UKC

/ Classic routes and the style they were first done in

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Max factor - on 05 Mar 2015

Route, FA, year, style and anecdotes if there are any.

Why? Sort of curious as the style routes were done in as standards pushed into the low to mid E grades.

Take Right Wall, E5 and apparently only c.F6C+ difficulty. So not that hard, but obviously setting off on an onsight attempt not knowing that is totally different to abseil pre-inspection or pre-practice.

Obviously nowadays, some pre-inspection is the norm on most top end routes. Did these ethics extend down the scale when E3,E4,E5 were at the cutting edge?
jon on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Max factor:

> Take Right Wall, E5 and apparently only c.F6C+ difficulty. So not that hard, but obviously setting off on an onsight attempt not knowing that is totally different to abseil pre-inspection or pre-practice.

Do you really think that a climber as cunning as Pete Livesey set off on that first ascent on sight?
Max factor - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to jon:

I guess not.

But was everyone at it?
Droyd on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Max factor:

I recall reading that Brown's Eliminate was checked out on abseil prior to the first ascent; I can't, however, remember exactly where I read this, so perhaps I've opened myself up for allegations of slander...
jon on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Max factor:
I think that time was about the turning point. Climbers like Littlejohn still had a strong on sight ethic. Others hadn't. If you read Jill Lawrence's account of belaying Livesey on RW she states that he'd cleaned it previously. Livesey's own account is quite well known - he'd cleaned it and memorised the route and the holds etc but only when he got on the route realised that when you are climbing on that wall the holds just disappear. When he got halfway up he found that he was lost - so he untied and soloed off up Cemetery Gates, then abseiled down on a borrowed rope to remind himself... and then continued!

Personally I thought at the time, and still do, that to produce a dangerous route that had loose rock, vegetation etc just for the sake of saying that it was climbed on sight, was silly. The problem was of course that folk got just a little too creative with their cleaning...
Post edited at 14:31
Doug on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to jon:

> I think that time was about the turning point.

Was it ? didn't Austin top rope Wall of Horrors (Almscliff) before leading it ? that must have been early 1960s. I'm sure many routes were top roped first, maybe even more often before decent gear started to be available

jon on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Doug:
Maybe Doug. I mean in general that attitudes changed around then. Prior to that the ideal was on sight. Afterwards (maybe early/mid 80s?) it was just generally accepted that the majority of new routes would have been pre-inspected. Of course there were exceptions before and after. And of course with the advent of sport climbing just about all routes were bolted on abseil. Again, some exceptions: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=105499 http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=105500
Post edited at 15:01
Max factor - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to jon:

I'd never heard story about Livesey's ascent of RW. Reading history in little snippets, you can't really tell what the prevailing ethics were. For every hinted at controversy I can think of another story of so and so climbing with scant equipment, in the rain, gardening as they went etc etc.
Tom F Harding on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Max factor:

The SMC description for the first ascent of Point Five Gully (V 5) is intriguing - '6 days, fixed ropes'. This must surely be the only example of Himalayan siege tactics being used in the UK. The closest example I can think of being the capsule style first ascent of The Long Hope route on St John's head.
Dave Williams - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to jon:

> When he got halfway up he found that he was lost - so he untied and soloed off up Cemetery Gates, then abseiled down on a borrowed rope to remind himself... and then continued!

I actually witnessed that. We were going to do Cemetery Gates, but didn't bother as watching the antics on Right Wall was a far better way to spend the day.

I didn't see him cleaning prior to climbing; he was already established on the wall when we were walking up. His untying and soloing off along the girdle was astonishing to watch. I think the rope was borrowed off someone who'd just done the Corner. He spent a very long time on the abseil, including making contact with the rock several times, presumably checking sequences and holds.

Apologies for going off-topic ....

jon on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Dave Williams:

> Apologies for going off-topic ....

Couldn't be more on-topic Dave! Brilliant!
Chris Craggs - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to DBoothroyd:

> I recall reading that Brown's Eliminate was checked out on abseil prior to the first ascent; I can't, however, remember exactly where I read this, so perhaps I've opened myself up for allegations of slander...

I believe Joe top-roped it a number of times before leading/soloing it. Worth remembering he did in in nailed boots!!!!!!!


Chris
Offwidth - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to jon:

How long previously had the ideal been onsight though? I thought that wasn't for that long, at least on hard grit routes. If you read early guides they often tell you exactly how to climb a tricky route and the common styles used.
jon on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Offwidth:

Well first of all the OP was talking about first ascents, not guidebook descriptions of how to do existing routes. His example is Right Wall which was certainly as big a milestone as say Cenotaph. I'd say that the on sight ideal had always been there but that from time to time the odd deviation from that ideal slipped through. (Actually I reckon far more slipped through than are generally acknowledged!) If you think back 'pre-inspection' notes often appeared in FA lists suggesting this was not the norm.
Goucho on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to jon:

(Actually I reckon far more slipped through than are generally acknowledged!)

Wasn't it Perrin who mischievously said something along the lines of -

"Many new routes are described in the style the first ascensionists would like to have climbed them, not necessarily the style they actually did climb them?"
jon on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Goucho:
And in fact some wag (can't remember who) commenting that some routes were receiving second ascents before they'd actually had a first ascent...! I think another phrase that crept in was the 'ball point ascent'!
Post edited at 18:31
Dave Garnett - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Goucho:

> Wasn't it Perrin who mischievously said something along the lines of -

> "Many new routes are described in the style the first ascensionists would like to have climbed them, not necessarily the style they actually did climb them?"

