For anyone who has enjoyed the bouldering circuits that appeared in the latest Stanage guide, then good news. The new Roaches guide has got five of these that will reveal Staffordshire climbing in a new and magical light.
Bouldering circuits: for thems that haven't experienced these before, they are a new and innovative way to enjoy gritstone bouldering. Taking their cue from the forests of Fontainebleau, where, using coloured dots, long chains of problems around a certain level of difficulty could be traced. These gave long, arduous days, originally designed as training for the mountains, but latterly becoming a fun and special day out.
Well now you can do the same on gritstone. The Stanage guide featured these for the first time in any British guide. Check one out here. It has proved a great hit, and works for many reasons.
"I've never been much of a boulderer," claims a Mr A. Benson of Sheffield, "But these circuits have given me some of the best days out on grit. I particularly enjoy the easy ones!"
"For me, they turn little gritstone crags into mighty alps," says Mr Richard Cross, who describes himself as a 'Professional and highly-gifted mountaineer'. "There's a great sense of challenge, turning problems into pitches, the last problem into a mighty summit. I'd recommend them to anyone!"
"Bouldering? Never touch the stuff, it's only for pansies," claimed Frenchman Kenton Cool, who describes himself as 'Anything Butt'.
The preceeding quotes are all fictional, and any relationship to actual characters is purely coincidental.
Circuits are designed with an intimate knowledge of the crags, the sort of knowledge that only comes from the unyielding grind of guidbook work. When every nook and cranny of a crag is known, when every stone is turned. They link problems across a general grade spectrum along the crag. They often take in the more obscure problems, not just a line of the most obvious offerings. In this way they will reveal a side to crags that few will know. They also seek to show climbers parts of the cliff that they might not have visited before, to act as a guide. In this way they will also serve to take the pressure off the more hammered areas.
And so to Staffirdshire. The new edition, due out November 09, has five superb circuits. The Roaches features a red and green circuit. The Green has 40 problems in the V0 to V2 range, with the odd V3, and is a great intro to anyone new to the crag. The Red is a bit harder, mainly in the V3 to V5 range, and features some superb highballs and some of the best problems in the area.
The Ramshaw Rasher will, as the name implies, take you to the dark heart of this dark crag. Don't expect genteel teacups and triangular sandwiches with the crust cut off here. This is a barroom brawl of a circuit. Plenty of scrittle, scrattle and scroatal fun here as you heave your way up rude bulging cracks and gnarly bulges. It's red hot, so get stuck in.
Up the road, the boulderers paradise of the Baldstones / Newstones / Gib Tot ridgeback comes under the macroscope. The trick here is to find a variety of problems that will entertain people at a well-visited crag, and this circuit, the Royal Blue (called after the Royal Cottage) delivers. For boulderers operating up to V2/3 this is paradise, and with Charlie's Overhang as the final, crux problem, it will give ou a day to remember.
Finally the Lower Churnet has its coy secrets revealed in A Churnet Ramble. This takes you by the hand around the hidden gems of this misunderstood region and shows you plenty to come back for. There aren't many problems in it, but with a proliferation of physical, long traverses, at the end of the day you will be recalling the words of Johnny Cash's song, San Quentin:
"And I walked out a wiser, weaker man."
Have a look at a couple of Staffordshire circuits here.
Download a sample chapter of the new Roaches guide here.
Order your copy today here.
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