Indian Face E9 6c by Angus Kille

© Nick Dixon

Angus Kille has made the 8th ascent of Indian Face on Clogwyn Du'r Arddu (Cloggy). The Indian Face was the first route graded E9 in the UK (therefore the world) and was climbed by legend Johnny Dawes back in 1986. It maintains its reputation as a terrifying lead to this day. Ascents were few and far between, and then with the warm weather of 2013 came three ascents in a week. Angus' ascent is the first in five years.

Angus Kille just about visible on the 8th ascent of Indian Face E9 6c.  © Matt Stygal
Angus Kille just about visible on the 8th ascent of Indian Face E9 6c.
© Matt Stygal

Angus told UKC:

'I've been inspired by the route as long as I've been climbing, but I had trouble separating the difficulty of the route from its reputation, and even when I thought I could climb it, I had a lot of trouble justifying it. I couldn't really convince anyone that the risk was reasonable, nor convince myself I had a good reason to go for it. I was conscious that ego would play a part in my reasoning, and it's such a bad reason to do something, especially with this sort of consequence.'

In the end, Angus decided to climb the line 'to make 14-year-old Angus proud' and to do something he thought was impossible. He commented:

'There's no doubt that the reputation of the route played a big part in making me want to do it, it's all part of the inspiration. In terms of justifying it, I still couldn't justify it to anyone (Ed Booth in particular when I was chatting to him), but given that I could do the route and I was infected with the idea of it, I couldn't justify not doing it; it was the only way to get it out of my head.'

Even mentioning that he was considering an attempt and naming the route was a daunting prospect.

'It was really weird talking about the route, I tried to keep it quiet while I was trying it and always told people I was just having a look,' said Angus. 'I would be ambiguous about it and say I was "just going up to Clog" or if I had to name it I'd say 'The Face' as if it were too infamous. I kept losing sleep over it the week before and it felt like I never had a free moment when I wasn't thinking about it. On the day I chalked up twice before leaving the house because my hands were so sweaty thinking about it.'

Angus setting off up Indian Face.
© Nick Dixon

When Angus arrived at the crag, Johnny Dawes and Nick Dixon were there establishing a new E7 6b: Island. Johnny made the first ascent after inspection and practice. Nick made the second ascent on Johnny's gear. Angus commented:

'Those guys are really funny (and inspiring) and with the first and second ascensionists there, it felt like the perfect scene. James Taylor was a top notch climbing partner, too.'

Conditions weren't prime when it came to the ascent, however. The route unexpectedly came into the sun at about a quarter of the way up, resulting in a sweaty climb. Despite some fiddly gear placements, Angus kept a cool head to complete the line. He explained:

'Fiddling in the gear was dead tricky, the runners are terrible and I had to be really gentle seating them in so that they didn't pull out and throw me off. Leaving the cluster of bad gear was really tricky, some of the kit was in the way and I felt really off-balance so I made up a new sequence to get me through. When I got to the contemplation ledge I managed to pull myself together a bit. I didn't wait too long as I thought I'd start to lose it, then managed to climb through the crux section pretty smoothly. The climbing was exquisite, there was a point where it was too thin and delicate to be secure and I felt I could easily fall, but fortunately I pulled through.'

Angus surrounded by the key figures in Indian Face history.  © Nick Dixon
Angus surrounded by the key figures in Indian Face history.
© Nick Dixon

Summing up his climb, Angus told us:

'It still hasn't hit me now that I sent it, but words from Nick, Johnny and James brought it home a bit. Glad I got away with it and glad I can get some sleep now anyway.'

It's been a busy week on Cloggy, what with James McHaffie's repeat of Master's Wall E7 6b, Angus' repeat of Indian Face and Nick Dixon and Johnny Dawes' new E7 6b named Island.

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Angus Kille is a British climber and AMI Mountaineering Instructor based in North Wales. Angus is famous for ascents of hard UK trad routes, including The Indian Face, and has also climbed sport 8c.

Angus's Athlete Page 13 posts 2 videos

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6 Jul, 2018

I like this quote: "On the day I chalked up twice before leaving the house because my hands were so sweaty thinking about it."

I was surprised to see he'd climbed the route while some of it was in the sun. Surely this would have been predictable, no? Some of his other comments suggest there was a bit less in reserve than one might like!

6 Jul, 2018

My god what an exciting time for British Trad, well done Angus

6 Jul, 2018

Anyone know where the Island that Nick and Jonny did goes??

6 Jul, 2018

Great job Angus!

A point of history; "...and with the first and second ascensionists there..." i thought Nick's was the 3rd ascent? The second ascent was by Neil Gresham wasn't it?

6 Jul, 2018

Pretty certain Nick did it just days before Neil. I think I remember reading Gresham saying that he probably wouldn't have done it without Dixon having broken the spell first. I remember it was an excellent article, IIRC Gresham admits that he wasn't in a great place mentally when he did it.

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