/ NEWS: Katy Whittaker Repeats The Angel's Share
A rather sweeping statement "protection methods have moved on"!
"Climbed in this style the
routes weighs in at around
highball Font 7C, and
features very tenuous and
smeary slab climbing high
above the ground."
..the obvious response is surely: "but not so high above a stack of mats".
The limited number of ascents The Angel's Share has received could very well reflect the fact that at least some people wish to preserve the challenge of the original route.
Should we apply the same principle to, say, Napes Needle?
yes and. . .
nice one Katy
I did a new slab route the other day that i named "The Angel's Chair" weighing in at a hefty E0 5c. I did it without mats.
> Should we apply the same principle to, say, Napes Needle?
I dont think mats are going to help much on NN.
Talk of a 6m or 8m lump of rock to most climbers around the world, the term 'route' will seem very strange - almost laughable. The reality is that these sort of problems ARE high ball boulder problems and not routes for all except the most myopic Peakie.
Katy is a tremendously capable climber.
I think that perhaps one has to ask "What is being applauded?", her ascent of a fine font7C slab, which no doubt she would have been pleased with, or an ascent of The Angel's Share as it remains in the imagination of many - ie what it stands for.
Maybe you'd like to show her how it's supposed to be done? Didn't think so.
Nice one Katy!
Graham, that seems a bit like throwing the baby out with the bath water. ?
Why bother reporting them as routes at all then?
For me, different climbs ask different questions. "Are you technically incompetent?" - yes, in my case - or "can you keep your head together?" for example. In a sense, I would say that the question asked IS the route - whether it is trying to stand on a piece of skirting board at home, or El Cap.
The point, surely, is being asked the question, not proving the answer? (Amongst many other things, like having a good time etc.)
Dear Lord Ash..
It would be interesting to hear what the route represented for Katy. What attracted her to it. What the ascent means to her. But that is a separate issue.
There are many routes I have not climbed, partly as a result of either not wishing to top-rope them, or not wanting to use mats. Don't worry - that's probably down to me not wanting to have my technical incompetency exposed, rather than wanting to be bold!
How many mats did you use when you soloed Lord of the Flies?
Would the Angels Share be reported as a route if it was put up today ? or if it had been in Font or Bishop 20 years ago for that matter ?
Surely in cases like this to recognise that no matter how impressive the first ascent was, that original style of ascent isn't really relevant to the way problems are done now ?
> Would the Angels Share be reported as a route if it was put up today ? or if it had been in Font or Bishop 20 years ago for that matter ?
> Surely in cases like this to recognise that no matter how impressive the first ascent was, that original style of ascent isn't really relevant to the way problems are done now ?
It shouldn't be forgotten and automatically over ridden though for the sake of convenience climbing. I mean, maybe soon there will be mats available that are 6 foot deep.
> How many mats did you use when you soloed Lord of the Flies?
Just out view is a huge pile, obviously.
No, it shouldn't. But doesn't the original E8, 7a grade versus the Font 7C grade do that ?
Also begs the question what grade Font problems originally done without mats should get when done with them - its very analogous given the Angels Share is a solo.
Btw. If that is THE Dave Thomas. Legend!
Anyway. Well done Katy, top effort. Nice looking bit of rock that too.
Bold as... And all round nice guy too.
> Bold as... And all round nice guy too.
But only because he was one of 'New Woman' magazine's most eligible bachelors back in the early 2000's.
'fess up Dave, you've still got the edition stashed somewhere haven't you?
Ian, "how many mat
free ascents of Angel's
Share have there been? Not
many if any so it's been
done in current best style.".
Two, including the first of course.
Are we now saying that the original first ascent style is an unjustifiable approach - rather like Stonnis Crack? Perhaps, in time, things will turn full circle?
In sports like climbing, expression can be as significant as performance. Perhaps we can make a better effort at recognising different styles. Katy's effort may be a fine expression of a current vogue; I'm just not sure how much people think about the degree, to which a route changes with one's approach to it. Aren't we often really holding a flag to the style of the first ascent, whilst ignoring the discrepancies between that style, and our own?
> Maybe you'd like to show her how it's supposed to be done? Didn't think so.
The fact is, that using mats on a problem like this (when the 1st ascent was done without them) is not meeting the true challenge of the route - it's bringing the route down to your level.
So well done katy, from a technical perspective, but by using mats, you have avoided the real challenge of the route.
Not seeing this, is failing to spot the elephant in the room.
I'm not sure where your going with this.
