/ VIDEO: Steve McClure on GreatNess Wall (E10 7a)

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UKC News 10 Jun 2019
Below we have the film of Steve McClure climbing GreatNess Wall (E10 7a) which was filmed by Keith Sharples. He was going to take pictures but thought a fall from the last move would look far better. Fortunately for Steve, he climbed the route...

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2
Grinning Donkey 11 Jun 2019
In reply to UKC News:

Wow .... fantastic effort ... scary lead 🙀🥶

scope 11 Jun 2019
In reply to UKC News:

What grade does it get if you don't use a boulder mat, and actually place the crucial gear on lead?

Post edited at 23:01
32
Arms Cliff 11 Jun 2019
In reply to scope:

The top gear at the break is an in situ thread and the bottom wall is v easy compared to the top bit, so I’d hazard a guess at E10 7A. 

scope 11 Jun 2019
In reply to Arms Cliff:

Why use the mat then if it doesn't make the route any safer?

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Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Arms Cliff:

But to answer the second bit of Scope's question?

6
lithos 12 Jun 2019
In reply to scope:

keep your shoes clean and reduce soil erosion maybe

scope 12 Jun 2019
In reply to lithos:

Beer towel.

17
James B 12 Jun 2019
In reply to scope:

It’s telling that 3 out of the 4 photos you’ve voted on, you rate as Rubbish?

Ramon Marin 12 Jun 2019
In reply to UKC News:

Still, I think Caff deserved this ascent, he put so much effort into it. But well done Steve

10
Ramon Marin 12 Jun 2019
In reply to scope:

The matt is to keep your shoes clean, beer matt is useless, too small, it fill with sand. The tat he clips is actually rubbish, I put cams i when I did Bird o'clock (same first half). In fact that thread could easily break as it has happened to me in the past. If the tat would break would be wheelchair consequence or worse, but there's other gear on the break

Tom Loughlin 12 Jun 2019
In reply to scope:

Grading is done for a theoretical onsight ascent and reflects what a climber operating at that level should be able to get up. I think you’re quibbling over style rather than grade. In which case get on it mate, the onsight awaits you...

deacondeacon 12 Jun 2019
In reply to scope:

> What grade does it get if you don't use a boulder mat, and actually place the crucial gear on lead?

Is this a trick question? It's the same grade climbed in an improved style.

Which is obviously still available to you if you fancy it?

Edit: sorry Tom, pretty much said the same thing  

Post edited at 19:15
Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to deacondeacon:

If my mate leads an E2 and we pull the ropes through, leaving the most crucial piece of gear in place for me, have I led an E2 ?

2
jezb1 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

> If my mate leads an E2 and we pull the ropes through, leaving the most crucial piece of gear in place for me, have I led an E2 ?

Yes.

1
Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to jezb1:

So, if I ab down and preplace that piece of gear , have I still led an E2?

scope 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom Loughlin:

Unfortunately the onsight was blown as soon as I watched the video!

I think you may be right though, that perhaps it is style rather than grade that I'm questioning. Perhaps a better question would have been whether using boulder mats on hard trad routes is now de rigueur and considered to be 'in good style'. Does that ethic also translate to lower grade routes, or shorter routes? If I put mats under a 7m E1, have a nullified danger to the point that it no longer warrants the adjectival grade?

Post edited at 19:54
2
scope 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

You certainly didn't onsight the hypothetical E2.

Rob Parsons 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Ramon Marin:

> ... The tat he clips is actually rubbish, I put cams i when I did Bird o'clock (same first half). In fact that thread could easily break as it has happened to me in the past. If the tat would break would be wheelchair consequence or worse, but there's other gear on the break

In that case I'm wondering why he didn't place other gear.

deacondeacon 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

Yes. Why do people struggle with this concept so much. You've led an E2 in a poorer style than your pal. Your ascent is potentially easier than your mates ascent but the grade of the route stays the same. 

Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to deacondeacon:

I agree that the technical grade stays the same but if the E grade does then I spent the better part of my climbing life misunderstanding the system.

By extension, if there really are alternative placements on the route in the film and someone climbs  it placing those on the lead, to my way of thinking , in that eventuality,it must be worth more than E10.

Post edited at 19:51
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1poundSOCKS 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

> I agree that the technical grade stays the same but if the E grade does then I spent the better part of my climbing life misunderstanding the system.

