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.
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
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.
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