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Almscliff // Outdoor Climbing Venue // Review

Almscliff // Outdoor Climbing Venue // Review

Beth, our very own Womenclimb contributor set out to give you lovely readers a first hand account of the popular Yorkshire climbing venue of Almscliff.

Almscliff is an impressive grit stone crag in the heart of Yorkshire jutting out of a sea of finely combed fields and against a backdrop of distant viaducts and farmlands. The crag lies a few miles north of Leeds and Bradford and the parking is plenty with a 5-10 minute easy walk in on a footpath.  It has an “unmissable” reputation, being a natural crag which is very accessible with a wide range of grades to suit beginners to seasoned trad legends. Read on to see if this venue should be on your ticklist….

Almscliff Crag Information

I visited the crag on the late May bank holiday Sunday. It was not as busy as I feared but with just enough milling about to feel like you were in good company of like-minded folk. There are around 174 routes at Almscliff, compacted onto a clump of buttresses easily circulated in ten minutes. This makes for very convenient evening climbing or trying a wide variety of what the crag has to offer. There are around 181 boulder problems so the venue is handy for a meet up with a mixed bag of climbing folk however the bouldering is notoriously powerful and crimpy and the grading starts at F5 so absolute beginners may struggle to get many ticks here.

Green field, leading to a style set within a dry stone wall. behind the wall is a climbing crag of gritstone. The sky is bright blue and clear without clouds.

View of Almscliff crag from the parking area

My mind set was open and I hadn’t really read up on the crag much, not wanting my expectations to cramp my choice of route. To summarise my experience, this crag totally spanked me. It was nails. It was nails, but fun nails…the kind you just want to try to walk over barefoot to see how much pain you can take.

Easy Routes at Almscliff

I started off on the Low Man section where there is a wide variety of classic climbs relatively low in the grade such as Fluted Columns (HVD***), Pinnacle Flake Climb (S 4a*) and Low Man Easy Way (D*). Instantly I realised that these low grades climbs were relatively tricky but excellent in the quality. It is not often a low grade climb incorporates tufa like flutes of rock and exposed arêtes and I would urge those who are comfortable at this grade to give these a go if visiting.

Low Man Area

Low Man Area

I arrogantly roped up for the Square Chimney & Whiskey Crack which was graded MVS 4b*** (later finding out this had been amended to VS). This is an excellent and challenging route with a thrutchy chimney start, with minimal gear leading up to a pumpy and powerful crack climb, with relative exposure. I was totally humbled on this climb, taking a good half hour or so to make it through the chimney and then to later bail on committing to the crack. It was, however super fun and I seconded it clean, cursing myself for not trying harder at the top.

This would be a bit of a prediction of how my day would go. We moved onto the South West Face, Syretts Roof  and Wall of Horrors areas. Each of these sections has excellent, often pumpy and steep climbing jam packed with classics. I climbed 7 routes and either took, fell or bailed on 4 of them! This is quite unusual for me, considering I was on second for a couple.

South West Face

South West Face

Overall this crag was “type 2” fun for me. Looking back I can see how impressive the climbing is and how I actually really want to go back. I did my first successful fist jamming here (Birds Nest Crack HS 4b **). I fell a lot, learned a heck of a lot and have the scars to prove it. Of course at the time I had bouts of annoyed grumbling, berating myself and snapping at my partner and I’m pretty sure there was the occasional frustrated tear. However this is the kind of experience and learning I thrive off and my “failure” at this crag will translate in lessons that I will grow from and no doubt increase my skillset.

By Beth Thomas

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