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Balance It Is for Schirrmacher

© Oliver Buxton

Increasingly known for her strong bouldering (up to Font 7c) and sport climbing (F8a) CV, Katherine Schirrmacher has transferred these skills into a rare female headpoint of a gritstone E7.

On 18 April, Katherine climbed Balance It Is (E7 6c) at Burbage South, after top rope practice and leader falls onto the crucial RP. The route follows a steep and rounded arête and involves a sustained sequence of tenuous laybacking, with poor smears for the feet. Katherine had her fair share of 'Headpoint nerves' and took two falls before success. She described the experience as "stressful", especially as she was being filmed [See Hot Aches Productions Blog] at the time, though she was motivated by the quality of the climbing and because it required more than just finger strength.

Ascents of gritstone E7s are still a rarity amongst women climbers, with other notable leads being Airlie Anderson's groundbreaking climb of Master's Edge in 1994, American, Lisa Rands' ascents of E7s and E8s End of the Affair, Gaia, Shine On and White Lines, and Lucinda Hughes' headpoint of Kaluza Klein. Katherine meanwhile, has her sights set on a the Cullin Ridge at the end of May and more traditional climbing in the UK this summer, as well as working towards her Mountaineering Instructor Award and continuing her climbing coaching.

Dave Brown and team of Hot Aches were there for Katherine's ascent which will feature in their new climbing film, Committed. They have an account and pictures of Katherine on Balance It Is at their blog hotaches.blogspot.com


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19 Apr, 2007
Well done Katherine! That's hardly a classic 'first E7' tick.
19 Apr, 2007
Nice one!
19 Apr, 2007
Was at Burbage North yesterday, it certainly wasn't cool. The breeze was pleasantly chilly but the rock was rather warm to the touch. Definitely not ideal conditions.
19 Apr, 2007
Just spoke to Dave Brown and they should have some images of Katherine's ascent up at their blog in an hour or so.http://www.hotaches.blogspot.com/
19 Apr, 2007
Effort Katherine - it wasn't too sweaty on the grit I thought yesterday - just enough breeze keeping it cool and the friction was okay....nice one - lets see if any other big numbers get bagged before the summer!! Cheers Si
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