So the Angel's Share was originally done mat-free after extensive top-rope rehearsal. Now it is done with no rehearsal but some mats underneath. Rehearsal is a subjugation of the rock's challenge too, no?
Are you suggesting the current style is not worthy of the original name? Or that Johnny would not have used pads had they been around at the time? Do I need to solo Right Unconquerable in plimsolls with a tab on to earn that name? No one is claiming the original grade either - still listed at a mighty E9 7b on Johnny's site! To earn that you'd need a bit more than no pads. The boulder is fairly small - I did Velvet Silence without pads, and also fell off the top due to snow with no pads. Not ideal, but not a big deal. I think the problem here is folk have an idea that this routes deserves a big grade when actually it never did. (A failing of grades rather than the piece of climbing I think, but folk do love a number.)
I think which is 'better' style is a moot point. What matters to me is taking the most natural approach, and being honest about it. If you take a pad to the crag, its contrived not to use it. The group highball approach is far more inclusive too, a group building each other up, not the solitary hero on his nth day top-roping with poor belayer bored witless...
If there is something to be disappointed in here though, its that Angel's Share has become THE route to do on the block, despite being a bit of a filler in. I, and I suspect Johnny, did it because I'd done all the other routes here and wanted more. Velvet Silence remains the masterpiece, a really perfect piece of movement, but folk don't seem to be bothered about doing it. Shame.
And if anyone's to blame, its probably me, damn it.
> Also begs the question what grade Font problems originally done without mats should get when done with them -
Well none really as font grades are technically based although they become culmulative as the number of moves increases. That said it's difficult to be objective about technical grades above bad landings at times!
To my mind katy's ascent is a fine effort, nothing more and nothing less. So what if she used mats? She's not lying about it, no ones claiming it's as hard with mats as it is without, the rock isn't being damaged.
It's because the style you do something in determines the level of difficulty and danger. If you understand what style means, you put a high value on style of ascent. Some understand that others less so or not at all, that is where the conflict lies.
Exactly, a superb ascent. Ground up - no top rope -, with a padded landing zone. Some back jolting falls I should imagine, and very bold. Honestly reported.
I've just got off the phone after speaking to Dave and one of the things I said to him was "I'm surprised Adam hasn't been on, he must be away" then bugger me I get back to the laptop and here you are! Your spidey senses must have been tingling! To be clear, Dave has no criticism whatsoever of Katy's ascent. He has always felt however that a route's name represents far more than the line on the rock. This is clearly a matter of opinion not a fact, and whether you or Katy have climbed 'The Angels Share' can provide an interesting philosophical discussion!
p.s.I presume you meant 'he'd' not 'I'd'?
In that, as long as you are happy with the style you are climbing in personally, then it doesn't much matter what anyone else is doing (providing it soesn't damage the rock etc etc)...... He may well put a lot of importance on what style his own climbing follows (or not?), but not see why people want everyone else to do the same as them. That's pretty much the camp I'm in too.
> Exactly, a superb ascent. Ground up - no top rope -, with a padded landing zone. Some back jolting falls I should imagine, and very bold. Honestly reported.
Spot on Mick - ground up with mats - far superior than raping it with a top rope.
It's quite amazing how little stick Dawes gets for overgrading in comparison with other climbers. I know there was the whole weird tech grade thing going on back then, but still...
Hi Jurgen, Johnny (who is relatively short and below average) graded the routes for how he found them. It's well documented how easy tall people find some of his routes e.g. End of the Affair and Kaluza Klein (E6 6a/b as opposed to E8 6c for Johnny).
Why should the 'true challenge of the route' be determined by the first ascentionist? Just because it was harder? The 'true challenge' suggests some sort of absolute property, which it isn't - we're always going to give ourselves the best chance of success within ethical boundaries, and those have changed.
Your view seems to prize the history of the route more than the route itself.
"raped by top-roping", raped by bolting, raped by bouncy castle - raped by affection, in various forms. We can all be guilty of this sort of thing, although I'm not suggesting that applies in this case.
It seems clear that some people take a discussion like this as a game of winners and losers, which style shall prevail as "the right one".
Surely there are different styles in different contexts. I believe the context is important. Some people choose to ignore that other contexts exist, outside of the game they themselves are playing. As relevant here on a lump of grit, as on Cerro Torre. (Go on shoot me down for that one. ;-)) It's a dangerous game, to pretend there aren't alternative interpretations available of any situation.
As for "blame" (Adam - hi), I'm not sure it has any place here; looking for something to blame for things is often used as a way to avoid addressing what one can do differently.
