/ NEWS: When is an 8c an 8c? Hardest Solo?

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Michael Ryan - on 16 Apr 2008
On March 4th 2008 Dave MacLeod soloed Darwin Dixit 8c, at Margalef in Spain. If the grade sticks this is the hardest solo of a sport route, or even rock climb, or is it?

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/older.html?month=04&year=2008#n43713
teddy - on 16 Apr 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Interesting comparisons Mick and I think it is important that these issues are addressed and aired.

Perhaps the reason the two climbers have Darwen Dixit on their scorecards as 8c is for the same reason that some climbers have been known to put a grade they know to be inflated on their 8a scorecards and 'take the tick': to massage their own egos or to advertise to other climbers or indeed sponsors that do not know the route that they have 'done an 8c' when in reality the route may be an easier grade. Another reason is that some people as a matter of course put down the grade a route was first given, irrespective of whether holds have got better or new sequences have been found just because 'its in the guidebook as 8c so it must be right', they don't allow their own thoughts to enter the equation!
Hardonicus - on 16 Apr 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Was the UK's first E10 actually climbed by Antoine Le Menestral (ascensionist of the world's first 8b+) when he soloed, after practice, Revelations, an 8a+ sport route at Raven Tor in the UK's Peak District?

No, because E grades are given for Trad Onsights...

Personally I find the big solos light that of Moonlight Buttress really inspiring. Extended boulder problems are all very well, but it seems pointless arguing the toss over them...
Ackbar - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: "seems interesting to try solo since you can jump down to the ground because it's not too far". That's sounds like the best reason to solo something in my opinion.
BelleVedere on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Hardonicus:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
>
>
> No, because E grades are given for Trad Onsights...
>
But if you don't use the bolts then it isn't sport, so is it then trad?

nz Cragrat on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to es:

Why should it be? - you aren't placing gear, you don't need a rack to climb it - must be a boulder problem
BelleVedere on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to nz Cragrat:

So what if you climb a trad route solo is that also a boulder problem? even if its really long?
nz Cragrat on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to es:

they are all a solo... sport or trad
Michael Ryan - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to nz Cragrat:

There is also the small matter of a John Gaskins route that he soloed (after practice) at Thorn Crag, to the right of Last Temptation, reportedly it is Font 8b+ .. V14, although the route to the left of a similar height is given E6. Described as .. "this awesome 18m prow contains some of the hardest and protection less climbing in the country"

I need to confirm these details.

It is route number 7 at the Upper Crag

http://www.lakesbloc.co.uk/sei/s/1284/thorn%20crag%20routes%20mk2.pdf
Jeff25 - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Ackbar:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com) "seems interesting to try solo since you can jump down to the ground because it's not too far". That's sounds like the best reason to solo something in my opinion.


Well you can jump down to the ground from the top of anything if you wanted too but watching the video of this climb I'd definitely not want to try doing that from the top. Perhaps Danni meant from the crux (about 2/3rds height i think).

Either way the route is higher than some of Britains established hard trad routes and is fair to give it a route grade.
Al Evans on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: This is of course why the british dual grading system is so superior to any other, it would not be in doubt!
Tyler - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

> There is also the small matter of a John Gaskins route that he soloed (after practice) at Thorn Crag, to the right of Last Temptation, reportedly it is Font 8b+

When was that climbed? How come this wasn't bigger news as this was one of grit's last great problems.
Jon Read - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Tyler: Quite! I would have been thrilled to hear that this obvious line had been done.

Has Gaskins raised the bar on grit? Possibly, but also a new extreme level of modesty!
Richard Bradley - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Jon Read: Anyone got his email to ask him?
shark - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: If the grade sticks this is the hardest solo of a sport route, or even rock climb, or is it?


Quite plainly not necessarily. First of all hardest on the body or hardest on the mind ? Clearly mix of the two but it is impossible to be absolutist in way that you can be with other sports.

A solo of a cruxy route where the crux is at 15ft is quite plainly a different proposition to one where the crux is at 115ft. Clearly this is a route somewhere between the two. Someone used to highball bouldering might view it in those terms whilst someone else would have the mindset that they were soloing and the consequences of falling was not an option.

I am reminded of Dave Thomas' ridiculous solo of Caveman. He genuinely believed that falling was not an option not least because it looks like you would hit the wavecut platform. Somertime later an experienced team of Deep Water soloists took a different view of the risks and gangbanged the route. Does this diminish Dave's ascent ? Yes it does - but it shouldn't. Similarly the relentless dissection, quantification and boxification of achievement is slightly depressing.

