Adventures in Western Mongolia

When you mention Mongolia, the home of the legendary Genghis Khan, most people imagine big skies, wide rolling plains, yurt type wool and felt tents, marmots, horses and a nomadic way of life. For much of the country this is true, but in the far western corner, where it joins with China and Russia and nearly connects with Kazakhstan, it is very different. As Michael Kohn, the author of the Lonely Planet Guide to Mongolia said:

“Travelling to Mongolia’s westernmost province gives one the distinct feeling of reaching the end of the road, if not the end of the earth.

“Many peaks in the province are more than 4000m and permanently covered with glaciers and snow, while the valleys have a few green pastures that support livestock as well as bears, fox and wolves.”

He didn’t even mention the relatively frequent sightings of snow leopards, the nomads and their hunting eagles and the fact that there are more reported sightings and stories of yeti here than anywhere else in the world, including the Himalaya.

For me 2015 was my 7th trip to these superb mountains, getting time off from working in Outside to lead a group for KE Adventure Travel. There were 11 team members, 10 from the UK and one from Canada, comprising 4 women and 7 men with an age range from 37 to 74 years. All were experienced in a variety of mountain regions including previous KE trips.


Ulaan Bataar | the Stainless Steel Genghis Khan

Before leaving the capital Ulaan Bataar for the mountains, we had a warm up trek in the nearby National Parks, summitted the Tsetseesgun view point and visited the new Mongolia attraction of the giant stainless steel Genghis Khan.

One of the things that makes the trips in Mongolia go well is our local support team. Sandagash is a school teacher in the major settlement in the region, Bayan Olgii, a Soviet built border town, populated by people of Kazakh origin. She works on our trips during the holidays and organises all the provisions and equipment and the catering from Base Camp. Working with me on the mountains were two Mongolian mountaineers. Usukhuu, my friend of many years and previous trips, who has two ascents of Everest and one ascent of Denali to his credit amongst much else and Senguu who had lived in the UK for several years. Despite limited shared language, Usukhuu and I always get on well, especially with banter around the fact that he more or less eats only horse meat, and I’m vegetarian.

Demolishing the Gers at Base Camp

The mountains are reached by a four hour flight from Ulaan Bataar to Bayan Olgii. Then a 6-9 hour drive off road (there are no hard topped roads) in Russian jeeps to a point described without irony as the Road Head, marked by two Gers (known elsewhere as yurts) and a scattering of nomad encampments. Here the landscape is a bit like the Cairngorms in drought, but on a grander scale. A few summers ago a nomad camped near us at the Road Head found a wolf cub abandoned by the pack. He raised it tethered to a stake alongside their herd of goats until it got strong enough to be returned to the wild. In the winter they hunt with eagles.

Camel transport arrives at BC

The Base Camp is usually reached with a one day trek using two humped Bactrian camels to carry the gear. They are gentle and friendly, unlike their grumpy Arabian cousins, the Dromedary. Base Camp is a couple of Gers set in a beautiful green ablation valley alongside the enormous Potanina Glacier. The area is becoming more popular but it is still rare to find more than one other group in the Base Camp. This year we could only use camels for our return journey as they were occupied elsewhere gathering winter fodder, so the jeeps went to Base Camp.

The highest peak is Mount Khuiten, sometimes written in translation as Huiten (4374m).It was first climbed by a Russian and 12 Mongolian climbers in 1956.All the peaks in the area have been climbed but the potential for new routes up the many dramatic faces and ridges is vast.

Khuiten from High Camp

All in all, the peaks are of alpine character but are extremely remote and you almost certainly can’t be rescued. If you go there, it is a proper mountaineering adventure.

However, unlike on an expedition to the Himalaya or even the Andes you can get there, climb several superb routes and be back at work in the UK in about two weeks. However, both your head and your heart, like mine will still be in the mountains of this part of Mongolia for many years.

From our Base Camp we made an ascent of Malchin (4037m) as a warm up peak. It gives some steep and dramatic scrambling and a narrow snowy summit. It also gives a breath taking full frontal view of Khuiten’s awesome East Face and views across into Russia and China.


