Mat Wright has made the fourth ascent of Neil Gresham's Lexicon (E11 7a) at Pavey Ark. The route shares the start of Impact Day (E8 6c) up to a break, before taking a direct line up an overhanging headwall on small crimps with marginal footholds.
Neil first climbed the route in September 2021, quickly followed by a repeat by Steve McClure who was the first to test the gear. See the video from Posing Productions below:
In April 2022, Mat made the fifth ascent of Achemine (E9 6c) at Dumbarton Rock which was his first E9. He certainly jumped in the deep end because just over a month later, he found himself at the bottom of Lexicon. Mat is no stranger to hard sport climbing and bouldering, having redpointed up to 9a and climbed Font 8C, however his transition to the complexities of trad climbing has been impressive. He told UKC:
'From first hearing of Lexicon through the legend Neil Gresham, I have wanted to climb it. Suiting my strengths but also pushing hard at the walls around my comfort zone. A perfect exam of mental strength, commitment and physical ability. It would be the logical progression for my trad climbing.'
Mat spent roughly six sessions on the route over the past few weeks but had been thinking of the route since taking up trad climbing a few months ago:
'I knew I had the physical capabilities for Lexicon, but my mental game needed some work. So hard solos and dangerous routes have been prioritised.
'I set off on this journey all too aware that a fall from the crux could result in a deck out from crux at 30m (100ft). Not something I wanted to test!
'Fortunately, I didn't have to. Nerve endings on fire, fear eating away at every muscle; I pulled over the top. An experience I'll remember for the rest of my life. And one that feels so natural.'
Despite being a relative newcomer to trad climbing (albeit one who's just climbed one of the hardest routes in the country), Mat was still able to offer some thoughts on the grade:
'Regarding the difficulty, I completely agree with Neil's suggested grade of E11 7a. The climbing was incredibly hard, and insecure. Due to its minimalistic nature, the feet can pop at any moment, particularly on the final moves where you really cannot fall. Steve tested this fall but both Neil and I believe that Steve was incredibly lucky to not be injured. Even though the gear is good in the break, you cannot be certain that it won't rip from the force of an 80ft fall, shock loading the system. I really didn't want to test this.'
Mat also sung the praises of his 'hero' Neil Gresham who inspired him from a young age through his Masterclass DVDs:
'I would like to credit him on putting up such a perfect route at age 50. I wouldn't be the climber I am today if it wasn't for his incredible coaching and it's the greatest honour to repeat the master's most prized route.'
He now plans to enjoy a 'summer of adventure' before attempting Dave MacLeod's Rhapsody (E11 7a) at Dumbarton Rock in the Autumn.