Jordan Buys has repeated Exodus in great style, bravo Jordan. He has climbed the route ground-up (with several falls) which is a fine effort. Slightly guttingly he seems to have found the climbing significantly easier than I did. Initially he suggested that it felt like Fr7c (I thought getting on for 8a+), but I think I've managed to talk him up to 7c+. Honestly I still think that's a bit harsh, but I guess a concensus will emerge (assuming anyone else tries it...). So it seems appropriate to bump the grade down a notch to E7 rather than E8. Hey-ho... On the upside he confirmed that the line is quality climbing and should be on peoples hit-list.
What do I think about this downgrade, well... Obviously on one hand I'm a bit gutted that Jordan didn't find it uber-hard, but then as he's just crushed 9a that was never really going to happen was it? However I gave an honest attept at grading the route, and Jordan has given his honest opinion of the dificulty of the line. Those assesments are different, which is to be expected we are after all diffrent people. So who's right? Well neither of us, or maybe both of us. I'll concede the fact that I don't have much experience of limestone trad (certainly less than Jordan) or indeed much experience of physically hard but pretty safe trad (having more of a bold and stupid background) which could/would affect my ability to accurately grade the climb. On the flipside of that this route was wayyyyy below Jordans current limit, so maybe his perspective is a little out? On balance I'd accept Jordans suggested grade of E7 rather than E8, but I think he's a bit low with his suggested sport grade of 7c/c+. Anyway with a few more repeats there could be some concensus reached, I think it's excellent and Jordan seemed to rate it so get to it...
Final little thing about grading (sorry I know this is boring), I picked the grade that seemed accurate to me, and I will continue to do so with future new routes. In the fullness of time some of these will turn out to be right, and some will change. That's the nature of grading first ascents, and I'm happy for grade changes to be suggested and discussed quite openly. I would always try to justify my initial grading and my reasoning, this isn't an attempt to prove other opinions wrong just an explanation of my standpoint. All grading is a matter of opinion to an extent, and we all have different experiences of the same climb. However I think, and this relates to a recent-ish blog post from Tom Randall, that there are a number of historical routes that have developed some type of grade inertia which is throwing spanners in the UK grading system works. We shouldn't as individuals be afraid to offer up an honest opinion of the difficulty or grade of a route, and we equally shouldn't as a community shy away from adjusting route grades (even some of those established classics) to maintain a sensible system.
Anyway enough of this. I'm moving to the Isle of Man in the Summer and last week I had a trip over there for a few days to look at a house, sort some stuff out and get back to my usual style of climbing. Bold and stupid here we come...
Bold and stupid on grit is fun, because it's generally so very solid. You might be run out but the rock is the rock, and it stays that way. If you can do the climbing (and keep your head) you can do the climb. Rock on the Isle of Man is of a more "adventurous" nature, being at times solid whilst also having a less dependable streak.
The Chasms is the main venue on the island, however at this time of year it is subject to a bird ban. So I found myself spending a couple of days at a lesser crag called Aldrick where I got the second ascent of three of Doug's recent new routes, and managed to put up four new lines.
1 - May The Fourth Be With You E4 5c
One of Doug's. A steep bouldery start then some steady slab/face climbing on generally good if slightly disposable holds. Small friends and a few wires provide protection.On-sighted.
2 - Sole Therapy E4 6a
Another of Doug's. Technical steep slab start leads to a peg and the crux move, the top half is a very similar proposition to May The Fourth. On-sighted.
3 - Short and Sharp E2 5c
Doug's. A fingery boulder problem start then some good friends and an easier upper wall. On-sighted.
4 - Briefly Bulging VS 4b
The first of my new lines (don't worry they get a bit more exciting than this...). A boulder problem start then an easier upper wall avoiding the loose looking blocks. Climbed on-sight.
1 - Three Times A Lady VS 4b
Existing route, didn't climb it.
2 - Marquis De Mouzilly E6 6a
Climb directly up the wall, starting one metre right of the crack.
Friable rock leads to a decent wire at about 5 metres, then another
couple of metres leads to an overlap and some less inspiring gear. Then
cross the overlap and continue boldly up the wall on delicate holds. I ab'ed the line of this to clean it, then solo'ed it on my first attempt. It's pretty scary rock which requires a delicate touch.
3 -Veneer HVS 5a
Existing route, didn't climb it (this is the same #3 as in the previous photo)
4 - Muttonchops Martin E7 6b
Up the middle of the greenery covered face, start a couple of metres
left of the crack behind a tall tooth boulder. Climb directly up the
face. No desperate moves, but consistent, sustained and very bold.
Slightly questionable rock, take care. Again I ab'ed the line of this to clean it, then solo'ed it on my first
attempt. It's also pretty scary rock which requires a delicate touch.
1 - Hemlock E8 6b
Climb the centre of the face of Eiger Buttress. Bold and serious
climbing up a steepening slab of friable rock with no gear good enough
to take body weight. Eeek! Low in the grade? This was terrifying! I tried, like an idiot, to on-sight the F.A. of this on my first day out. I got about halfway up, felt about E6 6a, removing loose rock aplenty with both hands and feet as I went! I got to a reasonable rest position and realised that the slab steepened up above and I had no gear worth hanging a coat on. The option was press on and get super-commited on steepening ground of poor rock, or call for a rope. Not that difficult a choice really. After a rope was dropped and I clipped in I continued up the face, I didn't fall off or weight the rope at any point. So should I have stayed on the sharp end? Not a chance, it was scary enough on a top-rope thank-you very much. I walked away thinking it was unjustifiable as a climb...
On the next day out I wanted to try a steep face round the corner but ti rapidly became apparent that the cleaning job would take me the rest of the day so I binned it off and instead dropped a rope down the line of Hemlock for a cheeky shunt. Again I didn't fall off and this time I didn't manage to remove as many holds. twice up it, no falls? Hmmm, I went off and had a ponder for an hour or so then popped back and solo'ed it...
...properly getting the fear. I didn't do much more climbing after this.
A nice couple of days on the more adventurous side of Manx climbing, I've scoped out plenty of things to check out and am actually SYKED for the move.