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First E7 onsight (Read 32411 times)

Will Hunt

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#75 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 10:06:58 am
I shouldn't look to Yorkshire Limestone if one wants to calibrate a grading system. Oedipus at Stony Bank was previously retroed from E3 to 7a. Not devoid of gear but also not a clip up. One wonders why people weren't doing it as a trad route...

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#76 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 10:18:38 am

All a bit above my pay grade but both Cave Routes were E6 prior to rebolting - not sure how much gear you had to place on CRL, but its 7c+ and whole lot harder than the CRR.   Did attempt CRR in the 90s and only placed a few wires and it felt more 7b+ than E6 maybe because of the style I was attempting it (rp rather than os).

From what I understand these aren't great examples to use because of the sheer amount of fixed gear there used to be in them. More than one person has told me that both routes are bolder now as fully bolted sport routes than they were as 'trad' routes!

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#77 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 12:32:31 pm

1. Conventional onsight flash - bottom to top first go (downclimbing allowed ofc this isn;t fucking UKC) with just the knowledge from guidebooks and whatever you can glean with your own eyes.


I think if you want to meaningfully distinguish between different shades of ground-up ascent, you can't leave chalked-ness out of it.

Sure, you may have no control over whether a route is chalked or not when you turn up to climb it, but then again you may. People sometimes deliberately choose to get on things when they know they're well chalked. It's not unknown to get a mate to chalk a line before an 'onsight' attempt.

In terms of the difference it makes to the level of difficulty, obviously it will vary depending on the nature of a particular route, and whether it's a light frosting on some holds vs. double donkey ticks, but chalk can be just as relevant as good beta.

There's generally a flurry of activity whenever anyone hears Iain Small has been busy on a route somewhere, especially from the like likes of Macnair...

I was mighty glad of the tell-tales on a F7b I sneaked up onsight last week. I suspect it's so permanently chalked that you'd need someone to purposefully clean it to hide them, so I guess F7b is the grade in it's usual state, but it definitely made the "onsight" (flash?) easier.

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#78 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 12:45:25 pm
I was mighty glad of the tell-tales on a F7b I sneaked up onsight last week. I suspect it's so permanently chalked that you'd need someone to purposefully clean it to hide them, so I guess F7b is the grade in it's usual state, but it definitely made the "onsight" (flash?) easier.

Yeah, on permanently chalked things where it's basically become part of the rock surface, it's an academic point...but the difference on a slightly neglected grubby mountain route or greasy sea-cliff can be vast!

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#79 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 12:48:14 pm

All a bit above my pay grade but both Cave Routes were E6 prior to rebolting - not sure how much gear you had to place on CRL, but its 7c+ and whole lot harder than the CRR.   Did attempt CRR in the 90s and only placed a few wires and it felt more 7b+ than E6 maybe because of the style I was attempting it (rp rather than os).

From what I understand these aren't great examples to use because of the sheer amount of fixed gear there used to be in them. More than one person has told me that both routes are bolder now as fully bolted sport routes than they were as 'trad' routes!

Sounds like the kind of bollocks one of the frothing Yorkshire retro-bolters would come out with! I on-sighted CRR in 2003 and it definitely felt trad, particularly the top crack. Granted, lots of fixed crap but I’m pretty sure you had to place wires. Steve Crowe will remember when the “let’s make sure no-one dies” bolt went in at half height. Then it eventually got completely retroed.

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#80 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 12:50:22 pm
Mike Owen climbed Hollow Man in 1990 on sight. All his ascents are visible on UKC

Mike was undoubtedly one of the best trad climbers around. However I don't think "onsight" is an accurate reflection of that ascent (but I can completely understand why one might choose to record it that way in a personal record.)

Mike had climbed The Bells, The Bells before (an ascent not without interest) - which he states clearly in his UKC log and in his blog. The "The Bells, The Bells" section encompasses all the risky hard climbing on the Hollow Man.

I remember going up to Dave Birkett at Kendal and pretty much accusing him of not doing a ‘proper on-sight’ of Caff’s E8 at Dove ‘Fear of Failure’ as surely he had done Vlad first, so had knowledge of the bottom bit. To which he replied he did Vlad afterwards. Oops. Ethics Police 0, Sheep Rescuer 1.