Suggesting that top-roping and then soloing is in someway inferior seems a difficult argument to make. First off, how many mats can one use - after a certain point it gets easier than top-roping, as the rope isn't in the way. I was talking to Dave Simonite recently, and it was interesting to hear just how much easier a proposition James Pearson had found Gerty Berwick at Ilkley, once he'd decided to pad it out. Apparently he'd been hoping to do it without.
What interests me, is the decision to "go for it", and what affects the decision to commit. I think this is a very important part of the process - it's often the main battle. How one feels on the route after this point is a secondary consideration.
I'd just like to say that, in response to UKC really, that rather than mats being some sort of improvement in protection, they allow us to change the arena. What part should danger play in sport?
"Your view seems to prize
the history of the route
more than the route itself."
I think this is part of the problem; there is no "route itself", only our perception of it, what we make it.
Isn't it interesting, just how easy something previously feared can become, after it's had a few ascents, and lost it's "aura".
> "Your view seems to prize
> the history of the route
> more than the route itself."
> I think this is part of the problem; there is no "route itself", only our perception of it, what we make it.
Couldn't agree more. That is what all this renaming after loss of side runners/ holds/ gear/ aid is about. We are starting to forget the artistic side of climbing, in place for this desire to be 'athletes'.
Having said that, I really don't see any deliberate non-use of mats as sensible.
"Having said that, I really
don't see any deliberate
non-use of mats as
Yep, it's a difficult one, and both sides of the argument need to be addressed. Mind you, I most certainly do see Katy's ascent as being expressive. But a different pen, no?
Well this is the key isn't it, and I get the impression your perception of the route has been to put it on a higher pedestal than perhaps it deserves. I guess there might be a couple of reasons why: as Graham pointed out, Johnny's height would add an extra half-move at the hardest point. But more importantly the circumstances at the time - Johnny's comeback, the 'timed momentum' etc - all pointing to new ground being broken, something special. From talking to Johnny, I suspect he used a harder sequence anyway, just in terms of which smears, let alone the 'falling upwards' bit. I've done it three times now and on the third found an easier method using a smear slightly right. But sequences are like memes and the best ones will outlast the originals. Try to pin them down and you're into historical eliminate territory...
Reading his book, its clear Johnny used to 'pad' the ground with ropes, bags etc whenever he could. Paul Mitchell told me Johnny piled pine branches below Angel's Share and took a couple of falls onto them - though that is not Johnny's recollection! When I did Jumpin' I moved a few cobbles - all shades of grey aren't they?
Absolutely - because the aura is nothing more than a figment of our collective fevered imaginations. Often they get carried away...
And since you mentioned Cerro Torre, one point is relevant here, which is that what has been done is ultimately more important than what people think about it. I am curious what you would consider a stylistic improvement over Johnny's ascent? Just an onsight without pads?
I thought that might be the response, and to some extent I agree. But does our perception of it have to be in thrall of the past, or can we continue to respect a route's history and whatever connotations its name holds while relating to it primarily in the circumstances of the present?
If hypothetically, you knew nothing about Angel's Share, but thought it looked good and decided to toprope and then lead it, you would have unwittingly honoured the style of the first ascent, but 'aura' would have nothing to do with it. Does it have to mean a massive amount to climb a route? Everyone's perception is going to be different.
I think this depends on whether it is generally viewed as a 'problem' or as a 'route'. My impression is that it is far more in style of a boulder problem than a route.
It's the 'other people' bit in his statement that was important, not the 'style' part. 10 out of 10 for condescension though Mick!
Never mind the problem, there are some pretty high horses to fall off in this thread.
> I am curious what you would consider a stylistic improvement over Johnny's ascent? Just an onsight without pads?
I know this has been discussed before, but do you think a reasonable measure of whether the new style is 'a stylistic improvement' over the old would be to see how many of the new style ascensionists would fancy repeating it in the old style? You and several others have got it pretty wired now. Would you fancy soloing it with no padding or perhaps the amount of padding used by Johnny?
I got about half way up (at 6'3" with an ape index of +11", I suppose I did have a slight advantage) but realised the rest was way out of my league, so I bailed out by sliding down and jumping off - the only adverse effects being tearing a nice hole in my shoes due to the friction on the slide down.
i suppose I'm just a grumpy old sod, who thinks mats are for whimps - in my day we used to put metal spikes and razor wire underneath problems to give them a bit more edge....lol :-)
Cracking climb, anyway.
> It's the 'other people' bit in his statement that was important, not the 'style' part.
