Multiple E7+ Onsights at Cloggy

During the recent spell of dry weather, the mountains of North Wales have seen some frenzied attention from a number of strong teams, with the bulk of the action happening at Clogwyn du'r Arddu, high up on the slopes of Snowdon. Many hard routes have been ticked in extremely impressive style; Authentic Desire, E7 6b, Shaft of a Dead Man, E7 6b, and It'll Be Alright on the Night, E7 6b, all getting onsight ascents and Margins of the Mind, E7/8 6c, recieving a very good onsight effort. 

First up, Calum Muskett kicked off the proceedings with an on-sight of Authentic Desire, E7 6b, commenting on his blog:

"Keen not to show any signs of weakness to Caff, I warm up on the utterly brilliant arête of 'Authentic Desire', a route that I'd waited a long time to climb."

Calum Muskett onsighting Authentic Desire, E7 6b, Clogwyn D'ur Arddu © Ed Booth
Calum Muskett onsighting Authentic Desire, E7 6b, Clogwyn D'ur Arddu
© Ed Booth

Now warmed up, Caff started up Margins of the Mind, E7/8 6c, another Redhead classic, the only other repeats had been a headpoint ascent from Nick Dixon and a very impressive Ground up ascent from Neil Dickson in 2008 (See UKC News Article Here). Putting in an admirable effort and 4 hours into his ascent Caff was rescued one last hard move from easier ground by Calum who was taking photos on an ab rope. Describing Caff's effort Calum said:

"Caff took a while to find his way through the inital roof before placing plenty of poor gear...He spent a long time on the crux going back and forth on small, lichenous crimps before finally committing to a sequence and reaching a good rest...From here, Caff faced one final difficult move... Caff spent ages going up and down, After ten "last goes" he was looking frustrated and tired. After ten more "absolute last goes" he just looked deflated... He'd been holding on for four hours before I eventually dropped him a rope and it's certainly the most impressive on-sight effort I've ever seen."

James McHaffie on the lonely wall of Margins of the Mind, E7/8 6c © Calum Muskett
James McHaffie on the lonely wall of Margins of the Mind, E7/8 6c
© Calum Muskett

Describing his own efforts on Margins, Caff said:

"On the top I got racked up and with Ed [Booth] belaying I set off on unbeknownst to me one of the hardest unsuccessful 'efforts' I've given. Shuffling over loose crap at the start I was struggling to work out where to break through the first roof which Neil had mentioned was an issue... Eventually I crack a sequence for the mid crux and reach for a small flake. Making steep moves to get stood on it I try and place a poor RP and can't resist shouting Redheads iconic line down to Ed: 'you've let me down Ed, you've !!!!!!! let me down you !!!!!!!'. Ed went quiet but it was meant to lighten the mood..."

"...Up and Down, up and down, Sorry Ed. Up and Down. Locking off the sidepull youth [Neil] uses I was still a mile off the jug... I had felt tantalisingly close to success on a few goes but I was KO'd... I got Calum to throw me a rope  (when he'd put his rescue on facebook I wondered if it may have been better to have fallen and died) Although the effort had ended in social embarrassment I was actually pretty happy with my effort at the time and a bit blown away by Neils efforts some years before and Redheads effort in 1984. I'm sure I would have backed off sooner without having seen Neil going for it."  

Caff returned after a rest day and had a look at the move on an abseil rope, finding the move "easy", Caff returned the next day and climbed the route successfully, however still found the final move tricky:

"I began to realise I'd made a mistake. When looking at this move on the abseil the rope must have been taking most of my weight, the pap hook falls off and I have to lay it on for the jug which feels miles away. The easy move was in fact a pretty grim one."

Whilst Caff was on his first attempt on Margins, George Ullrich had headed up also, his sights set firmly on Authentic Desire having tried to climb it a few years previously but in fact been in completely the wrong place. This time, George managed to locate the correct line on the crag, describing his ascent, George said:

George Ullrich on the top section of Authentic Desire, E7 6b © Calum Muskett
George Ullrich on the top section of Authentic Desire, E7 6b
© Calum Muskett

"I set off up AD, feeling a little bit daunted at first but quickly got into the swing of things. The route just seemed to flow from start to finish with high smears, big layaways and airy moves up the arête with nothing more than small rp's for protection. An almost improbable looking line which climbed seamlessly."

