Oli Grounsell and Nathan Lee have hit the ground running at the start of the upcoming grit season, both putting in a repeat of the rarely climbed French Kiss, E8 6b, in Burbage South Quarries. Oli has also repeated the gearless Simba's Pride, also E8 6b and at Burbage South and B4XS, E7 6b at Hen Cloud.
First up, Oli headpointed Simba's Pride, E8 6b, a route which slaps its way up a gearless, blunt, overhanging arete at Burbage South, first climbed by visiting Australian Toby Benham, and has seen a number of repeats, including an impressive flash by David Mason. Commenting on his blog about the route Oli said:
"I have had my eye on it for a while now though, really ever since I watched the video of a Nathan Lee clearly ecstatic to top out after the utterly comitting final move, quite rare for someone so cool headed when it comes to these grit horror shows. The thing with Simbas is that it just throws you straight into the deep end. You almost don’t realise your there, and with that said I find myself on the crux. The wind bringing the winter like conditions buffets me as I commit to the first of three moves, but my right fingers sink into the crystals of the next ‘break’ just as the wind eases my foot of it’s hold... Latching the finishing jug the excitement takes hold and I allow my feet to part with the rock as my left hand hurriedly matches, the whole motion giving the effect of a double dyno, but I can assure you it wasn’t. The wind pushes me over the top, and obviously I feel great."
Oli and Nathan Lee then headed round to the quarries at Burbage South to take a look at the rarely repeated and rarely dry French Kiss, E8 6b. After a quick look at the route on top rope, they both made a smooth headpoint ascent, feeling the grade to be closer to E7 than E8. Talking to UKC, Nathan commented on the grade and the climbing:
"The climbing is positive on a wall that overhangs slightly, so it climbs like an indoor wall route, albeit protcted by skyhooks rather than bolts! Unlike most grit routes this wall suffers from seepage and is therefore rarely dry... After a few goes on top rope the lead felt on, and after watching Oli repeat Simbas Pride (almost scarier than soloing it myself) we both made smooth ascents of French Kiss one after the other. It's a good route with the style of positive wall climbing being rare on gritstone. It adds up to about F7a+ with a bad fall potential. We both used pads on the ledge, which improve the nasty landing somewhat. Without these the route may wall feel more like a solid E8, who knows. More than anything I'm relieved to have done it whilst it was dry!"
Finally, Oli headed over to Hen Cloud to climb "Western Grit's 'End of the Affair", B4XS, E7 6b. Oli headed over for the day with Steve Ramsden, both making a quick headpoint of the route, Oli commented further:
"None of the moves were too bad, nor too easy. Basically it is your typical gritstone horror show. Ramsden led the way, then I followed suit, riding the flutings to the top of the crag, with 10 metres of useless rope below made for another fantastic grit experience, and the end of perhaps one of the best weeks I’ve ever had climbing."
Here is a video of Simba's Pride and French Kiss:
Oli Grounsell is sponsored by: Mammut and V12
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