September 28, 2009 George Foster

CWIL Part V and a bit

Friends rejoice for the journey is now over. Next time you hear from me i’ll probably be talking about some shitty little top-rope crag called La Captain or something like that. As a special treat and going away present i’ve decided to mention more than one crag on this last edition of the CWIL series. Don’t worry though i’ll keep it brief.
I found it very tricky to select a single crag for this last post, everytime i thought i’d settled on one my mumbling memory bank kicked some more happy remembrance’s to the fore. There’s 3 more to feast upon from far and wide amongst this beautiful kingdom of ours.
First off – and in no particular order whatsoever – is one of gritstones premiere outcrops…..Burbage South ……..Burbage North’s ugly sister and often overlooked as such. It’s apparently got good bouldering, though i’ve never seen evidence of this and like most things on grit it’s overhyped, but surely it’s main attraction comes in it’s routes. As good as routes get on natural grit i’d say. It’s almost permanently in the shade which gives the place a moody, sinister outlook yet this allows harder climbing to be done in all but the fiercest heatwaves (and lets face it we don’t often see them). Death-defying routes (see below – cheers Guy), literally, and meaty solos are mixed in with a smattering of easier, forgotten classics. I’ve survived E5 groundfalls, sub-zero ‘sleeps’ and randy sheep at this place and still keep wanting to go back….so it can’t be all that bad can it?
In at 2……Pass of Ballater another contender for best crag in Scotland with swathes of glorious pink granite a stones throw from the Cairngorms (and the bigger picture for most). This crag should not be overlooked inspite of it’s diminutive stature and sleepy promenade for it is home to some sexy little numbers. Ground-up solo attempts of the infamous Smith’s Arete were the highlight of a visit for me (i secretly could have done it but i just love the complex sequence to the break….honest). There’s so many unsung gems of Scottish climbing hidden in the nooks and folds of those tiers, crags within a crag, each seemingly with their own personal characteristics and idiosyncracies. It’s an easy place to forget yourself and just while away the hours…..and if you’re not gay you can focus on giving it some crush!
Astounding sums up the final crag, a close 2nd in my crag of the moment sweepstake……the infamous Dinas Cromlech is roughly as good as it can get in a trad sense. The fucker’s simply HUGE – 40m+ huge. Stray away from the relative safety of the incredible crack climbs of Left Wall (Rob Kennard’s photo above) and Cenotaph Corner and you’ll soon find that stamina and route reading ability are the keys to this Hummer. It’s about as traditional as traditional gets in that you actually have to be able to climb not just be strong enough to pull down on shit (FUCK YEAH……U..S..A, U..S..A, U..S..A!!!!). History shouts down at you from on high as you retrace the footsteps of the past wads….Jeremy Moffatt (remember him??), Ron Fawcett, Joe Brown, Steve Mayers….and the list goes on. Pretty much every route in ‘the book’ is an ARCH-classic, the schoolboys wet dream of rock climbing. This all comes at a terrible price though…..20 minute walk-in of calf-screaming uphill agony that’d scare even Hannibal himself….spine-chilling!! For those that make it there’s half a lifetimes worth of routes to aspire to….for those that can’t there’s roadside bouldering.

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