ARTICLE: 2021: The Year of the Headpoint

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 UKC Articles 15 Nov 2021

Franco Cookson takes a look back over the year during which he argues there has been a renaissance of hard Trad headpointing...

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 Martin Bagshaw 15 Nov 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Worth reading for the Neil Gresham quote alone.

 Kevin Woods 15 Nov 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Unbelievable when you add it together like that. Also, Niall McNair did Achemine last week.

 Michael Gordon 15 Nov 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Amazing to think that Hold Fast, Hold True (E10 7a) got repeated and no-one knew about it!

In reply to UKC Articles:

The article mentions 4 E11s. Is that Lexicon, Rhapsody, Nothing Lasts and Echo Wall or is the fourth route Immortal and Echo Wall considered a grade above E11?

 GDes 15 Nov 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Minor point but Dyers Lookout is in Devon, not Cornwall 

 Michael Gordon 16 Nov 2021
In reply to Tyler:

I tried to look at the article for context but couldn't find any mention of four E11s.

In reply to Michael Gordon:

In the section of the article about Lexicon:  "Neil proposed the grade of E11 7a, due to the high standard of the climbing and uncertain consequences of a very large potential fall, which would make it only the fourth route to be given this grade"

 Franco Cookson 16 Nov 2021
In reply to Kevin Woods:

Ah! That's annoying. I was really psyched about that one too as it's one of those routes that seems to slip under the radar a bit. 

I wrote the majority of this article about a month or so ago, as it involved checking quite a lot of stuff with people. At the time, I thought Craig was going to keep his ascent secret for a while, so had a few subtle hints throughout that something very significant had happened in the lakes - hence the comment about 4 E11s. Little did I know he was gonna give it E10! Echo Wall is still to be graded as far as I know and I'm just waiting for someone strong to give me some top rope feedback before I grade Immoral, as it mostly just comes down to a couple of moves and I've lost all perspective. So there could be anywhere from 3-6 E11+s by my reckoning. 

Apologies about the Dyer's mistake. That's pretty shocking. I have been reminded about this before as well, I just always mix it up with Lower Sharpnose, as that always surprised me it was in Cornwall, as it seems so far away from Land's End.

In reply to Franco Cookson:

Good article.

Anecdotally, lots of people have been doing more headpointing due to Covid. 

For long periods, working your hard sport project abroad has been logistically impossible. 

It was easy to spend the winter lockdown either training, or on a toprope at a deserted crag.

For long periods, leading at your limit (onsight or not) has been borderline unacceptable due to the strain on the NHS. 

With headpointing, you get to spend months preparing, and then only a few minutes pushing the boat out with very calculated and known risks.

Of course this isn't to deny the risk in these top end ascents. Craig's route in particular is mind blowing. However it goes a long way to explain the shift in focus. 

In reply to Franco Cookson:

Has Craig said why he kept his route sort of secret for so long? 

 remus 16 Nov 2021
In reply to TobyA:

> Has Craig said why he kept his route sort of secret for so long? 

Would be interesting to know for sure but I assume it's because he's still trying to do it placing the gear on lead.

 C Witter 16 Nov 2021
In reply to TobyA:

Reading Craig M's account, and knowing he was up at Pavey to look at Lexicon, I imagine the scenes went pretty much like this...

Every wad in the country is top-roping Lexicon. Then they're having a little tea break, chatting about the lines that are left. Gresham's like: "yeh, well, mate, like, I might have to come back and have a look at that really hard groove, yeh, since no one's managed it yet." Craig, sheepishly, around a cheese butty: "Actually, I've already climbed it with mi dad." Gresham's up in arms, Steve's silently shaking his head in disbelief, Dave Mac's chuckling gleefully in the corner. Why haven't you said anything?! "Well, I couldn't climb it properly: had to pre-place a runner." Within a week, he's been cheered on/peer-pressured into dobbing himself in on UKC.

Pure speculation, obviously.

 iainJ 16 Nov 2021
In reply to TobyA:

"Euphoria yes, but that little voice soon creeps in – could you improve on that? Why not train over the summer, come back in Autumn, be stronger, fitter and place that runner on lead – the next logical step?

Unfortunately, this Autumn barely provided a dry day and the prospect of climbing the route placing the runner on lead disappeared (for now at least) so it felt right to report the route as it stands."

From the UKC article about it the other day

In reply to UKC Articles:

"2021 has been like no other in the history of UK Trad."

1986 wants a word

 Rick Graham 16 Nov 2021
In reply to Tyler:

1886,1914,1952,1974. ??

 Graeme Hammond 16 Nov 2021
In reply to Franco Cookson:

My understanding was that Parthian Shot (E10 6c) had a recent accents too from a visiting Belgium(?) climber does that count? (sorry I forget the name)

In reply to iainJ:

Thanks Iain - So it turns out I had read the answer to my own question as I read the article, but clearly I didn't "read" it! My pitiful excuse is my eyes were drawn to the photos and you're left reeling "WhereTF are the holds on that thing!?!"

In reply to UKC Articles:

Brilliant article . Thanks.

 remus 17 Nov 2021
In reply to Martin Bagshaw:

Not having a go at you, but find the mention of John Redhead quite appalling really. Don't think mental illness is something that should be mocked or made fun of, and am surprised that such pejorative language has made it through the editing process. 

Other than that thought it a good article. 

Post edited at 11:51
 Franco Cookson 17 Nov 2021
In reply to Tyler:

Certainly an interesting (or maybe really boring?) debate to be had. I think what is striking about the routes this year is that many of them have been massive sieges that have required many sessions to be climbed. Developing routes that are really long term projects has been a niche activity that very few people have been interested in in recent years. I know people like Nick Dixon have head pointed for years,  but I'd be interested to know how many sessions he, or even someone later like Birkett generally had on their hardest lines - I'd imagine it was a lot less than someone like Dave MacLeod has had on his longest projects. I suppose in this sense all modern climbers are children of the Dave. 

Even amongst the people doing hard Trad routes, I think there's a big divide between those that do the harder and those that do the safer lines. I really don't see the queues that there were for Lexicon forming for Hard Cheese or the other really deathy lines, as it is so far beyond sensible levels of sport performance. It's interesting to see people like Jim Pope psyched for Trad. Perhaps the really bold F8 stuff will have to wait for the next generation for this reason? 

In reply to TobyA:

> "WhereTF are the holds on that thing!?!"

Suggest you read about Tronc Feuillu in "The Greatest Climber in the World" [Mountain 24 & The Games Climbers Play]

Post edited at 19:05
In reply to UKC Articles:

A really good and informative article, thanks - but one niggle. The word 'trad' is not a proper noun so it shouldn't be capitalised! (After all we don't write about Sport climbing or Speed climbing or Bouldering.)

UKC please edit for grammatical correctness and consistency 


Massive pedant

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