The Young repeated by a not so young young un'
Ever since the start of the year there has been 1 name scribbled on the top of my little whiteboard ticklist. The Young. I have wanted to try it for years after hearing tales off springer about its quality. Last year on a plus 30 degree day we were driving back from Bowden after pottering about sun dodging all day and we decided to walk in to have a look, it was near the longest day and the forest was carpeted in blueberries, you could literally eat your way there! And whilst the walk in was long and hilly with pad raping branches. It was worth it.
The Young is one of the most incredible pieces of sandstone i have seen in the flesh, a perfect tablet of stone situated in the forest with an incredible view, soft grassy landing (with even the slightest rock or root this route would become alot scarier). Andy first did it in summer 2000 and a picture which gives nothing away appeared in the new route guide, other than Andy looks like he's trying hard, which is good as that means its probably quite hard. Springer had mooted font 8a/+ about with Andy's sequence. This route was a phenomenal effort back in 2000, it'd equal any hard grit route in terms of difficulty and boldness, in fact this route is more like a slightly higher high fidelity in terms of its niche, easier of course. Unprotectable and high. That said, the landing on The young is perfect soft grass so it never quite feels too serious.
That day in 2009 I had a quick punt ground up and got to the large juggy patina just before the crux at about 1/3rd height, its about font7b+ to here or there abouts I think. Arriving on Sunday with Mark we were blessed in that either side of the route was wet due to the last nights rain, but the route itself was dry. The top was wet too but i figured I could work most of the route and at least get a feel for it. I had resigned to top roping it first as basically i wanted to do it, climbing in the county is a lot more effort than in Sheffield where pads and spotters are easily available, and the walk in to this is over a mile and hilly so lots of pads are ruled out. I carried 3 in which nearly killed me, however Mark always manages to win on the sherpa challenge and he lugged 50kg of camera japery in.
So after a quick clean on an ab, and writing off Andy's sequence as having FA blinkers I decided to use a small RH pocket he must have missed, this let me flick out to where he crosses over to a pocket, as a mono and with a bit of dainty footwork I could launch direct up to the first of the dinner plates (big patina blobs, they are so cool!) this sequence was quick, safe as it kept me going straight up above the pads and I had no spotter to move them, and ridiculously fun. What follows is 8 moves of some of the most amazing climbing I've done. Flicking, popping and locking between the slopey patina dinner plates and badger heads (bigger and more round than chicken heads). All the moves are do or die though and hanging around isn't a great idea, the route is also inescapable. That said it is only low font 7 climbing so compared to the lower section it is a lot easier. I'd managed to clean two jugs enough at the top to make it worth going for. As a compromise Mark knotted a rope for me to help top out once I'd reached the jugs as the grass and tree roots were wet and lethal. On my actual go once I got to the top jugs I monoed the bottom knot in the rope for security, upon pulling on it it stretched and I found myself with 1 finger in a mono below my shoulder and my other hand on a wet flat jug, there was only one thing for it, teeth, in a spur of the moment I bit the rope weighted it so that it wouldn't unstretch moved my LH up and topped out over the grass and tree roots. Top roper and aid climber!
I spent the rest of the day lapping the best boulder route (boute?) I've ever done anywhere up to where it gets too scary to jump off. This route was totally worth the wait, it is a stunning bit of climbing and phenomenal effort by Andy 10years ago, especially via his original sequence as it was an even harder proposition. With my sequence it feels like a highball font7c+, or a route 8a solo, I believe my sequence is very ground uppable for someone with the balls and this would be an awesome awesome route to ground up, very pure too as there is no gear and no rope. That challenge still remains. As i didn't ground up it but it feels weird commenting on the trad grade but my gut feeling is that this is well worth E8 for a ground up or onsight attempt, and I think at least 1 fall would take place from the top section unless you had perfect beta, which would be a big fall, a long very awkward way from help. Even though Andy is widely regarded as one of the best boulderers in the UK I feel his trad routes are mostly overlooked nationally and heavily under rated, despite his hard trad routes being amongst the best in the country of their style (short (10-16m), bold and hard) Apart from this, (which went unrepeated for 10 years) only Endless Flight Direct has been repeated of the E8s and harder (by Graham, Fielding and Watson). Neither has been ground upped. Mark Savage's routes, even bolder often but not quite as hard technically have also seen few repeats (I'm guilty too, sorry Mark) if any. Sadly most of this is through lack of attention from anyone but the locals.
The Young is a beautiful wall (it actually overhangs by about 2 degrees), and deserves its place amongst the classics of the country rather than some obscure side note at the back of a guide somewhere (its actually mentioned in the bouldering guide if you look at the very back pages).
All pictures Mark Savage