/ NEWS: Neil Gresham talks about Dave Macleod and Indian Face
Neil Gresham is one of three people to have led Johnny Dawes's Indian Face E9 6c on Cloggy. In 1996, Neil and Nick Dixon both fell under the route's spell and made the long awaited repeat ascents.
Last week, Dave Macleod top roped the route but decided not to lead it and explained why on his blog.
Neil Gresham responds to what Dave said
Read Neil's comments at UKClimbing.com's News page: http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/
Well said as ever by Neil.
What amazes me is the way they all dismiss it as a slab - I have done Great Wall, just a short distance to the left and ostensible the same angle - and for sure that ain't no slab (otherwise it would be called Great Slab!)
It's all relative!
Wheres DJ Viper when you8 need him ?
Strikes me that DM simply didn't find the route sufficently hard physically to enable him to prepare mentally for it. You have to be really phsyched up to put your life on the line - Dawes, Dixon and Gresham spent many days working it on a top rope and were clearly pretty focused on it. DM didn't require the same effort or commitment to be physically ready, but made a sensible decision that he wasn't right mentally
Would all those people who flamed me on the other thread for saying I felt Dave was being rather dismissive of the route now like to retract given that Neil has effectively said the same? And he should know.
After a search of the forums and Web I couldn't find it, though I am sure it must somewhere on here, so does anyone have the text from the Williams guide book description of The Indian Face?
the account of his IF lead is at the start of the new Cloggy guide if that is what you meant.
Restrained and reasonable response from Neil IMO. I have always found his account of his ascent in the Cloggy guide riveting. Though I'll never come within a million miles of the experience, it gave me some glimpse of what it must have been like and inspired me in a way that descriptions of more recent Ex achievements have not.
As a sub-E-grade bimbler, I guess I could be said to have no right to comment on things I can't possible understand, but I guess the tale of Indian Face has always been a part of what I think is special about climbing. The arena has to be part of it, having done my first Cloggy climb earlier in the year, it is an awe-inspiring place to be and the hardest way up it is always going to have some of this feeling rub off on it.
I'm not convinced it is relative - a slab is a slab!
> Would all those people who flamed me on the other thread for saying I felt Dave was being rather dismissive of the route now like to retract given that Neil has effectively said the same? And he should know.
Dismisive? How so?
The style is very 'on-off', on smears and side-pulls, and it takes ages to climb it. Compared to other E9's it doesn't feel so hard on a top-rope, but I've never known a route to feel so different on the lead. Rope drag, foot cramp and the sheer awe of the surroundings play a huge part. Of course, as Dave rightly says, one of the reasons you might fall off is because a foot slips - but isn't this the thrill of hard slab climbing?
The assertion that the route is snappy is something that I disagree with, and I don't recall Nick or Johnny making this comment either. However, this type of thing is all about 'feel' and Dave's view must clearly be considered. So does Indian Face really deserve the hype? Were the Demons that Redhead confronted just margins of his mind? Who can say? But in my opinion, the route remains one of the finest and scariest, and I would not want worthy suitors to be deterred.
Jon means that Neil is effectively saying the same as Jon who felt that Dave was being rather dismissive of the route.
Yes, what Dave McG said.
My command of English has deserted me today it seems..
Nope, because that's not what you said, what you said was that Dave was 'whinging'. Later on that thread you retracted.
You can't have success without failure like you can't have dark without light etc etc, blah blah. Failing on routes is absolutely fundamental to what climbing is all about. We only ever here about people suceeding on routes and this is just not representative of the whole climbing experience. So it is nice to hear Dave Macleod talking about Indian Face and I hope he writes a more indepth essay on it. Sometimes you want to climb a route but turn up and just say "sod that". Or you tie in and then say "sod that". Or you have a go and then back off or get rescued or fall off. Other times you have an epic but get up it, or you just find it easy. (P.S. is Indian Face E10?)
> (P.S. is Indian Face E10?)
No, was originally graded E0 but the concensus was that grade doesn't exist.
Nope, later on in that thread I I retracted my whingeing comment. I stood my ground re his negativity about the route. I still received flak for that and the general view was along the lines of whatever Dave says must be right. I took a different view from the UKC posse (which includes you in this instance).
I would add that I think Dave is a superb climber, hugely positive generally, and I greatly admire him. I felt his statement on IF was quite at odds with his normal attitude.
