A great phrase coined my old friend and swearing partner The Pylon King, referring obviously to brutish, nearnderthal climbing rather than the rather civilised Ogwen valley VS Yob Route. Something I was reminded of recently, pondering on forthcoming plans in which Diabeg slabs seemed a likely option. Despite fairly graded challenges, I felt little concern about getting on tricky slabs, they might be tricky but at least they are manageable. Unlike yob climbing, which I still feel well out of touch with, but still want to get to grips with. Hooliganic battles, perfect for climbers with biceps bigger than their brains - yet there is a certain pleasure, especially involving pulling off powerful moves in wild positions. It's still a bizarre feeling doing that on trad, but maybe it can become a familiar one?? Clearly this will involve a large amount of steepness, but not all steepnesses are equal. For example:
Steep and wild but not actually steep at all.
E.g. The Moon @ Gogarth, Dreadnought @ Berry Head
Where the whole crag and indeed route overhangs massively, but none of the climbing actually does. Generally fantastic fun and I tend to relish these as I know pretty well when I'm not overhung.
Steep in a gently impending way.
E.g. Wall Of Silence @ Reiff, Lady Charlotte @ Dunkeld
Where the route isn't hugely steep but it's consistently overhanging. Can be home to the dreadful "protection is good if you're strong enough to hang around and place it". A Scottish speciality due to the well featured rock on schist, sandstone and gneiss. Initially quite hard to deal with but fairly easy to train for and get used to. I'm getting there after 4 years.
Steep overhanging ladders.
E.g. Raging Bull @ Floors Craig, The Rasp @ Higgar Tor
When the rock is hugely steep and the holds are hugely huge. Pretty much a matter of being in the right attitude. Feel good and climb quick and they're easy, although again swift protection can be the key. My attitude varies as wildly and so do my successes.
Steep reassuringly traditional thrashes.
E.g. Walk Like An Egyptian @ Reiff, Space Monkey @ Ardmair
Where everything overhangs in enough dimensions that the battle is partly transferred to the lower body and the imagination of what appendages can be used. All over body pumps likely, but not as likely as swearing and crying. I'm semi-rubbish at these and don't know if I want to get any better.
Steep and wildly flamboyant.
E.g. The Sloth @ The Roaches, Mother's Pride @ Elgol
Where the rock is steeper than steep but the holds, protection and logistics mean the challenge is just a matter of being "out there" and dealing with the wildness. Similar to the overhanging ladders but even more fun when it works. Partly why I do the falling practise, to be able to switch off the phantom fears and switch on the yarding out from gear.
Steep and bouldery.
E.g. Bob's Overhang @ Long Slough, Bratach Uaine @ Creag Dubh
Where there is steepness and powerfulness combined. Again assume the logistics are fairly sensible which is useful as the moves can be bloody hard. Bouldering on a rope, sport climbing with good cams instead of bolts. I want to be able to do this sort of climbing, pulling hard on small holds is good at whatever the angle.
Steep and just plain hard.
E.g. Quietus @ Stanage, Pugilist @ Floors Craig
Where the steepness makes everything desperate, not least because most of the above challenges are combined. Very much a specialist subject for the yobbiest of the yobs. Excess body hair might be the key to success, as well as the ability to climb 2 grades harder than given. I have neither so I'm probably fucked.
So how to get better?? I tend to do plenty of steep bouldering indoor and out, and a fair amount of steep routes indoors to train (I've deliberately increased the angle since moving to Scotland). I guess I just need to do more, and of course more falling practise, always. Placing gear in steep pumpy situations is another factor entirely and I'm not sure how to deal with that apart from doing more of it. Maybe I need to relish slightly easier but still steep routes simply as good training??