Friday, 28 December 2012

Are You Ready for the Breck???

The Breck is an urban quarry in the middle of Wallasey on Merseyside, the other side of the river to Liverpool. It has a rich history and used to be the training ground of past heroes such as Phil Davison, the man who first soloed Right Wall in Llanberis. In recent times the Breck has fallen out of favour. No one really climbs there anymore, and it has become a refuge for those who feel the National Curriculum for Science and Geography is best replaced by a GCSE in litter, broken glass and scrounged cigarettes.

Imagine an old man, overlooked in favour of his more interesting neighbours. After a while someone will break into his home to find him stinking of piss and at death's door. This is the best way to describe the Breck. Some of us in Liverpool, like some form of Help the Aged or Meals on Wheels, are trying to assist this ailing quarry back to health.

The Breck encapsulates all that is good and bad about urban climbing. The floor of the quarry resembles some kind of art installation. If you could remove the dog poo, there’s an arts council grant to be won by anyone who can claim to have arranged the rubbish themselves. The quarry holds a lot of eliminates, out of fashion now, but good moves none the less. Apparently some of these problems were used back in the day to train for Gogarth! Being a boulderer I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good. The Breck also holds many good true or pure lines, as good as anything else on Merseyside and possibly beyond.

The Climbing.

The bouldering can be found on four separate walls of bullet hard sandstone, which at times resembles the grit found in the Lancashire quarries. The climbing generally involves pockets and crimps up walls of increasing steepness.

Granny’s Rock.

This is an isolated pinnacle of rock in the middle of the quarry. It is the first piece of rock to dry in Merseyside and is great to warm up on. Granny’s is the home of the Breck eliminate, with problems going up to V9. The only problem with this pinnacle is its colourful decoration, and in- situ carpet of glass.

Bluebell Wall.
A steep undercut wall / slab with slightly highball technical climbing. Problems range from British 5b to 6b (old money grading I know, but they do work). The climbing here is similar to, and as good as, Pex Hill and for many this is the main action in the quarry.

The Who Wall, and the Back Wall.

Si "Fatneck" Huthwaite bouldering out of the fireplace on the Back wall of the Breck.

The Who wall is limited but it is worth a mention, as it has a meaty high 6a up the middle of its front face. Just down the hill from the Who wall is the Back or Overhanging wall. Put simply this is one of the most impressive sweeps of sandstone on Merseyside. Originally developed as a top roping venue with in situ belay bolts and a route of French 8a, this sector has recently been exploited once again as a bouldering spot. An ascent of the Haston dyno (very highball V10) and Britain’s’ first confirmed British tech 7a move has turned tongues and heads Breckwards. The back wall at the Breck is steep and powerful. Problems follow the lines of the top rope routes and can finish at two thirds height in breaks or large pockets, but this could be seen as a cop out as the lines were originally soloed to the top. When you climb lines on this back wall they don’t seem high, however the amount of air time clocked when jumping off tells you a different story, even from the breaks. Opportunities may still exist for new lines on this wall if you take a boulderer’s perspective, but believe me the problems will be mingingly hard.

Why Bother.

Many people who read this post may wonder what the point is. The Breck on the face of it is a scabby urban quarry with eliminates, it doesn’t sound worth visiting. The point is this; we need to get in there before the old man goes terminal, before he is lost to dog shit, rubbish, kids, fire, and vegetation. Instead of flying off to EASYBOULDER every time there is a cheap flight advertised, let's try and keep our venues going. The Breck, like many other quarry venues across Yorkshire and Lancashire, has a rich history and lots of good climbing. It is worth the small amount of effort visiting these venues to give them a viable future. It only takes a regular show of visitors picking up the odd bit of rubbish, deterring vandalism by just being there, to turn these places around. If we don’t do this we will lose “The Knowledge” held in these places for ever.

Here's a Video of Mike sending the Haston Dyno, ground up with a crux high off the deck, bouldering as nature intended.

Cheers Owen

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