Tom Pearce Repeats Divine Moments of Truth (E9 6c)

© Alastair Lee/Brit Rock Film Tour

15-year-old Tom Pearce has made the third ascent of Franco Cookson's Divine Moments Of Truth (E9 6c) at Kay Nest, in the North York Moors.

Tom on the tiny matchstick crux crimp  © Alastair Lee/Brit Rock Film Tour
Tom on the tiny matchstick crux crimp
© Alastair Lee/Brit Rock Film Tour

Tom started climbing with his dad at the age of 5, but only discovered leading routes at the end of the first lockdown last year. His first headpoint was Black Night at  Wainstones. Since then he has 'poured everything' into climbing and has focused, in particular, on the North York Moors.

He threw a rope down Divine Moments of Truth in March and found that with the right conditions, the crux felt achievable. Tom described the start of the route for us:

'The line starts with a huge span off a rail to get a good 3 finger pocket, about a Font 7a boulder problem or so before easier climbing leads to some good but shallow cams just below half height. From here a powerful Font 6b boulder problem ends in a rest just before the crux.'

At this point - roughly 14m - two crucial skyhooks are placed in shallow pockets and weighted with a bag. Once the gear is in, there's the matter of the crux:

'The crux involves a delicate but powerful sequence using 2 side pulls and a high foot to reach a matchstick crimp, then pulling and locking off on the crimp to gain a good flat edge. It's probably around a Font 7b+ boulder problem in isolation. One last powerful move awaits to reach the jugs at the top, a sigh of relief follows.'

Before setting off on the lead, Tom took a moment to calm himself in the tranquil surroundings of the Moors: 

'Kay Nest is probably the most beautiful place in the moors. It's Isolated in a place where life is everywhere; birds chirping, rabbits hopping around in the sun, the faint trickle of water from the nearby stream. Everything you could want in one area. Maybe that was the reason that I felt completely calm before the ascent. Just sat down, kept myself to myself for a few minutes and set off.'

Tom Pearce  © Alastair Lee/Brit Rock Film Tour
Tom Pearce
© Alastair Lee/Brit Rock Film Tour

The first boulder problem went smoother than normal and he arrived at the cams quickly. From here, he climbed to the skyhooks and then Franco clipped the bag on to weigh them down, whilst also preparing himself to run backwards in the event of a fall.

'It was all set. Just had to do the crux. Right hand to the side pull, feet slightly up, left hand to the side pull, cross the feet over, throw the left foot high onto the edge, sit on the left foot, reach through to the crimp. 

'As soon as I got the crimp, I knew immediately that something was wrong, it didn't feel correct at all, a reshuffle of the hand made no difference. I knew the more I moved my hand around on the crimp the worse it would get due to sweat from my hand. So I decided I just had to go for it.'

He was losing friction fast and despite his fingers slipping, Tom threw for the flat hold at the end of the crux:

'I had no idea what just happened. I looked over at Al Lee (who was filming) and just started to laugh, don't think I knew what else to do. I can't really remember how I felt after topping out, just disbelief I think. It wasn't until much later that It started to dawn on me what I'd done.'

Alastair Lee was on location filming for this year's Brit Rock Film Tour and will feature in one of the films.

Franco first climbed the route in 2015 and graded it E10 7a - or H10 which Franco used to denote a headpoint ascent. In 2017, Mark Rankine repeated the route and found an alternative dyno method that avoided Franco's obscenely crimpy sequence. Mark suggested around E9 6c as the grade.

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16 Apr

Great effort by a very nice young chap. Thoroughly deserved

Interesting stuff. E9 at 15! Echoes of Pete Whittaker? Sounds like he used Franco's original sequence? Very impressive.

17 Apr

E9 after less than a year of leading!

17 Apr

Why a dislike on this post?

18 Apr

I think he's been leading for more than a year, he's certainly been climbing for quite a while. He led Sacre Coeur easily and very competently last summer.

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