Malcin Summit, Khuiten behind

To reach the other mountains all the gear, food and tents need to be carried up the glacier to make a high camp from which they can be tackled.

The Potanina Glacier is the biggest of many in the area and it varies in condition depending on the weather. The glacier is highly crevassed in places, but they are not always visible after snowfall, so it always is essential to be roped up. It was also helpful having the powerhouse Usukhuu breaking trail leading the front of our three roped parties. We were lucky this year as the conditions both on the way up and at the High Camp were good and we soon had our selection of tents anchored down in the lee of a large rognon.

Jane, Helen and Pip - three to a tent is cosy!

With the help of Usukhuu and Senguu I do all the catering for the team at High Camp. Again we were lucky, it can be pretty grim in a blizzard. Our system for cooking is to use petrol with either a Primus Omnifuel stove or for sheer melting power an MSR XGK with two stoves under one pot. Very large aluminium pots for melting lots of snow are brought from Bayan Olgii. My catering is to the say the least simple. Melting snow to make enough water for drinking, cooking and filling water bottles takes hours.

In the past I have arrived at High camp and been unable to pitch the tents due to high winds even when replacing tent pegs with Russian ice screws. It is a long and demoralising journey back to Base Camp to start again.

After as early a start as we could manage, we set off next morning, the 30th August to climb Khuiten, the main prize, via a col and the ridge that skirts the flank of the north face. One member elected to stay at HC, exhausted by the carry the day before. 

Khuiten Summit Ridge

We began in the three roped parties of the previous day, but as the terrain steepened, it became clear that Senguu’s English and rope management skills were both higher in confidence than reality. At the beginning of the steep slope that leads to the summit ridge, I joined our two ropes together, leaving Usukhuu and his team ahead.

Helen enjoying every minute

At about mid height I looked up to see he was doing. I was surprised to see that Usukhuu had made the group safe and was now descending towards me, with something of a sense of urgency! I was a bit worried, but could do nothing until he reached me. He spoke first, “Tom, you have toilet paper? I eat bad horse meat!”

I did, passed over some supplies and he continued his descent all the way back past us to the col. On arrival he bent over and then squatted, emptying himself from both ends. Moments later he was again powering back up the slope towards the rest of us. On passing me he just paused and grinned.

”Now all OK!”

Ushukuu is a tough guy. On reaching High Camp he tucked into another batch of horse meat.

Usukhuu and his team on the summit

Our slope steepened to the summit ridge which is at the point we reached it wide and easy angled giving fantastic views in all directions. Usukhuu’s group went to the small final summit as there was fewer of them and we paused on the summit a metre or two lower but lacking the drop down the north face.

As with all summits, it is only half way to safety and a very careful descent followed down the steep slope below the ridge before easier group could be reached en route back to High Camp.

Moving carefully down the steep descent

The afternoon and evening was spent melting snow, rehydrating, eating and eventually sleeping for a second night with mostly 3 people to each of our 2 person tents.

The next morning we were off again, this time with all team members to ascend the walk up peak of Narindal (4082m). Narindal is the point at which the borders of Mongolia, China and Russia meet.

Narindal Summit

From the summit we returned across the glacier via our route of ascent. We were amazed to notice a line of large cat footprints crossing ours. No doubt somewhere nearby we were being carefully watched.

After refreshments and some time hacking our tents out of the ice, we packed up and descended the Potanin Glacier once more, scrambled up the moraine at the edge of the ablation valley and trekked back to Base Camp. Sandagash, as ever came to meet us with very welcome fruit juice, followed by lunch.

The next morning we began our 3 day journey by foot, jeep and plane back to the tower blocks, beer and pizza of Ulaan Bataar and eventually home.

Credit to:




By Tom Richardson
Footwear and expedition specialist

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Tom Richardson
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Grit and Grades

This summer the climbing has been a little less frequent than normal, but never the less I have got out on the odd occasion, and even managed a couple of days at Gogarth. Aside from the new baby on the scene, the weddings and stag do’s have been all consuming, and so has the eating and drinking. However, living where we do there is always time to fit in some climbing!


