Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Bit Of A Moors Grading Re-jig

Fast development and publicising new routes straight after their FAs is bound to lead to a few grade discrepancies; it's hard sometimes to grade for what you actually climbed, rather than what you expected to climb from looking at the route from the ground. This led to a couple of humerus, and perhaps embarrassing... Downgrades. There are also a couple of routes I think might deserve an upgrade.

Res Publica E5 6c *- We did this after we had done no trad for ages, but that was still no excuse for the daft grade of E6 6c * we gave it. I think we must have been 'on crack' with this one- it's safe as houses. This has one of my favourite moves in the moors on it though.

Vampiric Obsession E5 6b*- I gave this E6 6b**, reasoning that it was harder than Narcisuss (which it is), but I think in the moors it is E5 max, when compared with the other round crag stuff. It's not much harder than its neighbour Honey Arete (E5 6b***) , which coincidentally might actually be E5 6a***.

Mane Vision E5 6c*- We had real difficulty grading this at the time, as our skin was so knackered from all the attempts and after lots of goes at a harder way, we found a simpler way to do the crux. I think it may well be E5 6c*, but it just depends on how good those tiny crimps feel with fresh tips.

Heel of Approval- Dave maintains this is E4, I'd be careful onsight though.

Chocolate Moose E3/4 6b***- This was a real lesson in how one's approach to a route can change one's perceptions of it. I worked it, finding the crux on a shunt hard and the landing far from ideal. The moves would be hard 6b were they in the middle of a 30 metre pitch, which above a not-terrific landing (protected by only one old pad at the time) I reasoned to be E5 6b/c, perhaps even E6 (back to the narcissus thing again). My mate Jack came and did it in a few goes above a load of pads showing it was super safe and font 6c+. I repeated it up to the top jug and concurred- even jumping off after my ascent! Boulder strength and boulder approach can make things a lot easier was the lesson of that day I think and something that needs to be thought about for future moors new routes. Not to worry though, the consensus was that it was actually three stars rather than two.

Owl Buttress Routes- I think we got the grading here pretty spot on- it's the sort of route we are better at grading. The Hypocrisy of Moose may well be harder than the H7 6c*** I originally gave it, after the gear was found by Dave to be largely crap, but apart from that and perhaps the Otter Wilderness Route being E6 rather than E5, I think we got that spot on. Starring was a bit of an issue here, as every route we did on the buttress seemed really good to us, but we were quite conservative- giving Howl Psyche (E7 6b) and Die By the Sword (H7 6c) a measly one star each.

The Jungle Drum E3 5c**- This route got gradually downgraded from the original E5 6b. It was quickly discovered that the direct start up the arete at 6b was unnecessary, after a large thorn bush was cleared out of the way on the left. After this it just got less lichenous and more of a friendly proposition, until a stiff E3 became more appropriate. Class little route though. The Polish Diplomat is still dependent on someone falling on to the cams and them holding though; if it wants a downgrade .

Stoupe Routes- They Stay the same adjectival grades, although the waves aren't 7a in hind sight- I've firmly come down on the side of it being a 'mere' H7 6c***. There was always a bit of a worry that the Scoop might be soft for E7, but until someone survives the fall I'm not convinced.

Snotterdictomy, Otterhill bastion and her direct all seem about right, although they will settle with time. Tricky business this new routing!


Dave Warburton said...

Stoupe Scoop E6 6a? In comparison to Ginny Greenteeth it is harder, more sustained and similarly protected (poorly!). However, Ginny is given E5 6a but recent ascentionists think E5+ or E6 more appropriate (I'm on the side of E6).

Polish is probably a Yorkshire Grit E4. If the gear was better it would be like Atomic (which depending on who you talk to is easy or nails for E3!)

Heel of Approval is stone wall E4 ;-)

Franco Cookson said...

Thank you for your feedback Mr. Warburton. I have never been on Ginny, but I assume it isn't anywhere near as pumpy (and perhaps more positive?). Are you advocating E6 or E7 for the scoop? I am confused by your comment.

I agree in regards to the E4s. Traditional sandbags or soft they will doubtless be- you can just never grade 'em right!