Led an E2 just means you led a route that's graded E2 for the onsight. It doesn't mean you onsighted it and earned 2 E points.

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scope 12 Jun 2019
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

So is this E10 graded for a headpoint, with boulder mat and insitu thread then?

If it is, then what grade does it get if you don't use a boulder mat, and actually place the crucial gear on lead?

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webbo 12 Jun 2019
In reply to scope:

How do you know he didn’t place the gear on the lead. He could have led up to the break placed the gear and down climbed.

Tom Loughlin 12 Jun 2019
In reply to scope:

Nesscliffe is very sandy, if you don’t have something on the ground your shoes will be covered in crap. Bad for the rock and obviously pointless if you’re planning on climbing a fr 8c technical wall climb. Might as well be a bouldering mat in that case, if you’re headpointing you aren’t really sacrificing anything style wise. 

I’m sure everyone would agree on onsight, placing all your own gear is the best style, but not sure if anyone is playing the game of attempting to onsight E10 with a necky runout at the top. So your point is null and void to me, it’s a ‘last great problem’ climbed in a style congruent with the top rope/ headpoint ethic at ness. If someone wants to come and improve the style that’s great but does not detract from this ascent, which is clearly better than nobody leading it full stop. 

Edit: just to add I don’t think you get the grading system. Indian face is e9 even if you top rope it first, as everyone so far has. The e9 is a projected grade for an onsight ascent. Same as every grade. The style you climb it in is up to you and is simply determined by the game you want to play. 

Post edited at 20:09
1poundSOCKS 12 Jun 2019
In reply to scope:

> So is this E10 graded for a headpoint, with boulder mat and insitu thread then?

You'd have to ask Steve. But it's hard to grade stuff that hard for onsight since nobody does. This general discussion has been done many times BTW. 

Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom Loughlin:

Is Indian Face E9 with preplaced gear but no prior inspection? What factors make it an E9 rather than an E7, for instance? Isn't placing your gear  (or finding it impossible to do so) part of what gets a trad route its grade?

Post edited at 21:01
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deacondeacon 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

> I agree that the technical grade stays the same but if the E grade does then I spent the better part of my climbing life misunderstanding the system.

> the grade of the route stays the same wether you soloed it, led it, seconded it, top roped it, got dragged up it or just walked past it. The grade is for a hypothetical Onsight. Now if you (or someone else) came along and led it with the gear in, or on a top rope or winched up it, it makes no difference to the grade of the route. 

1
Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to deacondeacon:

I don't accept that a route given the grade of E35b is still an E3 on a top rope. It was given that grade for a reason and the presence of a rope from above negates that reason. The same applies to any route which is given a higher than normal adjectival grade on account of its boldness,

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Tom Loughlin 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

Well the route is still e3. But you’ve top roped it. I don’t see what the confusion is. 

deacondeacon 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

It's for the exact same reason that if you were to solo Left Wall wearing high heels it wouldn't become an E5. It would just be climbing an E2 in a more difficult (admittedly strange) style. 

Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom Loughlin:

I'm not at all confused. The adjectival grade applies to the lead. If it is graded E3 5b and looks very serious, I might decide to play it safe and hang a long sling from the top so I can clip what would have been an otherwise unprotected crux move. By your reckoning I would then have climbed an E3; by my reckoning I wouldn't.

Post edited at 21:26
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string arms 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

I read that initially as E35 b. Now that is bold!

Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to string arms:

Not quite. I was thinking about bold gritstone routes like Great Slab on Froggat, and still maintain that hanging a rope and krab from the top to protect it diminishes the E grade, though not the technical difficulty. 

Edit: none of this should detract from what is probably the best piece of lead climbing I've ever seen filmed (apart from Dynamics of Change and that move)

Post edited at 21:56
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Tom Loughlin 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

No, the adjectival grade refers to an onsight lead. If you choose to then ab it, clean it, watch a video, leave gear in or whatever the grade stays the same but you have used different tactics. You would then say ‘yeh, I climbed so and so but I left a sling in because that bit is scary.’ You wouldn’t downgrade it. Otherwise we would need a different grading system for ascents without a guide, ascents with a guide, ascents with chalk on, ascents where you’ve talked to someone who has done it, ascents where you saw someone dl it a week/ year/ decade ago, ascents in the damp, ascents in the dark, ascents in slippers etc etc.

edit: to say the grade remains. How much of that you feel you can claim or how much of that experience you had is down to your tactics, which means you can bring it down to your level. That’s why headpointing allows people to climb such hard stuff and then project a grade onto it. As long as you’re honest it’s your party isn’t it. 

