Chris Doyle reports on his blog that Alex Barrows has made the long awaited second ascent of Pilgrimage (Font 8B+ or F9a) in Parisella's Cave, North Wales.
This is a huge link-up boulder problem through the famous limestone bouldering cave on the Ormes.
Well that's not a defining factor, surely? VNB was and maybe still is our hardest sports route; that’s bound to make it a coveted second ascent. My impression is that the only reason that it isn’t is that it’s at some poxy hole in the ground with nothing else to do there, and that no-one quite knows what exactly is in or out. Something like that, anyway. Plus UK sport climbing’s unfashionable. And probably no-one can do it anyway.
Btw what’s this nonsense in the article about Ben Moon’s time in Parisella’s being before it was a well-known and popular bouldering destination?! It was arguably before bouldering itself was a well-known and popular activity, but I’d have thought at that time it was even more North Wales’ premier bouldering venue than it is now.
Well, as you say, there's nothing like being at a roadside destination to capture the public imagination!
It's a good question, actually, to which EW is definitely not the right answer. Of those suggested so far my guess would be that Il Pirata is the one which most people are genuinely aspiring to. The answer is surely a boulder problem - fashion being that it is - and that has a bit of a cooler name/image than some of the others, somehow.
> It's a good question, actually, to which EW is definitely not the right answer. Of those suggested so far my guess would be that Il Pirata is the one which most people are genuinely aspiring to. The answer is surely a boulder problem - fashion being that it is - and that has a bit of a cooler name/image than some of the others, somehow.
Have you seen Il Pirata? I very much doubt anyone is inspired when they see it!
Not in the flesh, no. But I agree from pictures it doesn’t look the most inspiring thing.
Does that stop it being coveted, though? Brad Pit’s a poxy hole in the ground too but that was pretty sought after once upon a time – I’m not sure how much of a defining factor it is with boulder problems.
I have no real idea, obviously, but I’d have thought a second ascent of Gaskins’ signature problem would have to be pretty well up the UK-most-coveted bouldering list, and I suppose this one to be his signature problem. But as I say in truth I know nothing about it; corrections welcomed.
I think there was a certain allure to Il Pirata and if/when it gets repeated it'll be very significant but reading the UKB thread it seems it's not something that is being contemplated in any seriousness. Personally I get excited (and sadly that is the right word!) at the prospect of a British climber doing one of Steve Macs big routes at Malham, someone was on Rainshadow at the weekend whihc is always good to see.
> (In reply to davo)
> Not in the flesh, no. But I agree from pictures it doesn’t look the most inspiring thing.
> Does that stop it being coveted, though? Brad Pit’s a poxy hole in the ground too but that was pretty sought after once upon a time – I’m not sure how much of a defining factor it is with boulder problems.
Il Pirata makes the hole that Brad Pitt is in look like a magnificent ampitheatre!
Still you are right if anyone does it that would be pretty amazing as those are the worst holds in a horizontal roof I have ever seen.
> I have no real idea, obviously, but I’d have thought a second ascent of Gaskins’ signature problem would have to be pretty well up the UK-most-coveted bouldering list, and I suppose this one to be his signature problem. But as I say in truth I know nothing about it; corrections welcomed.
It's probably his least impressive, aesthetically. Walk Away SDS and Shadowplay are the big two - both good lines, both nails and have been tried by many.
> (In reply to UKC News) Sorry Alex, you haven't done Pilgrimage, you've bastardised it.
> Andy F
Are you just going to leave that hanging, or explain further? If not, then why say it in public?
Nemo08 Mar 2013
In Reply to JCM
That's because for most of the last 20 years hardly anyone in the UK (McClure and to a lesser extent a few others aside) has been climbing at the level Ben, Jerry and Malc were climbing in the early 90s. Let alone the levels which have been achieved elsewhere since then. As far as news coverage goes, I think it’s affected a lot by the level elsewhere - we're so used to reading about 9bs that when a Brit spends years redpointing an 8c+ it isn't considered a big deal, even though it happens extremely rarely.
Obviously Ondra got there first, but the most coveted UK repeat (Echo Wall aside) has to be for a Brit to repeat ANY of McClure’s 9's. At a guess it may well happen this year on Rainshadow...
