What’s he ever done on grit? Coming from Ireland I never really understood that question and I often thought the question should be ‘What’s he ever done at Fairhead!?’ Until moving to North Wales my knowledge of grit climbing was based on what I had seen in the seminal climbing film ‘Hard Grit’. From that I had come to the conclusion that gritstone climbing was incredibly bold and generally quite dangerous! My first grit hit a couple of years ago was less than inspiring with poor conditions and desperate routes and boulder problems and so I remained rather unimpressed with it all.
However when a crag or area gets talked up so much (like the grit or Pembroke) you have to think that there must be something good about them and since then I have had a couple of great trips over in the Peak mostly bouldering or highballing with a load of pads and spotters. Generally I think its way too cold to be tying on to a rope and faffing around on some desperate, dangerous slopey route. One of the problems I’ve found with grit is that it usually takes a day to get my head into ‘grit mode’, a day to actually try some things and then that’s it until the next time which can be a bit frustrating!
This last week I’ve been over in the Peak and up in Yorkshire experiencing the delights of the gritstone in that area. The first trip was mainly work related so I got some mileage on a lot of lower grade routes at Stanage, Burbage North and Froggatt Edge most of which I had never done before. This being one of grits attractions in that you can climb a large number of routes in a short time, whether soloing or roped up compared to North Wales.
This last weekend Dave, Tim and myself had a little mini break to Yorkshire and I was totally blown away by the quality of the crags and the bouldering. The perfect autumnal weather definitely played a part but the crags were fantastic. We paid visits to Brimham Rocks, Caley, Ilkley and Almscliff all of which had their own unique feel and environment. Caley felt the most intimidating of all of the crags, not helped by being there in the morning when everything felt a bit cold and damp! The lines there are very inspiring but definitely fall into the category of bold and slightly dangerous! After I got absolutely gripped on a rather green E1 we moved on as the pysche was not high for strapping it on!
One of the many pluses of Yorkshire grit is that at some of the venues like Brimham and Almscliff there are top quality routes right beside immaculate bouldering of all descriptions and so lends itself to the day having a lot more variety!
Gritstone climbing brings with it feelings of elation, frustration and fear, of having pumped forearms and sore fingertips but at the end of it all an amazing of satisfaction!