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#81 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 01:06:27 pm
I remember going up to Dave Birkett at Kendal and pretty much accusing him of not doing a ‘proper on-sight’ of Caff’s E8 at Dove ‘Fear of Failure’ as surely he had done Vlad first, so had knowledge of the bottom bit. To which he replied he did Vlad afterwards. Oops. Ethics Police 0, Sheep Rescuer 1.

Sounds like an action with a bit of Dutch courage behind it! 😂

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#82 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 05:14:49 pm
Mike Owen climbed Hollow Man in 1990 on sight. All his ascents are visible on UKC

Mike was undoubtedly one of the best trad climbers around. However I don't think "onsight" is an accurate reflection of that ascent (but I can completely understand why one might choose to record it that way in a personal record.)

Mike had climbed The Bells, The Bells before (an ascent not without interest) - which he states clearly in his UKC log and in his blog. The "The Bells, The Bells" section encompasses all the risky hard climbing on the Hollow Man.

I remember going up to Dave Birkett at Kendal and pretty much accusing him of not doing a ‘proper on-sight’ of Caff’s E8 at Dove ‘Fear of Failure’

Phwoar, that is confidence.

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#83 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 06:00:19 pm

All a bit above my pay grade but both Cave Routes were E6 prior to rebolting - not sure how much gear you had to place on CRL, but its 7c+ and whole lot harder than the CRR.   Did attempt CRR in the 90s and only placed a few wires and it felt more 7b+ than E6 maybe because of the style I was attempting it (rp rather than os).

From what I understand these aren't great examples to use because of the sheer amount of fixed gear there used to be in them. More than one person has told me that both routes are bolder now as fully bolted sport routes than they were as 'trad' routes!

Sounds like the kind of bollocks one of the frothing Yorkshire retro-bolters would come out with! I on-sighted CRR in 2003 and it definitely felt trad, particularly the top crack. Granted, lots of fixed crap but I’m pretty sure you had to place wires. Steve Crowe will remember when the “let’s make sure no-one dies” bolt went in at half height. Then it eventually got completely retroed.

I tried CRR once in the late 90s and once in around 2005, both followed a similar pattern: dog up to get the gear in and work the moves, have a decent redpoint go and fall off on the peg pockets and sidepulls in the upper crack, have another redpoint go and find I'm far more tired than I should be so go home with tail between my legs.  In that style I'm really not sure whether it felt E6 or 7b+, placed a few wires but when you're dogging between the gear and the rp'ing on preplaced I imagine it feels pretty different to onsighting.  Actually finally got round to doing it on bolts this year and I think its a great route, much tidier than my memories of 20 years ago and bolted appropriately for Gordale - its definitely a sport route but you do have to commit to climbing between the bolts.

Back (slightly) more on topic the point is that both routes were given E6 on a mix of gear and a few wires, if there aren't many fully gear, well protected E6s in the 7c ish range is that because of nature of UK rock - certainly get tough, very well protected trad routes at lower grades (Foil, Queer Street, London Wall etc)

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#84 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 06:32:11 pm
From what I understand these aren't great examples to use because of the sheer amount of fixed gear there used to be in them. More than one person has told me that both routes are bolder now as fully bolted sport routes than they were as 'trad' routes!

That's definitely not right. I on sighted Cave Route RH in August 92. I remember setting off with a fairly normal trad rack (though pehaps more wires than cams). I remember there was a peg in the start; placing an rp3 on that tricky bulge low down, there being some situ stuff on the moves left into the crack, then placing quite a lot of medium rocks in the upper crack.  Hanging on to place those was the main problem and I had to dig deep to make the final trickly moves in the crack, but I used to get incredibly determined when I got close to the finish of a long hard pitch on the on sight. Point is, it definitely wasn't a clip up.

I also did Cave Route LH before it got retro'd, but managed to employ a rope gun (Keefe Murphy) to put the gear in (basically because I wasn't good enough to do that one placing the gear). I remember that the main place you needed trad gear was the first crack leading up to the crux bulge.

