Gritstone photos from 1977


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Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 19, 2007 - 11:24pm PT
Brit John Cox asked if I had any more shots of Yorkshire Gritstone like the one I posted on the group photo thread. Seems the climb being attempted by Al Manson in that photo is called Usurper, which had its first ascent that summer of 1977. Gritstone history and trivia buffs across the pond are intrigued. I dug up a few more and Iíll ask John or other Grit enthusiasts to supply captions where I canít.

Hereís the picture of the base of Usurper again:

Gib on the Joe Brown off width classic, Elder Crack. First ascent: 1950!

Al Manson soloing something.

Steve Webster on ?.

Previously posted shot of Western Front at Almscliff, with Nicky Stokes on the lead.


Trad climber
Mar 19, 2007 - 11:28pm PT
Those are really nice Rick, capturing the quintessence of Grit.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 19, 2007 - 11:40pm PT
Thanks Rick - I was there in 1976, hitchhiking around, climbing in North Wales and the Peak. Quite an experience.

Mar 19, 2007 - 11:49pm PT
Now see those stone fences down in the background. They're everywhere. You know why?

Because they cut all the trees down and there are no more.

And as we walked through the pastures there's a lot of cow dung in there. I told those blokes that cow dung is pure.

They looked at me and said "help yourself to some". .......

Nice pics Rick.

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Mar 19, 2007 - 11:59pm PT
Great shots, Ricky. What is Al Manson up to these days I wonder. He was a skilled and bold climber.

Jeremy Handren

Mar 20, 2007 - 12:01am PT
FWIW pic 4 is L'Horla on Curbar, but it's back to front I think.

Santa Monica, CA
Mar 20, 2007 - 01:02am PT
Hey Rick thanks for those photos. We were in the UK last Summer and got to have a taste of the grit. Had a blast and would love to go back.

I'll bet John Arran could i.d. those climbs. He guided us when we were there and is an awesome guy. Maybe he'll catch this thread.


Social climber
No Ut
Mar 20, 2007 - 02:03am PT
Those photos bring me back, Rick, to a trip in '74 when I climbed on the grit, sandbagged by the likes of Al Rouse, etc. Once I got the trick of sipping my pints in the pub at night, things went better. Love the foggy isle.

Mar 20, 2007 - 02:24am PT

Stan Mish on Fern Hill, Cratcliffe Tor, 1982. Gritstone is such fine stone! Thanks for the correction on the crag name John C.

Trad climber
one pass away from the big ditch
Mar 20, 2007 - 02:45am PT
It's how they say... "just brilliant!"

I'm enamored with the place, even the sheep sh#t and the midges are endearing in a blood sucking smelly way.


Mar 20, 2007 - 02:52am PT
Come on now! A pound per night to place a tent in a grassy sheep pasture. What a deal! The pub closed at 10:30 pm which was nearly sunset, until the season started, and then it was open until midnight. Nothing like rushing to finish the climb at dark and make the pub before last call. A pint of best, please! Serious carbo loading that was.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Mar 20, 2007 - 03:03am PT
Cool stuff Ricky!
Mick Ryan

Trad climber
Kendal, English Lake District
Mar 20, 2007 - 06:43am PT
Cheers Rick.

Posted across the Pond at

Russ. Grit this summer? Your room is waiting.

(keep your answer clean)
Mick Ryan

Trad climber
Kendal, English Lake District
Mar 20, 2007 - 06:49am PT

Al Manson is still climbing strong. I met him at his local crag at Wetherby this summer and he's still as gymnastic and as keen as ever, lots of trips bolt clipping in Spain. He has a successful business building the frames for climbing gyms...although I think he is officially retired. He used to make it out to Bishop a lot when I was there, clipping bolts in the Gorge and bouldering at the Buttermilks and the Volcanic Tableland. On his rest days he'd caddy his wife at the Bishop golf course.

Yo Jerry H. I'll give you a call.

John Cox

Trad climber
London, England
Mar 20, 2007 - 07:09am PT
Rick A: nice, thanks. None of Nicky S actually making the FA of Usurper?!

The climb Al M is soloing is I think Rugosity Crack at Stanage.

I think Jeremy H is right that Steve W is on L'Horla at Curbar, but if so I agree that the slide must be the wrong way round, I think - you swing left on to the bulge, not right. That would make the rock in the foreground the left edge of the Committed wall, I suppose (for Brit viewers), which looks about right.
John Cox

Trad climber
London, England
Mar 20, 2007 - 07:41am PT
Bother - now how did that happen? I do apologise for spamming the place.

Gib L is at the point on Elder Crack where it used to be the custom either to use the broddling stick which was kept in the crack for that purpose to try and place a wire, or else knit two wires together and stree---e------tch into the crack. These days I expect people just reach up and place a large Friend. In 1950 of course I dare say Joe just got on with it.

Itís Cratcliffe Tor, by the way, not Cratcliffe Edge. My fault I think for posting the wrong name before. Nice pix Ė Fern Hill is SO good. (and by the way was probably first done in 1947/8: not bad for what was then effectively an on-sight solo of committing 5.10b/c climbing).

Trad climber
Mar 20, 2007 - 09:33am PT
The Al Manson solo picture is a minor classic called "Gullibles Travels" I think.

Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Mar 20, 2007 - 10:37am PT
Great pics Ricky - I love seeing that grit stuff....

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
Mar 20, 2007 - 10:53am PT
Thanks for posting the pictures of Grit. I had the chance to climb over there in '69. Those pictures brought back wonderful memories of the feel of the rock, how the cool air smelled, and the beautiful country side.
Makes me want to save up money for an airplane ticket!

Trad climber
A desert kingdom
Mar 20, 2007 - 11:08am PT
Guys, get a grip. Your Mr Beckwith has it right:

"Have you ever seen the gritstone?" Geoff Birtles asked me.

I hadn't. We were in Sheffield, England, where I was visiting with Birtles, the editor of High Mountain Sports magazine, on a brief working tour of the country for The American Alpine Journal. With two hours remaining before my departure, I jumped into his Citroen, and we careened down the narrow streets, the rolling countryside greeting us as we emerged from the industrial pallor of Sheffield's roads. Parking among a row of neatly filed cars, we set off. The trail dropped into a depression, where we soon encountered a low swath of dark-gray stone, mottled with holes, cool to the touch. I followed Birtles, waiting to see the fabled grit. A couple of climbers were racking up, curiously enough, for a twenty-foot crack. Farther on, another pair was doing the same thing, racks of nuts on Perlon and giant hexes clanging at their sides. They must be out on their inaugural climbs, I thought, practicing as they were on these boulders. Suddenly it dawned on me that these boulders were the fabled gritstone. Dear Lord, I thought, the poor island and its inhabitants.
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