Tom Briggs - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

So no-one else noticed that in that video, Tony Lamiche basically top ropes the route and claims the 3rd ascent! Am I missing something or isn't that cheating?

Ackbar - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Simon Lee: Haha! Deep water soloists gangbanging a route. That's funny! Surely the hardest solo would be onsight? Any examples?
Kai Seth on 17 Apr 2008 - CPE-121-219-143-102.vic.bigpond.net.au
In reply to teddy:

I may be behind the times with this but didn't Dave confidently question the grades of some repeats he did a few years ago? I'm thinking, for example, of Divided Years. He doesn't seem to question the validity of the 8c grade of his Spanish solo on his blog. So from past history he doesn't or didn't just blindly accept the tick. He does or did question it. He does however say he was "having one of those amazing days when you just seem to climb a grade harder than normal and everything feels easy". I presume he worked the route though and felt it hard at first. He's probably as well placed as anyone to judge the grade of it. These things are always a bit fuzzy round the edges and stimulate conversations that lead nowhere new. I'm sure those with even the most pure of intentions are affected by the adulation of the masses especially when sponsorship is involved and the rewards of headlines. Good effort whatever the grade or motivation. Anybody read surf mags? Every issue of those with less literary value tries to claim some jump forward in terms of biggest ever or gnarliest ever wave ridden. Read "Surfer's Journal" instead. Far more interesting articles and no Reef girls inside the front cover.

Cheers, Kai's Dad
Jon Read - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Simon Lee:
I've always maintained routes are harder for me than for Mark Sharrat as he doesn't (can't?) even contemplate the consequences of failing on moves whereas I can imagine, all too clearly, falling and dying, or gear popping and dying, or ... etc ... etc ... It's a wonder I get out of bed in the mornings.
teddy - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Kai Seth:

Yes I appreciate what you're saying, I know he said Divided Years was only French 8a and E8 in the mags when he repeated it. In the video Committed, this had risen to 8b and E10 again!! I'm not saying Dave 'takes the tick' on his climbs, only that some climbers do on occasion and I was using this in the context of Ramon Julian putting DD down as 8c on his scorecard just to show the potential thoughts/ motivations of some climbers here. I know its nice for climbers and their sponsors to get a surf-style 'sensation' in the mags but we should perhaps listen to very experienced climbers like Andrada and Sharma who know a grade when they see one.
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shark - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Jon Read: It's a wonder I get out of bed in the mornings.

Or get up routes like this:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=74419

There must be high levels of poverty of imagination in the Leek area.
galpinos - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Kai Seth:
> and no Reef girls inside the front cover.

You won't get me buying it then.

Jon Read - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Simon Lee:
Ha! Being able to convince yourself that you *are* safe is the occasional flip-side of an over-active imagination.
Paz - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to teddy:

It had been widely known for a long while before Dave's ascent that Divided Years was closer to 8a than 8c. I think it was even said it was 8a. DM just confirmed it.
andybenham - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: This is a very confusing news item and it seems only one person in the thread has picked up on the fact that we are being shown as video of a guy on a rope as evidence of a hard solo.


Please, someone, explain...
teddy - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Paz:

I know this - my question is if this was the case, why was it given 8b in the vid and 8a in the mag by Dave?

Boy - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: Revelations was only 8a when soloed by Le Menestral. The start has since got harder due to a broken hold, but even now it's only 7c/+ after the initial boulder problem
Richard Bradley - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to andybenham: I'm sure mick has all the answers.
Tyler - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to andybenham:

> This is a very confusing news item and it seems only one person in the thread has picked up on the fact that we are being shown as video of a guy on a rope as evidence of a hard solo.

Not really as the person in the video is not listed in the article as having soloed the route. I think as far as UKC is concerned the video is to illustrate the route rather than anything else but, as Tom says, it is odd that the video is captioned as the third ascent of the route when it is being top roped - bit cheeky I'd say.



More importantly though, does anyone know any more about JG's ascent of the prow at Thorn Crag?
smallerrich - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Tyler: Regardless of grade, respect to Dave for soloing that route for whatever reason.
You can say "You can just jump down from 15ft+" or whatever the exact height was, but in reality that would still hurt like buggery landing on tarmac, possibly on your back. Whoever thinks this, does that mean they would mind jumping from there? I wouldn't.

