by Mick Ryan Adam Long The Block at Black Rocks (near Cromford in the South Peak) is home to some illustrious and hard gritstone slab routes; Gabe Regan´s 1987 route Velvet Silence is given E6 6c, and in 1994 Johnny Dawes had some good sessions creating Jumping on a Beetle E7 6c and The Angel´s Share E8 7a. Most of these routes are around 8m high, have good landings and are usually soloed after practice, although some have been onsighted, or in modern parlance ´ground-upped´ (not to be confused with big upped). Modern bouldering mats are making these short but vicious climbs a less serious affair but still nerve-wracking and hard on the body if wicked gravity has its way with you. More to the point, an increasing number of routes climbed BM (Before Mats) that were given high E grades are now succumbing to no-practice ground-up ascents and Al Manson-forbid, are even given ´mere´ bouldering grades – E8´s to Font 7c! Not half as impressive. But the proof is in the doing, or for most of us in this particular case, the watching. The Angel´s Share is the prize of the crop on The Block, described as „No handholds on the pebble-less slab result in several rock-overs which require timed momentum from the previous rock-over to enable a foot to be placed higher – ultimate Dawes.“ Twenty-eight year old onsight purist Adam Long (he´s also a well-known outdoor photographer -website and UKClimbing.com profile here) -made a ground-up ascent of Angel´s Share on March 2nd taking some impressive falls right from the last move that mere words don´t do justice to. In fact courtesy of Crabstix productions who brought us the bouldering DVD Winter Sessions (website) you can witness Adam´s ascent – and descents here at YouTube (It´s a preview from a forthcoming film…from crabstixproductions.com). Adam went on to ´tick´ the rest of the routes on The Block including Jumping on a Beetle and Velvet Silence, some of which he had done before (including some hard falls without mats). Grade-wise he thought that The Angel´s Share warranted a bouldering grade of Font 7c or English technical 7a. A day after his ascents he was suffering and said, „My knees are killing today and I think I´ve got whiplash.“ He recommends taking more than four bouldering mats. Just make sure that you don´t build a patio! Source: ukbouldering.com, rockfax.com, Crabstix productions, You Tube