Climbers have flocked to the UK’s Peak District since the late nineteenth century, climbing on its gritstone escarpments including Frogatt Edge, shown here, with Pete Whittaker free soloing Chequers Buttress (HVS 5a, or 5.9+). The cliff, once used as a source for millstones for grinding wheat and other grains, sits just outside Sheffield. Whittaker, who lives just minutes from the crag, enjoys Frogatt for its easy access and short routes; he also likes the crag’s moderate grades and straightforward descents. “Chequers is a classic with a little exposed step onto the arête,” says Whittaker of the 1962 John Gosling route. “With gear you don’t really feel the exposure much, but when soloing it really changes the character.” For a Peak District headpointing exposé, check out our next issue, No. 370, on sale November 12.
Muline Crag’s Eye of the Tiger (29, or 5.13b), here climbed by Nick Ducker, is one of the most iconic climbs in Australia’s Grampians National Park. Unfortunately, Parks Victoria recently closed the climb—along with about 3,200 other climbs and boulder problems, or roughly 38 percent of Grampians climbing. Muline Crag lies in a Special Protection Area, designated to protect culturally and environmentally sensitive areas, including sites with Aboriginal rock art. In recent years, climbing’s popularity has caused an increase in impact, creating what Parks Victoria claims is a “risk to irreplaceable environmental and cultural values.” According to
savegrampiansclimbing.org, in the six months since the closures, there has been a 46 percent decline in climber visits. While Australian climbing organizations have been lobbying for Parks Victoria to reopen the affected climbing areas, there is no expected date for this to happen.
Arizona’s East Clear Creek, which flash-floods with summer’s monsoon rains, carved the Coconino sandstone into a long section of cliff that offers deep-water soloing near East Clear Creek Reservoir as well as the longer faces and cracks of the Winslow Wall. With over a hundred routes in the area, Doug La Farge’s The Winsloner (5.11c; here climbed by Jason Hallady) stands out for its quality, tackling a black, varnished face past 11 bolts on thin patina edges. The wall also sports trad lines like the 140-foot Darkstar (5.10a) and the 130-foot fingers and off-hands crack The Hanging Judge (5.12a), as well as difficult sport testpieces like Harry Edwards’s Frequency (5.14d), with its massive crux dyno high on a wavy, aesthetic arête. High water in early spring means that late spring through autumn is the best time to check out the venue.
In late June, Barbara “Babsi” Zangerl made a ground-up free ascent of El Capitan’s Pre-Muir Wall (VI 5.13c). Zangerl and her partner, Jacopo Larcher, who have freed El Niño (VI 5.13c AO), Zodiac (VI 5.13d), and Magic Mushroom (VI 5.14a) together, tried the route after getting shut down on the Nose by wet conditions. Spending six nights on the wall, and hauling a “monster pig,” Zangerl led each crux pitch on her second try, including the twenty-fifth pitch (pictured), one of the route’s 5.13c cruxes. “It’s about 20 meters of stemming in a perfect 90-degree corner without any face holds,” says Zangerl, “just pure stemming and smearing your feet against the walls.” Unfortunately, Larcher ripped open his palms on the crux corner and did not send. Still, the pair had a great time. “Every single pitch was super fun with a lot of different styles!” says Zangerl. “Luckily no offwidth!”