Everytime I arrive in the Peak District I am awestruck by the nature and quality of natural Grit formations. I am also blown away by how thoughtful the quarrymen were; surely when quarrying away they had more important things to think about than ensuring they left all these perfect slabs and walls for future climbers; a brilliant stroke of foresight on their part.
The way that grit climbs also gives a very specific and unusual style. It's certainly not for everyone; I know a lot of people who have a really hard time on it. But I love it. It suits my morphological, psychological and technique...ological assets perfectly; often bold, balancey and precarious, it demands trust in your footwork, and subtlety and awareness in adjusting your centre of gravity. Often large areas of rock will only have just enough features to get up it, no more and no less. The lines it can produce range from thin and necky slabs to plum-vertical walls, striking cracks, soaring aretes, and its fair share of savage thrutchy chimneys and offwidths. Steve and I also noticed throughout the course of my trip to the Peak that I did a remarkable number of high-foot/rock-over moves (not just on the slabs either). Having strong legs and good flexibility proved to be one the most prominent and beneficial maneuvers in the grit-climbing repertoire, allowing me and Steve to climb at a similar standard, even though he is a powerful wildebeast and I'm a lanky cheese string in comparison!
The way that slate climbs also gives a very a specific and unusual style. Again, it's not for everyone; I know a lot of people who have a really hard time on it. But again, I love it. It too suits my morphological, psychological and techniqueological assets; bold, balancey and precarious, demanding trust in your footwork (just on tiny edges instead of tenuous smears), subtlety and awareness in adjusting your center of gravity. You see where this is going...? For some reason when I think of slate I always think of desperate thin slabs and nothing else, and I all too easily forget the top quality routes it has in it's other slightly unique styles. It has the infamous thin slabs, but again like grit it has the plum-vertical walls, striking cracks, soaring aretes and even the odd savage thrutchy chimney-grooves like Gin Palace and the Quarryman. Steve and I first noticed my extensive use of high-foot/rock-over moves on slate, before we noticed it in my grit climbing too. Having strong legs and good flexibility has proved to be the most prominent and beneficial maneuvers in the slate-climbing repertoire; just need to work on my pain-tolerance now.
I find it quite unusual to think about grit and slate, rough and smooth, rounded and sharp, both yielding such similar climbing styles with such high contrast in geology and form, but those two paragraphs match up nicely, and only leads me to conclude that if Steve and I had his powerful upper body and my stretchy strong lower body, plus a decent ape index, and a massive knob while we're wishing, and my face (obv), then not only would I/he/we look like a freakish ape man, we'd also be crushing French 9a slabs in no time.
So, we all better get stretching, squatting and slacklining as part of our training to become heros/wads/beasts/extreme punters/crushers or whatever you aspire to be, it will do us favors no end!