Point Blank - a steep and pumpy limestone trad route - takes the first half of the classic E6 From a Distance to a very good resting position, then breaks leftwards across a blank and steep wall, giving sequential and tiring climbing featuring a large run-out.
James climbed the route first try, without prior knowledge of the upper half of the route, however he had climbed From a Distance the day before (onsight), giving him knowledge of the first (easier) half of the line.
The meat of Point Blank is the upper half which was first climbed by Dave Pickford in 2009. From a Distance was first climbed by Steve Monks back in 1991. You can see the line of both routes, and where they split, in the Rockfax Topo below.
Pembroke (Mar 2018)
"I surveyed the line of holds leading diagonally left and began to assess my options. When the rock on this cliff is free from chalk, it's exceptionally difficult to see even a few holds ahead of you, and so on-sighting comes down to staying calm, thinking quickly, and a good helping of luck.
After the first section of climbing on Point Blank, James arranged good gear and committed to the runout:
"All I could see were the double barrel pockets 6m above, and as my only other option involved staying where I was for an indefinite period of time, I decided on pushing upwards, a little blind but full of hope. After a lot of feeling around and a few awkward moments, I found enough small edges and slopers to reach the twin pockets. Whilst good enough to relax a little, they were not jugs, nor did they take any easy gear and so I pressed on until the sanctuary of the top break finally came – perhaps 10m from the last Friend."
With his recent surge in sport climbing fitness, Pearson thinks that harder routes are possble:
"When I viewed life wearing the blinkers of a UK trad climber, on-sighting E8 was something I considered as almost godly, but now I realise it is far, far away from what is possible even at this current time, let alone in the future. Sure, there are many E8s that I wouldn't dream of attempting in this manner, climbs that whilst perhaps technically easy, are so insecure and in a deadly place, that I personally can't justify the attempt. However, there are just as many E8s and above that are well-protected but physically hard, that become possible once one's physical level surpasses a certain point. You just have to be able to hold on..."
Congratulations to James on pushing Pembroke climbing standards a little higher. We are interested to see what happens next.
Photo Gallery by David Simmonite - James Pearson on Point Blank:
You can keep up to date with James on his website: www.realbigpimp.in
Thanks go to David Simmonite for the photographs.