On Thursday last, Drew Haigh pulled the crux of Mark Leach's 1988 Malham test-piece, Cry Freedom (F8b+) to join the handful of climbers who have succeeded were all else have failed to get closure. Drew was understandably chuffed and happily shared his delight with those at the crag. In a quirk of fate, I was at Malham in 1988 when Leach ended his monumental 46 day siege and I recall that his were truly Cries of Freedom! Drew, by comparison, took a mere six redpoints over five days to nail the route.
Cry Freedom draws plenty of attention from Malham devotees but few succeed. Indeed the list of those that have pulled onto the hallowed ground beyond the crux from the ground is reckoned to still be in single figures. Leach's own ascent was an historic and brutal siege – a true tour de force and a testament to his tenacity. At the time it was one of the hardest routes in the country and one of the first of its grade (F8b+). And there remains amongst the activists, comments and rumours that Leach's original sequence is brick-'ard and knocking on the door of F8c! Early (and fast) repeats came from Malcolm Smith, Ben Moon and John Dunne but none were quite as memorable as that from Frenchman Jean Baptiste Tribout (a.k.a. JB) who according to sport climbing folklore, famously dispatched Cry Freedom in four or five consecutive days amidst a monster multi-day climbing spree.
"The main issue for me, when redpointing, is that I get over-psyched. Struggling to sleep, thinking about the route and spending every spare minute rehearsing the moves and visualising the overlapping links. This is very tiresome for friends and family as this makes me even more boring than usual!"
Commented Drew after he ticked the route. Drew has written a report of his ascent, detailing the trials and tribulations of hard redpoint climbing. You can read a full insight in this UKC Article:
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