David Mason Turns His Hand to Grit Tradby Duncan Campbell - UKC Dec/2013
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David Mason, usually known for his bouldering, has recently turned his hand to trad climbing, with impressive results. He has made quick headpoints and bold flash ascents of some hard grit classics.
In the last few months David Mason has begun ticking his way through many hard grit classics, whilst usually better known for his bouldering exploits, David explained why he had been going trad climbing recently:
"I am currently trying to train for a bouldering trip to the States after Christmas but also wanting to get out as much as I can on the gritstone. For me it hasn't been cold enough for hard bouldering and I don't want to loose all my skin sliding off eggy blobs and crimping crystals. Trad allows me to climb outside and train at the same time as it doesn't require as much physical strength.
I really never thought I would have the mental tenacity to do hard trad climbs but it seems to be going ok at the moment and I really love it. It has opened up so much more to me in the Peak especially and I think the approach is really helping my mindset for hard bouldering too."
The most imressive of David's gritstone trad ascents so far was his flash of the Dawes' classic Gaia, at Black Rocks, last week. David headed out with Nige Kershaw who wanted to headpoint the route. David wanted to have a look at Charlie Woodburn's Harder, Faster, E9 6c (the direct finish to Gaia), but having watched Nige on Gaia got psyched to have a flash attempt before looking at Harder, Faster. David described his flash of Gaia in more detail:
"I knew it had been done (the Honnold onsight video is incredible) but I also knew a lot of better rock climbers than myself had fallen attempting it. I felt pretty laid back about it though and was confident I could do it so I climbed up, placed the gear and then climbed back down. After 5 minutes rest I started up, thank god I just had my t-shirt on as I was sweating profusely; a mixture of adrenaline and warmth I reckon.
After watching Nige I knew you could chalk up on every move pretty much, but I think fear got the better of me and before I knew it I was pushing out of the groove having not chalked up once! I vaguely remember hearing Nige telling me to relax and chalk and so I did. I then transferred over to the sloper and once I got this I was pretty confident I was in, after all it is a hold! Sitting astride the top of Gaia was a wonderful feeling and I was pretty proud of myself for keeping it together. I would say it went reasonably smoothly too. I had one moment where I had to reverse a hand movement because I couldn't get my foot by my hand and another, stepping across to match feet on the rail, that my left hand slipped on a slopey undercut and I went into 'danger' crimp but other than those hick-ups it felt good."
David also headed out with Mina when she went to try Unfamiliar, E7/8 6c, (UKC News Report) managing to make a ground-up ascent after abbing the route to brush and chalk the holds. David also spoke in more detail about the style in which he climbed Unfamiliar:
"Like Mina said this is really a highball now, although the climbing on it isn't 100% secure and you do feel that a foot slip in the wrong direction could lead to missing the pads. I suppose I technically didn't ground up this one as I abbed down it to chalk and brush the holds although I didn't try the moves. Basically it was my turn to do the duties! I have watched a lot of people on routes this year and had a good flash go and I knew Ethan, Nathan and Mina wanted to do it ground up so I took one for the team.
I was really happy with Unfamiliar as it is very tenuous and the crux revolves around stepping a foot really high which was ridiculously bunched for me, I probably looked like a stick insect in a jar! I also had a heart in mouth moment with my foot slipping off the top when I had double palms rocking over to glory. I teetered out from the rock and then slowly teetered back in, very 'wile e coyote' like! I had tried Unfamiliar a few years earlier and not managed it so it was nice to come back to it and sit a top this stunning column of gritstone.
Watching Mina do it a few days later was even better as she has wanted to climb it ever since I have known her. To see her pluck up the courage, hold on with the foot slips and top out was very impressive."
In addition to these two impressive repeats David has been pretty busy this Autumn with the following other stand-out ascents:
More photos from mike Hutton: www.mikehuttonphotography.com
David added a little about his ascent of End of the Affair, saying:
"I also did End of the Affair the other day but I am no good on aretes and so that was with a bit of top rope practise; making it not really news worthy although I was still bloody happy with it! I actually flashed Ulysses or Bust, E5 6b after and was more pleased with that!"
David's big goal for the year however, is New Statesman, E8 7a, at Ilkley and headed out to Ilkely to have a look at it:
"This was the first 'Hard Grit' line I saw in the flesh and have always wanted to climb it at some point in my bouldering life! I went to try it last Monday but it was pretty damp. Ilkley is notorious for wind but there was none and so the rock was a bit spoogey. I eventually figured out my own beta for the bottom and managed it on a top rope so hopefully, weather depending, I will get back there soon. It is hard and scary though; definitely a step above what I have done before in my opinion!"
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