Saturday, 9 July 2011

Oh Great & Popular Stanage

Rich, on Mississippi Buttress, on a quite day.

  Stanage; the grit heaven of the eastern peaks. It doesn't really need much of an introduction, tales can be overheard in any local pub around the peak district, tales of friendships and success, of messages of loss and defeat.

 Due to the colossal length (4 miles of crag in total )and the huge history behind the single pitch crag of all single pitch crags, I will have to review section by section. Lets begin at the most popular end.... Stanage Popular.

 The popular end is aptly named for you will seldom climb alone, but with so many routes you can never walk far before finding a route to ascend.

  With an easy approach and designated free parking, the car park can fill up quick. I recommend setting off up early and parking up while everyone else is having breakfast in Hathersage. Failing that walk in from either Plantation car park or even the long walk from Hathersage (about 25 minutes). The wind can be brutal over the top but the local forecast is generally accurate. One bonus, Grit has so much  grip you can climb it wet.

  Millstone Grit has a long and full climbing History dating back to the 1890's when land owners restricted access to pioneering rock climbers, who had been known to bribe gamekeepers with barrels of beer or simply sneak through the Grouse hunting grounds to get in a route.

The Popular Section but Officially the whole crag spans six kilo-meters
  However after the war climbing really picked up due to the opening of access to the land, this gave way to such Legendary figures as Joe Brown (CBE). Later in years the like of Johnny Dawes have also set many routes here inspiring further generations to come along and test their metal.

  If you find yourself in the region then a trip here cannot be missed if not for the climbing then at least for the epic vista's, which at times can be breathtaking. New to the area? Make your start at Outside Café in Hathersage, there will be plenty of help and fellow climbers to join in with your day.

 The rock itself is a porous sedimentary rock and it's friction has helped Englishmen from the early days to current times. Originally it was used to grind flour, mash wood into a pulp or sharpen blades. The Gritstone has provided friction for many uses and today it's as if climbing shoes were designed for this rock. It's failings lay beneath the crust, it is soft and brittle, once the surface is scratched, damaged or simply worn, the rock can polish quickly.

 There is so much Classic grit climbing here at all levels from bold slopping holds on slabs,like Hargreaves Original Vs4c,  to overhanging jamming routes like Flying Buttress Direct E1 5b.  There is just so much to do here that on this section of the crag alone I don't think I will ever achieve it all. The routes can be polished in this area particularly on low grade classics. Yet with climbs like Bishops Route; only S4a yet full of variation in moves and styles of rock this climb can be done over and over again, each time finding a new move to get myself up there.

  Looking for something a little harder then try your hand at Mississippi Buttress VS 4c, don't forget to look behind you for foot holds, A great classic route a jug-tastic holds not common on grit follow by great value hand jamming and awkward moves around the bulge(crux).

 Once again there is so much climbing here that you can never run out, the only downside would be if you had the need to get high... The crags here range from 8m to 25 meters tops but they are all packed with value.  The only other possible downside can also be the crowds and lack of parking on busy days. Even on hot days bring a wind proof jacket belaying on top can get breezy.... Typical England really.

Crag Summary                                                                 & A Few Pic's  
The view from a top out on Stanage
 Hundreds of classic climbs and easy access by bus/train or car, lots of other climbers for the sociable climber. Easy route finding and lots of variety. Great Country views and an epic feel to the whole surrounding.

 Can be busy and with limited parking and the cow bell sound of hex's clanging. Climbs can be polished and rounded. Climbs are short and many require faith in friction. Can be covered in restriction around nesting season, climbing on these routes may affect overall access so please read signs and check BMC if unsure.
A distant Richard belaying Imogen on Flying Buttress HVDiff

Taking a pause on Hargreaves Original

Richard starting on Inverted V

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