Well, he'd be well qualified to comment, and not just about climbing but life in general.
jon on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Brutal Dave!
Goucho on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Well, he'd be well qualified to comment, and not just about climbing but life in general.

That's no way to talk about a revered oracle
jon on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Goucho:

I read that as a revered uncle!
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Dave Garnett - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Goucho:

If not revere, until quite recently I did have a high regard for him but now I'm not so sure.
Timmd on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Dave Garnett:
I gather from things like New Scientist that we all have an edited narrative for our lives which tie in with real life to varying degrees, but which is never as life actually is.

Back to the thread topic I reckon?
Post edited at 20:26
Goucho on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> If not revere, until quite recently I did have a high regard for him but now I'm not so sure.

Has a skeleton fallen out of Jim's closet then?
Dave Garnett - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Timmd:

> I gather from things like New Scientist that we all have an edited narrative for our lives which tie in with real life to varying degrees, but which is never as life actually is.

How true

http://www.jacssisters.org/perrinoia/

> Back to the thread topic I reckon?

OK, I'll be good.
JJL - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> I believe Joe top-roped it a number of times before leading/soloing it. Worth remembering he did in in nailed boots!!!!!!!

My first E1 (as was)... and at the time I remember wishing I had better, stiffer, edging. Not that stiff though!
Post edited at 21:13
Bob on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Doug:

Austin top-roped most of his hard first ascents prior to leading them. I think the exception was either The Shelf at Crookrise or Pillar Rib at Eastby. Slightly ironic given his castigation of Rob Matheson's similar tactics in the Lakes.

I'd have thought that it was Livesey and then the Lakes and North Wales climbers in the early to mid 1970s who began systematically pre-cleaning routes. Not sure what the Peak crowd such as Birtles and Procter were up to.
JJL - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> How true



Crikey!

Gordon Stainforth - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Max factor:

I think Streetley's on-sight 1st ascent of Bloody Slab on Cloggy was one of the all-time greats. When his second/s couldn't follow the first desperate pitch, they tied on another 100 foot rope, and then when that ran out he unroped and soloed to the top of the crag. Knot can be seen here.

http://www.gordonstainforth.co.uk/images/BloodySlabStreetly1st.jpg

His description of the ascent is also an all-time classic.
JJL - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to JJL:

http://www.jacssisters.org/jim-curran-versus-jim-perrin-part-5/#more-1737

Double crikey.

Others may be familiar. I had no idea!
1
Mick Ward - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Well, he'd be well qualified to comment, and not just about climbing but life in general.

Given that Jim's prime climbing years coincided with the 'alteration' in ethics referred to above, I think you'll find that his own FAs were models of purism and honesty. (As ever, I stand to be corrected but, if only in this case, doubt I will be.)

His personal life is his personal life. Many of us (including me) have had difficult personal lives. Whatever sympathy one might have had for the sisters of no mercy has been eroded long ago. They've gone on far too long and need to discover compassion and closure.

[To Jon and Goucho] My apologies for not getting back to both of you on the Eiger thread. Life got in the way. Either I'm getting weaker or drills are getting heavier. It must be the latter!

Mick
1
Gordon Stainforth - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Max factor:

Should have said: 1952. Now E3 5b. http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=2216
Gordon Stainforth - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Mick Ward:

> Given that Jim's prime climbing years coincided with the 'alteration' in ethics referred to above, I think you'll find that his own FAs were models of purism and honesty. (As ever, I stand to be corrected but, if only in this case, doubt I will be.)

> His personal life is his personal life. Many of us (including me) have had difficult personal lives. Whatever sympathy one might have had for the sisters of no mercy has been eroded long ago. They've gone on far too long and need to discover compassion and closure.

Your words about Jim are a full of wisdom. This was a most unseemly airing of dirty linen in public, and the last thing any right-minded person should be doing on the internet is re-airing someone else's private dirty linen.
1
Mick Ward - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Bob:

> I'd have thought that it was Livesey and then the Lakes and North Wales climbers in the early to mid 1970s who began systematically pre-cleaning routes. Not sure what the Peak crowd such as Birtles and Procter were up to.

If I remember correctly (God, it was only a couple of years ago!) on the Peak Rock interviews, Proctor said that he'd reached a point where he thought not cleaning new routes was silly/dangerous. I think the point was Street pointing him at Zeus (a bit awkward/uphill) for a good ole sandbag, Proctor nipping up in grand style only to be confronted by a load of ball-bearing pebbles adorning that sloping shelf at the top. Birtles ran around and (sans belay, brave man) extended a helping hand. Proctor grabbed it, pulled over and didn't claim the FA. (Caveat: all subject to my dodgy memory of aforesaid tapes.) After that, on FAs, I think Proctor abbed/cleaned, had a look and maybe top-roped as he saw fit.

All this, of course, gave Proctor an edge and kept punters like yours truly off his routes for years until they could summon up some last dregs of courage and finally leave the ground.

Reading all the Peak Rock interviews/transcripts etc, it seemed as though failure to pre-clean held limestone climbing back for decades and gave a lot of people epics. I think Proctor had the right idea. Sometimes it takes an outsider (which he was then) to break the prevailing mould.

Mick


Mick Ward - on 05 Mar 2015
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Thank you.

Mick

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