Jim Pope has repeated James Taylor's Prisoners of the Sun (E10 7a) on the Painted Wall at Rhoscolyn and is only the second ascent of the route which was put up in June.
Fresh from the World Championships in Moscow, Jim was ready for some time on rock and tagged along with Ben Heason who wanted to finish Surreal Appeal (E7 6b). Luckily, the crag is non-tidal so when the pair arrived, conditions were ideal:
"The conditions were great, with it being overcast and a rare breeze blowing onto the cliff. I had a look at the moves on the ab rope whilst Ben reacquainted himself with the route he was trying. I belayed Ben on his lead, then did Prisoners straight after that."
Including the warm-up, Prisoners took Jim just 45 minutes! He's no stranger to dangerous routes with deck-out potential; his tick list includes some necky gritstone horror shows like Appointment with Death (E9 6c) at Wimberry Rocks. This style of unprotected, bold climbing combined with Jim's natural bouldering strength and talent helped him on the gearless first section:
"I think it does suit having some extra strength in reserve. It felt like a 7B+ boulder problem on crimps and side pulls, but where the hands are bad the feet are good and vice versa, thankfully!
"I was really confident that I wouldn't fall off, and If I did was pretty sure I could land on the grassy ledge. I felt in good shape after training for the World Championships and had done the route a few times on the ab rope so was confident I'd be alright."
On the grade, Jim believes he had an 'E8 6c experience.' James graded the route based on routes such as Surreal Appeal on the same wall and E9s he has ticked like Rare Lichen. He commented at the time of his ascent:
"I think it's the responsibility of the first ascensionist to name and grade the route and to not suggest a grade is a total cop out in my eyes. It is hard to grade something that's at your limit, but I feel you have to just try and be honest about your experience. It's also worth remembering that the climbing community works with a consensus grading system, so E10 7a is only a proposed grade for now and the consensus grade will come over time and repetitions."
Elaborating slightly on his thoughts, Jim said:
"It's a really hard one for me to comment on as the bulk of my trad experience is on the grit, where the climbing on hard routes is often really insecure on slopey holds with a bad fall potential.
"Personally, I thought Prisoners climbed quite like a grit route, in that it's a bit of a necky solo up to some good gear, and then small boulder problems between breaks, but much more secure in style. The grade is so subjective, especially as the danger will vary on how hard the climbing feels for you. I felt like it weighed in at around sport 7c+. Whatever that means! But like I said, I don't have much to compare it to within its style.
Other climbers who have looked at the route have suggested the route's French grade is closer to 8a/+, but only time and more ascents will tell.