Anna Taylor is first female to complete ‘self-powered’ Classic Rock round


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Anna Taylor has become the first female to complete a self-powered round of every climbing route in an iconic guidebook.

The 23-year-old climbed more than 10,000m ticking off 83 routes in “Classic Rock”, which was written by Ken Wilson. She soloed most of the climbs. Anna also cycled 2400km and carried her kit on the journey that lasted 62 days.

The self-powered trip took her from south west England, to Wales, the Peak District and Lake District, and to the Scottish Highlands, before finishing on the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of 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.

Anna works her way up a route on leg 1 of her Classic Rock tour. Credit: Marc Langley
Sea cliff climbing during leg 1. Credit: Marc Langley

What is Classic Rock? And the Round?

First published in 1978, Classic Rock features 83 of arguably 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 of ticking off all of the routes.

The idea for the first self-powered round of the Classic Rock routes was reportedly conceived by the late Jamie Fisher. Jamie died in a storm in the French Alps in 1999, while climbing with his friend Jamie Andrew.

Jamie completed the Classic Rocks Round in 1997, except for a route where birds were nesting. Read his story on the Needle Sports website.

Another climber, Oliver Warlow was inspired to do the same in 2018 and again missed a route due to nesting birds. Read Classic Rock by Bike.

Anna tackles a Lake District route on Leg 4 of her Classic Rock tour.
Anna solos a route in Wales. Credit: Marc Langley

Anna’s Classic Rock Round

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 said: “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.”

Anna’s progress has been showcased on www.berghaus.com, and through @berghausofficial on Instagram, @TheRealBerghaus on Twitter and www.facebook.com/berghaus.

Anna in action in Wales during leg 2 of her Classic Rock tour. Credit: Marc Langley
Anna has a break from cycling to check messages. Credit: Marc Langley

Who is Anna Taylor?

Still only 23, Anna 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 she was 10. She started 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 she 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 are: 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, she 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.

Also read: Anna’s hopes of becoming the first female to complete a self-powered Classic Rock round.