Two E8s and some hard Euro multipitch ascents...
Impact Day E8 6c by Hazel Findlay
9 years after first attempting this Pavey Ark classic and suffering a scary fall which resulted in whiplash and rope burn, Hazel Findlay returned last week to her unfinished business. The move that was long for Hazel still felt difficult and too low-percentage, despite her feeling stronger than her past self. To get around this section, Hazel used some crimps at the start of Neil Gresham's new E11 Lexicon. Writing on instagram, Hazel commented: 'Some might say I failed to 'get back on the horse', do the same move and not fall but in my mind I got to finish off a classic route without risking my neck!'
One Hundred Years of Solitude E8 6c by Callum Johnson
Scottish climber Callum Johnson has repeated Iain Small and Murdo Jamieson's 2014 route One Hundred Years of Solitude at Carnmore Crag, his forst of the grade. Callum is currently attempting a 'Quad 8' project to tick E8 trad, 8a sport, 8A boulder and VIII winter in a year - good luck Callum!
Joy Division for Larcher and Zangerl
Earlier this year, Jacopo Larcher and Babsi Zangerl made a rare ascent of Simone Pedeferri 2004 route Joy Division, an 800m 8b in Val di Mello, Italy. Larcher writes about their experience below:
'This June, after our trip to Norway, got cancelled due to the Covid restrictions, we started to look for a place closer to home where we could enjoy some longer granite routes. Val di Mello immediately came to our mind! We packed everything in the van and we drove there without a real plan, as we were overwhelmed by the number of routes in the guidebook! We had some ideas in mind, but we first wanted to get a piece of advice from the local legend Simone Pedeferri, who basically freed 95% of the hard (on not only) climbs there. After a good coffee and a chat with him at the Bar Monica, the meeting point for the climbers in the valley, we opted for checking out the Qualido, an impressive 800m granite wall. Simone has obviously climbed a lot of routes there and in 2004 he freed a combination of two old aid lines ("Mellodramma", "Melat") and "Forse si, forse no", calling it "Joy Division" (800m - 8b max). Even if the route had just one repetition (James Pearson), we heard a lot of positive things about it and we opted for checking it out. We also had to make some filming for a documentary project about the "life on the wall", so we thought the route and the wall would be perfect for it.
'Unluckily we had just 2 days time, so we hiked up to the wall with the idea of checking the first pitches, which were also supposed to be the hardest part of the route, before having to drive back home. When we reached the wall we were both amazed by the beauty of the place and we quickly realized why a lot of friends were thrilled about it! The cherry on the cake was definitely the freshly renewed "Hotel Qualido", a big bivy spot situated just below the wall; you really can't wish for a better place where to stay.
'The wall gets in the shade after 2pm so, as it was too hot for climbing in the sun, we had plenty of time for observing the wall from the bivy, trying to understand the line of the route and dreaming about other possible projects. We realized that just before the last steep part of the wall "Joy Division" makes a big traverse to the right to finish on "Melat", skipping two really steep aid pitches of "Mellodramma". We started to wonder if it could have been possible to continue straight through that section, instead of exiting right. Obviously, the only way to know it was to climb up there and get a closer look at those aid pitches.
'The first pitch of "Joy Division" is probably the hardest, and definitively one of the best of the entire route. An easier start gets you to a really technical traverse on small crystals, which ends with a 20 meters perfect crack. The climbing is really insecure and hard to control, making this pitch a real head-game until the very end! The next pitches follow a crack in a big right facing dihedral and, even if they are rated only 7b/+, are really hard! I'm sure they won't get downgraded ;-) On the 4th pitch "Joy Division" starts to follow the aid line "Mellodramma"; it's pretty easy to tell it, as the newish bolts leave the place to some really rusty handmade ones. This pitch looked impossible at first, but once we found out the tricky betas, it felt not too bad and the moves are really cool. We checked some easier pitches, which were still hard(!) and drove back home.
'One week later we were back at the base of the wall, armed also with some aid gear, as we wanted to check out if the upper pitches of "Mellodramma" would go free or not. Just before the last 7c+ pitch of "Joy Division", we wrongly climbed too much to the right, following an obvious dihedral which led to a hard slab followed by a steep crack: an incredible pitch! We thought it was the most obvious line, but, speaking with Simone, we later realized that we ended up on the neighbour newer route "Con un piede in Paradiso".
'Unaware of the mistake we climbed up to the ledge where "Joy Division" traverses on easier terrain to the right and started to explore the possibilities for a more direct exit. From below the original steep aid pitches of "Mellodramma", our original goal looked impossible, so we started to play on another line. Even if it was climbable, we quickly realized we didn't have enough time for free climbing it, so we opted for finishing on the route we wrongly ended up on before, as it climbs straight to the top of Qualido. We were aware of the fact it wasn't the original end of "Joy Division", but for us it was the more logical way to finish the route, being also more sustained. We have to mention that the route was put up years later Simone freed JD and at the time there weren't any other routes on that section!
'After a couple of rest days and filming in San Martino, we hiked up again to the "Hotel Qualido", ready for giving the line a real try. As usual, the plan was to both lead the hard pitches (8a or harder) and swing leads on the rest. We started in the late afternoon and, accompanied by two filmers (Hannes and Juliane), we climbed the first 5 pitches and set up our portaledge. It felt so good to hang on a wall again after all the lockdowns, and it reminded us how much we like to "live" on the wall :-)
'The next day we had again a slow start and climbed up to the ledge, where we spent another night before to climb to the top on the next morning. The last pitches were amazing; after some really technical slab pitches, you get to enjoy some perfect long and steep cracks, which lead you to the top of "Il Martello" of Qualido, the iconic huge mushroom on the top of the wall. The perfect end after three days without falls.'
8b/+ Multi-pitch for Katherine Choong
Katherine Choong has made the third ascent of Mattias Trottman's 6.4 Sekunden in Engeberg, Switzerland. The 170m, 7 pitch route has a crux of 8b/+ and it took Choong 16 days to project the route, before she returned and climbed it in a single, day long push.
Writing about her ascent, she said:
'My main goal for 2021 just came true. For sure one of my proudest ascent so far and the one that pushed me the most to go beyond my mental & physical limits! I led all the pitches but what a fight it was to manage to send all of them in a day (6c, 8b/+, 8a+, 8a, 8a, 7c+, 7b)! 3rd ascent after Matthias Trottmann and David Firnenburg - thanks to both of you for the many tips and motivation.'