Post edited at 22:01
Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom Loughlin:

So. is Great Slab on Froggat E3 with a rope and krab hanging down to protect the crux?

5
tjdodd 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

> I don't accept that a route given the grade of E35b is still an E3 on a top rope. It was given that grade for a reason and the presence of a rope from above negates that reason. The same applies to any route which is given a higher than normal adjectival grade on account of its boldness,


By any stretch of the imagination I cannot see how an E35 can equate to an E3 however you climb it.  Presumably an E35 would be climbing overhanging 45 degrees glass.  I suppose if you were a gecko it might get E3 as their suction feet must be cheating.

Jon Stewart 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

> I'm not at all confused. The adjectival grade applies to the lead. If it is graded E3 5b and looks very serious, I might decide to play it safe and hang a long sling from the top so I can clip what would have been an otherwise unprotected crux move. By your reckoning I would then have climbed an E3; by my reckoning I wouldn't.

To add to everyone else who is right:

You would have climbed it; and it would be graded E3 5b. Life's too short to give different grades for different styles of ascent, as per Deacon's high heels ascent of Left Wall (which was a great effort and quantum leap in ethical style from all the tired old onsight leads the route receives).

When I do a short route as a highball with pads it often feels like an E grade is knocked off - the danger and commitment is reduced though not eliminated. Much like your hypothetical ascent with some cheaty pre-placed gear. It would probably feel like E2 5b. And if you told other people you'd just climbed an E3 5b they would assume you'd not used cheaty gear, so you'd be giving the wrong impression about your level of ability and commitment if you omitted to mention it.

It changes at the top end: the assumption that you've onsighted the route no longer applies at a grade like E10. At a grade like E6 which is both regularly onsighted and regularly pre-practised it would be more normal to specify the style of ascent as it's otherwise ambiguous. It's just the expectation of style that changes at the top end, not how the grading system works.

Post edited at 22:16
Tom Loughlin 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

The grade of great slab is e3 for an onsight. It’s still e3 if you leave the kit in. But you haven’t climbed it in best style. Whether you want to claim to have climbed an e3 is up to you, you probably didn’t get the full experience. Can’t believe i’ve got into a grading debate on ukc..!

deacondeacon 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

> So. is Great Slab on Froggat E3 with a rope and krab hanging down to protect the crux?

Yes! Seriously what is so difficult to comprehend? This isn't opinion, its fact. This is how the British grading system works.

If you climbed Great Slab on a top rope, you still climbed an E3. It wouldn't make you an E3 climber (as that is normally a statement used to judge what level of climb you can typically lead Onsight), but Great Slab is an E3 and you'd have climbed it.

This is starting to just go round and round in circles and tbh in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter either way, but suffice to say unless Great Slab gets chipped or some new magic technology comes along to enable gear placements to be placed on blank faces Great Slab will forever be an E3. 

Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to deacondeacon:

OK, just one more question; why is Great Slab given E3 rather than E2 or E1, both more typical of the 5b technical grade?

You seem to be conceding that if protection were made available it wouldn't be E3. 

Post edited at 22:24
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deacondeacon 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> To add to everyone else who is right:

> as per Deacon's high heels ascent of Left Wall (which was a great effort and quantum leap in ethical style from all the tired old onsight leads the route receives).

Look, I'd had a heavy night in Bangor which didn't finish until 7am. I hitched to the crag and managed to finish my bottle of lambrini before tieing in and heading up Left Wall. I felt most sorry for the guys trying to climb Cenotaph Corner while my clackers were hanging out of my pink mini skirt! 

..... and yes, it was still E2!!!! 

deacondeacon 12 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

It's E3 because you'll break your legs if you mess the top up. If it was E1 5b you'd fall onto gear and walk away happy. 

Tom V 12 Jun 2019
In reply to deacondeacon:

>  unless .......some new magic technology comes along to enable gear placements to be placed on blank faces Great Slab will forever be an E3. 

That's my hanging rope you're talking about.    It stops me breaking my legs and puts it in the category of gear to fall on / walk away happy,  (By your definition.)