I've got very mixed feelings about the retrobolting of those routes, because they were both classics of their genre.  I even posted a very politically incorrect comment (probably before CRRH was retro'd) warning about opening the floodgates to in situ hangdoggers wearing 'Sport for all' t-shirts....   :-[  (but that was probably 20+ years ago  :lol:)

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#85 Re: First E7 onsight
November 26, 2021, 08:22:04 pm

Back (slightly) more on topic the point is that both routes were given E6 on a mix of gear and a few wires, if there aren't many fully gear, well protected E6s in the 7c ish range is that because of nature of UK rock - certainly get tough, very well protected trad routes at lower grades (Foil, Queer Street, London Wall etc)

I know we've got shite weather, midges and neds, but up here we do actually have quite a lot of well protected E6s in the 7b+/7c range. Would actually make quite a good UKC logbook ticklist.

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#86 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 06:03:48 am

All a bit above my pay grade but both Cave Routes were E6 prior to rebolting - not sure how much gear you had to place on CRL, but its 7c+ and whole lot harder than the CRR.   Did attempt CRR in the 90s and only placed a few wires and it felt more 7b+ than E6 maybe because of the style I was attempting it (rp rather than os).

From what I understand these aren't great examples to use because of the sheer amount of fixed gear there used to be in them. More than one person has told me that both routes are bolder now as fully bolted sport routes than they were as 'trad' routes!

Sounds like the kind of bollocks one of the frothing Yorkshire retro-bolters would come out with! I on-sighted CRR in 2003 and it definitely felt trad, particularly the top crack. Granted, lots of fixed crap but I’m pretty sure you had to place wires. Steve Crowe will remember when the “let’s make sure no-one dies” bolt went in at half height. Then it eventually got completely retroed.

I tried CRR once in the late 90s ...  I'm really not sure whether it felt E6 or 7b+, placed a few wires but when you're dogging between the gear and the rp'ing on preplaced I imagine it feels pretty different to onsighting. 

Back (slightly) more on topic the point is that both routes were given E6 on a mix of gear and a few wires, if there aren't many fully gear, well protected E6s in the 7c ish range is that because of nature of UK rock - certainly get tough, very well protected trad routes at lower grades (Foil, Queer Street, London Wall etc)

I hope you don't mind me quoting you Ian, but I think that's where the confusion is - re E6 or 7b+.

It's both. People have grown accustomed to thinking that an E grade necessarily implies "Trad".
It's just the British way of grading routes, whether they're "trad", "sport" or a bit of a mix.

I remember chatting with Jason Myers about the Cave Routes, and how expansive the E6 grade was. Cave Route Left was never considered E7 though.

I remember one of "what happened there" Jase' sponsorship letters. He was presenting his repeat of Renaissance at Malham as one of very few one day ascents of an E7 at the time.

I followed Dave Pegg on the FA of Aboriginal Sin at Kilnsey. That was given E6 at the time, but is now given 7c+.

Chiseling at Malham was always considered a stiff E5. It's 7C  ;D

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#87 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 10:02:38 am
I stand corrected re the traddiness of the cave routes! Fwiw I think they're great as sport routes, they aren't grid bolted and require a bit of commitment.

Will take some convincing that the E grade is a way of grading sport routes though...  ::)

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#88 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 10:17:03 am
I know we've got shite weather, midges and neds, but up here we do actually have quite a lot of well protected E6s in the 7b+/7c range. Would actually make quite a good UKC logbook ticklist.

Out of interest, which Scottish E6s would you say are safe 7b+/c Ally?

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#89 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 10:20:32 am
Will take some convincing that the E grade is a way of grading sport routes though...  ::)

It didn’t last long but makes sense as sport routes can be viewed as perfectly protected trad routes.

As mentioned the E6 grade was particularly wide for sport routes covering 7b+, 7c and 7c+ reflecting how the cutoff for E6 had become too high compared to all the other E grades which encompassed two french grades rather than three.

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#90 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 10:27:09 am
I can see that it can be made to work in the absence of anything else but seems a bit square peg in round hole to me.

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#91 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 10:43:56 am
It’s historical, spiders. In 1983 they weren’t sport grades, they were French grades- meaningless until given an equivalence to British E grades which was the only grade around here. It’s useless saying such and such is 7c unless you know how hard 7c is. When your reference is E grades, that needs converting.

