/ First route of each grade, trad and sport
Perhaps there is a list somewhere already but I was wondering what the first UK route of each grade was (based on the grade currently given, assuming the route hasn't got harder due to rockfall etc).
Trad (below E1 is probably too hard to tell):
E1 - Cave Arete Indirect, E1 5b, Ivar Berg, 1916 *
E2 - Suicide Wall Route 2, E2 5c, Chris Preston, 1947
E3 - ?
E4 - ?
E5 - Right Wall, E5 6a, Pete Livesey, 1974 ?
E6 - Lord of the Flies, E6 6a, Ron Fawcett, 1979 ?
E7 - ?
E8 - Requiem, E8 6b, Dave Cuthbertson, 1983
E9 - Indian Face, E9 6c, Johnny Dawes, 1986
E10 - Equilibrium, E10 7a, Neil Bentley, 2000 ? (Divided Years has settled at E9 I think)
E11 - Rhapsody, E11 7a, Dave MacLeod, 2006
* There was a good thread about this recently.
Sport - arbitrarily starting with 8a (not sure about some of these):
8a Statement of Youth, Ben Moon, 1984
8a+ Overnite Sensation, Paul Ingham, 1987 (doesn't sound right but after perusing a few guide books I couldn't find anything earlier; Chimes of Freedom was 1986 but apparently easier than the current 8a+ grade)
8b Revelations, Jerry Moffat, 1984
8b+ Mecca, Martin Atkinson, 1988
8c Cry Freedom, Mark Leach, 1988
8c+ Hubble, Ben Moon, 1990 or Evolution, Jerry Moffat, 1995
9a Hubble, Ben Moon, 1990 or Mutation, Steve McClure, 1998
9a+ Violent New Breed, John Gaskins, 2004 (some might say a more appropriate entry would be Overshadow, Steve McClure, 2007
9b Rainman, Steve McClure, 2017
Edited as a few entries got accidentally deleted from the original post.
Do a search as this has been investigated many times before.
There are no solid answers as original grades are altered (hubble), original routes change (Chimes) and the whole system slowly morphs!
Well indeed, plus sport routes didn't start getting French grades (consistently) until some time into the 1990s.
E3 Bloody Slab, E4 Goliath, E7 The Bells?
Sounds like Gallows Route on the Buachaille should now be E3 (at least), which predates Bloody Slab.
> E7 The Bells?
Pretty sure Strawberries was done earlier, although it wasn't given E7 then and the style it was done in was pushing the bounds of what was acceptable even at the time. Nevertheless it's now E7 and hasn't got harder, and Ron's ascent is generally viewed as the first ascent.
> E3 Bloody Slab, E4 Goliath, E7 The Bells?
> Sounds like Gallows Route on the Buachaille should now be E3 (at least), which predates Bloody Slab.
Bloody Slab (by Streetly) was 1952. Perhaps Joe Brown's Great Slab at Froggatt or Right Eliminate at Curbar, both 1951 (not sure which came first), was the first E3?
> Sounds like Gallows Route on the Buachaille should now be E3 (at least), which predates Bloody Slab.
Is that just going by a couple of logbook comments, or more opinions? Seemed like E3 5b to me, though was just seconding. Felt quite steep and go-ey, not just bold.
Propeller Wall E5 6A Ilkley 1972 John Syrett
Presumably it was just called Suicide Wall at the time
Also Edge Lane and/or Green Death predate Right Wall, I think, and so do some Avon routes now given E5.
Goliath and/or Whillans’ route on that crumbling pinnacle in Skye are very early routes now given E4.
When was Narcissus? And I think some of Fawcett’s Yorkshire grit routes - Slip ‘n’ Slide and Desperate Dan maybe - would come into consideration for E6/7. As would Quiver, and Footless Crow.
This assumes of course that the game is simply the earliest route now given a certain grade, which may be higher than the original grade for many reasons.
There was a very long thread on this at one time whose results made it on to the Planet Fear website as historical truth.
If you don't want Hubble as the 9a route, then The Big Bang (Neil Carson, 1996) preceded Mutation by a couple of years.
Slingsby's Crystal E2 6a at Craigmore was apparently climbed in "the early 1900s" but the ascent has an aura of mystery (and it's nearly always overlooked in lists like this one).
Exactly. Statement of Youth was originally given "E7", not sure if it pre-dates The Bells! The Bells!
I wonder if some of the routes on Southern Sandstone that were soloed in the late 60s and early 70s shouldn't appear on this list.
Sossblitz at Harrisons is a pumpy f7a/7a+ that appears to have been soloed in the early 70s and would be hard E6 or easy E7 on gritstone. South West Corner (f7a, crux at the top) at the same crag seems to have been soloed by a few people in the late 60s or early 70s. These are just a couple of examples.
It's an interesting and slightly unexplored corner of climbing history I think.
Was Hubble by Moon climbed the same year as Moffat's Liquid Ambar then? But Ben beat Jerry to it? How long by? Bet Jerry was f*cking fuming...
Talking to a friend recently, I've not done it myself.
