Jim Pope has repeated Seb Grieve's Meshuga, E9 6c at Black Rocks, Derbyshire. The route is a bold, monolithic test piece that has seen off many attempts, ending in groundfalls and injury on more than one occasion.
Following a successful competition season with multiple semi-final finishes in the IFSC Lead World Cups, Jim turned his attention to the grit.
Jim told UKC:
Ever since watching the classic film 'Hard Grit' when I was younger, I've always wanted to try Meshuga. Watching Seb chat his way up the climb and then pull off the classic move with his knee in the scoop stuck with me and I knew I wanted to try it.'
Jim first tried it last Sunday and ran up it a few times on top rope in poor conditions, then returned the next day. He explained:
'The weather and conditions were perfect, I top roped it once and felt really confident, but didn't have a helmet with me so decided not to go for the lead.' Jim's insistence on a helmet was well-founded, with Neil Gresham's famous ground fall and subsequent head injury in the '90s weighing on his mind.
'I decided I'd go back Wednesday to send it. Again, after one top rope I felt good, so pulled the rope and led it. The route has a reputation of being dangerous, with the risk of a groundfall all the way up to the first break. The fact that the ground drops away from you and the tower stands so proud makes it a quite intimidating climb.'
Indeed, Jim couldn't escape images of past ascenionists and their very memorable falls flashing before his eyes. He explained:
'At the jug at the bottom I was seeing flashes of Neil Mawson falling off the move round the corner, which was a bit worrying but I managed to push those thoughts to the side and crack on. It all went smoothly. I can't remember much about it because I shut off whilst I was climbing, but when I topped out there was a family taking photos on top who started taking selfies with me topping out and trying to give me high fives!'
Summing up his ascent, Jim told us:
'Ever since my first go on it I was fixated. I'd never felt that kind of obsession with a route before and I just wanted to stand on top. It's a nice view to finish to.'
*photos are from Jim's working sessions on top-rope, hence the lack of helmet.