Neil Mawson Makes 2nd Re-Ascent of Parthian Shot, E9/10

by Duncan Campbell - UKC Apr/2014
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Neil Mawson, 82 kb
Neil Mawson
© Marmot UK

Over the Easter weekend, Neil Mawson made the 2nd ascent of Parthian Shot in its current state after the flake was broken (UKC News Report). 

Neil managed to avoid testing the gear in the flake, climbing the route on his first lead attempt, placing the gear as he climbed. Neil began trying the route after hearing that Ben Bransby had re-climbed it in November (UKC News Report), and soon linked it on top-rope.

However, he found that conditions were too cold at Burbage South to go for the lead and so waited a few months, as he explained further to

"It's not your normal grit route needing very cold conditions, as all the holds are relatively big and it's more about hanging on to recover for the crux at the top. I kept getting numb hands when I was shaking out and then not being able to do the top because I couldn't feel anything.

I had a few more sessions on it, including some in terrible conditions, until I linked it on top rope placing all the gear as I went. The next session I went for the lead and it felt fine! I was so relaxed about it as I knew I could do it. The only thing that could've gone wrong was not fiddling the wires in quick enough and then being too pumped to do the crux at the top. But they went in straight away thankfully which meant I could enjoy climbing the top bit."

Neil had been trying Parthian Shot before the flake was broken, and was ready to go for the lead having top-roped the route cleanly placing all the gear. Before he had the chance, visiting Canadian Will Stanhope, broke the flake (UKC Article), and after a quick abseil inspection Neil dismissed the idea that the route was climbable. 

"I had tried it pre-breakage and had got very close to doing it. I was really psyched to do it but then Will broke the flake! I abbed the route soon afterwards and thought it wouldn't go and the gear was now terrible. I think looking back because I knew what it was like with the flake (a massive jug!) I dismissed it too quickly and didn't have an open mind to what was actually left."

Neil Mawson leading Parthian Shot, 112 kb
Neil Mawson leading Parthian Shot
db79, Apr 2014© Damian Bowker

When asked about the difficulty and seriousness of the route, Neil didn't think the flake breaking actually had much of an impact on either, saying:

"I feel the actual difficulty of the climbing hasn't changed much since the flake broke. The main difference is it's much pumpier to hang around and place the wires now. I would say 8a+ to top rope it and 8b if you place the wires as you go. I would agree with Caff that the wires are actually still quite good although a bit smaller. But I think with the modern wires we've got now, I used DMM's brass IMPs & offsets, they're probably just as good as before! I also placed a high cam like Ben did in Brook's Crack, the route you start up. It still felt like E9 to me. I don't think the climbing's quite hard enough and the wires are too good still for it to be E10."

Talking about why he wanted to climb Parthian Shot, Neil said:

"I started climbing in the mid nineties and at that time Parthian Shot was one of the hardest, if not the hardest, route on the grit. The line it takes is an amazing and very intimidating overhanging prow at Burbage South. I have always wanted to try it but never thought I'd ever be good enough to do it. For me it has always been THE hard grit route to do, made even more legendary by Seb in Hard Grit!"

Neil is no stranger to hard trad climbing having climbed a number of routes up to E10 including Muy Caliente!, E10 6c, (UKC News Report).

Neil Mawson is sponsored by: Beal, La Sportiva, Marmot, NouriSH Me Now, Petzl and The Climbing Works

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