but was almost my downfall. We did it two years, one summers evening. A few hours later, i was lying in bed, in agony. Went to A&E who diagnosed an intestinal blockage. A bit was chopped out the following day, at which point my climbing partner reminded me of the route we'd just done. Organ grinder, you just gotta love the name
Right Angle (HS 4b) was certainly the one route that Ken should have put in, it's a fantastic adventure for the grade, but the FA was 1966, I was sort of after modern routes (arbitrarily 1990 onwards) that would fit the bill.
In reply to Darron:
Symphony Crack is a really good shout, any idea when the FA was?
In reply to Mark Davies PK:
True, Rob's Crack (VS 4c) is only a local classic, it was the only thing around here in that grade range that I can think of that could fit the bill of having a FA post 90. I mean, you sure have given us some good routes over the years, I was hoping you of all people would have knowledge of classic routes in the area with a recent-ish FA.
> True, Rob's Crack (VS 4c) is only a local classic, it was the only thing around here in that grade range that I can think of that could fit the bill of having a FA post 90. I mean, you sure have given us some good routes over the years, I was hoping you of all people would have knowledge of classic routes in the area with a recent-ish FA.
Hmm, will have to have a think. It's VS and below isnt it?
maybe? Not sure when the FA was.
I suspect Scotland and mid-Wales are the place to look for this sort of stuff.
I'm amazed we're 25 posts in and no one has mentioned a single route in Pembroke! (or did I miss something?)
Diedre Sud is perhaps the obvious Classic but I'd also throw Giltar Slab into the equation. We've only stumbled across the great climbing around Penally in the last year or so, but it's a tremendous spot for easier grades and a break from the unrelenting steepness elsewhere
In addition to Fifteen Fathoms of Fear mentioned above, I've had a think for Scotland, and only came up with a few genuine contenders:
Salamander (HVS 5a) (1994)
Yir (VS 4c) (1997)
The Arch Deacon (HVS 5a) (1997)
and maybe Atlantic Drum (HVS 5a) (2000)
and possibly The Sarclet Pimpernel (E1 5a) (2003), which used to get HVS.
Andy Moles' offering above notwithstanding, I suspect modern routes below HVS are somewhat underrated, because the FAs generally climb much harder.... and to become sufficiently engrossed to really appreciate a route - and, perhaps crucially, to feel confident and enthusiastic enough about it to big it up afterwards - you need to find it somewhat challenging. Accordingly, new lower grade routes in more remote places tend not to have many stars, and thus lower grade climbers tend not to be attracted, and so really good routes at those grades may get very few ascents, and never develop the reputation they deserve.
In any case, there would be a lot more contenders from Scotland for a New Extreme Rock.
Pembroke would definitely feature more prominently in Classic Rock were it written today. Many of the *** routes are HVS and above (e.g. Army Dreamers, Inner Space, Riders on the Storm...) but there are loads of great routes up to *** that I've done or would love to climb. I think Armorican (VS 4c) is my favorite. https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/set.php?id=1414
Not sure when the FA is but Martell Slab (VS 4c, Tater-Du, Cornwall) is a hidden gem. https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/tater-du-213/martell_slab-39252
There are loads of good routes in the Wye, but many are a bit short and scrappy in comparison to the *** classics elsewhere. Angel's Girdle (VS 5a) and Zelda (HS 4b) are exceptional. As others mentioned, Questor, Cadillac, and others at Wynd Cliffe are great. I really rate Freedom (VS 4c) on Fly Wall of Wintour's (FA 1967 though). https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/wintours_leap-51/freedom-35982
In the Peaks, Phoenix Climb (VS 4c, Shining Clough, FA 1947!) is far better than anything I've climbed at Birchen's. https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/shining_clough-123/phoenix_climb-15051
> is amazing for a Diff and perhaps should have/could be included?
If you check this piccy you get an idea of how impressive Symphony Crack really is and only a Diff!!
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