As said above, Il Pirata was only ever going to be of limited interest due to quality. And I wouldn't hold your breath for a Shadowplay repeat - there's obviously no certainty, but most hard climbers who've been to look seem to think this is absurd - perhaps not quite impossible, but probably nearer 88C than 8C - ie: noone is likely to climb it in its current state for hundreds of years, and perhaps never – best guess is probably substantial hold loss (although it would of course be great if the above turned out to be completely wrong).
By contrast, a repeat of Walk Away Sit at some point sounds likely – it’s supposed to be both doable and a good problem. And perhaps VNB may end up being considered his magnum opus - but for now I don’t think enough wads have tried it for anyone to form too much of an opinion.
In reply to UKC News:
Since the news article hasn't been updated I feel I kind of have a responsibility to point out that whilst I did Pilgrimage, I did NOT do 8B+ or F9a. My method is significantly easier than the original sequence. The more I think about it the more F8c/+ seems like my best guess.
> Btw what’s this nonsense in the article about Ben Moon’s time in Parisella’s being before it was a well-known and popular bouldering destination?! It was arguably before bouldering itself was a well-known and popular activity, but I’d have thought at that time it was even more North Wales’ premier bouldering venue than it is now.
People pottered around in it back then but don't think many travelled 100 odd miles to go there for the day like they do now. I'm sure you know better though
But anyway I don't think nearly so many people travelled 100 miles to go bouldering for the day anywhere, did they? That's my point - bouldering itself wasn't so popular, but as bouldering destinations went, PC was pretty well-known even then, I'd have thought. Where in NW would you say was more well-known and popular, then (well, OK, the Cromlech boulders I'll grant you, but apart from them)?
I guess it's relative. The better climbers of the day might have bouldered in there but there's 100s of climbers who visit the place now and the testpieces are much coveted ticks. I was wrong in saying that it wasn't recognised as a bouldering venue but it was hardly popular. Most people just slept in there and then got on the routes.
Nemo11 Mar 2013
In Reply To JCM:
I meant the latter and the latter, but yeah, I probably wouldn’t have used that term if I wasn't replying to the posts above. Most of the best UK climbers have spent time trying McClure's routes - some of the very best have spent a LOT of time - Ryan on Mutation, Caff, Jordan and various others on Rainshadow. As well as being flippin hard, they're also world class routes (Rainshadow and Northern Lights in particular), which is why people are psyched on them. And yet none of his 9's have yet been repeated in the 15 ish years since Steve did Mutation.
As for the most impressive thing in the UK overall… Well clearly trying to compare trad, sport and bouldering is a fairly daft game – but I guess you can to at least some extent. So I’ll stick my neck out and say that IMO the hardest climb of any type in the UK is Overshadow. Yeah, yeah – boo, hiss I know, I know… But here’s the sense I mean – if you took Caff, McClure, Pearson, Caldwell, Trotter, Honnold, Jorgeson and various others and gave them a month in Fort William I suspect Echo Wall would get a number of ascents (if it didn't rain the whole time!) Whereas you could stick whoever you liked at Malham for a month and I strongly suspect the only repeats Overshadow would get would be by Ondra and Sharma – no Brits are even remotely close to the required level.
That said, Echo Wall is unlikely to get a repeat in a hurry. As well as the obvious difficulty, there’s the logistical reasons mentioned above - I'm not sure spending a week shovelling snow off a ledge in the hope that the following weeks you're gonna get perfect conditions rather than rain and midge death is probably terribly appealing. You either need to be able to do it fast (probably not likely even for the best) or go and live there for a while (would have to be seriously psyched for it.) As for the bouldery stuff – if you picked up Voyager Sit, Walk Away Sit, Bewilderness and various other things and dumped them in Boulder, I suspect they’d all get repeats pretty fast.
So Overshadow gets my vote on that one - top level sport climbing is ridiculously hard, and way more life consuming and psychologically / physically demanding than I think most realise. And I don’t think most have quite clocked how enormous a gap there is between doing the odd 8c+/9a or bottom end 9a (like Caff, Macleod, and Ryan have) and climbing a borderline 9a+/9b.
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