Caff on Strawberries The new magic grade is E9. E8 is passé, E9 is headline grabbing. Even if that E9 is really E8. Well maybe!
In April, James Pearson got the second ascent of Everest summiteer Leo Houlding's 1999 testpiece, Trauma E9 7a on Dinas Mot, confirming both grade and quality. Trauma got another repeat by Dave MacLeod this month, after Dave decided not to go for the lead of Indian Face, Johnny Dawes's E9 6c on Cloggy about which Dave made some honest but controversial statements. To which, Neil Gresham, one of three people to have led Indian Face, replied.
In May, Dave Pickford climbed The Brothers Karamazov at Pembroke giving it E9 6c. This in turn was repeated by Dave Birkett, who whilst not coming straight out and saying that it wasn't an E9 did say that "routes at Pembroke are easier than in other places." To which Dave Pickford eloquently replied.You can read all these news reports, comments and counter-comments on this page, UKClimbing.com news reports for June 2007 (scroll down a bit) and this page, the news reports for May 2007. And I suppose we could add into this E9 mix, Ben Cossey's ascent of John Dunne's famous E9 6c, Parthian Shot, by head torch, in January, and now this latest news from North Wales............... On Sunday evening the North Wales-based, Lakeland climber, James "Caff" McHaffie made the fourth ascent of Trauma on Dinas Mot. Simon Panton reports: "A hush descended upon the valley as he set off and a gallery of climbers spread around the boulders gazed on in silence. Caff climbed quickly up the lower wall, but paused for a painfully long time at the crux, but much to everyone's relief continued on to the top in a final smooth push. In the pub afterwards Caff explained what he thought of the route: “I was struggling with the key wire placement – I reckon I only had ten seconds to place it and clip it before I would fall. But then I sussed a more comfortable body position and knew it was on. As for the grade, well, I think with the pecker hook it doesn't warrant E9. E8 7a seems a more accurate appraisal.” I wonder what Leo will say? You can read Simon's full report, with lots more North Wales news at www.groundupclimbing.com