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#92 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 10:51:37 am
Its a useful reference point as a starting point for grade calculations that for example a perfectly protected trad route with gear as easy to place as clipping quick draws that has a sport grade of 7b is E5 and not E6 for example

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#93 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 10:55:11 am
They are good as tandem grades, that tells you a lot about the route. Eg a 7b graded E7 tells me I don’t want to go up there :)

Will Hunt

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#94 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 10:57:43 am
Chiseling (7c) and 7th Aardvark (7b) both used to get E5 6c.
Main Overhang (8a) and New Dawn (7c) both E6 6c.
Pierrepoint (7c+) was E7 6c. Cave Route Left-hand (7c+) was E6 6c.

I don't think it worked...

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#95 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 11:04:01 am
No one who had climbed 7th Aardvark would sensibly give that 6c though Will. Main Overhang used to get 7c+ before the hold broke.

Chiselling is interesting. Took Leachy a while I think? Typifies the subtlety of grading that E grades can give as E5+6c is clearly safe, short and bouldery which doesn’t come through the sport grade on its own. So not a perfect system because the technical grades are far too wide IMO, but not hopeless either.

Ultimately, each works pretty well for what they were designed for; they aren’t the same things however, so the conversion is likely to be approximate.

Neil F

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#96 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 11:27:38 am
I think there's every chance it will have been Dougie.  He was another one who just got on with it, never making a fuss.

I know he on sighted Bucket Dynasty at Dove.  Pretty sure that was with Ian Carr.  I'll ask Ian if he has a record of the date.


Ian has just got back to me. It sounds like Doug on sighted Bucket Dynasty in 91, just after doing Vlad (which BD finishes up). What’s even more impressive is he didn’t know what it was(!), he just saw our chalk on it when coming down from Vlad and decided to have a go…

The timing makes sense as we’d done the FA on 27/5/91.

To quote Ian “ We didn’t know what it was, so in typical Dougie style he just set off up it. It was all it bit harrowing because he didn’t put much gear in most of the routes. The direct was no exception.”

Doug was such an understated climber. I remember once chatting to him at Kilnsey. I think he’d just done something on North Buttress - maybe The Thumb or Urgent Action. I asked him what he’d been up to, and managed to tease out that he’d repeated Huecool at Gordale (which would have been a very early repeat).

What he failed to mention was the timing. He’d been at Gordale ticking Huecool earlier that same day 😳

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#97 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 11:47:51 am
That’s a brilliant story Neil!!

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#98 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 12:27:21 pm
The other amazing thing about Dougie was the speed he climbed. Amazing to watch him zoom up E5’s in the Leap where he was belayed by some random HVS climber he’d just met who had no idea who he was.

Doggie wore a donkey jacket at the time and with thick specs looked like a punter. We did wonder whether it was a bit of an affectation.

Love the story of him getting so pumped soloing at one of the Lancs quarries he had to use his chin on the top to shake out enough to do the top out mantel.

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#99 Re: First E7 onsight
November 27, 2021, 01:10:19 pm
Chiseling (7c) and 7th Aardvark (7b) both used to get E5 6c.
Main Overhang (8a) and New Dawn (7c) both E6 6c.
Pierrepoint (7c+) was E7 6c. Cave Route Left-hand (7c+) was E6 6c.


According to my Yorkshire Limestone Rockfax from 1990, Chiselling is graded E6 6c...7c and Seventh Aardvark is E5 6b...7b. Dunno where E5 for Chiselling came from?

New Dawn is E6 6c...7c but Main Overhang was graded 7c+ back then (pre a hold breaking) so E6 6c makes sense. It would have been E7 had it been 8a then. Anything graded 8a gets E7 (e.g. Raindogs E7 6b or Connect 4 E7 6c).

Makes sense to me as the E grade with an accompanying English tech grade adds another layer of info e.g. Raindogs E7 6b has easier moves but is more sustained than Zoolook E7 6c which has a harder crux but with a better rest midway.

The early 90's Rockfax's use of E grades (see also the 1992 Peak Lime Rockfax) was a useful aid to convert climbers' understanding of the new fangled French grades which they didn't really get at the time. Looks like a museum piece now.

 

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