Both are important. It is because people have different values and understanding of style that we have criticism, some think it is important, others don't.
I don't see any problem as long as style is reported honestly, in this case it is. Style is a personal choice - some have it, others don't ; o )
Sounds like his skool report! The boy will just have to pull himself together and do much better than average, that's all I have to say!
P.S. Don't snitch to Phil that I'm messing around on here, instead of...
Yeah, I'd have no problem with that - its not high enough to really call soloing, and as I said I've fallen off the top in the days when I only had one pad, and missed it entirely. The repeated falls I took the first time were mainly due to not having sufficently soft boots - the second and third times were much quicker. However, and I'll be blunt here, it would strike me as rather pointless dick-waving. But perhaps that's what its all about?
PS 'wired' is a bit of a stretch - I've done it three times in five years. Nalle did it three times in an hour. Everyone else has done it just once.
With a mat I assume... so why all of a sudden is there a problem when Katy does it?
I've got no problem at all with people climbing these kinds of routes above deep layers of pads. At a lower level (standard of climb) I do it myself and thoroughly enjoy it.
When these debates come up, there seems to be two somewhat different arguments put forward in favour of or in defence of the current style: (i) people can / should do what they like as long as they report it honestly; (ii) the new style is an improvement on the old style, or the more 'natural' way to climb such routes / high boulder problems. You strike me as an advocate of the second position some or much of the time, and in if you're happy to solo the routes without mats after becoming familiar with them ground up I'm happy to acknowledge that you might well be right.
Is it really dick-waving? How else would you make an assessment of whether the new style is an improvement on the old? If you say it's pointless to make a comparison, and pointless to go and do it in the old style after doing it above mats, you'd have to drop the claim that the new style is an improvement on the old wouldn't you? They's be just different styles.
The key difference I think is that headpointing usually involves imagined danger, whereas ground-up you tend to get real handle on it sooner or later.
My views on ethics and style were fairly well formed before pads came along. I moved to Sheffield in 1996, so not long after One Summer and the first OTE bouldering guides were released (kicking the bouldering boom off a few years before mats). At the same time I was around during the filming of Hard Grit and the associated headpointing scene. I saw plenty of them at the crag, and got to see what top-rope rehearsal entailed. I wasn't impressed - I remember Seb telling a mate on dangerous routes he didn't go for the lead until he'd done it perfectly on a top-rope five times in a row.
What appealed to me about grit climbing was the weird moves and inventive style. At the time these aspects were essentially being divorced from the danger aspect - there was no creativity whilst on the lead, several exponents decribed a 'robotic' state of mind whilst headpointing.
I wanted to leave room for creativity, and doubt, whilst in those positions (not to mention the simple premise of climbing a rock from the bottom to the top). So I ignored headpointing and tried everything ground-up. I quickly realised that a lot of theae routes were short enough that you could get away with falling off - I took two or three falls from positions you might not expect to get away with, which gave me confidence. At the same time we were doing more bouldering than previous generations, so I guess we got good at landing (Alf Bridge was always a hero too). I did loads of E5s & 6s like this before pads came around, not that they always involved falls, but more solos than roped. I think its self-evident that this is an improvement on headpointing.
What's funny looking back is then when we did have one small pad (occasionally two) their use was considered carefully. Having done a few things with them, it was clear you could get away with more, and I didn't use them on a few things to earn the orginal grade. But as they became ubiquitous it became more and more contrived to eliminate them - I mean you'd still sit on one to put your boot on and squeak them. Then the other aspect was when I went back and did stuff again, with mats, I didn't find the experience significantly changed. It was still really scary. There was still plenty of doubt, you still had to land well. Most of your mates still didn't dare go anywhere near it...
Things have moved on now, where 5 or more pads isn't unusual, and of course they get used to protect headpoints, which is still something I haven't got involved with. But the terrain that has opened up is really impressive - stuff like Cornelius in the Churnet, incredible, really inspiring. In concentrating on the emasculation of 80s micro-routes, folk miss the points that pads have also allowed the limits to be pushed MUCH higher.
Ultimately the grumblings of some are less important than what the current activists are actually doing. The genie isn't going back in the bottle, just like chalk, just like cams, just like sticky rubber or anything else...
I see where Dave is coming from I think and agree, the old style of ascents are definatley out of vogue and its a bit of a shame... ankle breaking possibilites, that slight unknown as you get just a bit too high for comfort, thats the good thing with these type of routes, half the challenge, danger but not necessarily garotting yourself, its another element that this high balling above mats, which as I said is equally valid, numbs down or takes that away totally.
