Wed 14th Jul, 2021
Evening Meet: Shining Clough
Shining Clough midweek – 14th July 2021
Members: Andy Stratford, Jim Symon, Rory Marsden
Prospective member: Caroline Gay
An excellent forecast for a moorland crag, and my first summer visit, having climbed Shining Clough icefall and two ice routes on the crag this winter with Gareth.
The walk in is notorious for the path being hard to both find and follow, and tonight was no exception – once the waterway of shining clough itself is crossed the path just does a disappearing act leading to 30 minutes of hardcore heather, bracken, and boulder bashing. Jim and I arrived at the crag, perspiring gently at about 4 ish and I was immediately struck by the striking crack and arete of 24m long three star VS classic, Phoenix Climb.
Jim decided to warm us up on the adjacent 3 star classic Severe of Via Principa. As ever Jim made short work of the 25 metre route Following up, I was engaged with some fabulous rough grit, unpolished despite many ascents (well, many for a moorland crag), following strong natural features. It had everything; exposure, cracks, jugs, gear wherever you wanted - an absolute joy and with doubt worth 4 stars - if fact, I'd say the best single pitch grit route at that grade I've ever climbed.
Rory and Caroline arrived just as we were arriving back at the base, Rory keen to lead it himself after listening to our enthusiasm. On reaching the top Rory’s grin was a broad as mine from his lead on Via Principa – Phoenix Climb VS was also amazing – with some brilliant jamming in the lower part and a wildly exposed arete near the top.
Somehow, I managed to get a nut stuck as part of my belay and after both Jim and I tried to free it to no avail I resorted to bashing my nut key with a small rock which put a tiny bend in it. Jim stretched out his healing hands to give my wonky nut key some loving attention, one gentle bend was all it would take to…. Snap it in half!! Thanks Jim!!
We wandered off to Pisa Buttress, it was Jim’s lead. Pisa Superdirect was the chosen line – yet another 3 star route, and again, it proved to be worth every one of those stars. Jim made the first section look easy as usual, but the overhanging crux did cause a little pause for thought…. I followed up and was super impressed with the lead – what a tough route!
Rory and Caroline went on a mission looking for V diff or severe on a ‘less trodden’ part of the crag and ended up new routing and gardening for the rest of the evening!!
The steep wall/slab on the right of Pisa buttress had a nasty looking off width called Stable Cracks described as ‘’a good straightforward introduction to the crag’’…. So, in other words a total sandbag! I grabbed my larger cam and set off on the mission.
I called, as the third large lump of vegetation hit his head as I gardened my way up, casually trashing my clothes and skin. One of the off width sections required udging of the cam upwards as I squirmed uncomfortably behind it, twisting nefarious parts of my body into the crack, in fact I reckon the first ascensionist was swearing about how they could ‘’stable a bloody horse in here’’ when they came up with the name! I made it to the top – sweaty, filthy, and bleeding mildly. Next time I’ll pay more attention to the route name.
Four mega routes and we decided we would call it a day, after all, there was the matter of the walkout!
Esoteric and exposed, Shining clough was once super popular, and has a significant history in the development of Peak gritstone climbing. It is almost hidden when view from the road (unless you know where to look) but when the crag is finally viewed up close, it is big and wild! The routes here are long by gritstone standards and are good and varied. A selection of the best ranges from Severe to E3 with the very best at VS and HVS. Its definitely worth a visit, even if you just get on Phoenix climb! Details of the crag are found here:
I’ll not lie, the walk-in is stiff and the crag points north. But then it’s the middle of summer and some would say that that’s perfect timing for a visit! I plan to start the walk in about 5.30. The approach has confused people in the past. Please use the approach notes on UKC and in the Rockfax guides; not the old BMC guides. Please DO NOT use the farmers track up the hill! Please bring your head torch for the walk-out, and some midge repellant too should the beasts be around. Any questions please ask. Thanks guys, see you all there!
Jared Kitchen, KMC Outdoor Meets Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org