Tiger vs Wolf - Peg-free Ascent in Cornwallby Martin Cathrow and Alan James - UKC May/2011
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Martin was aided by some 80s inspiration in the form of a pre-placed Whisper bar and tiger lycra!
Martin Cathrow has made a peg-free ascent of a classic E6 in Cornwall on Friday 29th April.
Martin takes up the story, "I was looking for a suitable challenge and spotted Wolf at the Door, located in the beautiful Pendower Cove area on the south coast of West Penwith. This route was first climbed by Mark Edwards in 1990 and in the process he placed six stainless steel pegs to protect the line, he gave it an unconfirmed grade of E6 with the pegs. In the Edwards' Cornish Rock guide it has been given the four star accolade to suggest it as the best route of its grade in the area - which I agree with.
Without the pegs the start had become an S2/3 deep water solo involving a dynamic lunge before getting any gear. Martin took two falls from this section on his initial attempts. Above this relatively easy climbing followed, with the odd cam for gear, until another crux involving a painful fist jam. A good rest can be had at a horizontal break (where he ate a pre-placed whisper bar). The top section of the route is still sustained and quite bold.
Commenting on the grade Martin said, "I'm not really sure on the sport grade, but it is probably up in the high sevens. As for a trad grade it should be around E8/9?".
We asked Martin what had motivated him to climb the route in this way.
The story has echoes in the Cad Saga of the 1980s where Stuart Cathcart made a solo ascent of The Cad, a bold E5 on North Stack wall at Gogarth with a single bolt for protection. The route had been initially protected by 2 bolts placed by Ron Fawcett in 1978, one of which was rapidly eliminated by Pete Whillance. Cathcart removed the remaining bolt after his ascent for which he was criticised since it had been there for him, albeit a solo ascent. The bolt was replaced in the route which then went through a series of stages including a solo ascent without the bolt in place by the late Jimmy Jewel. It was finally lead with no bolt by Nick Dixon to establish the bolt-free E6 which remains today.
Hopefully Wolf at the Door will not suffer from such a controversial history as this and Martin has played this aspect down.
Martin lives in Redruth, Cornwall, with his son Josh, he has been climbing worldwide for over thirty years, and he works for Truro College as a climbing lecturer and enjoys chocolate and tiger lycra! He would like to thank the following for their support and suffering: Erin Bastian, Chris Hall, Jake Nichol, Nige Braddon, James Forbes and Billy Ward.