Perhaps Neil is correct when he effectively suggests that this route was probably not going to inspire Dave in the same way that a tech hard, steep, physical route (ie. the usual headpoint style route) was going to do.
Oh, well I didn't post anything critical of your posts... or anything at all, as far as I can remember... after that one about whinging, did I? Therefore you'll not be expecting me to retract what I did say. So I take it your post above was aimed at others, not me.
I stated in my OP that I admired Dave for being honest about his backing off from the lead. I simply felt that in doing so he ended up being rather dismissive of the quality of the route - something which Neil Gresham has obviously felt the need to dispute in public. That was my original point (and I do regret my whingeing comment - it was late and I was emotional...;) )
Heck, I don't know, I haven't been on IF and never will (I'm no fantasist). However, this route has such history and the epics which have been had on it give it an aura that I think climbing benefits from. I found Neil's account of IF in the guidebook to be possibly the most inspiring/riveting writing I have ever read about a route. Reading Dave's blog entry on IF, he seemed to be trying to lower it to any old piece of rock and not a very quality piece of rock at that.
Anyway, I've just noticed the price of the E11 video has been slashed. Obviously backing off IF was not the best move from a PR perspective ;)
And to another poster, yes, it would be great if he did get back on it but from his blog that sounds unlikely (or his "reasoning" for backing off would surely be found to just a reaction).
um, at what point did i start to have a go at you? you seem to be having a go at me..
I'm not having a go at you, sorry if it sounds like I am. As I remember that 'whinging' comment was posted late at night, and picking words without much thought goes hand in hand with posting late at night for me, so I don't blame anyone else for doing similar! :o)
Dave has written more
I hope he doesn't feel he has to justify not taking such an outrageous risk...
Also people seem to be forgetting that differant styles of climbing suit/appeal to differant people. (And in most cases what appeals is what suits them the best)
Dawes' route often utilised his amazing sense of balance, Macleod seems to prefer more powerful routes. It's like comparing Three Pebble Slab and Sloth...
It's like comparing Three Pebble Slab and Sloth...
You mean like one E1/HVS and another E1/HVS.
Did not DM say that you can take your hands off all the way up?
That sounds like a slab to me.
> It's like comparing Three Pebble Slab and Sloth...
> You mean like one E1/HVS and another E1/HVS.
You can drop the E1 on both of these
al, they're both E0s !
*everyone* knows that...!
Not necessarily in response to the OP.
Where are we going with all of this stuff about Dave Macleod deciding against going for the headpoint of Indian Face? Are we forgetting the full context of his decision and comments about the route? Possibly for some, ok, probably for many, climbing can be a numbers game, but hopefully for most of us it's about imagination, inspiration, uncertainty and realisation. Let's not forget Authentic Desire.
Surely Dave has put all of that before Name and Number? Thankfully so. His comments about the nature of the rock and/or climbing represent parts of a far more complex whole, and as Mick has suggested, Neil and Nick fell under the route's spell, whereas maybe Dave didn't.
Perhaps in British climbing there is no finer cathedral than Cloggy. Dave MacLeod's integrity will hopefully be respected as much as Johnny, Neil and Nick's great ascents of Indian Face are applauded.
One thing that strikes me about all this is the absolute need only to do routes like IF (or anything dangerous really) if you really feel you want to, and never because you're *expected* to or because others want you to. People have been asking about the possibility of Dave Macleod doing Indian Face for a while now, and maybe he feels some subtle pressure about it all. If so, damn good call to 'sack it', and do something he feels more personally motivated about. Quite an empowering act, I'd say, to use a bit of a New Agey expression.
Johnny Dawes thinks you can influence such things as snappyness with imagination:
Perhaps you can. I will never know. Much as I will never be able to offer an opinion on what seems to be the key point.
>"maybe he feels some subtle pressure about it all. If so, damn good call to 'sack it'"
...but the UKC massive demand our gladiators fight to the death. We want to see success or blood. We don't want to know about 'snappy' crystals.
I've read and re-read Dave's blog entry, and in no way can I discern the remotest suggestion that he was dismissive of Indian Face or disrespectful of those who had done it. He just didn't fancy it.
Dawes, Dixon and Gresham presumably had a far longer length of time to let the route get under their skin and work up the psyche for what is undoubtedly a life-threatening lead. Dave had a day; he may in time want to get back on it but that's his call.
