Hidden Gritstone Gems

The recent spell on continued cold weather in Sheffield has given me one of the best periods of climbing I could possibly hope for before going away on a trip. Normally as a Brit, you spend the last 4 weeks before leaving to sunnier places cursing the terrible weather and promising that it’s going to be a “one-way-ticket” this time. The whole of March though, has been awesome! Fresh winds, good temps and plenty of time to explore the crags that lie a little off beaten track.

One of those crags that’s a bit out of fashion is Gradoms Edge. It’s often the last to retain the damp and being hidden in the trees, it’s quite hard to get psyched for the lines. They seem so much less impressive when there’s a forest of birch and oak 10m away… Once you get onto the rock though, there are some absolutely cracking lines to do: Moyers Buttress, Spanish Fly, Stormbringer, Eye of Faith. Aside from the old routes, there are also a number of first ascent projects – probably one of the best known being the direct finish to Charlotte Rampling. Having checked this out (yes, I’m too weak) I carried along the edge and thought I’d try the moves on a line I’d heard talked about by a couple of people. The front face of the Crocodile Buttress. Immediately, I realised the climbing was brilliant. Jon Fullwood had already cleaned the holds (thanks!) and so all I had to do was concentrate on learning how to “hug” my way up the leaning prow.

Photo: Tom Randall 1st ascent of his new E8 at Gardoms Edge!! tx as ever Mike Hutton.

Top out section, where you can relax again…

This week I was persuaded by Pete to go out for an early morning session to get the route done, so that we could fit a big crack training session in, in the afternoon. I’d not really worked the route very well, so was falling off the last move on link, but I trusted that Pete would give me such a good belay that I couldn’t possibly fall off. Good logic huh? End the end, we had so much fun at the crag messing around and talking crap that I completely forgot to get nervous and topped the route! Pete made the second ascent the same morning saying it was one of the best routes I’ve put up. Don’t read too much into that comment though……… I’ve established some right choss in the past! Seriously though, I think it’s a nice piece of climbing for those that like gritstone funk.

Going back to what I started saying at the beginning; it’s only 4 days until I head off to Italy with crack climbing legend Peewee Ouellet to go and repeat some trad cracks. I’m so psyched for this trip – I’m partnering up with someone pretty mad and also because of the shear quality of lines in Cadarese and Orco. I’ve been drooling over this video of the incredible looking “The Doors” at Cadarese. We’ll be doing some work out there with Alex Ekins and Hotaches on a couple of projects, so I’m sure their blogs will have some nice pics at some stage…