James described his ascent and also his tactics on his blog:
"As Keith was taking a rest day and I wouldn't have the comfy option of watching him try the moves, I abed back down the route to clean and chalk the holds as at least I would be able to visualise the moves better from the ground, and also be certain that the holds were free of lichen. The definitions of on-sight and flash seem clear at first, but on closer inspection become very grey areas. I believe it comes down to personal judgement and common sense, which is always going to leave room for abuse, but should also excuse us the ridiculous task of creating strict, finite criteria for an infinite number of situations.
For me, abseiling down a route to clean a holds sits somewhere between the two. As long as you don't touch the holds/try the gear, you will receive more information than an on-sight, but much less than a good flash, where you learn the sequence, the holds, the correct gear, and many other useful little titbits.
I set off with an idea of the sequence that turned out to be around 50% correct. The other 50% was made up on the fly, which was fortunately not too taxing as there were several good crimps where you could stand a lot of weight on your feet. After placing a psychological friend in a vertical flared crack, and having a mini-moment with an “about to break off crimp, I arrived at the crux. A series of 3 awkward moves, the last of which was the most awkward of all lead to the sanctuary of the mid height break and much needed gear. I calmed my breathing, climbed to the last crimp, placed my right foot uncomfortably high on an uncomfortably small edge... and 2 seconds later, I was safe."
James' ascent is the third of the route after Dave Pickford and Charlie Woodburn. You can read about Charlie's ascent in this UKC News.
James is going to blog about his ascent of Dusk till Dawn any time now, but we at UKC got some of his thoughts directly:
"I remembered hearing a rumour about a potential direct start, so with some time to kill one day I decided to lower down the wall to look for myself. After lowering past the existing section of DTD (I still had dreams to flash this route so trying it was off bounds), which looked even more beautiful close up, I began searching out the holds from the featureless rock and was surprised to find a complete sequence."
A few days later and James opted to go for the original line of Dusk till Dawn, battling with wet holds on the first half of the route:
"Unfortunately, the bottom of the wall was still dripping from its recent submersion, and despite how positive the holds were, the 6b moves right off the floor came as quite a shock causing a few grunts to escape my lips. After prolonged shuffling up the wet rock, which was a little spicy at one point due to the demise of 2 pegs , I finally found myself at the junction with Dusk Till Dawn, a good rest and bomber gear.
From here the route moves right for a few moves into the centre of the wall, after which it climbs directly to the top via a series of strange holds and good rests. I tried to remember everything I had seen in the video of Dave Pickford (Psyche 2), internalising the sequence of moves whilst focusing on my breathing. A quick thumbs up told Caroline I was ready, and I stepped right with a long move into a two finger pocket. I will not go into too much detail, but will say the climbing on this section is some of the best and most enjoyable I had done for months. Perfect holds, pleasant interesting moves, and bomber gear – the only thing missing (according to Caroline) was a section of steep tufa! I guess you can't have it all..."
You can keep up to date with James on his website: www.realbigpimp.in