Is Malham climbed-out? Not according to Neil Gresham, who has added an extension to Straightened 8a at Malham Cove, to give Straight Jacket 8a+. Despite there being marginal room for new routes in the heavily developed Cove, this is the second new line to appear in a few weeks following Ted Kingsnorth's link-up of Predator into Well Dunne Finish resulting in The Terminator 8b+. (UKC News Report).
Neil told UKC:
"Straight Jacket 8a+ is a full-height extension to Straightened 8a. The new climbing through the bulge and up the headwall is approximately V6 in difficulty, first on undercuts, then on crimps and then a last move crux dyno for a bucket. There's a knee-bar rest below the bulge, which is improved with the use of a kneepad."
Neil was unsure whether to grade the route by accounting for a kneepad, which makes the rest far more comfortable and effective. This has opened the door for some interesting debate about grading, as Neil explained:
"A few years ago the route would have been regarded as 8b seeing as it's identical in standard to it's neighbour, Well Dunne, but modern kneepads have really changed the game. I put a thread out on Facebook to test the mood and folk were very much divided on whether or not a route should be graded for use of a pad. Some said it constituted 'special beta' and that the route should be graded for the onsight, without a pad, but others said that pads are now standard practice and the grade should reflect that. On reflection I'm giving it 8a+ and apologise if this scuppers comparisons with other classic routes that are now easier with pads."
The upper section involves high quality rock and the line is one of few that climb to the top of the lower wall. Summing up the route, Neil told us:
"I was really pleased to spot the line seeing as there aren't many gaps left on the honeypot crags in Yorkshire. The rock on the top bulge and headwall is surprisingly compact and it's always nice to go the full distance and top out."