Look at his blog or in the latest 'Climb' mag article on it, as Dave says, if you fall from there your looking at the end of you career or even your life. In Dave's case this is particularly bad as his career IS climbing and he had to accept that before setting off. If you can except this possibility and still climb that hard then regardless of 8b+ or 8c then you obviously have an extraordinary degree of mental control.


Or you have a screw loose : )
Mike Binks - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Tyler:

I am not 100% certain but I believe that the route/problem at Thorn Crag is called "A Moment of Clarity" and according to LakesBloc on the full list of 7's+8's it gets Font 8b and was climbed in Feb 2006.
andy farnell - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Mike Binks: Nothing about it on lakesbloc...

Andy F
Mike Binks - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to andy farnell:

Its in this list, its a bit hidden on the Lakesbloc site, you find the link under the top 50 problems.

http://www.lakesbloc.co.uk/sei/s/1284/f75.pdf
Tyler - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Mike Binks:

Blimey, I'd have thought there'd have been more fanfare than that about it or am I the only person to have missed this snippet? This is a major line and certainly on the route side of bouldering.
chris m fisher - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Tyler:

Suprised to hear this too! Isn't the prow 10+ metres tall, well into route territory i'd have thought? The landing ain't the best either! Was it actualy topped out?

Bloody good effort either way!!
Dave MacLeod - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: What needs to be added here is the question of mats!!!!!!!!!!

For sure, the wee route I soloed in Spain would be fine to fall from the crux with a pile of big mats and a spotting team (as in highballing). Above that you would still be on your own though - when someone else solos it they can say whether this is easy or not, I found it the scary part of the exercise (the move to the shake out). But I did it solo - no mats or spotters. it was about E9 6c in british money if that helps people make sense of the difficulty (it seems to be the obsession, which is really sad).

The fly was highballed with a big mat pile and spotters and fallen off loads with no problems. This shouldn't be hard to understand for anyone who's climbed on grit - I had a fun afternoon with some mates many years ago, taking turns to lob gleefuly from the crux of Ullysees at Stanage onto four mats. But without any it's completely different and has caused at least one set of severe fractures. Would The Promise be E10 with mats? I smashed my ankle to bits from 6 metres at the roaches (the one foot that missed the mat) and was still in plaster three months later.

For grit sized routes, highballing is increasingly possible with mats instead of the rope as protection. But if there is no protection, you can't really fall off.
alicia - on 17 Apr 2008
In reply to Dave MacLeod:

Yeah, after having that look at it last week, it was pretty clear that without any mats, falling off the crux would probably mean a best-case scenario of breaking your legs and ankles, and a much more likely scenario of landing half in that ditch and half on the road with major head injury potential--definitely not a good result.

I still reckon you should have gone with the route over to the left and pioneered the sport of deep mud soloing...
Kai Seth on 17 Apr 2008 - pc242-203.medoph.unimelb.edu.au
In reply to Dave MacLeod:

Adding more to Dave's own addition to the sad obsession. I don't climb near to the standards in question but am curious about this sad obsession. In my curiosity I couldn't find a single grade comparison table out of a large number I sadly trawled through that shows a corrolation between F8c and British 6c. I know these tables are probably all to be taken with a pinch of salt but a number of them would claim to have some authority, eg. http://www.rockfax.com/publications/grades-bold.html

Next!
Serpico on 18 Apr 2008 - 78.148.170.86 whois?
In reply to Kai Seth:
That's because that grade table is nonsense, multiple 6c moves make for an 8c route. There are also many E7 6b (and 6a's) out there contrary to what it may state.
OliBoyes - on 18 Apr 2008
In reply to Dave MacLeod:
I have to say i agree with Dave, it seems sad that everyone is missing the point of climbing. I started climbing because i enjoyed climbing, what ever the grade. Yes, it is nice to see myself progress through the "grades", but it is not the reason why i climb a route. I climb a route because i want to climb! A sport route is a sport route, and a trad route is a trad route, whether its a solo or not. It is the choice of the climber whether to climb a route protected or not.
It is very clear to me that Dave has soloed an incredibly hard route! and all that we seem to be interested in is to take that away from him!?

Shall we all stop bitching and go climbing??
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northerngreg - on 19 Apr 2008
In reply to biffyat8:

I couldn't agree more. Well said that man! Shame it's raining though....
OliBoyes - on 22 Apr 2008
In reply to northerngreg:
haha, well the suns out down here in devon!
notbadforafatlad on 23 Apr 2008

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