So without further a due, here follows my top 10 routes of 2014!
10; Obsession VS 4c, Cader Idris (Cyfrwy Buttress)
An aptly named and unsung mountain classic high on the northern flanks of the misty peak of Cader Idris. The route climbs up the huge slabs that dominate the Cyfrwy Buttress in 3 outstanding pitches overlooking the whole of Snowdonia. The route is neither simple nor stable, yet the atmosphere and positions are amongst the finest you'll find in mid Wales. A must-do for any choss loving mountaineering masochist!
|Looking up at the mysterious face of Cyfrwy high on the side of Cader Idris|
|The end of the 2nd pitch of Obsession. Taken from UKClimbing.co.uk|
9; The Magic Crack HVS 5a, Coire an t'Schechda
A fingery technical test piece forging a relatively direct line up Aladdin's Buttress with the main attraction of the route being the 3rd pitch crack which must be one of the finest in Cairngorms. With ambition running probably higher than it should have been on a drizzly mist clagged spring day this route presented an ideal opportunity for a great early season tick. After the brief walk up to the crag from the Ski Centre we found that most of the 1st pitch was actually still buried under last winters snow. However with some quick front pointing up the firm neve with the aid of a nut key or two we established belay in the gap between the snow and the rock face and set off.
|The sublime 3rd pitch of Magic Crack on a blustery spring day|
8; Eagle Front VS 4c, Birkness Combe
The mighty Eagle Crag sits high in Buttermere's Birkness Combe and is a crag steeped in history and tradition. Eagle Front climbs the buttress in 7 contrasting pitches and sees you through some seriously impressive terrain. Hard to believe the first ascentionist climbed the route in socks in the 60s!
|The mighty Eagle Crag located high in Birkness Combe. Eagle Front drives a fabulous line up the largest|
part of the face with fantastic exposure the whole way.
|Almost there! Sat up in Birkness Combe with Eagle Crag on the left and|
Grey Crag on the right
7; Moonraker HVS 5a, Berry Head
The Old Redout at Berry Head is amongst the finest sea cliff venues you'll find anywhere in the southwest. It’s limestone precipices cascading into the turquoise ocean bar access too all but the most intrepid explorer. Moonraker climbs a devious line up through its overhanging fortifications in 3 absorbing pitches and is well worth the effort required in the approach.
|Making the thrilling traverse out above the sea on the first pitch of Moonraker|
6; The Devils Chimney HVS 5b, Lundy
The fact its the highest sea stack in England coupled with its location on a remote island in the Bristol Channel undoubtedly places this in the top 10! This route has more character than Borris Johnson on Red Bull and is one of the most adventurous sea cliff climbs you'll find south of the boarder! The rock is dirty and loose and the approach is quite frankly harrowing yet it is still leaves you wanting more!
|The steep second pitch of The Devils Chimney on Lundy|
|Ed Tonkin making the airy traverse on the second pitch of Diamond Solitare (VS 4c)|
5; Chasm Route VDiff, Glyder Fach
Loads of overhangs and chimneys which never get any sunlight and are permanently pissing water.. What more could you ask for?! The cliff itself is another often mist clagged mountain crag located within the Ogwen valley. Its a route of tremendous character and of which the best training would probably be a lifetime of brick laying!
|Jed Jackson balancing precariously on top of the 'The Vice' shortly after|
squirming through it!
|Exemplary Welsh weather conditions 'The crag is around here somewhere!!'|
4; Blaven and Clach Glas traverse, Difficult, Isle of Skye
Not so much a rock climb but maybe more the best alpine day you can have anywhere in the British Isle. Absorbing and sustained scrambling amidst one of Scotland's most dramatic landscape makes this one thing everybody should do before their knees give out!
|Blaven and Clach Glas viewed from across Loch Slapin|
|Clach Glas is often described as 'The Matterhorn' of Skye.. It's easy to see why!|
3; Bludgers Revelation HVS 5a, Slime Wall
|Rafe stood at the top of Slime Wall with the rest of the world far below!|
|The mighty Slime Wall with some climbers on the upper pitches for scale|
2; Centurion HVS 5a, Carn Dearg
|The mighty Carn Dearg situated on Ben Nevis. Centurion drives a direct line|
up through the central crack system to join Ledge Route at the top.
|Nigel Bond leading the last pitch through the final overhangs of Centurion|
1; The Needle E1 5b, Shelterstone Crag
|Cealan seconding the 5a Chimney pitch of The Needle with a lot of air beneath his feet! And|
yes that is a snow patch 200m below!
|Looking up Shelterstone Crag from it's base with Cealan at the top of the 1st and Gregor and Duncan starting out on|
the 2nd pitch.
As a final round-up I'm glad that my comfortable grade of climbing has been transferred into the mountains and sea cliffs as these are the places I enjoy the most. The climbing this year has been the best so far with nearly 100 routes climbed and more than treble that in the number of pitches completed. I can't wait for the rain to disappear and 2015 to get started!
Others that didn't quite meet the bar it but still equally outstanding!
Sword of Gideon VS 4c, Applecross
Dagger HVS 5a, Creagan Coire nan Etchachan
Immaculate Slab HVS 5a, Lundy
Damnation E1 5b, Coire an t'Schechda
Prophet E2 5c, Cummingston
Troutdale Pinnacle Severe, Borrowdale
Unicorn E1 5a, Stob Coire Nan Lochan
Clean Sweep VS 4c, Hell's Lum