You are right, got mixed up.
Wasn’t E1 until quite recently and tragically the chockstone came out.
Was always regarded as HVS until the big chockstone came out.
Of course. I was looking at the Big Bang in the guide book as well... d’oh!
Interesting point. Not sure it would qualify as the first E5 if it’s now E3 with modern gear (after all a lot of modern routes would get upgraded if they were first done today with the original gear, if that makes sense) but an amazing effort for sure.
Footless Crow has got harder but no idea if it was originally E6 anyway. There was a thread about the E grade system recently with a list of Lakes extremes from the 70s, can’t remember what it was on there.
> Was always regarded as HVS until the big chockstone came out.
Plus, Herford used aid ... in terms of standing on his second's shoulder at the chockstone. Menlove Edwards made the first free ascent in the mid to late 30s. As Herford did it, certainly not E1 but nevertheless outstanding for its time (1914). Much harder, overall, than anything else in Britain, I think.
Interesting thread, in terms of sport routes I'm surprised caviar hasn't been mentioned, I understood it was widely reported as the UK's first 8a but then turned out to be 8a+ so perhaps needs to be on the list?
Correction, caviar was the first 8a in the peak that turned out to be 8a+, fa Tony Ryan 1986
(That would make good pub quiz question!)
FC certainly wasn't E6 on the original lakes list which if I remember correctly only went up to E4 at its inception.
FC and Right Wall were quickly accepted as the first E5s. Can't remember if there were any generally accepted E5s in the Peak at that time but cutting edge routes like Nectar, Flakey Wall and PoD were all given E4.
Gallows Route was 1947, which predates all of them. Its present E3-ness might be down to the deterioration of the crucial peg (someone who's actually done it can weigh in on this), but in any case, given it's cited as the first 'Extreme' in the Scottish mountains, it was an incredible ascent.
Steeplejack Staircase is another one people mention in the E2 region. I forget the FA date.
If we’re going to say Wall of Horrors was ‘really’ the first E5, what was headpointing Black Wall in 1921?! It’s an interesting enough game but a very different one.
Forgive my ignorance, but which Black Wall are you thinking of, John?
On Dow, a HVS up and R of Great Central Route, regarded as the living end in its time.
For E4 Demon Rib at Black Rocks might be earlier than Goliath. Not at home so can't check
Demon Rib was originally climbed with combined tactics at the start.
Which is strange - really odd - because that’s not the E4 bit and would hardly affect the grade.
This would once have been where Al came in and said he didn’t think they’d ever done it at all RIP.
DR before Goliath I think?
Gallows- I did it this summer and had a bit of a gibber at the rotting bent peg. I couldn’t find the original description but Jim Perrin says in The Villain that it was “First led in sand shoes and without runners in 1947 by John Cunningham” so maybe the peg was a later addition and its rusting away is returning the route to its original state. Yes an incredible ascent for the time. E2 or E3 depending on how much you trust the other gear available at / below the peg (modern gear that was not available in 1947). Lovely rough rock and good climbing.
Since when did it become E4 anyway it’s E3 in the log books and its not harder than Great Slab, Wall of Horrors, Western Front, Cave wall and dozens of other E3’s.
Well I never knew that! Every day's a school day...
Well yeah, there is that.
Revelations was somewhat easier in 84 so the first 8b on Peak Lime anyway would have been "Zeke" 87 also.
For information and interest, this question has been discussed on here before:
https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rock_talk/first_ever_ascents_at_each_grade-180080 - note that the Planet Fear links in that thread are all broken
https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rock_talk/first_vs_etc_-_definitive_list-49039?v=1#649417 - linked from the one above. Note that even in 2003 jcm (also posting on this thread) started his OP with: "OK, OK, I know we've had this before", which suggests that further delving might turn up yet more.
Of course, new routes at even higher grades may well have been put up since those earlier threads were running (Rhapsody hadn't been climbed when jcm started his thread, for example). And new information/grade debates might have resulted in some changes to the list in the lower grades.
(And by the way, this wasn't intended as a sarky "use the search function" post: I think the earlier discussions are interesting in their own right. As are the ones in this thread.)
Thanks. Couldn’t find these from a quick search. As expected, hard to get definitive answers for some grades. I’ll see if I can bring all the info together into one list - which will have two or even three ‘possibles’ at each grade.
So Revelations would have been the first 8a+? Haven’t read Jerry’s book, perhaps there’s some insight there.
Well I think is was originally given E7 7a (8a). Most guide books had it down as 8a+ until the BMC 1999 guide. Felt like 8a+ in 2000.
Morgue Slab (E2) was late 20s and I think the Beatnik (E5) was 71.
Was it? Jim Birkett during the war, it says here.
Still a good call, mind.
There's some mystery around the FA of Morgue Slab but my belief (which might be wrong) is that Colin did it around 28-30. Someone mentioned early Avon E5s - Quick Flash and Just So were both 72.
I must say if you’d asked me I’d have said it was CFK. Mind you I’d also have said it was E1. Not sure why I thought either of those things.