Cumbria based Katy Forrester has just climbed her first E7, with a headpoint ascent of De Quincy, E7 6b at Bowderstone Crag, Borrowdale in the Lake District. This is Katy's hardest ascent by over a grade with her previous hardest trad leads being onsights of E5.
Katy headed to Bowderstone Crag with Nick Bullock, hoping to have a look at Hell's Wall, a well protected E6 6c, which many people lead with quickdraws pre-placed at 7c/+. However, Hell's Wall often suffers from poor conditions and that day was no different, Nick wanted to have a look at De Quincy, so they dropped a rope down it to have a look. Talking to UKC, Katy commented on how she found the route on that day:
"We threw a rope down it and I surprised myself my doing all the moves pretty easily. I had been on it two years before but had found the top section, where you move into the groove, really powerful. I hadn't planned on leading De Quincey as I know it has a reputation for being bold."
After a summer of travelling around Europe sport climbing Katy felt that she was climbing well, but admitted that "doing hard moves above suspect gear is always different to sport climbing".
After sorting the sequence, Katy decided she was ready to lead it, climbing the route on her first attempt despite forgetting her sequence at the top. Talking about her ascent she said:
"There wasn't any pressure, just getting the sequence sorted and it was time to go. My sequence was quite tenuous moving past the second peg, as the flake/positive crimps have gone, leaving some small, snappy holds. At the top, I forgot everything. Luckily the Bullock shouted up lots of advice, I sorted my head out and got into the groove. (Nick lead it in far less ceremony than me afterwards.)
I led the route with the gear in place. I chose to do this as I had done three traditional leads this year and I didn't feel slick enough to place the gear on lead, plus, in my mind, the pegs need to be tied off as they aren't in the best condition. Also, it's my first E7 so there is room for improvement in style.
It was a brilliant day, a really gorgeous Indian summer day, there were deer playing in the woods, birds singing and Borrowdale was beautiful in the sunshine. Standing on the top of the crag feeling so psyched was great, a really special moment. I feel like this has opened the door to so much more, there are so many trad routes I dream of climbing... and they feel a step closer now. It isn't the highest grade but the day and the climb were really important to me."