The route breaks down in to two obvious halves; a desperate and fingery highball problem leads to a line of sloping holds. Here gear can be arranged in two round holes which are both shallow and uninspiring. The upper wall follows, first on tiny crimps, then on gritty slopers on the apex of the buttress.
Jordan commented after climbing the route:
"This is by far the most challenging and inspiring route I have ever climbed on gritstone and I would confirm the grade of hard and sustained E9 7a / French 8b / 5.13d R."
Photographer and film-maker Alastair Lee (Posing Productions) witnessed the ascent and gives us some background:
"On an admittedly pre-mature lead attempt in 2004, Jordan decked from the final sloping holds of the route, luckily surviving the ground fall relatively unscathed. Then in November 2008 he revisited the line, taking advantage of the winter's superb conditions, making good headway with the moves. Further attempts came on Christmas eve and boxing day, where a combination of less than ideal conditions and food poisoning (he did look pasty) meant a couple of failed lead attempts, although this time the strange shot-hole protection held a short fall or two."
"The route had now become an obsession and with talk that James Pearson was also looking at the line, the race for the second ascent was on! Jordan spent most of January working hard on his stamina/power endurance (this is a VERY sustained route) between frequent visits to the crag, which was generally covered with snow, fog or getting blasted with rain.
"Last Saturday things finally came together and after a couple of false starts and with the light fading, Jordan topped out after a stunning piece of climbing (some of the best I've seen!)."
Jordan has an exceptional Gritstone ticklist including; French Duke (E9 7a, first ascent), Reservoir Dogs (E8 7a), Carmen Picasso (E8 6c, virtually onsight - one pre-placed nut), The New Statesman (E8 7a) and Obsession Fatal (E8 6c). He's no slouch on the boulders and on sport routes too. See a stunning photo of Jordan in action at Malham (UKC Photos Page).
- You can watch a video of French Duke on the UKC News Page.
Jordan is also keen to emphasise that this route is more about the difficulty than the actual danger. The route certainly isn't 'safe', but is relatively small and has a reasonably flat landing.
Jordan Buys is supported by Boreal and BoulderUK
Alastair Lee is a leading photographer and film maker. You can view more of his work in his UKC Photo Gallery. His website Posing Productions has a selection of films and images, as well as more information about Alastair and his photography.