The route was established by Mat Wright in August this year, and was his second FA at the grade, after having established Magical Thinking (E10 7a) just a month prior.
Black Thistle lies immediately to the right of Misadventure (E8 6c), one of Dave's many hard first ascents. When we interviewed Mat about his ascent earlier this year, he told us that he only found Black Thistle because he was looking for Misadventure:
'I planned to try Misadventure but I immediately noticed that it was way harder than E8, even by Dave Mac's standards! I really liked the climbing though and continued trying the line for a few sessions'.
'I of course quickly discovered that I wasn't actually trying Misadventure, but instead a project that would ultimately end up inspiring me above any other trad route in the area'.
Upon finding this new line, Mat spoke to Dave, assuming that he must have tried the route at some point in the past, but was surprised to find that he had no knowledge of the route. 'Other than Dave, I'm not aware of many people in the area who are into bold bouldery routes like this'.
Mat gave the crux boulder in question a grade of f8A, with the crux move taking him three days to figure out. The entirety of the boulder sits high above a nasty fall.
Speaking on Instagram, Dave had this to say:
'When Mat put up this route back in August, he encouraged me to come and have a look'.
'I was well keen but nowhere near ready to get on a route that standard after my surgery. At that time, the idea that I might have the confidence to do 8b+ climbing above an unpredictable fall zone with lots of leg breaker slabs below was just ridiculous'.
'Confidence is such a funny thing. Even two or three weeks ago I would have led it but would have had to engage full on robot mode to make it happen. But the training just seemed to come together a bit more this last week and suddenly feel a bit more my usual self'.
'Still, I wasn't sure if I would get a chance to use the recovered form. I'd been waiting weeks for a dry enough spell for some really bad seeps in the cracks to dry out a bit more. I thought I had a window on Friday afternoon but the road was closed'.
'The frustration of that was quite useful in the end. When Cubby offered to give me a belay a couple of days later, I had a good mindset to make use of the opportunity and be well prepared. After a couple of heavy showers, conditions were actually excellent and I could lead it with a good margin to keep the old ankles happy'.