>Good on him, my already great respect for the dude is increased all the more - but the extra bit DID need saying
Yes, I find the snappiness comment surprising. I've done easier routes nearby and I wouldn't have thought this was particularly an issue with the rock thereabouts. Feet slipping, yes. Nor have I heard any of the other people have been on it say this.
Not that I'm disputing Dave M's opinion, of course - I've no basis to at all - just saying I find it surprising.
These things can sometimes be in the mind. John Long says something about this in The Only Blasphemy.
Some people are missing the point, I think. No-one was slagging Dave M for not going for the lead, only saying that he might have expressed himself a bit differently. It is slightly quaint to go on something like IF and then say you didn't do it because you don't fancy the sort of climbing where it's on-off and your feet might slip: it's hard to think DM was expecting anything else.
There's always something a bit disrespectful to previous ascensionists about this whole of-course-I-could-do-the-route-but-it's-not-worth-it-for-me thing. Maybe other ascensionists had a different value scale at the time, true. But maybe they were just more confident they wouldn't fall off than you were because they're better than you at the sort of climbing involved.
I'm not saying that's what DM said, or if he did it was in a very mild way, but he left himself open to being interpreted that way, and I bet he wishes he'd said it slightly differently.
Sometimes I wish that climbers would get a bit more big brother-esque and really get out the claws! Neil was far too polite in his response. Give me some crag gossip!
> Not that I'm disputing Dave M's opinion, of course - I've no basis to at all - just saying I find it surprising.
> These things can sometimes be in the mind. John Long says something about this in The Only Blasphemy.
Good summing up anyway. You probably said what a lot of people were feeling.
I also don't see why any concessions made in respect to rock quality then lead to the implication of "leads tainted with the suspicion of ill judged obsession." I'm sorry to hear you will never be able to offer an opinion on these matters. Without wishing to challenge the categorical nature of your assertion, unlike you, I feel I can offer an opinion. As I said, "hopefully for most of us" (our climbing is) "about imagination, inspiration, uncertainty and realisation." How those factors combine will have a great bearing on where we focus our attentions. I think it's wonderful that different people are drawn by different things in climbing (possibly challenges). The more authentic our motivation is, the closer to self expression and realisation our climbing becomes.
Tell us more Al!
> Yes, I find the snappiness comment surprising. I've done easier routes nearby and I wouldn't have thought this was particularly an issue with the rock thereabouts. Feet slipping, yes.
Dave made his comment about snappiness after a hold actually snapped on him whilst he was on toprope, in a position that would have resulted in a massive ground fall had he been leading. It seems perfectly justified to consider a route to be snappy when vital holds have snapped.
folk seem to be forgetting macleods quick ascent of Trauma, not exactly a safe route or are folk just used to dave pissing up routes now and are taking it for granted?
folk also seem to be ignorant of the fact that macleod is a very bold climber, the fugue springs to mind as an example of that, lets face it IF didnt inspire him enough to lead it, end of story. I also think IF gets too much hype and publicity, very impressive for the time but things have moved on.. how many people are aware of Julian Lines's awesome creation on the Shelterstone? makes IF look like a 10m gritstone boulder problem.
I can't believe some of the criticism DM is receiving on this thread for being honest about his reasons for not leading IF. The guy is a climber, not a politician.
The comment about p!ssing up routes sounds ran thru my head as well.
I can't see myself reaching this standard, so I can't see myself being up on IF thinking 'my, this is a bit snappy' or not. Also, even if I am transformed into a Rock God in some kind of bizarre accident - maybe getting bitten by Leo Houlding in the vicinity of a strong radioactive source - I would still think that if success depends on the rock holding, and not my skill, then it is ill judged.
It's lovely to be ecumenical, but you will only encourage the extremists.
I don't think anyone (well not many people anyway) is criticising Dave for not leading IF - it sounds like he made exactly the right decision for him. If my climbing ability was multiplied by a factor of 1,000 and I could contemplate the route, I wouldn't do it for similar reasons. Where some people got a little bit of a bad taste in their mouths was that he seemed to be suggesting that that route was not worth doing, that seems a little disrespectful to Dawes, Dixon and Gresham. He clarified his comments in his follow-up blog in response to Gresham and that seems fair enough.
"I also like to save the times when I really stick my neck out for climbs that push my limit. I donít feel the need to go around ticking classics for the sake of it."
Well, on that basis, I think Ken Wilson should think about putting IF in the new edition of Classic Rock :)
> Tell us more Al!
