One of those projects was the second ascent of Leo Houlding's 1999 testpiece, Trauma E9 7a on Dinas Mot (see UKClimbing.com crag database) in the Llanberis Pass, a very bold and technical wall above pitch 5 of The Cracks (a HS 5a). James confirmed the quality and the grade of Trauma, which some believe to be equivalent to 8a+ sport climbing, but with only marginal protection.
This is James's story.
"I first tried Trauma a few years ago on a BMC International meet. I had wanted to do it for quite a while since seeing an amazing poster of Leo on the route. I seem to remember doing all the moves and climbing it in two halves and so assumed that since I am now a lot stronger/fitter/taller/better that I would find it easy, but that was not the case...
On Saturday 21st April, I dragged my way back up to the top of the Mot with the Hotaches crew and abbed down the route. I was surprised to find the moves quite hard and the route in general was a far more serious proposition than I had remembered. One by one, I re-climbed the moves and started to link big sections. I started to get cramp in my hands and forearms and realised I had drunk very little water and so decided to bail back to the CC hut for a few hours of rest and recuperation.
At about six, I headed back up and warmed up on a toprope. I practiced placing the crucial blind wire and felt ready for a lead. I felt tired and could still feel slight twinges of cramp but pushed them out of my mind and tied on. I made it up to the wire and felt pretty good. The wire is placed completely blind from a very strenuous, cross-through position. You have to feel it go in and move it to the right position before giving it a firm tug to seat it. At no point on the route do you actually have a chance to look and see you have placed it correctly, you just need to have a little faith! Unfortunately, I had a bit of an epic getting it to go in the crack and once I thought I had it placed well, it pulled out with a little tug! I had a little panic but managed to grab the piece of gear (a pecker) below my feet and lower on to it and then down to the floor. My body started to cramp up, and I took it as a sign to call it a day.
I returned the following Friday with the Hotaches boys ready for another bash. I felt good but the weather was not, being a mixture of showers and gale force wind. The showers passed and I got on the route, happy to find the moves feeling easier but wary of the occasional strong gusts of wind. I re-learned how to place the wire and lowered to the floor ready for an attempt. It is funny how climbing hard routes works, they happen when they are meant to, you have to learn to read the signs and listen to your body and mind. The lead went really well. The climbing felt tough and I had to try hard which is always a good feeling. As I rested on the top flake just before the final moves I couldn't help looking round and realising what a cool and crazy place this was and how lucky I was to be there."
The Hot Aches filmcrew have a full report with photos of James's ascent of Trauma at hotaches.blogspot.com This is another landmark ascent that will be included in their new film, Committed (read more about this film here)
On Saturday James went bouldering. On Monday he flys to Thailand. When he returns maybe he'll finish off some of those other projects, maybe north of the English border or back in Wales!
James is sponsored by The North Face, Five Ten and Wild Country.