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28 Feb

Top Tips for Climbing Your First Limestone Routes!

Posted By: Jamie

There are some fantastic limestone crags in Devon to explore, from sea-cliff to quarry. If most of your climbing has only been on Dartmoor granite, then climbing on limestone can be a bit of a shock! As the weather is getting better here are some tips to tackle those limestone monsters!


#1 - Start off easy! Yes you might be able to boulder V4 granite on Hound Tor, however if you have never climbed on limestone it makes sense to drop the grade a little and get accustomed to the different movements and techniques limestone forces you to do.


#2 - If trad climbing, place lots of gear at the bottom of the crag.  Placing quality protection can be tricky on new rock types that you haven't climbed on before.  It is important to ensure that you are confident placing gear on unfamiliar rock before you find yourself on the sharp end trying to place fiddly bits of gear into small cracks.


#3 - Footwork, footwork, footwork! More often than not, you will find yourself with minimal handholds and shoddy footholds when climbing in limestone, especially if it is a polished classic route - therefore good accurate footwork is key if you want to avoid those air miles.  The climbing wall can be a good place for those footwork drills such as quiet feet.  Similarly, hiring a Mountain Training UK national coach can help to improve your climbing - have a chat with your local wall and double check the coach is accredited and not just a "I'm a great climber, surely I'll be a good coach".  Nationally accredited coaches have been vigorously trained and assessed to coach climbing movement.


#4 - Keep an eye on the weather. In decent conditions limestone can be fantastic to climb on and holds a lot of friction. However, climbing on a limestone route when it's in the sunshine and the rock is boiling is a recipe for super sweaty hands and greasy holds - this will definitely lead to air miles on a hard polished route! The same goes for slightly damp routes in the cold, these can feel like trying to climb an ice-rink (Chudleigh Rocks for example). Make sure the weather is good then those routes can feel a little easier to climb.


Looking for a classic route this summer? Try Magical Mystery Tour (HVS 5a), a magical limestone sea level traverse on Berry Head, Torquay.

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