The Cad is a case in point, if I had the authority that Ron did to lead the first ascent with the bolt runners, I would have done it. I just would never have had the courage or the authority to place those bolts!
> Dave made his comment about snappiness after a hold actually snapped on him whilst he was on toprope, in a position that would have resulted in a massive ground fall had he been leading. It seems perfectly justified to consider a route to be snappy when vital holds have snapped.
Quite, this would seem to define a snappy route!
> Where some people got a little bit of a bad taste in their mouths was that he seemed to be suggesting that that route was not worth doing, that seems a little disrespectful to Dawes, Dixon and Gresham.
See thats the bit I don't agree with. I read it as "it's a death onna stick route, and the reason for failure may not be leader error. Thats not my style of climbing"
I thought it was pretty honest and open of the guy, and in no way belittles the achievements of previous ascentionists.
It's almost as if you don't lay down and pay homage to the IF then you are a heretic and an unbeliever.
I agree that you could interpret what he said that way. The problem was that you could interpret it the other way as well - and people did. I guess we should get our top climbers to have more media training :-).
> The Cad is a case in point, if I had the authority that Ron did to lead the first ascent with the bolt runners, I would have done it. I just would never have had the courage or the authority to place those bolts!
Is it true that Ron stole the Cad off Chris Gibb? Just kidding Al.
What is this 'authority' you speak of? Something to do with God?
(In reply to DAVETHOMAS90)
"I can't see myself reaching this standard, so I can't see myself being up on IF thinking 'my, this is a bit snappy' or not."
Lacking in imagination? You could work up to it by doing some of the classics on Carreg Wastad.
"I would still think that if success depends on the rock holding, and not my skill, then it is ill judged."
That sounds like an opinion to me, and a judgement! Don't all ascents depend to a degree on many factors, including the rock holding and your desire to do the route?
"It's lovely to be ecumenical,"
Really? You mean, not wanting to take things out of context, or oversimplify things?
"but you will only encourage the extremists."
It doesn't sound as though you need much encouragement!
Of course I have opinions, I never said I didn't. I was talking specifically about the 'snappyness' of IF.
Why does what I have written make me an extremist?
I suggest that you reread the source material, and the previous postings.
>how many people are aware of Julian Lines's awesome creation on the Shelterstone? makes IF look like a 10m gritstone boulder problem.
In reply to agent Moog:
True, but I see on his blog he now says he agrees that he doesn't think it's a particularly snappy route.
I don't think his follow-up's particularly well-judged either. 'Meaningless death's not cool' is a particularly unwise phrase. After all, what climbing death - mountain rescue aside - would be 'meaningful', exactly. There's no need for excuses abut how climbers don't want to die. Johnny didn't want to die either.
Any time you can't do a route, the best thing to do is to say that it was just too hard for me, or if you prefer that the demands it makes were too much for me at the time.
? why has that reared its ugly head ?
<Dr.Strangeglove not logged on>
"I respect the ability of all the climbers involved in this discussion of Indian Face. I really don't think that I will ever be it their class. I do not, and will never have the time, apart from my other obvious shortcomings."
Which are? It seems as though you've taken my original posting a bit personally.
"Much as I will never be able to offer an opinion on what seems to be the key point."
... is itself an opinion on what the key point is.
Quoting Dave MacLeod: (Taken from the news item on Planet Fear.)
"Indian Face is an excellent climb overall and the snappyness was a minor issue compared to the aesthetics for me."
It's funny but, in the the original thread about Dave's attempt on IF, I was the heretic because I wasn't saying "Oh Dave's amazing and IF can't be the great route everyone thought it was". Now that Neil has spoken out, everyonen appears to have done this u-turn and now the route is brilliant again and it's Dave who is really just a sports climber...
There is a middle line (ie. it simply wasn't Dave's preferred style of route but it probably is justifiably one of the iconic routes around) and people really should think for themselves instead of just following celebrity.
Thanks for that Micky.
I did read the original postings, as well as material included in other news items about this.
Have you read and fully understood my original posting?
Yes ! we are all individuals.
What on Earth are you talking about? I didn't say you cannot reconcile their opinions on the route! Whether you can or not has nothing to do with my original posting.
> I'm not convinced it is relative - a slab is a slab!
is a slab not just an invitation to climb in a certain way - smearing/mantling as opposed to the wild thrashes of tose who are stuck in chimneys or the manic grunt required to get over big roofs?
The angle might be secondary if you see what i'm getting at.
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