Me.. I saved psycho at caley for years to do it ground up without pads... to get the 'full' experience. The best style of ascent to me, and the most worthwhile? Shame my mate came round the corner and stuck a mat under me.. git.
Adam, perhaps your assumptions about my perceptions are really quite revealing!
I really must point out though, that my original post was made in reference to the way this was reported, in particular the line about how "protection has moved on..". Personally, I see the wholesale use of mats as a different arena. I would hope that I do not presume to judge the motives of those who adopt this approach.
I do have concerns however regarding the degree of wear and tear that the grit suffers - I believe - as a result. It's a precious thing.
There are of course, many different ways in which a sense of intimacy with the rock can be achieved (there you go, I've probably revealed my underlying motivations), and there are many different vehicles - styles - to that place.
As to whether it's "soloing or not" - well "it" isn't anything without the choice of the individual.
GROUND up, means something quite specific to me btw ;-)
Good effort to Katy on Walk on By.
I quite agree its a precious thing, but I think the wear and tear from bouldering-style ascents is much less than headpoints, especially on a route like this. There simply isn't the freedom to hang around brushing, or repeatedly try most of the moves, or in fact do anything other than maintain marginal adhesion, or fall off! And pads protect the ground too, of course.
I think that it's a crying shame this thread. Not purely because of the negative content within ( I wholeheartedly agree with Adams comments in this case ). I think it's a massive shame due to the news piece it is attached to. This thread should be a long list of people saying bloody hell Katy that's amazing you've pushed the bar for womens climbing a notch higher in the UK scene.
If you wanted to make this point David why not start a separate thread on the forum about it and use the plethora of other examples available. You could have talked about Dan and Ned 'demoting' things like sampson to highball routes, or Pearson padding out the promise, what about Michele Caminatis ascent of this route in a similar style, you've had plenty of opportunity to do so. No your chance came when a female did it and this was the straw that broke the camels back, post on here now and Katy won't talk back at you because she's a girl.
It's basically shameful that weak willed fools won't bring their argument to the table until a lass gives them the opportunity to do so. A similar sort of debate broke out on another forum about Hazel Findleys E9 ascent.
If a top UK male climber does something hard it's 'Bon effort dude way to go' when a lass breaks the same ground it's gotta be easy questionable or it suits them or their tiny girly fingers make the holds feel big and they don't weigh anything.
From Wikipeadia: "A 'moo point' is very similar to a 'moot point'. Where is differs is that a 'moo point' makes absolutely zero sense."
What a load of crap.
Dave said "I really must point out though, that my original post was made in reference to the way this was reported, in particular the line about how "protection has moved on..".
And I totally agree. "...protection has moved on" struck a nerve with me too.
Hi Adam. I don't really buy
this argument about "pads
protecting the ground";
considering the bigger
picture, I rather think they
encourage more traffic. Of
course, the small patch of
ground beneath the pad is
protected for that particular
ascent, but overall, I think
the environmental impact is
probably far greater. I've
turned up at Stanage and
found crowds sessioning
Crescent Arete. I think it's
probably suffered as a
I'm not saying that people
shouldn't adopt this
approach, but to say that
mats protect the ground is a
little too discrete.
By the way, I'm sure most of the routes and problems that are being bouldered out above mats have already been cleaned from a rope.
You can also try a problem as many times as skin will allow of course.
But don't take these criticisms as a judgment that what you prefer is in some way wrong. I do however contest very strongly, the notion that in some way, the wholesale use of mats defines how things have "moved on" - that it is "how things are done these days". It is A way, but not THE way.
Do you really think that was the point I was making?
BTW, as you will have read, I congratulated Katy on her ascent of Walk On By, although I'm a little reticent to congratulate people unless I know how they feel about it. I can imagine Katy really enjoyed Angel's Share, and I bet she did; was it a really big thing for her? I don't know.
I do hope I have a chance to talk to Katy soon, as I do appreciate that this thread has drawn attention away from her climbing. In this regard, I'd like to apologise for any offense caused.
I think I've made the reference and comments I wanted to make.
I agree with Nemo...if he gets round to posting
> Hi Adam. I don't really buy this argument about "pads
> protecting the ground"; considering the bigger
> picture, I rather think they encourage more traffic.
Fair enough. So what's the answer then? All you've done on this thread is raise questions about what people are doing. I've tried to explain why they might be doing it, and why it has value.