Adam looking stressed and Dave just hanging out on Brutality, E1 5b, Kinder Upper Tor

As mentioned in the last blog, Pod (Pete O’Donovan) is making a new guide to the Peak and has been bullying us all to get on the routes he wants photos of. It's been fun and has even forced the long walk in to Kinder to happen. Adam and I headed up earlier than Pod one day and ticked off a couple of rarely repeated gems on the Grindsbrook Towers. Byne's Crack (E1 5b) was a stern warm up and made me think of the balls of the guys leading this in the 1930’s with no gear. I used LOTS of cams. We then proceeded to brush and clean the amazing yet gritty Andy Cave route Lonely Nature (E4 6a). Adam and I both led it after a brush, yet the scrittley grittyness still made for an intense experience! It is an amazing route and I strongly recommend it.


Happy with this we headed over to Upper Tor to meet Pod and climb all the routes on his list - Ivory Tower (E1 5b), Robert (E2 5c), Brutality (E1 5b) and Upper Tor Wall (HS 4b). The only slightly disappointing thing was the ease at which Robert was climbed, the guide made us feel ready for battle and we donned jamming gloves. It was over graded in my eyes and Brutality, at a grade lower, felt 2 grades harder!


Emerald Crack, E3 6a, and Sentinel Crack, E2 5c. Guess which one is hardest!

Another Pod photo venue was Chatsworth, where I got stuck into the classic jamming test pieces of Emerald Crack (E3 6a) and Sentinel Crack (E2 5c, ha ha ha). These were great for testing out the Ocun Crack Gloves which meant I left the crag unbloodied!


My brother Robert has also been getting in on the act with ascents of The Knutter (HVS 5b) and High Neb Buttress (VS 4c) at Stanage High Neb, there were a few complaints of climbing too fast to catch all the moments, but that's a Turnbull trait, good work Robert!

By James Turnbull
Climbing gear sales

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James Turnbull
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The Long Tour of Bradwell

6.30 in the morning, I was scrabbling around the house checking my kit then re checking for no other reason than to burn off some nervous energy.

For the last 6 months I’d been bigging myself up about running my first ultra marathon, or intro ultra for those die hard runners. Inspired by the efforts of my two colleagues Paul and Hood who had been in training for the Snowdon Trail Marathon, I decided to set myself a new challenge. I’m not built to go fast so distance seemed like the obvious choice. This led me to the Long Tour of Bradwell, a 35 mile route following the rim of the Hope Valley, with an excursion onto the edge of Kinder.

Preparation had consisted of a few 10 mile runs around the local area but most importantly I bought myself a fancy new running watch; this was obviously going to make the difference. I had even thought about reccying some of the different sections but never got round to it. How hard could it be?

Race day arrived, not a cloud in the sky, the temperature was around 15 degrees but was supposed to climb to the low 20s by mid-afternoon. Had I been doing anything else I would have welcomed a day like this, but today I would have given anything for some cloud cover.


(L) Looking (over)confident | (R) Spot the guy paying no attention to the race briefing!

We set off - my first major error happened about half a mile in when I realised I hadn’t turned my new watch on. Anyone who uses tech like this or Strava knows that if it isn’t recorded you might as well not have done it and I wanted every mile to be counted!

A mile in and I was feeling strong. Everyone was walking as we ascended behind the cement works, I ran the bits I could but felt that if everyone else was walking they knew something I didn’t so decided to ease off.

My second embarrassing moment happened when a lady asked me for directions, we were supposed to be descending down cave dale into Castleton. It’s a route that I’ve been up countless times but never down. At this point I realised that maybe checking out the route beforehand would have been beneficial. Being a bloke obviously meant that getting the route map or description out of my bag wasn’t an option; instead we waited for someone to point us in the correct direction.

The first 9 miles of the course was merciless, Hollins Cross down into Edale, up to the Druid’s Stone, then steeply descending to the valley floor before climbing back out via Back Tor to the summit of Lose Hill, then contouring round Win Hill. I was worried, if you didn’t get to the half way mark at the Thornhill trail by 2pm you were cut off and I still had a distance to go. The valley section had taken its toll as I had totally underestimated how difficult it would be. Progress had been very slow especially up Back Tor. But the thought of having to face the guys at work without having completed half the route helped me dig deep and grind out this hilly section of the race.

