Missing Out

I have been up the top quarries a few times this year and everytime I am somewhat bewildered at people who flock to the new easy sports climbs in Bus Stop. Please don’t get me wrong, I do not want to be elitist, but I cannot see what the attraction is. These routes are generally scrappy and are barely scratching the surface of this amazing area.

If you want some really good easy slate with clean rock and good climbing then I recommend Australia or maybe even the new stuff near the peppermint tower. The first route in Bus Stop alarms me, I did it once and was more than a little nervous lowering off the perched block into which the lower off is place.

Today was a prime example of the sports climbing generation who turned up there this evening to climb. Whilst Llion and I ticked our way across the sundrenched rippled slab climbing Gnat Attack, Massambula and Scarlet runner (I use a long stick clip to clip the first bolt from a ledge, making it a nice E3), about ten climbers were in the shade sport climbing.

On the plus side for people who want to climb the classic slate frighteners, the very routes that to me make the slate what it is, all the sport climbing has taken the brunt of the people. I remember a time when everyday there seemed to be someone on the Dervish. Nowadays I am wondering if it is just me who climbs there?

Climbing does go in cycles and I wonder whether in a year or so when everyone has climbed all the modern sports routes, whether they will move back towards routes that you remember for good reason.

Whilst I have climbed all the rippled slab routes, it is perhaps the first time in a year I have done the slab circuit. Each route is exciting, committing and at the end of the day I get to savour that complete climbing experience.

If you do want to visit the slate to savour the ‘experience’, then remember that the sports cimbing is just one tiny facet. My personal favourite of the sport routes are Steps of Glory, a F5b above looning the tube and a little harder at F6a+ We Speak No Americano in California. There are of course other fantastic easy sports routes, however none are in Bus Stop quarry.

So next time you think about sports climbing in the quarries maybe think about the other routes that are a little bolder, but probably no harder. You never know, the penny might drop and you’ll realise what your missing out on! Seamstress, Mental Lentils and Looning the Tude are all sub-extreme and excellent trad routes.

If you see me walking by shaking my head, it is just I can’t get my head around the appeal of some of the easy sport climbing on the slate. Remember that Castle Inn Quarry is only 30 mintues drive away.

If you can’t place gear then maybe come on my Learn to Lead course or maybe I should start offering a Slatehead for Beginners Masterclass.

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