22-year-old climber Eve Lancashire has become the third British woman to climb the elusive grade of E9 with her fast repeat of Rare Lichen, E9 6c, the bold and stunning arête on Clogwyn y Tarw (The Gribin Facet) in the Ogwen Valley, North Wales.
Eve climbed the route on the 28th August, placing all gear on lead. After top-roping the line clean last week, this was her second lead attempt. A couple of days earlier Eve had attempted the lead and was annoyed to fall just two moves from the top. She told UKC:
'I hadn't fallen there before, my head popped out of the zone...I started thinking and fluffed the (relatively) easy bit!'
The gear held though: 'two good RP2s,' as described by Eve.
A video from Jeremy Leong of Eve on the top arête of Rare Lichen:
Eve Lancashire @stucksheep cruising the top arete of #rarelichen #E9 6c, becoming the 3rd (?) British woman to climb E9. It's been amazing to watch Eve going through her first #headpoint experience, especially on such a hard and bold route, French 7c on IMPs and a skyhook. Fantastic effort! #illsticktoboulderingplease #climbing #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #summeroftrad #dmmwales #awkwardbumshot #womenclimb
Leo Houlding's Rare Lichen has seen a fair amount of attention from those at the top of British trad, including Nick Dixon, Calum Muskett, James McHaffie, Oli Grounsell and Nathan Lee. It was Emma Twyford's first E9 when she became the second British woman to climb the grade in 2011. In the past year it has seen ascents by Ed Booth and Angus Kille last September, Charlie Woodburn earlier this summer and most recently Tom Livingstone chose it as the route to fullfil his 'childhood dream to climb E9' on.
For Eve, Rare Lichen marks an incredible progression in her climbing, having only onsighted her first E5 this year when she did True Grip, E5 6a, and Right Wall, E5 6a, in the same day earlier this summer. Since then she has climbed Womb Bits, E5 6b, which remains her hardest onsight. This was in fact her hardest trad lead ever until she made the unprecedented grade jump to E9 with her ascent of Rare Lichen.
This was also Eve's first experience of headpointing, or 'destroying my trad ethics,' as she calls it, and although she has onsighted 7b+, she has barely done any redpointing either, having 'had a go at redpointing a 7c once.' Rare Lichen is agreed to be around 7c to top-rope. To lead, athough not a death route, it is a technical and bold proposition protected by microwires.
A talented but modest and unassuming climber from the Peak District, Eve experienced trad climbing from a young age. However, she had never dedicated much serious time or effort to it until recently, when she spent this summer exploring what Wales has to offer with James McHaffie among others. Her older sister Gwen Lancashire also climbs and is equally consistent at onsighting within the range of E4 to E6.