The Grit List Shakedown

Ok, here goes then. I’m going to break my own rules, and pass judgement on a load of route grades. Having mentioned that I’d do this a week or so ago, I was fairly surprised by the number of opinions expressed on whether I should do this or not! It’s really not the end of the world if an opinion is expressed and likewise it’s not the best thing since sliced bread. I do think it should be done now and again though – and the more people that did this in an open way (rather than anonymous forum posting/voting) the better. Please feel free to comment at the end of this blog on any others you’d like adding to the list.

I dare not comment on the grade on this one...

I dare not comment on the grade on this one…

I’ll apologise in advance to all my friends who read this and see that I’ve moved anything downward in grade – it’s not personal…. honest! And besides, it’s only my opinion. Also as wise man Sam Hamer pointed out to me, it’s only the lines that truly matter, not the grade.

It was a total geek posting, with a ridiculously long list of those that I’d suggest move up and those that move down. However, after a few days thought, I’ve decided to keep it to those I feel most strongly about, rather than the shady areas of “soft” or “sandbag.” I’ve formatted it so that each route is in what I think is the correct grade boundary and will have brackets afterwards to show its previous grade. I’ve only moved a grade if I think it’s a total joke at the grade – I’m quite happy with some routes out there being tough or soft.

All of these routes I have lead (bar Captain Invincible which I’ve top roped a fair bit) so I hope my opinion is as measured as possible. I’ve also kept it mostly Eastern Grit based as it’s Andi T’s duty to expose those from the dark west….


E9: Captain Invincible, Burbage South (E8 – makes most E8s feel like E6)

E6: Shape Shifter, Millstone (E5 – sorry, bad grading. My fault)

E5: Profit of Doom (E4, Too many wads flail on this)

E5: Hurricane, Curbar (E4: proper Gogarth E5)

E5: Nectar groove & roof (E4. P Widdy even flailed on it)

The downgrades

E8: The Zone (E9 – the climbing is too easy)

E7: Power of the Dark Side (E8 – who made a bloody massive patio??!)

E6: One Chromosone’s Missing, Harstons (E7 – gear is too good)

E6: Masters of the Universe (E7 – everyone knows this one)

E6: Speak The Truth (E7 – dangerous, but the climbing is too easy)

E5: Committed (E6 – no one ever does this without pads. Ulysses or Bust is harder)

E5: Nosferatu (E6 – sorry, it just is)

E5: Peas of Mind, Curbar (E6 – crap route, too easy to step off line)

E5: Winters Grip, Millstone (E6 – hard move much too low for E6)

E4: London Pride, Millstone (E5 – no hard moves)

A fresh start – from wide to thin

Last year was an amazing year for me. I had a brand new Randall arrive in my family in the form of my daughter Hannah, and I also achieved a huge goal in my climbing.

Myself and Pete Whittaker headed off to the big ol’ USA to try and crush (squeeze??) a load of nasty wide cracks and perhaps even put up a few new routes. Unknown to many, we’d locked ourselves down in my cellar for 2 years doing endless laps on wooden offwidths and it all paid off – more that I could really imagine! The culmination of it all was the first free ascent of Century Crack by us both – pure lines don’t get much better than that.

The Big Daddy
Copywrite Alex Ekins Photography

Since coming back from America, Pete and I have been doing a bit of a lecture tour, which has been great. It’s been nice to tell our side of the story a little better, to show off some of the training footage from the cellar and also to see if anyone out there is actually inspired to climb these ‘orrible looking wide cracks. Generally…. it’s been promising, much to my suprise!

Pete getting a little too close for comfort…

One of the main things I’ve been asked is, “what’s next….?”

Well, all I can say is that it probably won’t involve offwidths! Mostly, I feel like I’ve had my fill on that side of climbing for a while and until some other mega project arises, then it’s time for thin, thin, thin.

Yup, I’m going back to what I’m terrible at. Face climbing, crimping and pockets. It’s ok though, I can deal with it all, because it’s all part of The Plan. I remember reading about an Olympic Gold Medalist a few years back and he was asked what he attributed his successes to? His answer…..?

“Working on my weaknesses.”

For that reason I’ve tried over the last 3 years to have two main weaknesses that I will work on during a 12 month period. It’s utterly demolarising at the start to be so embarrassingly weak at something, but without a doubt, it’s been the key to progress for me. When I’ve combined this with a structured training programme, I’ve been really happy with the results, if I can somehow stay uninjured.

One armer? Er…. no, not quite.