Peak District Bouldering

At the end of 1988, while my attempts to climb Agincourt floundered, I recalled the story Marc Le Menestrel had told me a few years earlier when he had experienced similar problems trying to climb Le Minimum: “I quit the south of France and went bouldering in Fontainebleau for a month.” Shortly after this month of bouldering Marc had climbed the hardest route in France. I didn’t have Fontainebleau, but I did have the Peak District, and during the winter of 1988/89 I bouldered as hard as I possibly could. Whether it was obscure problems on Burbage South edge, the technical wall right of Valkyrie at Froggatt, or the fingery problems down at Rubicon and Raven Tor, weather-permitting I would be there. If the weather was bad, often the case, then it was down into someone’s damp and poorly lit cellar for a session on one of the recently built boards. In late January 1989 I headed back out to France and bagged the first ascent of Agincourt, the hardest route in France. Marc’s recipe for success had worked a treat. Since those early days climbing in France I have been lucky enough to climb in many amazing places, yet I always end up coming home to Sheffield and it’s been the Peak which has been my true stomping ground these past 25 years. The scene of soulful days alone on remote edges, training days in a big group with high motivation, training days alone when I haven’t felt like training, first ascents, repeats and failures and – more recently – leisurely walks with my two-year-old daughter. Although there are many bouldering venues around the world, I have yet to come across one that stirs up such feelings in both locals and foreigners as the Peak District. Whether you are looking for a technical masterpiece like Crescent Arête or West Side Story, or something slightly less subtle like The Ace, or perhaps the more brutal bouldering style found on the limestone, the Peak has it all. And, as if this wasn’t enough, it’s all to be found in an area of outstanding natural beauty. What more can I say, except that I feel very fortunate to have lived on its doorstep these past 25 years. Ben Moon; Sheffield, January 2011 Development has continued at a rapid pace since the last guide. Many new areas have been discovered, old areas have been reappraised, much-talked-about-but-never-tried projects have been climbed and there are more people bouldering than ever before. Over the last five years limestone bouldering in the Peak has seen a resurgence of interest, but perhaps the biggest change in the small, introverted, world of bouldering has been the increased development of ‘highballing’. Many grit routes that were once regarded as ankle-breaking solos are now regularly approached ground-up above a pile of mats and a group of spotters, and the line between bouldering and short solos has been truly blurred. In this guide there’s more to do in all styles and at all grades than in the last one. As long as you remain keen and uninjured, weather permitting, there’s a lifetime’s worth of bouldering in this guide to waste your time on. Rupert Davies; Marple Bridge, January 2011
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