Chapter 12. The Climber's Appendix — A Classification of Routes

Table of Contents

Kings College
Trinity College (Night Porters)
St. John's College
Fitzwilliam Museum
Senate House
Pitt Press
Clare College
Old Schools (A paradise for beginners)
New Hall (Just V.S.)

Any attempt at rigid classification is bound, by its very nature, to invite criticism; and this section of the book is no exception. We all felt for some time the need for some sort of documented grading, and recognised the inevitable pitfalls. We have not side-stepped them all, but we feel that we have reached a fair compromise.

The classification is not intended to be rigid by any standard. It is based primarily on the experience of four climbers who know the buildings of Cambridge well. In addition there were innumerable other people, friends and acquaintances, who weighed in with their own views, and those whose suggestions helped broaden the discussions out of which arose the following system. All four of us had advantages and disadvantages of height, reach, weight, etc., and in finalising the grading, we hope that we have produced something that will serve as a useful contribution to Cambridge Nightclimbing.


V.S. = Very Severe
S. = Severe
H.V.D. = Hard Very Difficult
V.D. = Very Difficult
D. = Difficult

Kings College

  1. Chetwynd Chimney (H.V.D.)

    Strenuous climbing in awkward and restricted positions. The drainpipe is now being renewed, after a top section attempted to fall on Dave and myself. A good climb in a select area of the college.

  2. Porters Lodge (Just V.S.)

    A strenuous climb, particularly on the hands, in an exciting position. Few people have been known to finish it without arousing some interest from below. Avoid the middle of the clock face — the key to this section is to move over to the right hand side of the clock face, where a small finger grip can be found on the corner of an otherwise useless ledge. Do not spend too long at the top.

  3. Gibbs Building
    1. Drainpipe Route (V.D.)

      The pipe can be trusted, but put runners on near the brackets for safety. 1st Ascent 1.45 a.m. 10th May 1966.

    2. Archway Route (Just V.S.)

      Interesting technically, and takes the natural route. 1st Ascent 2.45 a.m. 10th May 1966.

  4. King's Chapel (V.S.)

    Long and sustained. The second pitch is the most strenuous. It might be noted that the crux (the move out from the window to the drainpipe) is /not/ irreversible. The lay-back is one of the hardest in Cambridge, certainly on drainpipes. Pinnacles are straightforward. Caution exercised near glass.