UKC

FRI NIGHT VID: James Pearson on Harder Faster E9 7a

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 UKC News 10 Dec 2021

This week's Friday Night Video takes us to Black Rocks in the Peak District, where James Pearson attempts to make the third ascent of Charlie Woodburn's Harder Faster (E9 7a). James talks about witnessing his friend Toby 'Lucky Chance' Benham make the second ascent and sets off on his own attempt nearly twenty years after.

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 simes303 10 Dec 2021
In reply to UKC News:

Good effort.

 Mick Ward 10 Dec 2021
In reply to UKC News:

Amazing! This route has always seemed the stuff of utter horror. 

Mick 

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In reply to UKC News:

Amazing and bold. Just interesting to see/hear his friend who looked so young yomped up it, now James does it, wearing back protector, 2 x belayers, one on each rope, but in reality do either of these things make it less precarious, different times, same consequence if stuffed up. Great to see. Well done James.

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In reply to UKC News:

From the comfort of my armchair I’ve always thought that route is the ultimate in in bold gritstone horrors and there was nothing in that video to change my mind. 

 David Alcock 11 Dec 2021
In reply to UKC News:

That top-out made me feel slightly nauseous. 

 Hardonicus 11 Dec 2021
In reply to UKC News:

Tasty. The sound effects added a nice augmentation of the the 'need to puke' feeling in a similar manner to the opening scene of Hard Grit.

 Darkinbad 11 Dec 2021
In reply to UKC News:

James' comments and memory aren't entirely clear, but it sounds like Toby's ascent could be a contender for the first E9 flash or even onsight. They obviously knew something about the route (crucial offset cam) but equally James' comment about knowing then what he knows now suggests they never practiced it. Kudos to both.

Post edited at 04:47
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 john arran 11 Dec 2021
In reply to Darkinbad:

My impression was that he was referring to not having top-roped it the same day, to refresh his memory of the moves and gain confidence that conditions are ok and he was feeling ok to go for the lead. That's normal practice, indeed it would be pretty rare not to do so an a particularly hard headpoint.

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 Adam Lincoln 11 Dec 2021
In reply to Darkinbad:

> James' comments and memory aren't entirely clear, but it sounds like Toby's ascent could be a contender for the first E9 flash or even onsight. They obviously knew something about the route (crucial offset cam) but equally James' comment about knowing then what he knows now suggests they never practiced it. Kudos to both.

Of course he practiced it. 

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 PaulJepson 11 Dec 2021
In reply to UKC News:

That music is perfect for the Black Rocks 'ambience'.

 Andy Hardy 11 Dec 2021
In reply to David Alcock:

And me. Without wanting to become censorious, it was a kick in the guts to see him picking up his nipper at the end.

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In reply to Simonfarfaraway:

> now James does it, wearing back protector,

If I hadn't read you mentioning that I'm not sure I would have noticed that, although once I had it was very obvious. I thought that was very interesting - I've never tried one either for mountain biking or skiing, so I don't know how comfy they are or aren't. But since many (most?) people started wearing helmets on scary hard grit (in my head it was Neil Bentley on Equilibrium that sort of started that ultimately very sensible trend off, although I can't remember if that was before or after Gresham fell off Meshuga and decided to subsequently wear a helmet?) maybe other type of worn pads additional to padding on the ground is the next logical thing.

Does anyone remember how old Bentham was when he did his amazing visit to the Peak? Looking at James photos in the film they both look so young, but Toby particularly so. I guess that's part of being nearly 20 years older myself!

In reply to UKC News:

Oh my god - "The climbing isn't too bad"! One of those videos that leaves you wondering just how anyone can climb this well. There were several times when I was wondering just how his feet were staying on. Oh, and his hands.

In reply to Darkinbad:

That's possible, although from the photos of Lucky's ascent he seems to have deviated into Gaia at one point, which is perhaps no less serious or difficult so that might have been an onsight/flash of a new hybrid line. Whatever the minutiae, these ascents are both phenomenal.

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 Tom Valentine 11 Dec 2021
In reply to Tyler:

I still think that Dynamics of Change  makes a better video. 

It's a first ascent, one move in particular seems more outrageous than anything on the Black Rocks route, the chop factor seems similar and the film has some close ups. Added to which, the toddler shot and its implications are at least balanced by the mum clips and the knowledge that she was , unlike baby Pearson, fully aware of what was going on.

To be fair to James  Pearson, the biggest part of his achievement is that he made such a horror show of a route seem fairly straight forward and dispatched it it in rather a matter of fact kind of way. Elegant and then some.

In either case, with regard to stuff like this, i don't know how I dare comment one way or the other. As they say in that silly film, "We are not worthy". Most of us, anyway.

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 glaramara 12 Dec 2021
In reply to UKC News:

always liked James. always will. 

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In reply to glaramara:

He got a lot of unjustified flack when he graded that route E12.

We're always complaining about grade compression but when someone tries to spread them out, we shoot them down.

I think that's a British thing, similar to putting people on a pedestal and then taking pot-shots at them.

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 GrahamD 13 Dec 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

More significant, in my view, was the ethical stance of stripping the pegs from the line of The Walk of Life. 

 PaulJepson 13 Dec 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

I like James a lot as well and would love for him to move back and add fuel to the current hard trad resurgence. 

You are going to catch flack when you make your money from climbing publicity and badly misgrade a route though. I don't think the reaction would have been the same if he hadn't failed the only e11 available for him to try before saying his route was harder when it wasn't.

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Do we have to have this discussion every time?

 GDes 14 Dec 2021
In reply to Darkinbad:

He (Toby) definitely toproped it first, there's even footage of him doing that in the film.

Nice little film though. 

 Phil Murray 14 Dec 2021
In reply to UKC News:

Great film. I'd never heard of Toby Benham / Lucky chance before, and I did some internet digging. Wow, there was a life lived hard & fast. & young RIP... (but it was clearly on the cards for a while)  - a true maverick. https://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/exploration-survival/reversal-fortune/

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 Red Rover 15 Dec 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

Agreed, James is one of the best trad climbers from the UK. Since TWoL he did a lot of really hard climbing in other countries so he's not just a grit-head. And who cares about missgrading a climb 10 years ago. It was very sad that he felt he had to do the whole 'redemption' thing, who on earth cares? How many of the critics could climb E1 never mind E9?

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