Hold Fast, Hold True E10 7a by Franco Cookson

© Franco Cookson

Franco Cookson has continued his run of good form by repeating Jules Lines' Hold Fast, Hold True (E10 7a) at Whale Rock in Glen Nevis. 

Franco Cookson repeats Hold Fast, Hold True E10 7a.   © Franco Cookson
Franco Cookson repeats Hold Fast, Hold True E10 7a.
© Franco Cookson

The bold line features technical climbing for most of its vertical 20m on small crimps and smears, with only skyhooks for protection.

Despite the line's history, Franco wasn't put off by the stories of past ascents and attempts. He told UKC:

"The route holds the brilliant statistic to have had only two ascents [by Jules lines and Iain Small], but at least three ground falls, with both the first ascensionist and two subsequent would-be repeaters also failing to gain the skyhook ledge and hitting the ground [Charlie Woodburn and Dave MacLeod]."

Jules Lines' first attempt at climbing the line was captured in a video, where he climbs higher towards the skyhooks, seemingly well beyond the height at which a fall would be possible without serious injury, but then falls off and walks away without a scratch. Franco told UKC:

"The footage is both very 'zen' but also totally rock n' roll. Ever since I saw that video I was struck by just how great the wall looked, how outrageously bold the challenge appeared, and what a quiet place it seemed to be. I think Jules Lines is a massively inspiring climber for his approach to climbing exceptionally good routes in breathtaking locations." 

Jules eventually soloed the line, forming a direct finish to Dave MacLeod's Hold Fast, which diverts left at the skyhooks. Franco said:

"I was pretty keen to solo it too, as it would have just felt quite free and low faff, but the hooks are fairly good at mid-height, so I thought it more sensible to place them, especially as it's quite a restful position there."

After an eleven-hour drive, Franco went straight to the crag — with a novice trad belayer. He explained:

"Being more of a boulderer, it was actually her first time belaying outside, which wasn't ideal with the half ropes and extra static for weighting the hooks etc. It was pretty faffy, but she seemed to do a great job in the end. We decided that if she couldn't figure anything out, she was just going to take me off belay!"

The first attempt was not without some drama. Franco slipped just below where Dave MacLeod fell off, before the first skyhook placement and added a fourth ground fall to the route's history. He explained:

"I was pretty annoyed with myself, as I felt really good on the moves and really wanted to climb it without taking the ground fall, but at least I got to add to the statistic. I suppose it would be rude not to take the lob. Trying to analyse why I fell off was a bit tricky. Conditions certainly weren't bad, but maybe not ideal, especially after having spent a few too many goes figuring out the moves. My shoes were a bit old and I kind of forgot a few parts of the sequence, so had to replace feet, which wasn't ideal. It's hard to know really, but I did feel really strong through the low crux, so was maybe ambling a bit too much and not having that killer instinct-style momentum that gets you up stuff. A bit passive maybe... And perhaps a little scared."

Having regained some composure after his ground fall, Franco was ready for another go. But with temperatures getting warmer, conditions had worsened. Franco said:

"I just covered my hands in liquid chalk and went for another pop. This time I was a lot more relaxed and remembered the complex beta a little better, but once again started zoning out a bit before the skyhook ledge (where you really don't want to fall off). I think what makes this route difficult is that most of the moves are pretty steady, but they're all quite reliant on your skin. Because the moves aren't extreme, it's pretty easy to zone out of the climbing, so you really have to be able to control your brain and stop it wandering. It's very easy to shake out a bit too long and notice your skin rolling, set up for the next move badly, get higher and higher, get scared, climb badly, catch a crimp wrong and then slip off.

"Fortunately I seemed to get the pace right and climbed pretty well to the ledge. I felt a huge sense of relief at the skyhook ledge, had a good shake out and then just really enjoyed the top. There's nothing better than when you get the dance routine right!"

Franco adds Hold Fast, Hold True to a number of hard trad lines - including Immortal E11 7b (UKC article), Nothing Lasts H10 7a/E11 7a (UKC News) - and multiple E10s and E9s, most of which were first ascents.

In the first months of 2022 alone, Franco has climbed his first 9a with a repeat of The Meltdown in the Llanberis slate quarries (UKC News), The Prow E9/8A and now Hold Fast, Hold True.

On Instagram earlier today, Franco also reported that he's climbed an extension to The Meltdown. More information to follow...

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I'm a 26 year-old climber from Yorkshire in the North of England. I got into climbing the old fashioned way and am now learning the potential of modern training.  My formative years were spent trying to establish...

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For more info on the route, and the enigma that is Jules Lines, here is the link to the original news item for when Jules did the FA:

I very much enjoyed chatting with Jules at the time. Interesting guy.

5 Apr

I’d forgotten how utterly crazy that Jules Lines video is.

Giant unexpected plummet. Straight back up. Quick brush down of the shirt. Nothing to see here. As you were.

Lovely natural audio too.

5 Apr

This article is missing the fact that Iain Small has also repeated this line

Another important repeat! What a year he's having...

Added! Thanks!

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