Anna Taylor’s Not Only the First Woman to Complete all 83 Classic UK Climbs, But She Also Cycled Between Them

Climbing Endurance
Photo of Anna Taylor by Neil Gresham
Anna Taylor. Photo: Neil Gresham

On July 31, 23-year-old trad climber Anna Taylor took off from Penzance, Cornwall to do something unusual: complete the 83-route circuit found in Ken Wilson’s Classic Rock book.

Not only that, but she would also access each climb by bicycle and solo 68 of the routes. The bike path Taylor followed wends from Cornwall through Wales, the Lake District, Scotland, and finishes on the Isle of Skye.

On September 30, Taylor announced her triumph  — and relief — at having completed the feat. She’s the first woman to do so.

10,000 metres, 2,500 kilometres, and miserable conditions

Anna Taylor traversing gritstone

Photo: Anna Taylor, Neil Gresham

Taylor entered her project tour as an experienced trad climber but a nascent cyclist. She exited the Classic Rock challenge with a little over 10,000 vertical metres and 2,500 cycling kilometres under her belt.

Notably, gritstone legend Neil Gresham showed up to support and belay Taylor in the final stretches. She described “a fun, mildly epic adventure sliding around on the Cioch, and the Cuillin Ridge was, to put it frankly, f**king grim. It wasn’t quite the scenic finale I had in mind, but was quite a fitting ending in the sense that virtually nothing about this trip has ever gone according to plan.”

The young Briton noted her favorite and most formative experiences on the journey, too:

“There’s been some good and very memorable moments though. Climbing The Long Climb on the Ben in a bubble of mist feeling like I was the only person in the world was ace, as was the watery fight to get out of The Chasm (though that was perhaps more of a type 2 fun sort of day). Routes like The Devils Slide on Lundy and The Clean Sweep on Hells Lum were also highlights, and all that definitely made up for the times I was frozen, wet and off-route, or regretting my life choices cycling up endless hills.”

Is ‘fair means’ a trend?

British Isles climbing by Anna Taylor

Photo: Anna Taylor

The accession of climbing routes by fair means is having something of a moment. In July, German expeditionists Stefan Glowacz and Phillip Hans took off on the ‘Wallride’ route development tour through the Alps, covering 2,500km by bike and foot exclusively.

On September 20, Paralympian Andrea Lanfri cycled over 470km from Genoa, climbed up Capanna Margherita (4,554m), and returned to the base before cycling back to Genoa. He completed the first leg in under 19 hours.

And just earlier this week, the Swiss-Italian alpinist team of Simon Gietl and Roger Schaeli finished linking the Alps’ Six Great North Faces using human power alone, trekking, biking, or paragliding to and from each climb.

Even in light of this recent trend, after her trek across the British Isles, Taylor seems well-poised to hold her own in a largely male-dominant fore. And the young female ascentionist did most of it alone, on the cusp of a gloomy, slick shoulder season, and across the sparse British gritstone pate.

“For now,” she wrote, “I’m just appreciating being warm and dry, and I’m pretty relieved to have got this over with before it starts snowing.”

For a closer look at Anna Taylor’s two-month, 83-route accomplishment, check out her social channel, @anna_taylor_98.

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A post shared by Anna Taylor (@anna_taylor_98)

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About the Author

Jilli Cluff

Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college.
After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life.
She now works as a contributor, an editor, and a gear tester for ExplorersWeb and various other outlets within the AllGear network.
She is based out of Austin, Texas where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.

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Lenore Jones
Lenore Jones
1 month ago

Congratulations to Anna Taylor!

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Twinkletoes
Twinkletoes
1 month ago

Now that’s some proper sport.

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