Re. the long hope route.
James McHaffie initially felt it was E8 when doing the final pitch of the route after inspection.
"The next day we make the pilgrimage back to St Johns head. Abseiling down the face is sheltered from the strong Southerlies giving perfect climbing conditions. I spend half an hour on a grigri playing on the moves and checking the protection. Adam goes down for a look and when its my turn for a top rope Iím keen to do the longest link i can and manage to link it 1st go with plenty of good shakeouts it felt about 8a+. As the gear appeared excellent I was keen to lead it immediately as this is essentially the Salathe Wall crack pitch of the UK. I abbed in and as evening looked like it was coming in thought better of it and jugged back out again. We were keen for GMB on the Old Man but with the Squalls that had been passing this pitch appeared the better idea.
The day after we arrived there again, I rechecked the gear and warmed up mincing about on the nice E5 wall to gain the gear and the crackline. Itís quite windy but as it was our last day i knew it would give me confidence to come back to try the full link if i led this pitch. The lead went smoothly and as a locked the 2 crimps to reach for the jugs before a hands off and the e4 6b finishing crack my foot popped off. Although I fell on the biggest runout on the pitch I had a good rock 11 and rock 2 at foot height. I was going to pull back on and go to the top as Iíd learned what I wanted to about the pitch but Adam said to give it another go. After a good rest huddling from the wind on the belay we pulled the ropes and I set off up. Iíd asked Adam about how he did the crux high step about halfway up which Iíd felt a little sloppy on. I attempted it his way and promptly fell off that move. Pissed off I came down pulled the rope and after afew minutes climbed it and this time it felt steady. I abbed and stripped it and Adam jugged out near hypothermic for his belay efforts. As i took out the last of the belay and swung out on the Abb rope I felt I was going to die, swinging out 15/20 m with the wind taking me towards Big John I start to jug up the rope as fast as I can feeling dizzy.
The pitch would way in at E8 7a, with good protection after the initial E5 start. Itís a great achievement by Dave Macleod to do it after all the other pitches as climbing an E8 7a when tired is hard.
The pitch itself is not E9 because itís lacking in any form of runout with many E6/7s being much more serious propositions than this. Once youíve done the E5 start you could fall off any move and not go very far and even the E5 youíd just take airtime. It also has only 1 move that would warrant 7a, and 2 of 6c. "http://www.jamesmchaffie.com/caffs-blog/team-no-hope-head-to-hoy
In his write up of doing the whole route with Bransby he says "I was impressed with Dave Maceods ascent as it was fall free and the top pitch is a slippery devil which when placing loads of kit will feel 8b, to do similar we would've probably needed another session and a rest day as well as the fact that me and Ben were swinging leads. Drummond and Hills effort hanging out in the land of the birds for a week back then left me dumbfounded, a stunning effort. The crag feels like it belongs to the Fulmars and the less time spent on it for me the better. "http://www.jamesmchaffie.com/caffs-blog/longhope-report
The video is here