George accompanied by Caff back up to Cloggy after a rest day, this time making an impressive onsight of another Redhead route on the Final Judgement Wall; Shaft of a Dead Man, E7 6b, a route which has seen few repeats. George commented on this ascent:

"I started climbing, trying to hide the doubt which was creeping into me from my tired arms... I continued up into a strenuous position to arrange some ok gear, which would protect the crux moves out left. By now I was way too pumped to continue, I reversed down for a breather and a good tug on the gear which I was now convincing myself, it would hold a fall. Back up again, I got through the crux with the skin on my teeth. So pumped, stretched out and feet everywhere a few more moves up to a hollow flake I was convinced my fingers were going to peel away... Eventually I found a small rp slot in solid rock which I think I could trust. I then spent what felt like an hour of shaking out, going up and down, up and down before eventually figuring out how to do the next bit which felt just as hard as the crux section again. Now totally worked I didn't want to blow it, mainly because I had put so much effort in and party because I didn't want to have to test out  my gear. More tough moves, I eventually pulled my way to the top. Totally exhausted."

Alex Mason then jumped on the Cloggy send-train, by onsighting Authentic Desire as his first E7, spending 3 hours on the route in total turmoil, Alex commented on his blog:

"George and Caff were peering over the top as I reached the flatty. They walked all the way round the crag after packing up and I was still in the very same place. In the end I sucked it up, made some scary arête moves and got stood on the flatty. I spent another thirty minutes here, before finally going for it up the unprotected, sidepull sequence to the sanctuary of the thin break"

On his next free day, Calum headed back up to Cloggy, onsighting It'll be Alright on the Night, E7 6b, first climbed by Mike 'Twid' Turner up the wall to the right of Margins. Calum commented that though the pegs were poor there was enough gear to back them up, making the route "not too terrifying!". 

George then rounded up the spell of good weather, climbing It'll be Alright on the Night, in doing so ticking all three E7s on the Final Judgement Wall in a week, on Monday evening, the last day of good weather.

In addition to the Cloggy ascents, the Ogwen valley also saw some impressive ascents, with Plas y Brenin's Dave Rudkin making the 3rd ascent of Ogwen Crack, E7 6c/7a. Ioan Doyle made the 2nd ascent of this earlier in the year reckoning 7c+ climbing with good gear.

James McHaffie also made a very quick repeat of Rare Lichen, E9 6c on the Gribin Facet, leading the route after toproping it just twice to work out the moves and gear.

You can read more about these ascents on James McHaffie's blog and George Ullrich's blog.

James McHaffie is sponsored by: Arc'teryx, DMM, Sterling Rope and Five Ten

Calum Muskett is sponsored by: Rab, DMM, Podsacs and Five Ten

George Ullrich is sponosored by: Evolv, prAna and Metolius

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Return to News from June 2013

12 Jun, 2013
Nobody's trying according to Johnny!
12 Jun, 2013
Great roundup Dunc, but you got the apostrophe in the wrong place! Seems like a common mistake. It should read Clogwyn du'r arddu. Gareth
12 Jun, 2013
12 Jun, 2013
Johnny's point was mainly directed to new routing. Impressive once onsighting Authentic Desire is a warm-up, though. One might say that rather made Johnny's point. Leo H onsighted AD - what, fifteen years ago? - as indeed did this site's former Trips and Expedition editor (or whatever Tom's title was). Yet, despite being a warm-up for these guys, it's still news. Why? Because standards haven't moved on. jcm
12 Jun, 2013
I guess you're right about the very top level of onsighting by the very best onsight trad climbers (onsight sport seems to be a completely different story), but I'd be interested to know how many people were onsighting E7 15 years ago? I'm impressed by the number of people, not just the folk mentioned in this article and other well known names but a seemingly large number of dark horses who climb at this level. Is this a change in standards or has it always been the same?
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