Post edited at 22:32
4
In reply to Tom V:

Wrt mats, have you highballed much in the harder E grades above mats? If you have, then your experience may be different to mine. I’ve only done a few, but I found the upper sections so scary, I’m taking the full E grade (and more if I could). It’s amazing how quickly even the largest mat shrinks to postage stamp size and a team of spotters ‘magically’ disappears. 

2
Tom V 13 Jun 2019
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

Never used a mat, never mentioned mats, never climbed any higher E grades so I accept what Jon said about there being differences in applying the E grade at that level . 

But I stand by what I said about my example of Great Slab: if a bolt appeared there overnight it would not be an E3 for as long as that bolt remained in situ, and my hanging rope performs exactly the same function but with less vandalism involved.

6
Jon Stewart 13 Jun 2019
In reply to Tom V:

The bolt would be there for everyone, reducing the grade. Your cheat gear, like my pads, are only there for you. We can't all have our own grades, depending on how we cheat, the grade applies to the route in the state you found it and assumes an onsight trad lead.

Michael Gordon 13 Jun 2019
In reply to scope:

> What grade does it get if you don't use a boulder mat, and actually place the crucial gear on lead?

To try and answer the original question above, since the bottom section is around E6 I can't imagine a mat is going to make a difference to the overall grade of E10 for which the crux is clearly the top wall. 

As for the thread, someone with first hand knowledge will be better placed to give an answer but I imagine it is either really hard to place and so everyone who ever climbs the route is going to have it pre-placed, or it is easy to place and therefore makes no difference to the overall grade anyway.  

Ed Booth 13 Jun 2019
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Basically the thread is in a break which takes loads of gear. The main thread has had in-situ tat on it for a couple of years now. Steve also pre placed a sling in another thread immediately next to it. He chose to use just these. I suggested putting some other gear to back them up but Steve was happy on just these. As Ramon has mentioned above I have seen threads and other bits of kit explode the rock around them, and personally I always try to gets as much kit in as possible at Nesscliffe. Steve was happy with the 2 threads he had. He also dropped one of his ropes so he was on a single rope on just the threads for the headwall. The discussions above about them being prepaced is not hugely relevant. its about fr 7a/+ to get to the break which is good holds and a good shakeout where steve spent a few minutes. It really wouldn't have made any difference to him to not use the threads and/or takes some cams instead. They wouldn't be hard to place. I think it situations like this people do the most logical natural thing. It would be nonsensical to not clip or use the threads in place of other gear, its just not an obvious thing to do on that climb.

As for the bouldering matt at the bottom, it does not make any difference to the grade. Its an easy problem off the floor, and probably there because lots of people take them to the crag nowadays and it provides a convenient place to sit and keep your shoes clean and would protect your ankles if you slipped off by accident.

The grade of this route basically all centres around the really technical climbing above the top break, which is thought to be font 8a ish crux and/or french 8c for the pitch as a whole and its very runnout with a fluffable last move. 

Ed

ste mac 13 Jun 2019
In reply to Ed Booth:

Thanks Ed - you basically summed up everything perfectly! Mat was potentially useful if you flop off the start, though I'd taken it in case I tried something else (which I did as you know, but wasn't much use for that in the end). Handy to have the mat at start to put ropes on, keep feet clean etc. If it had been a 20 min walk in I'd certainly not have taken it!

I was happy with the threads. Placing cams instead of using insitu thread would just be daft. UK has many threads all over. Happy for someone to lead it without the insitu thread and get an extra pat on the back - but you'll not thread it on lead, way too fiddly. The cams would be pretty good, but I'm not so ethically pure as to not clip a bomber insitu thread right next to a cam placement. To be fair on the rock too, big falls on cams would probably be quite wearing on the sandstone.

I wanted to use one rope such that the belay was on a grigri - less stress for the belayer should one take a massive lob down the wall, and less stress for the climber knowing that if the belayer gets yanked off the floor they won't let go and end up with a deck out. Plus one rope is easier to deal with on lead, they get in the way with fiddly foot-intensive sideways movements. In fact one of the hardest moves is a foot swap with the rope in between your feet. Used two ropes at the start to avoid a huge single rope zigzag, then just dropped one of them (the right hand side rope).

Amazing route and very rare to have such a ratio of good gear at 2/3 height and super sustained top 1/3 which you just have to climb with full commitment.

scope 13 Jun 2019
In reply to ste mac:

Top effort Steve. Very interesting to hear about the smaller details of the route, which aren't so apparent from watching the video.

I still like to poke things with a stick though

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