View from Ringing Roger

I made the cut off point, but wasn’t particularly excited about doing so as I was very aware that I was only half way round, physically broken and to make matters worse the chafing had started...

The route now dropped into Bamford through the very scenic mill area then climbed (of course) up to Stanage via Dennis Knoll. I was surprised how quickly progress was made along this section. A mixture of running and walking. That and I was with some ladies that were apparently determined to prove how weak I was, their company was brief as we leap frogged each other before they disappeared into the distance, it wouldn’t have been that bad if they weren’t about twice my age. However I am used to this having run plenty of local fell races, so my pride only stung for a few minutes.

Stanage to Burbage car park was familiar ground, I also had the mental boost of teaming up with a bloke who had decided to enter the event only the previous morning. Having someone to run with made a big difference, I could talk to them to gauge how they were feeling but more importantly I could slip stream them in the tough sections.

Burbage down to Padley Gorge remained steady, at this point I had the mental boost of completing marathon distance. I was about 6 hours slower than I thought I would have been but I was happy. Only seven miles left, easy, about an hour and half left I thought to myself….

The descent towards Hathersage remained steady, however route markers were becoming a bit scarce meaning one or two wrong turns cost me valuable time, I was gaining on the lead runner who was about four hours ahead of me: in fact they had probably already finished but I didn’t want to think about that yet.


Arms up for the finish line

(or to relieve the chafing?)

We reached the final water station at mile 29. ‘Only a bit of uphill then a steep descent into Bradwell’ we were told…….an hour and a half later I was still climbing. This last section of the race mentally broke me and I was surprised at how much this negatively impacted me. The climb over Abney is long, it would be a great 10k route but after 30 miles I still wasn’t sure if I was going to make the end. As I could only walk the uphills at this point it felt endless. All the chat between me and my new companion stopped and I started noticing weird little details like my little toe nails felt peculiar (I still don’t know if they are attached as I stuck them down with plasters after the race), we hadn’t seen anyone in front for ages and finally to round it off my watch came up with a low battery message….had we been out for that long? We were still climbing, through Abney along possibly the longest track in the Peak. 33miles came and went? We should have finished by now? 34 miles also came and went, where have we gone wrong? Finally, we crested the ridge and looked down onto Bradwell.

The descent was steep, but we were feeling recharged having seen the finishing line. This was short lived as the route markers started to take us from half way down the hill back up. We regained the top of Abney only to realise that these markers must have been from some other part of the race. This was mentally crushing! We descended.

I finally crossed the finishing line after 9hrs 22min. I was surprised how long the last section had taken but having checked my watch, which survived the distance, we had completed 35 miles. It was a great experience with hind sight. I could have done a few things to improve my time; training would probably have been a good start. Reccying some of the sections would have made a big difference but carrying more Vaseline would probably have had the biggest impact!


By John Bradley
Assistant Manager

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John Bradley
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Marathon Man

It’s arrived! I’m excited and nervous, talking race plans and gear with my training partner and Outside colleague Matt Hood in the car. When we arrive, we sign up – me for the marathon and Hood for the half.

Carb loading before the race (how did he get through that door, anyway?)

We take a walk on the first mile and half of the route, and return via the pub for some pasta based carb-loading. Then comes the packing of the bag for tomorrow. Then the second pack, and a final repack, just to be sure. Why have I brought three waterproof jackets?

Kit check

Inov8 Race Ultra shoes

Salomon calf compression sleeves

Rab Meco long sleeved top

Beannie Buff

Shorts and socks

Into the pack (UD Wasp) goes;

UD soft bottle

Black Diamond Trail Poles

Life Systems first aid kit

Outdoor Research Beanie

Silk liner gloves (dry bag)

Berghaus Vapourtherm top

Spark Windshirt (not used)

Rab Charge waterproof jacket (very much used)

Ipod and earphones and a £5 note (dry bag)

Phone in an Aquapac case

Jelly babies

Peanut butter sandwich (not eaten)

Clif bar

Fenix 3 (on the wrist)

Race Day

I wake up at 5.30am and it’s dry and mild outside. I allow myself a brief moment of hope before I drop off again, only to wake at 7.30 to the forecasted heavy rain. Brilliant. I throw down breakfast and get dressed for the race before heading down to the start. There are plenty of runners about and in spite of the grim weather the atmosphere is booming.