Franco Cookson (Snr.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Franco and Dave,
I might be able to shed a bit of light of the Stoupe routes here as I visited last year (1 Oct I think) to check out the new routes. I was just on my own so top roped some of the 'classics' - the bolted e5 arete and the e2 which the Stoupe Scoop starts up.
I also cleanly top roped the Scoop itself (1st go). I think the way that Dave led it deserves e7 6b as it is very bold; but I think it is more logical (less suicidal)to place gear higher in the crack (I believe you could do this from a positive crimp on the left wall, just before you start on the crux sequence up the scoop), and then e6 6b would be appropriate. Is a direct start possible through the roof; the rock quality is poor, but the holds are big...?
Moving on to Waves I top roped this cleanly after working the moves and agree with Franco's rating of E7 6c for the lead (it felt about French 7b+ to me). It's not 7a providing you've got the reach (anything can be 7a if you're not tall enough!).
I thought both routes climbed well, particularly waves where the rock quality was better. Overall though the rock quality is poor at the crag, as you might expect for a sandstone crag on a sloping hillside. (It was particularly poor on the e4 arete of the Barry boulder, which surely is deserving of a black spot rather than one star?).
Richard Waterton

Franco Cookson said...

Super Richard, Thanks for taking the time to reply as every opinion is very valuable when so few people have been on these routes.

I think you're right in everything you say in regard to the Waves. I couldn't believe it when I abed down it and found it was fairly reasonable and such good climbing. My instant reaction when I have to jump to a crimp is that it's getting on for 7a, but you can get it every time and it's not a very physically demanding move, which is why I realised I was wrong.

Scoop-wise, me and Dave were unsure which way to do it, but the climbing seemed easier coming out lower and then going up, whereas the traverse left higher up seemed a bit harder and out of kilter with the rest of the route. A mention in the guide that it can be done at E6 with higher runners would be good I think, perhaps even mentioning that it may be better.

I was originally working the whole thing from the bottom, which will go at about E8 6b (one 00cam in a breakable pocket at half height), but the start adds nothing to it and it is effectively just soloing.

I think me and Dave are coming to terms with the fact that Stoupe is plagued by bad rock outside of the routes we have already done. The only lines that I think will be on good rock and high quality is the faint scoop above a very pointy rock right of the waves and the blunt arete to the left of the E5 arete. The latter will be really hard, if not impossible.

There are lots of unclimbed and climbed things at Danby you could probably do quite easily/ have a nice day top roping on by the way.

Dave Warburton said...

Thanks for your feedback on Stoupe Brow, Richard. Franco explains the reason i climbed The Scoop as i did quite well. I felt that was first point to break left and didn't want to climb up then down the crack. I dont think it matters where the gear is (essentially high siderunners) the climbing is good.

Feel free to do the E6 version! Did you think it was ***, i did for the position and moves but i would value your feelings on this?

I'm glad you liked Waves, i couldn't do the initial jump.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
Re the Scoop and number of stars it's all very subjective. For me one star is a 'good route', two stars 'very good' and three should be outstanding - in the old Moors guide this would be a route of 'national significance', whatever that means. I think realistically the Scoop is a one or maybe two star route, it's a bit eliminate getting to the start of the scoop and the rock is suspect in some places, but like I said it climbs well and you finish in a good position. I've had lots of three star experiences on supposedly one star routes - and I think you've clearly had one such in climbing this route.
Going back to placing gear in the crack - when I top roped the route I followed the same line that you did (I didn't try traversing left higher up or anything) - my point was that I didn't think you'd have to climb up and down the crack to place a higher runner, but might instead be able to do this by reaching right off a reasonable crimp on the wall left of the crack, before moving left and doing the crux sequence up into the scoop. I didn't however test this out as I was busy trying not to fall off!

Franco Cookson said...

That's interesting. Out of interest how many stars did you think the Waves deserved? I assume two?

Also, Have you ever looked at the hanging scoop right of peeler at Highcliffe? That will be good!

Anonymous said...

Hi Franco,
I guess two stars for the Waves - Dunno what do you think? Ultimately as I haven't led the routes I'm not best placed to give definitive comments.
Re Highcliffe I don't think I've tried this line. I'll have to get out my guide and have a look.

Franco Cookson said...

I think your opinion is very valuable whether you have led the routes or not, just because you've had so much more experience of climbing classic routes all around the world.

I personally thought 'the waves' was the best route above E5 that I've tried in the moors, but then perhaps nothing in the moors is three stars!

The hanging scoop at highcliffe is really interesting. I've only had about 20 mins on it, but I couldn't do the start at all. The rest climbs brilliantly.