Anna Taylor completes first female ‘self-powered’ Classic Rock round
- Saturday 2nd October 2021
Anna Taylor has become the first woman to complete a self-powered round of every route that features in Classic Rock, the iconic book written by Ken Wilson.
Carrying all of her kit with her, Anna, 23, cycled 2,400 kilometres and climbed over 10,000 metres during a journey that lasted 62 days and saw her solo most of the 83 routes. She had to contend with everything that the UK weather could throw at her as she journeyed from southwest England to Wales, the Peak District and Lake District, and then up to the Scottish Highlands, before finishing on the Cuillin ridge on Skye. Anna’s trip was sponsored by Berghaus, which supplied her with the latest performance outdoor kit and arranged for photographers to document the round.
First published in 1978, Classic Rock features 83 of the best rock climbs (up to the grade of VS) that England, Scotland and Wales have to offer. In a similar fashion to Munro or Wainwright bagging, some climbers make a long term project out of ticking off all of the routes, travelling all over the country to get them done. Rounds of the Classic Rock routes have almost been completed at least twice before, thwarted by bad weather or nesting birds.
Initially, Anna believed that self-powered rounds had also been completed, but discovered early in her journey that she could be the first. With the intention of being self-powered throughout (other than ferry journeys to islands where some routes are located), Anna cycled between each area and carried all of her own kit. Not only did she successfully climb all 83 routes, but she also completed the vast majority solo.
Anna comments: “I am both delighted and relieved to complete my Classic Rock journey. I’ve learnt so much over the last couple of months and the experience has certainly been memorable – it’s been good, bad and at times downright ugly! Soloing a wet, vegetation-covered chimney is not much fun, while my legs were definitely not ready for cycling hundreds of miles while carrying all of my gear. Add in a bout of sickness and some typically lively UK weather and the journey was far from straightforward, but the compensations more than made up for all of that.
“It was pretty special to solo long pitches on beautiful faces high in the mountains with minimal equipment. The round has taken me to some new and wonderful places – physically and mentally – and I have gained an even greater appreciation of the climbing that’s available on these shores. As for the 83 routes that Ken Wilson collected in Classic Rock, I think I can understand why he chose almost all of them!”
More about Anna
Still only 23, Anna Taylor is already making a name for herself as one of the UK’s best trad and adventure climbers. Anna is from the Lake District and has been climbing since the age of 10. She started out as a competition climber but soon discovered that she preferred being outdoors and was attracted to the mental challenges presented by trad climbing. With this as her core focus, she became Neil Gresham’s training partner in 2016 and has gone on to chalk up an impressive list of routes.
Anna climbed her first E7 and flashed her first E6 aged 19, and has made the first female ascent of several routes graded from E6 to E8. In May 2019, she climbed five E7 routes, including three in a week. Some of Anna’s notable climbs include My Halo (E7 6b) in the Llanberis slate quarries, without the mid-height bolt, Obsession Fatale (E8 6b) at the Roaches, Disorderly Conduct (E8 6c) at Reecastle Crag; and the first ascent of Priceless (E7 6b) at Thrang Crags in Langdale.
Anna joined the Berghaus athlete team in 2019 and in November that year accompanied fellow Berghaus climber Leo Houlding on an expedition to Guyana in South America. This was Anna’s first major overseas climbing trip and she played a key role in the team’s successful first ascent of a big wall route on the Prow of Roraima.