We are ushered to the start and deliberately take up our places towards the rear of the field – there are a few racing whippets on show at the front of the pack. We take the obligatory selfie and then 10 9 8 7 6 etc. Go! Well the whippets go – we don’t move for another minute and a half, but eventually we’re off!


 Starting selfie | Running with the pack

We take a nice steady pace through town to the bottom of the first hill, where I turn to Hood, shake his hand and we wish each other luck, each now going off at our own pace.

I feel alone now in a sea of hundreds of runners, of all shapes, sizes and weird dress senses! The pack makes its way up into the mountains. I’m feeling good when I’m suddenly shoved into the first drink station. It’s a complete surprise to me. We’ve only come 2 miles and people are rushing to take on gels and drink. At the next one I brace myself for a scrimmage, but we’ve spread out and become civilised by now. I take water and gels and get going, but then realise I’ve got an empty carton to dispose of (a good race rule – any littering results in disqualification) so I reverse and find a bin back at the station.

Four miles

I check the Fenix and I’m on pace for sub 12 minute miles. As we turn and head for Rhyd Ddu I’m cheered by some people who clap and shout out my name. I’m impressed they know me (surely they can’t have been reading the blog?) but then I realise my name is on my race number. Oh well, not so famous after all.

The field is really spread out now and the weather is grim. We run into Beddgelert Forest and get a little respite from the rain amongst the trees. A steady downhill leads to Beddgelert village and I remember the fiver I stashed in my pack for an ice-cream when we reached this point. Well, not going to happen now. Maybe soup and a roll if I spot somewhere!

The crowds in the village are massive as I go down the main street people are shouting my name and clapping and even the occasional dog joins in – this really does feel good! I wave back and for some reason shout “Merci”, I have no idea why. Maybe I’m going a bit crazy by this point.

Leaving Beddgelert behind the trail goes quiet again and I can only hear the sound of my own breath. The stretch coming up is the bit I didn’t enjoy on my recce, but a check of the Fenix tells me I’m on pace so I keep it steady.

Here we go; slipping, sliding, it’s really muddy now. All the runners are walking this section as it seems the safest thing to do. For about a mile we struggle through and thankfully I avoid taking a tumble. We cross back over the main road and I decide to have a few nuts and raisins. It’s a steady plod for me now – I’m soaked to the skin but it’s not cold so I’m fine.


Conditions were a bit grim

Sixteen miles

The next feed station. I arrive wet and tired and take on a couple of cups of water and a gel and remember to throw away my rubbish this time. I take out my poles and head for Pen-y-Pass. Time check is fine, but my pace has dropped; that’s ok so long as I get there before the cut off.

It’s a steady 4 mile climb up to Pen-y-Pass and I’m thankful for the poles. There’s plenty of room for people to pass me if they need to, but only one person does. We exchange the traditional grunt, good luck, well done, keep going. I can see a great string of runners high up on the pass and it looks a bloody long way away. I make a mental note not to look up again. It’s hurting but I’m getting there.

I make it to Pen-y-Pass before the cut off time. My plan of action is to change my jacket here, eat my sandwich and take on a good amount of liquid. Step one – take off wet jacket. Oh my God, it’s almost blown out of my hands. Step two – put on dry waterproof jacket. Step three – leave peanut butter sandwich in my pack, grab a handful of jelly babies and a swig of water and leave! It’s brutal stood here; absolutely horrendous wet, windy and cold – get moving!

Twenty miles

So, 20 miles in we get to climb Snowdon via the Pyg track. It winds up and up. Just round this corner, I keep telling myself. I’m alone at this point with only a handful of people coming down off the top. Then I come across a group of youths who begin to shout; “Go Paul! You’re the man! Dig in! Well done!” Then I’m asked for high fives. Wow! This really lifts my spirits and if you’re reading this, thanks guys!

