Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Rock Snobbery

I'm a rock snob, I admit it. I look at gritstone and say to myself “why are all these crags so short? What is the point of climbing here compared to somewhere like Pentire?” Conveniently I forget that Pentire puts the fear of God in me and perhaps if I felt more comfortable highballing on slopers I might actually get on Darkinbad instead of just staring at it. The truth is that when I say to myself that climbing on gritstone is pointless what I mean is climbing on gritstone is hard.

‘They’ say that grit is God’s own rock if this is true God really hates me, you see climbing wise I only have one strength – I can hang on to small holds – a hold type that is recognisable by its absence on the grit. My climbing weaknesses are many and varied and occur on just about every route in the Peak: slopers, smears, arĂȘtes, slabs, heel hooks, rock-overs, dynamic moves, powerful moves and of course the dreaded mantle.

Also a lot of grit boulder problems and routes seem to fall into that awkward middle ground of too high for me to boulder above pads without the (probably over-exaggerated) fear that I might break my legs and too short to ever climb out of the ‘danger zone’. The danger zone is that section of a climb that no matter how well you protect it if you fall off, chances are, you’ll hit the ground. Whilst on a 40m route the odds of the hard move being in this danger zone are low, on a 10m route the odds are shifted considerable towards the breaking your legs end of the scale. This combined with the conviction that I'm going to fall off every move means that the concept of venturing any distance from the ground is an alien one.
Rob Greenwood on End of the Affair, Curbar

To me this rock type with its subtle balance of hard and scary has never really appealed which is fair enough considering that the Peak District is a 4 hour drive away, enough time to get to Pembroke or be well on the way to North Wales. But today I climbed a handful of problems at Curbar and though in terms of grade the problems I climbed didn't do much to soothe the ego and though I didn't attempt anything even remotely high I did a load of different moves on gritstone. I climbed an arĂȘte and I stood on smears and I held slopers and I topped out via something that could be described as a mantle. You know this grit stuff isn't as bad as it looks, it might just catch on...