New Gogarth E8/9 by Alex Mason - Democide

© John Bunney

Alex Mason has established a new E8/9 6c up the centre of the steepest section of Gogarth's Main Cliff. Alex's line links two 4 star E6s - Alien (E6 6b) Direct and Skinhead Moonstomp (E6 6b) - together with a F7c section in the middle to form one mega long pitch from sea level.

Alex Mason adds Democide to Gogarth's Main Cliff.  © John Bunney
Alex Mason adds Democide to Gogarth's Main Cliff.
© John Bunney

Alex first considered a new route linking these classic climbs together in 2013, but failed in his attempt to ground-up an easier, more wandering version of the eventual line. One year later, Alex discovered a direct line and set about trying to piece the new route together, but ultimately injured his shoulder. A finger injury further delayed attempts after he recovered, so it wasn't until March this year when Alex could return and take the time find a less intense method of solving the crux, spurred on by the impending arrival of his newborn son. He told UKC:

'The crux is a fantastic compression problem up a hanging rib with a bunch of heel hooks and slappy moves. It's well-protected too meaning it would probably make a brilliant, hard route to try and flash/ground-up etc.'

The first lead attempt didn't go smoothly, as Alex brought incorrect nuts for key runner placements. He fell on the crux after overgripping on the Alien Direct section due to less-than-ideal gear. The next go wasn't perfect, either - but Alex pushed through. He commented:

'Second time up, I managed to improvise my way through the end of the crux but got horrendously pumped in doing so and it was touch and go all the way up Skinhead Moonstomp. It's better that way though!'

Alex takes the lob off Democide.  © John Bunney
Alex takes the lob off Democide.
© John Bunney

Regarding the grade, Alex is reluctant to shoot for high numbers, despite its physical difficulty. He explained: 'I'm pretty sure it's the hardest trad route I've done, but really it's safe and about F8a so it probably doesn't warrant the big E9 tick, which is a shame, because I've not done one yet and I would like to.'

As the venue for his first date with now-wife Jemma, Gogarth and this new line are very personal to Alex. He told us:

'I thought about the name a lot as the route is very poignant to me. I wanted to stick with the extinction theme, particularly with the current political and meteorological climate, so Democide seemed to tick all the boxes.'

Alex adds Democide to a long list of hard trad first ascents, including Katie's Delight (E7 6b) E8 8c at Craig y Forwyn, Smear Campaign (E8 6c) E7/8 at Gogarth South Stack and The Cwm Face (E7 6c) E7 6c at Cloggy.

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Alex Mason

Alex Mason is the Manager of Beacon Climbing Centre, a routesetter and one of the country's top trad climbers with ascents up to E8/9. 

Alex's Athlete Page 6 posts

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13 May, 2019

Well done Alex, a meaty pitch.

14 May, 2019

Sounds mega, nice one Alex.

Remembering that time we climbed together on North stack wall, this sentence doesn't surprise me 🙂

14 May, 2019

Haha. Oh dear. I still feel bad about that one, Andy.

14 May, 2019

It's all good - the memory of it makes me laugh.

I'm really inspired by the idea of this link up - congrats again.

14 May, 2019

Get on it, Andy. It is incredible! Ground-upable too.

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