On I go, wet, tired but happy. I’m caught up by another runner; we battle on together and I’m glad of the company. When we come across another fellow runner who’s hypothermic, we stop to see if we can help. He indicates he’s ok, but he needs to be rescued. With no phone signal we continue up and just before we reach the top, a couple of rescue guys are heading down to help him. They tell us we’ve only got 200m of the Pyg track to go.

Twenty two miles

On reaching the top I feel relieved more than anything. My hands are very cold and so are my legs. I’m still only in shorts. Finally I decide to stop and put on my waterproof trousers and gloves. Instantly I feel better and set off down but Arrgh! The pain in my knees is unbearable; I can only just move forwards. This really is hurting. Half a dozen runners pass me and now they’re asking if I’m ok. “Yep” I reply with a smile. I’m not.

I make a decision to see how I feel at the next water station and in a flash of inspiration decide to try walking down backwards. Poles tucked under my arms, I start singing Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. I’m good for six steps and then the pace goes into warp speed help! I manage to stop and get my breath back. Maybe not the best idea.

As the terrain begins to level out, I find I can move my knees a bit more. Great, at least I’m moving with a little less pain now. I reach the last water station but everyone has gone. There’s a box of gels left but I can’t find any water. I think maybe the two guys going to rescue the runner near the top might have been called away from here, so I carry on down. Several more runners pass and it’s clear to see everyone just needs to finish now, it’s been a long day.

Twenty five and half miles

I arrive on the road just above Llanberis where a marshal sends me into the woods with the words “just half a mile to go, keep going”. I follow the signs into another wood across the road, and I realise that I’m moving further and further away from the finish line. I can hear the tannoy system and it’s getting fainter. I continue about 400m out of this wood before I decide to back up just as a woman pops out. I explain I’m not sure of the route to the finish line. “I don’t care, I just know I’ve nearly finished!” she replies and sets off running down the road. Well ok!

Twenty five and 9/10 miles

Two more runners appear out of the woods and after a quick discussion we set off after the previous lady. I’ve already run this section, I’m thinking grudgingly as I turn a corner and see a marshal who tells me there’s only 400m to go. I up my pace to a crawl.

400 metres to go!

I can see the finish line now and I’m buzzing. Hood is there, shouting words of encouragement, wow this feels good, my first ever marathon and I’m going to get a PB! As I go over the chip timer I raise my hands into the air and hear a spectator shout to keep going – it’s only 200m to the actual finish line. Gulp! I dig deep, tears in my eyes as I cross the line in 7hrs 30mins.

Someone puts a medal round my neck and hands me a drink of water. First words out of my mouth are, “I could murder a cup of tea,” and Hood points me straight at the tea and biscuits station. Result!


Where's my medal? | Did someone mention tea?

Did it! Did it! Done! Would I do it again? Yes, yes, yes! What a fantastic day I’ve had. I’m knackered, don’t get me wrong but it’s been a great experience. Huge thank yous to all the people who’ve been into the shop to wish me luck, to all the spectators who cheered and clapped and to all the marshals who stood in the pouring rain and greeted us with smiles and encouragement. Thanks and I’ll be back!

By Paul Morris

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Paul Morris
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Where to climb in the Peak District when it rains

If you come down to the Peak today you’re in for a big surprise... it’s raining!

Don’t be put off; there are loads of options for climbing whether indoors or out. I climb all year round and have hardly been to a wall in the last year! After years of getting out there I've managed to get a feel for what's likely to be in condition on any given day, so to help you out here's a few tips. If you fancy a bit of a drive, the southern end of the Peak District can be worth a look. There's a lot of steep, quick-drying limestone down there, on generally good, pockety holds, but in this article I've concentrated mainly on the northern Peak District area, as it's closest to home and work for me, and extremely popular for locals and visitors alike.

"If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain" - Dolly Parton

Rainbow over Burbage South. Photo © Rob Turnbull

Firstly here are a few very quick drying crags if it’s just stopped raining:

Stanage Popular End

The most famous of all grit crags, it's popular for good reason, and in unsettled weather it's not a bad bet as it's is one of the quickest to dry, so long as there's a breeze! Stop for a brew in Robin Hood's Cave if it does start to rain, it'll be dry before you know it.

