How Many Roads…

DMM | 21 November, 2019

Ben Bransby has added a difficult new route to the quarried gritstone crag of Millstone—a popular Peak District venue where you wouldn't imagine there'd be any gaps left to fill-in.

However, Ben had noticed no routes climbed the wall featuring some obvious rugosities, between Coventry Street and Jermyn Street, past a couple of pegs into Keyhole Cave and continuing straight up the headwall.

It took Ben a few visits before finally getting it on the lead this Thursday. Grading it E7+ [Ed: Ben grades conservatively], he commented: "It felt like 8b climbing but it wasn't my style so probably 8a+". Ben named it How Many Roads… as a nod to Andy Pollitt who died this month aged 56 and was a big Bob Dylan fan.

Ben on the crux lower wall from an earlier attempt. © Ray Wood
Ben on the crux lower wall from an earlier attempt. © Ray Wood
Bransby leading the headwall above the cave and which could be climbed as a pitch in its own right. © Ray Wood
Bransby leading the headwall above the cave and which could be climbed as a pitch in its own right. © Ray Wood

Two days previously, when he'd last attempted the route, the issue was keeping his fingers from going numb in the necessary cold conditions to climb the route—it was just above 0°C. On his successful attempt he had a hand warmer in his chalk bag and at the sit-down rest in the cave he changed out of his tight rock shoes into a more comfortable pair for the finish.

The photo of Ben on the crux lower wall is from Tuesday's attempt which finished with him falling off and passing his belayer, Jean Bransby (Ben's mum), as she headed upwards, before he stopped a couple of feet above the floor.

The other shot is from the previous day where Ben led the wall above the cave and which could be climbed as a pitch in its own right. Chris Plant had been trying this top section but generously encouraged Ben to try it as a natural finish to the initial climbing.