Over the last few years I've been putting together a climbing guidebook. But it wasn't until recently that I knew I was writing it! It all began as a list of climbs that I could squeeze between work and family life. With a bit of time to spare, I would search out a dozen or so neighbouring routes and simply climb them! As I became more familiar with these circuits my confidence grew and I began to move pretty quickly. In fact, on more than one occasion I've "popped to the shops" and climbed a circuit along the way. As these lists expanded my memory of them started to let me down. To remedy this, I jotted down notes and made rough sketches on scraps of paper. Over time these were replaced with longer typed descriptions and a series of photographs. Eventually I found myself with hundreds of climbs, all described and photographed, neatly stored on my hard drive.
Glynn enjoying the final awkward move on the previously unrecorded Ueli (5b) at Burbage. Almost a third of the climbs in Easy Grit have not been previously recorded.
But it wasn't until a chance meeting with two climbers that I thought I'd share these efforts. I had been climbing one of my circuits on Burbage before they arrived. It was a clear, cool autumn afternoon, the sort of day where it pays to keep moving. I saw them, father and son, striding purposefully towards Triangle Buttress, armed with a new bouldering mat and two pairs of unused climbing shoes. Quickly they found their objective, rinsed themselves in chalk and set off up their chosen problems. Inbetween climbs I would pause and gauge their progress. At first their enthusiasm was there for all to see, but over the course of half an hour things took a turn for the worse. The son started to shiver and eventually pulled out his mobile phone, whilst the father perched himself on a boulder and started to rub his aching shoulders. "How's it going?" I asked. "Too difficult for us, we're heading off", Dad replied. For once I wasn't in a rush to get home and I found myself offering to show them some climbs. The father looked nervously towards the son and with some reluctance both nodded in agreement. Over the next hour we climbed some boulder problems and soloed one or two short routes. Most were straightforward and climbed on the first attempt. The rest were done on the second or third go, helped along with some new founded confidence and generous amounts of good natured teasing! The mood quickly lightened and the pair showed real surprise and satisfaction with what they'd done. The warmth I felt from watching them made a lasting impression. One of my circuits had worked! The idea of "Easy Grit" was born and has now evolved into a guidebook containing 500 easy boulder problems and micro-routes (from UK 3a to 5c) on some of the best gritstone crags in the Peak District. So whether you're new to climbing, looking to return after time away, or simply short of time and wanting to get as much done as possible, this guidebook might be for you!
Glynn and David on another previously unrecorded climb - 1931 Boulder Route (5a) at Burbage. The majority of climbs in Easy Grit are quick drying, enjoy a flat landing and perhaps most importantly, have their most difficult moves low down. No one should find themselves dangling 10 metres off the ground whilst trying to figure out the crux move!
Over the next few months STDZ will publish a series of posts that provide a taste of the 5 crags in the book - Bamford, Birchen, Burbage, Curbar and Stanage. Each post will have a short introduction, some practical information and 10 or 20 climbs to have a go at. All of these can be climbed in a couple of hours. Take along some friends, a boulder mat, a pair of climbing shoes and your phone. Let me know how you get on!
Before signing off I feel obliged to post a legal disclaimer. Normally this is a couple of dry sentences that tell you climbing is dangerous and nothing in the guide could possibly be trusted. However here's something a lot better. It's borrowed from the brilliant Grampian Bouldering by Simon Madden and Ross Taylor and applies just as much to Easy Grit...
Climbing is dangerous
So if you get hurt you can't take it out on us
The rock may seem eternal but it can snap
Your spotter may seem trustworthy but they can nap
The natural environment is constantly in flux
And though we corrected a lot of mistakes in this redux
The conditions that you find on the ground
May have changed to that which we found
Our information may be incorrect, incomplete or insufficient
This guide is but a reference for climbers who are already proficient
It's not just your body but your judgement you must exercise
Make sure you understand all the risks and forestall your demise
In short you have to take responsibility for your own damn self
'Cos when you're climbing you're in charge of your own damn health
And if the fates should all conspire and you do crater
Then you've got no grounds to whinge to us later
Many thanks to the authors of Grampian Bouldering for giving permission to reprint "WARNING! HEED!".
The British Mountain Medicine Society (BMMS) are organising a Science Day in the Peak District on the 13th November 2019. Why not come along? Details can be found here.
If you'd like to write for STDZ why not get in touch? We have lots of ideas for posts but not enough time to write them up!