Back to Trad

By Luke Tilley

Traditional climbing is celebrated for its classic spirit, reconnecting with the roots of adventure amid rugged challenges.

When you grow up in the British climbing world you hear a lot about the traditional climbing. The desire to go out and climb great clean lines is breathed into us at the wall, through the magazines and websites and has its roots in great stories of the pioneers of climbing like Joe Brown. The Hard Years, Joe Browns biography was the first climbing book I read and inspired me for the adventure, pureness and lifestyle of the traditional world.

As a family we started climbing and our first days on real rock was a boxing day affair. Brand new harnesses and a rope in pristine conditions for hard climbing. Unfortunately a clear day with a foot of snow at Millstones is not the perfect day for beginner trad. Another early family outing was to Crookrise, once again a Baltic affair, by the end of which I think my mum and sisters were well and truly put off outdoor climbing. I however was little perturbed although I did allow myself to be distracted from the traditional world for indoor training Youth competitions and sunny sport climbing to at least allow the spectators a chance of not getting hypothermia.

Gritstone climbing above a pool at Lawrencefield

Luke in Suspense E2 5C, Lawrencefield ph. Ethan Walker

How familiar is the term “This year I am going to get out more and do more trad!”. Despite my best intentions I have uttered this pledge for at least 5 years in a row and never achieved the goal. 2011 however has been slightly different. With little time or energy for training while trying to do my university course, Leeds is however ideally located for grit stone climbing and even through most winter I could get out on those beautiful clear days for a late afternoon session instead of going to the wall.

Over the winter I have done a lot of the easy classic routes many solo especially afternoons spent at Almscliff on routes like great western (HVS 5a). I have also finally pushed myself on the sharp end lightly by the end of this year E5’s have been comfortable for the onsight and I think I have done around 10 in total. I have not got on any E6’s yet, that is for next winter I guess. The most memorable experience was probably Citadel on Gogarth, my first hard multi pitch route. I have really valued climbing with Jacob Cook who has everlasting psyche and has encouraged me to get on many great lines.

Coming up next is an account of one of the bigger excursions into traditional climbing from this winter, enjoy!

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