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September 23, 2022

Chris’ 5 best boulder problems, all within a 30-minute drive of Freeklime!

1)     James’ Coconut Bong (V1) @ Standedge

Despite its hilarious name, this climb is no joke, with the crux at an uncomfortable height above a less than ideal landing. JCB has excellent, positive holds throughout and is perhaps one of the most un-gritstone like boulder problems you’re likely to find. I climbed JCB on a beautiful summers evening - with foreboding clouds rolling in and the sun setting on the horizon, the rock was lit up a beautiful orange colour. During golden hour, it is an absolute joy to climb on gritstone and this boulder was more than befitting of such an occasion.

2)     Blackstone Slab (V3) @ Blackstone Edge

Leave your indoor ego at the door for this one. Notorious for taking the scalps of generations of climbers, this classic gritstone slab embodies everything amazing about gritstone bouldering: the movement, the texture of the rock on your fingertips and the expansive views of the surrounding hills. Many find this mere V3 to be as challenging as some of the V6’s at the crag; they’re probably right!

3)     Archery (V6) @ West Nab

This is my personal favourite of all the boulder problems on this list. Archery is a beautiful 4.5 meter high arête with very little else in the way of holds, bar a tiny sloping dish on the left side of the arête. After years of going relatively under the radar, (possibly by design not chance,) Archery finally received the acclaim it deserved with its inclusion in Dave Parry’s excellent book, ‘100 Grit Blocs’. I climbed it with my best mate on a clear winters’ day - sunny but barely a breath of wind. I’ll leave you with my climbing partners’ thoughts on the climb:

“Can I give this 4stars? Imagine Crescent Arête, but with harder moves, a better landing, and none of the queues or wear. As good as gritstone arêtes get.”

4)     Pig in a Pokey (V7) & Okey Dokey(V8) @ Buckstones Edge

I couldn’t possibly commit to just one of these renowned classics, so I’ve just included them both! It’s not often you’re forced into a double toe hook, but that’s exactly what is required on Pig in a Pokey. The campus finish has been the cause of many heart breaks (just ask Tiff), so make sure you save some energy for the finish!

Okey Dokey is not nearly as sought after as Pig in a Pokey, but it is equally good and, in my opinion, somewhat under graded at V8. I had feltthe almost non-existent holds a few times on previous visits to the crag, but I could barely hold the positions, let alone do any of the moves! However, as so often happens on the grit, when you get good conditions (typically cold and low humidity), boulders often feel a whole lot easier. It had been raining all morning and I had written off getting anything done outside, but it cleared around lunchtime and there was a brisk breeze which dried the crag a treat. After a warmup on Pig in a Pokey and a quick try at some of the moves, I gave Okey Dokey an optimistic go from the start. With virtually no pressure, I squeezed and slapped my way along this spectacular feature until I was starring down the jug at the end of the prow (from which you perform the V5 campus finish). I paused briefly before slapping for the jug. Incredibly I stuck the move, but my feet instantly came off and I felt I was going to end up in the reservoir at the bottom of the hill! Luckily, I didn’t, and I was able to get the climb done!

5)     Fish Arête Sit Start (V8/9) @ Wimberry Rocks

I must confess this one is still a work in progress despite having dedicated 4sessions to it spread over 3 years. I’ll no doubt wax lyrical about this boulder when it’s in the bag, but all I’ll say is you won’t find a better foot sequence in the Huddersfield/Chew area! Amazing!!

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