So how's about some answers from you now Dave? Where should we go? What would be better than the status quo?
This is a real world and unfortunately change won't happen through you muttering 'I don't like it', it will come through better alternatives. Let's hear them!
Of course it doesn't matter one jot, what style people climb a route (as long as they don't damage it) from a personal perspective, and nor should it be anyone else's business.
But if you're going to publicise your achievements, at least call it what it is, and don't try and put a spin on it to make it look like something it isn't.
If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck - chances are it is a duck!
> Of course it doesn't matter one jot, what style people climb a route (as long as they don't damage it) from a personal perspective, and nor should it be anyone else's business.
> But if you're going to publicise your achievements, at least call it what it is, and don't try and put a spin on it to make it look like something it isn't.
> If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck - chances are it is a duck!
I don't understand this at all - this was very clearly reported as ground up with pads. Without any great experience in the area of highballing micro routes I'm more than happy to believe Adam's comments higher up:
'Then the other aspect was when I went back and did stuff again, with mats, I didn't find the experience significantly changed. It was still really scary. There was still plenty of doubt, you still had to land well. Most of your mates still didn't dare go anywhere near it...'
Trying to do things like Angel's Share without pads does seem slightly artificial in this day and age and I'm unconvinced that ground up taking big (and scary falls) is in any way a trivialising of the route.
I do agree that this thread is the wrong place for this discussion - Katy's ascent is very impressive achievement, I'm not aware of many (any?) similar highballs by UK women.
"Trying to do things like Angel's Share without pads does seem slightly artificial in this day and age and I'm unconvinced that ground up taking big (and scary falls) is in any way a trivialising of the route."
I actually think that using mats is what is artificial - you are removing a crucial element and characteristic of a route - e.g., the seriousness.
Agreed this isn't the place, but as that ship seems to have sailed-
Yes it is artificial to not use pads, but that doesn't mean you should. It's artificial to climb eliminates, to restrict yourself to not pulling on gear, to not use heel spurs in ice climbing. It's not a question of right or wrong, just of style and how much value you place on the style.
I wish you'd spent 2 years teaching me about these things instead of chemistry...
> I actually think that using mats is what is artificial - you are removing a crucial element and characteristic of a route - e.g., the seriousness.
?? Exactly the same 'logic' could be applied to gear, ropes and belayers on longer routes!
Leaving aside the fact that your statement is misinformed and thence inaccurate, why do UKC debates always follow the same pattern? Some one raises an issue, this is countered by another and then a third individual comes a long with a load of platitudes about 'lets just get on' and 'forget about it and let's just all go climbing at the weekend'.
I imagine Katy will read parts of this and get a bit disheartened, which is easy when it is your ascent which is being talked about, but she shouldn't. [insert positive platitude to encourage Katy here]
What does matter is that this debate happens. As there are some interesting opinions, and from the position of someone who develops a lot of new routes, I am interested in reading and learning from them.
Come off it! Why do think Johnny Dawes wanted to climb this line. To entertain the possibility of broken legs or because the movements are beautiful?
If someone wants to climb a line and there is some protection available that wasn't before, they would be a fool not to use it.
Well done Katy, good effort.
This thread is pathetic.
Katy's ascent was reported with all the facts, leaving no-one in any doubt about how it was done. People are reading far too much into a single line of Jack's wording about protection moving on, which is an undeniable fact. Protection has moved on. Whether an individual chooses to use it is up to them, so long as they are not damaging the rock excessively.
If people want to disregard this ascent, or diminish it in any way then moan about it at the pub with your mates where you can do so without offending people on an open forum. Or start a separate thread discussing the use of multiple pads on short grit routes and express your views there.
Good effort Katy!
Franco, if you want this debate then start a separate thread. This is not the place.
I think its a brilliant achievment for Katy Whittaker.
The whole highball route thing is quite intriging. I do agree climbing something ground up is the better style then top roping it to death.
For me padding out gearless routes makes sense. I'm 32 if I break an ankle because I decided agianst using a pad doesn't make sense. If I break a leg I may never return to what ever form I was at, that wouldn't sit well with me, when I could have put a pad down.
To do a route without a pad just to claim an E5 doesn't personaly warrant that risk. I have a huge respect for those in the 70's 80's Allen, Dawes... putting up all sorts without pads, and they must have had rubber ankles. (maybe there was more toproping?) But if I was to repeat their route with a pad, i'm not saying my style is better and i'm claiming an E5 with a pad but I just wanted to climb that line, for me thats enough. I'm not claiming I did an E5 but I did a font 7b. The enjoyment was still there, if slightly different. Look what the advent of wires, cams, bolts did to change climbing. Things move on and ethics change. I think the BMC guides have a good stance, Shirlys Shining temple...E5 6C, Font 7C. Its accepting the old and if you fancy it with a pad then crack on.
