Gronk - My favourite route at Avon!

So it so often seems Avon gets a bit of a poor reputation as a noisy, polished crag but Dick and I, here will vehemently defend the place!

Given it’s doorstep location, it’s the perfect place to pop down for a climb after work and whilst yes there are a few routes to avoid (Jasper sitting high on my list), there’s so many routes that make the place great whether you’re looking at climbing hard trad test-pieces or an easy multi-pitch outing from the carpark to the ice cream van. Hell, there’s even New Quarry with it’s low grade sport climbing and even some French 8a sport routes tucked in around Seawalls with Academic and The Prince. All in all something for most people.

For a load of inspiration including Martin Crocker’s brilliant “How to Climb to a Ripe Old Age in Avon Gorge” and the New Quarry Sport Climbing topo articles keep an eye on the Climb Bristol webpage.

Without further a do though, here’s probably my favourite route at the gorge, Gronk, which is apparently a noun meaning a fool or idiot; a weak person. Seems about right.

So my history with Gronk is chequered, early in my Trad climbing career I took a fantastic lob off this route. Climbing in the dark with poor head torch between us, my leader traversed across the first break with me following, albeit too high. I remember a brief moment looking down and seeing it was so black that I couldn’t see the ground, just a velvety dark space below … then I fell down into afore mentioned dark space and swung fiercely into the route Morpheus below to the right, which I then had to climb up to join my partner in crime at the shared belay. At this point we decided to take the easier route off much to my relief.

Fast forward seven or eight years I must have climbed the route easily ten times or more with various partners, sometimes leading, sometimes lead and more recently as a most agreeable solo taking in the five varying pitches up and around the Bisector Wall of Seawalls. 

Classic Avon protection including a token peg protecting the unusual moves early in the climb, lead way to a nice diagonal romp up through various grooves and protrusions, now passing the large white rock scar that used to house a dubious flake. Then with the third pitch, the excitement begins, a peculiar few moves downwards lead to a brilliant traverse left to right, a number of large ledges for feet are coupled with a very sparse selection of crimps for hands making it an exciting outing. Pitch four leads to the greatest exposure passing over the cap of the Bisector Wall on a secure but exacting traverse along cracks and rails for hands and feet with a clear view of the ground far below by this point. A longer pitch than initially expected as it continues on around the corner a fair bit before the final belay sets you up for the last pitch straight up to the Downs and a much deserved Ice Cream at the van parked at the top, giving you the perfect viewing position to observe your chosen route to the top.

I’m not alone in my favour for this route with it boasting a plethora of 3 Star votes on UKC and if you’re still not convinced have a look at this great video showing a young team tackle it.

 

- Pete - 

 

Pete Derrett September 29, 2015