Steve Dunning has made what is likely the tenth ascent of The New Statesman, the classic and bold gritstone arete at the Cow and Calf Rocks, Ilkley, West Yorkshire.
No stranger to hard climbing and to hard Yorkshire grit, Dunning climbed the route last Saturday, 13th of December, just before a downpour of rain.
The New Statesman is a hard and bold route that was originally graded E8 by first ascensionist John Dunne back in the late 80s. The route has long been considered hard for the grade and this has now been addressed with an upgrade to E9 in the new Yorkshire Gritstone guidebook.
Commenting on the difficulty of the route, Steve told us that:
"The crux is the first 8m which has a very bad landing and is sketchy in style - I would say its font 7c/7c+ and then above that it's probably bold E6 to the top. On a rope I could do the crux one in four attempts."
And when pushed on the new E9 grade he said:
"I'm not sure about the E9 grade as I don't have the experience, but I would say it's more than a single grade harder than any of the E7s I've done on grit. Visiting Italian climber Michele Caminati fell off the upper section and ripped the gear which has practically destroyed the placement so it's not really an option to fall off the upper section until a good RP arrives at the end of the hard climbing."
When asked why he went for The New Statesman, Steve told us:
"Previously I have only head pointed a couple of routes (Ginger Meanie and Elder Statesman) as I tend to either boulder on grit or go for onsights - manging a few in the E7 range. In the last couple of years I have done a fair bit more trad and having seen Team America in action on The Statesman and how highly they rated it in terms of difficulty and quality I got a bit interested."
And the history?
"It's very impressive John Dunne doing back in the day - 27 years ago - as not only must it have been way ahead of the other grit routes at the time but the difficulty of the crux would have been as hard as anything on the boulders in Yorkshire."
And when we asked if there was more Hard Grit in the pipeline, Steve said:
"The trad gear is back in the loft where it belongs and I'm off to Spain clipping bolts with the family!"
Steve Dunning is sponsored by: Scarpa