It’s all happening at High Rocks – Oliver Hill

Below is a link to a good video of Jon Partridge climbing the fourth ascent of Chimaera at High Rocks courtesy of Nick Brown of . Interestingly, I was watching him last Saturday trying and failing, his feet in the wrong place. He climbed it successfully on Sunday and did it the way that was obvious from the ground. Obvious but not easy. It just required a bit of finger strength and lots of body tension. My back hurt just watching him crank and gaston.

Jon Partridge at High Rocks

More to the point, it is spring and High Rocks is back in condition. Over the last month John and I have completed most of the medium grade crack routes, which are now in perfect condition. On the Saturday as I was observing repeated failures on Chimaera I managed to painfully inch my way up Steps Crack. The disadvantage of not having quite recovered from ‘flu’ was that suffering was spread out for longer than usual and I better got to appreciate each individual movement as I inched up the crack, which is barely wide enough for fist jams, but fortunately has a good edge for gastoning with the right hand, just like you have to do on Chimaera. Good near off-width practise. This next Saturday Anaconda Corner was climbed. This is one of the top and longest climbs at High Rocks, in my opinion the best of its sub 5c climbs. It requires no finger strength as no finger-holds are present, just pressure climbing mostly using shoulder wriggling, as in backstroke but without arms. Pilates classes more relevant than climbing wall. The easiest way of climbing the route is to start just inside the chimney, wriggle up to get your hands on the break and immediately inch left to get outside the crack. Then using the odd arm-bar you can lever yourself onto the ledge. Here the enjoyment starts, facing left, foot and back wriggle up the overhanging pod in a very exposed position. The higher you get the more you will need to concentrate moving your feet up as you wriggle your shoulders. Advanced pilate-ers will be able to adopt the Cossack or armchair position, both feet on the left wall, arms folded, wriggle shoulders and glide upwards. Best of all, there is no slime nor painful knee moves as in most other High Rocks chimneys.

The challenge now is to complete the list of classic climbs: Boa, Boysens Crack, Adder and First Crack, none of which require finger strength, just good technique and stamina. Boa, the old classic 4b is now much more enjoyable, if that be the right word, at 5c for normal sized people, but easier for the small or thin. If your partner is a strong fingered, muscle bound lump, Boa may be the route to turn round the tables.The race is on for the year’s first ascent of Boa! Please post replies.