With regards to more people climbing these routes and potentially damaging them, i'm not sure. Look how many people are bouldering now, works, depot, bloc...etc. If everyone ended up at the Plantation every weekend the place would be even more damaged then it is, it is starting to look very tired now. At least people exploring and re climbing these routes that haven't been climbed in years thins out the numbers and crags can cope with the numbers and the wear and tear this brings.
'The art of white hat wearing' is a perfect example, as it was E5 with a jaws of death landing rarely repeated. now an amazing font 7B. With maybe 10 people trying it on a weekend, thats 10 less people on trackside boulder. If you want to climb as an E5 fair play leave your mat, but I wouldn't want to, but put a pad under it thats fine too. Each to his own I guess, pad or no pad.
Haha - Nick the uninformed! Perhaps he was talking about the hoovering the ceiling comment... just wait until you are a homeowner. Or are you more a feather duster kind of guy?
The really backwards thing about pads is even the naysayers seem happy to use them for bouldering. So where do you draw the line - don't use them as soon as they get really useful?
Back when chalk came in those who refused to use it were dubbed 'the clean hand gang' (and they didn't use it even on easy moves). Perhaps we need a snappy moniker for those eschewing pads... the bad knees gang perhaps?
Whats wrong with introducing a third way - onsight it????
After all, are we saying, that nearly 20 years after JD first climbed it (and i am not ignoring Mr Dawes's unique and staggeringly impressive talents here) that climbing standards have not moved on sufficiently for this route to be within the capabilities of someone to onsight it???
If that is the case, then I'm afraid, that when it comes to poorly protected routes, climbing possibly hasn't moved on to the degree that general opinion, and lots of flashy high E grades would suggest.
It would seem, the onsight ethos, (the best and most satisfying form of climbing IMO) doesn't appear to be something which is held as the beacon it should be anymore.
I meant to add, without pads, obviously!!
> Back when chalk came in those who refused to use it were dubbed 'the clean hand gang' (and they didn't use it even on easy moves). Perhaps we need a snappy moniker for those eschewing pads... the bad knees gang perhaps?
I'm old enough to remember chalk coming in (God I am getting old). In fact I remember distinctly pondering whether to use it on a solo of Millwheel Wall. I used it of course. In just the same way I use mats now and it's getting the point that I'm as lost without them on short routes as I am when I don't use chalk. But I'm wary of kidding myself that I've made a leap forward in style.
I don't think this is a bad thing if they're using this to push the technical / expressive / whatever side of climbing forward - quicker ascents, harder moves, that sort of stuff. But its fair to see it as a change in focus rather than an unqualified 'improvement in style'.
Hazel Findlay interviews Katy Whittaker on the BMC site:
Well as far as spurious arguments go, that's a cracker!
Climb in whatever style you want - no skin off my nose, but please call it a 'different' style, not an 'improvement' in style.
Not really, no. I've made these points higher up, but they bear repeating.
Firstly, climbing above pads can still be bold. In focusing how pads have affected old routes folk are missing what is being achieved at the cutting edge. Perhaps this is because big E grades aren't being thrown around - but who can blame them when you see some of the armchair debates on here, especially when pads are used. Don't think that means there isn't some VERY bold climbing going on.
Secondly, I really do think most ground-up above pad ascents are an improvement on headpoints. Sure, you could come up with theoretical examples that would not be, but in reality if you don't do it fairly quickly you'll probably get hurt. I've heard of a lot more broken limbs from landing on pads than from headpoints gone wrong.
Obviously a pad-free onsight would be better than both. But if you're using pads for bouldering, and often for non-historical highballs, it gets more and more contrived not to use them for the older routes.
The nub of this argument is the historical distinction between boulders and routes. They're all just rocks really. Start from that perspective, and things make a lot more sense.
Late last night, I had decided not to contribute further this debate, in part because I felt it was indeed something that would perhaps be better discussed elsewhere; the news item was of course about Katy's climbing.
I've just read the excellent interview with Hazel Findlay (above), and it is not surprisingly the most accurate and honest report of her ascent. Really great to read, and get a feeling for her experience, and a sense of enjoyment. She is also perfectly clear in her mind, just what she was doing.
