By David Fisher.
Undoubtedly my favourite climb within the Avon Gorge would be Gronk – a four pitch, four star (in my book), classic adventure with an absolutely spectacular final pitch traverse line.
It was a hot and sunny day some years ago when I originally climbed this route with a climbing partner and we took turns at alternate leads, and I think it may have been one of the first multi pitch VS climbs that I actually led on.
The first pitch starts off innocently enough but soon leads to a steep headwall. The move is a sort of mantle shelf and leg swing and although protected by a bolt still feels fairly committing.
The second pitch is where one first starts to get a feeling of exposure on the climb. Stepping up onto a narrow ledge and a move right to a position where the rock seems to disappear below.
Pitch three calls for care and delicacy. A mini traverse section (and perhaps a portent of what is to come on pitch four) calls for moving beyond a last placed piece of gear and a step downward which feels unnatural. Before making the move it’s obvious where one needs to go although not so obvious quite exactly how one gets there.
Finally, and saving the best to last perhaps, the long traverse out to the left. At this point the impression is definitely that there’s more of the gorge below than there is above. The moves are well protected (cams are very handy) which is just as well as the footing gets narrow in places.
At the end of the climb I recall feeling an immense sense of satisfaction, which together with the hotness of the day could only be rewarded by a pint at a nearby dockside pub (of which Bristol has many close to the climbs.)
I would recommend the Avon Gorge as a venue for many great adventures and Gronk is certainly one of them.