Visiting Italian climber Erik Svab recently ticked what seems to be the most popular E8 in Britain this year; Dave Pickford's Point Blank at Stennis Ford, Pembroke.
Svab described the route thus:
"I find this route really fantastic: nice climb, nice line, very good for me: pumpy for the forearms, gently overhanging with crimps and precise climbing..."
Svab is no stranger to traditional climbing, having completed various hard routes around the world, as well as having a good background in UK trad. Point Blank is his second E8, he made an ascent of the Dave Birkett route Dawes Rides A Shovel Head in Langdale, Lake District back in 2007 (See UKC News).
A day prior to his headpoint ascent of Point Blank, which he climbed on pre-placed gear, he made an onsight ascent of the parent route From A Distance (E6/7 6b).
"I must thank my friend Igor who was belaying me staying and waiting in the water when the tide was coming in because I was onsighting it for 1.5 hours." said Svab.
"At the end of the difficulties of 'From A Distance' you clip a very good peg (we are used to trusting them probably more then the Brits...) and start the traverse left."
What might not be known to Svab is that this peg is a relatively rare stainless steel peg and, as far as UK sea cliff routes go, is in extremely good condition and has been described as 'completely bomber'. It is also backed up with a thread and a wire 1 metre below. A more typical peg is pictured on the right.
"I think that the difficulty of French 8a is correct because the route is quite pumpy and with continuous difficulties, so I agree with Tim Emmett that if someone is good at climbing and knows how to place protection it can be climbed onsight, but with the expectation of a good flight!" commented Svab after his ascent.
Drafted in to test both the cluster of gear and Svab's onsight theory was an on form Pete Robins, who a fortnight after Svab's ascent, attempted the route completely onsight, and made the long traverse out from the gear on From A Distance, only to find himself unable to place a crucial runner to protect the upper wall, and with an ever increasing pump, he opted not to blast on in to more dangerous ground and instead took the lob.
Erik Svab has completed many major routes around the globe, but still considers Pembroke to be one of the finest climbing areas.
Below is a gallery of some of Eric Svab's top climbing achievements, from hard mixed routes and Scottish winter classics, through to soloing F8a sport routes.
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