The Brothers Karamazov E9 6c
[Dave Birkett The Brothers Karamazov E9 6c, St Govan’s Head, 3 kb]The Brothers Karamazov follows the classic E6 Crimes of Passion up its initial groove. It then climbs direct through the bulge and headwall where that route moves right, on an inescapable and completely independent line. Good gear can be arranged at 13 metres in the break at the top of the Crimes of Passion groove – the last of anything more than psychological value until the belay in the Zodiac break at 25 metres. Due to the separated nature of the gear in this break two belayers are a wise idea to reduce the amount of slack in the event of a fall.

A powerful and sustained 6c crux sequence leads through the bulge and a shakeout on a crimp-rail in a serious position on the headwall (a single downward-pointing lost arrow peg in an 8mm deep placement was pre-placed and tied off here for ‘dutch courage’ on the first ascent. It was carefully removed afterwards so the peg would not rot and damage the very narrow placement). A rather precarious 6b/c sequence (hard 6c for the short) then leads to the sanctuary of better holds and the half-height Zodiac break. A fall from these final moves would probably mean hitting the boulder beach 20 metres below, due to the fact it is very difficult for the person belaying on the boulders to move effectively enough to take in the rope.

The Brothers Karamazov is an epic novel by Dostoevsky that was published in 1880 and allegedly took him two years to write. Dave first envisaged this line in 2005 but had to wait two years before conditions were favourable (the line requires afternoon low tides and a dry spell to be in good nick). There is something of a Russian literary theme of the routes hereabouts, including Crime and Punishment and War and Peace just to the left.
Dave Pickford 2007

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Photo: Dave Birkett The Brothers Karamazov E9 6c, St Govan’s Head © UKC News
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