Britain's Got Guts

United Kingdom
by Adam Roy Oct 21, 2010

Image: Dave Macleod/Rare Breed Productions

Britain’s rock climbers have a long, rich history of doing absolutely insane things. Luckily, most of them have been caught on video.

YOUR FAVORITE EDITOR is turning 22 this Saturday, and in true Matadorian fashion, he’s celebrating by taking off at the last minute to go trad climbing in New Hampshire. To tide you over in my absence, I’ve collected three of my personal favorite climbing videos from across the pond.

As much as it pains me to say it, England beats New England for sheer guts; they climb such scary stuff that they literally had to invent a new grading scale–the “E scale”–to describe it.

So here’s to Britain’s fearless climbers. May I one day have half the guts you do.

Neil Bentley headpoints The New Statesman

Climbing films don’t get more classic than Hard Grit, Slackjaw Films’ 1998 profile of the edgy, dangerous culture of Peak District climbing. This scene, of Neil Bentley leading the frighteningly unprotected route The New Statesman (E8), is one of my favorite in the film.

George Ullrich attempts Bachar-Yerian without bolts

After onsighting Bachar-Yerian (5.11c R/X), one of Yosemite’s most run-out and dangerous routes, George Ullrich decided that it wasn’t exciting enough. His solution was to try it again without the bolts, instead only using metal hooks and wire loops slung around pebbles to protect against a fatal fall.

Dave Macleod climbs The Walk of Life

First climbed by James Pearson, this seaside slab is a magnificent slice of rock, and sparsely protected enough to make for a genuinely scary-looking climb. While the route’s since gotten caught up in a squabble over its grade, that doesn’t make it any less impressive.

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