In between nights out on the town then black pudding for breakfast, and his headpoint burns on Rhapsody, Sonnie Trotter has established Direquiem a new finish to the Requiem crack at Dumbarton Rock. (Requiem was first climbed by Dave Cuthbertson in 1983 and graded E8 6b or 8a+ -photo-)
Midges Attack Canadian
DirequiemSonnie describes Direquiem as "the true direct finish to Requiem" The line of Rhapsody, the UK's first E11 as climbed by Dave MacLeod, takes the path of most resistance (the hardest moves) up the Requiem headwall and is shaped like an inverted question mark - ¿ - where Direquiem goes direct (almost in a straight line) from the top of the Requiem crack to the top of the cliff.
Direquiem weighs in at the North American grade of 5.14a R (proposed); 5.14a translates as sport 8b+ climbing and the 'R' means that you can expect long but safe falls if you lob. This is a lot more honest than giving pre-practiced routes an inflated, hypothetical, headline-grabbing E grade, although Sonnie says, "I don't know what this translates to in the E grade system, but I'll let others figure it out. "
However flawed applying E-grades to headpoints is, it is our current system. Top rope practice before the lead can be traced back to the early history of climbing and is well established, especially on bolt-free gritstone and mountain routes. However, several of the UK's top climbers are now of the opinion that E grades should only be applied to onsight and ground up ascents. This will hopefully stop the practice of over-grading to embellish a climbers reputation which has been common the last 20 years or so.
Sonnie Trotter: Another WeekFurther, Dave Brown of Hot Aches confirmed to UKClimbing.com that Sonnie has extended his stay again for another week so he can hopefully complete what he has travelled all this way for, Rhapsody. Dave also commented that Sonnie has taken the fall off Rhapsody from his headpoint highpoint 22 times so far.
Like Dave MacLeod, Sonnie keeps it honest and the tittle-tattle low, between his high level climbing, by writing his thoughts on his online diary (blog) and he has this to say for us.
"You see, Rhapsody may be an eliminate, but it is still Rhapsody. There is a tremendous amount of logic behind what Dave did and that deserves a pile of respect I think. He saw the line, and climbed it to the top. The only rule is don't bail left to the arete, (a cop out) stay on the face and the line is very much obvious. And yes, very hard.......Rhapsody is basically a 5.13c/d (8a+/8b) into a V10/V11 (Font7c+/8a) and a cheeky one at that. Not ground breaking terrain, by sport climbing standards....Rhapsody is a good route, actually no, it's a terrific route, it climbs so fucking well, it's actually fun to fall off of. "
You can read more of Sonnie's thoughts on Rhapsody, plus PHOTOS at: www.sonnietrotter.com
Steve McClure on RhapsodyThere is no doubt that Steve McClure is at the top of his game, a true climbers' climber, his love for climbing outshines any commercial motivations (but I'm sure he could do with more financial rewards for his commitment and his exposure).
Last week McClure made a flash ascent of Gareth Parry's new F8b+, Dr Crimp, at Kilnsey in Yorkshire, a week after the routes first ascent (See Dave Simmonite's report at www.climbmagazine.com). Prior to that he established a new 9a+ at the same crag - see the UKClimbing.com report, May 20: Steve McClure Success at Kilnsey Today.
Steve was part of a team, including James Pearson and John Dunne, who went north to have a look at Rhapsody, and he didn't hang about. On Steve's second day a headpoint attempt saw him a few metres away from making the second ascent of Rhapsody, in Sonnie's words, "on his second day he linked to my highpoint, (the crux) but slipped going for the first good hold which leads to the top. He then did Requiem to cool down."
As Dave Brown of Hot Aches said "Steve McClure is absolutely phenomenal."
Best of luck to Sonnie this week on his attempts on Rhapsody and thanks for keeping us all up to date.