Sometimes, the best light occurs just after a storm.

Simon Kimber soloing Ellis' Eliminate. Photo © Dennis Bergmann

Stoney Middleton

Who says you can’t polish a turd? My favorite crag has sections that stay dry in the rain and often it has dried as soon as it stopped raining, as does the nearby bolted Horseshoe Quarry.


Yes, it’s hard, but the clean, exposed rock dries in seconds and often (being that tiny bit further south) gets slightly different weather to Hathersage. The same can be said for the end of Froggatt (Chequers Buttress), which is basically Curbar anyway.

Dennis Bergmann pulling into Elder Crack, Curbar Edge

The Burbage Valley

It’s always worth trying somewhere at Burbage because there are crags facing every direction, so if you’re hoping to get wind or sun, or avoid wind or sun there, is always somewhere to try. Also sometimes the rain comes down so sideways it blows straight over the crag; this happens a lot at Burbage West in particular. Plus, Higgar Tor is so steep you can climb on it in almost any weather, until you get to that heinous slopey top-out that is!

But it’s actually raining now! Here are a few crags to try if it's raining at the time.

Raven Tor (Miller's Dale)

THE Tor. The best hard sport crag in the Peak can be treated as an indoor wall most of the summer. Stays dry in full on downpours but be aware; it can seep in winter. The routes are hard (the warm up is 7b+) but don’t be put off: go down there, pick a route and don’t be ashamed to fall off every move, that’s what everyone does. Work on it and it will come. Also there is a ton of bouldering that will get you super strong.

Rubicon (Water-cum-Jolly)

A 2 minute approach will take you to a lovely spot by the river with lots of bouldering and traversing which again, can remain dry in heavy rain until the whole place floods or seeps!

Minus Ten (Stoney Middleton)

The original eliminate wall! Much less steep than the previous 2 options but it’s got more polish than Pledge. You can make your own problems up or follow the (strict) guidebook but it is a great training area and you will learn faith in friction! If you're after bolted routes, there's a handful on Garage Buttress that stay dry in the rain, although you may want to bring your belayer up to the ledge so they don't get a soaking. And should it absolutely shell it down, there's spooky caves to explore.

Bell Hagg

One for the connoisseur. We love it. Grit’s answer to Minus Ten is Burglar Buttress; a short steep lump with a huge capping roof that keeps it (nearly) dry all the time. Low level bouldering and traversing is the name of the game but unlike its limestone competitors it is littered with jugs. Start eliminating holds and there are some very hard problems to be had!

New Mills Torr (The "other" Tor)

Ok it’s a bit far from Hathersage but it’s ace. Trad, bouldering, sport, flood lit, all on grit and all under one roof! Confused? It is an odd place, but take a look in the Over the Moors guide to see what I'm talking about. The "other" Tor is steep quarried grit with great trad. It has trees capping most routes and a viaduct (!!) over the main wall keeping it very dry. The starts are steep making for great bouldering and someone has bolted the viaduct pillars to create the only sport climbing on grit. As if this wasn’t enough they've put up flood lights, so come rain or darkness, there’s no excuse!

Conditions can be a fickle thing, it takes many years of climbing on wet rock to learn where to go at any given time to get the best out of a bad day. Jon Fullwood wrote a great article on the Nectar Climbing blog that you may find useful, or, if you're visiting, you could just pop into the shop and chat to someone in the Rock Room for advice. We've also got a webcam, pointing towards Millstone, if you want live weather updates. It's a bit grainy (even though Dad's just cleaned the lens) but it gives you some idea of what the weather is doing before you head out.

Of course you could just climb anywhere anyway! Just occasionally, it’s adventurous and character building to get the waterproofs on and climb on in the rain. Not to mention a valuable skill to have if you have any alpine aspirations. Obviously lower your grade (a lot!), pick well protected routes and have fun! Or simply go aid climbing, an art that it is useful to know about!

If none of these take your fancy, and you're ready to admit defeat, then head to Hathersage to check out the Best Climbing Shop in the World Ever, before hitting one of the Sheffield climbing walls.

By James Turnbull
Climbing gear sales

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