My original post was in response to the claim "protection methods have moved on". I feel this statement makes too many assumptions about bouldering mats, how they are used, and how use of them is perceived. There are implications of the answers to these questions, including how we classify styles of ascent, and are able to discern their differences.
My concern was over where we go, if, unlike me, we accept at face value the statement about protection moving on.
Hope that's clear,
I got it Dave, even if others didn't. My point is - we've already gone there haven't we? Its out of any commentator's hands. And all that changes is you have to let go of E grades for a few very short climbs. No big deal.
The thing I'd really like to know is, what do you propose instead?
(Sorry for not answering the phone, was soloing at the Roaches)
Actually reduceing the use of E grades on High Balls has the added benefit of leaving a less skewed grading system for routes that really aren't a boulder problem. I think at the moment there is some tendency to use short Peak routes as benchmark for a grade.
> I got it Dave, even if others didn't. My point is - we've already gone there haven't we? Its out of any commentator's hands. And all that changes is you have to let go of E grades for a few very short climbs. No big deal.
> The thing I'd really like to know is, what do you propose instead?
I sympathise with Dave's viewpoint. I don't think it's necesarily cut and dried that "things have moved on".
Once you start taking ropes and tent pegs to create a 'cat's cradle' on routes like Art Nouveau, you really are reducing the 'spice value' to zero and taking something away from the route & experience IMHO.
Same goes for high stuff in Font like Super Prestat. The aura of the route is now lost since pads are so ubiquitous.
To me, it comes back to the usual thing about climbing that there are no rules and you do what feels right for you on that day. I personally wouldn't want to reduce a classic grit E5 solo to a highball, but someone else might, if they felt that they would never be up to soloing it.
Ground up in a big team with lots of pads is loads of fun, but it's not for everyone on every day of the year. I'm a bit sad that Ulysses is now being 'bouldered out' above stacks of pads. The challenge with that route for me will always be to solo it on-sight with no pads.
Whereas on something like Cornelius, I was happy to boulder it out ground-up above 7 or 8 pads (reversing once from above the high crux, as I was scared of the top where you really wouldn't want to test the fall). I'm pretty sure it would have been easier as a solo without pads after top roping, than climbed ground-up with lots of pads. And ground-up without pads on that route is waaay beyond me, so I didn't even consider it. Someone else might though, after all, it has been flashed...
There's no doubt that the use of pads is pushing standards at around the 7 or 8 metre mark, but there's still room for different interpretations and I think that's what Dave is saying?
And of course, great effort Katy!
While clearing out some old stuff my mum recently found a copy of the TV series Pennine Rock that she'd recorded. I watched it with her last weekend. Some great historical footage and some more recent stuff, incl. a young Tom Briggs on Wellington Crack (I think it was Wellington Crack; and falling off for the camera?).
A big theme of the latter part of the series was the trad vs sport debate, or the relationship between the two. You among others made a defence of the the spirit of trad, Ken Wilson was filmed removing the lower off from a grotty looking route in a dirty old quarry, muttering about thin ends of wedges, while Jerry argued that it was each to his own and there was nothing to worry about since no one was interested in bolting grit. But despite a lovely recreation of Airlie Anderson taking her mattress up to Millstone for Master's Edge, the programme didn't spot that trend or that possible trend. Was that because it seemed so odd, unusual, eccentric?
Absolutely spot on Tom, I completely agree.
Stunning effort by Katy, nice one.
Tom, thought I better sneak back in with a "very well put" too.
>but there's still room for different interpretations and I think that's what Dave is saying?
Of course, yes. I did Ulysses and Art Nouveau with none or minimal padding for the reasons you've mentioned. But I think the 'aura' we might be trying to preserve there is purely a product of having started in the era before pads - knowing others have done the route in good style and wanting to measure up. Having done both again as highballs I found less was lost than I had imagined.
For those who don't remember the pre-pad days though, it must a bit strange that you then get on something bigger, like Cornelius, and stack the pads high quite happily. In the case of Angel's Share, I'd say it falls closer to Cornelius, both having only initial headpoint ascents followed by padded ground-ups - and no 'proper' on-sights. James Pearson has been perhaps the highest profile climber to limit pad use, and he was quite happy to use pads here. IE whilst Dave's broad point is valid enough, framing the debate around Katy's ascent is rather less so.
I should point out that I did not frame my OP around Katy's ascent, and hope this has been clear from my posts.
I think we probably all feel robbed in a way, when others try to define our sport, to make definitive statements that are little more than a case of confusing fact and interpretation.
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