So I headed down to Ugly yesterday to strap it on and try to lead the beast.
It went quite badly at first with both me and Pete Whittaker unable to get off the ground… Hmm, we looked at each other thinking “Shit, we can’t even do the first move!”
After a bit of jiggery pokery, involving a drift wood clip-stick, some combined tactics and a pile of pebbles, we had it sussed and got down to business.
The route breaks down in to 5 parts: The initial burly laybacks (UK 6b/c-ish) on disintegrating weetabix fins lead to the ‘Fisherman’s Groove’ (Ungradeable, but around UK 6b). If you pass this you gain an unrest on a slab (you may be in balance, but you won’t be resting!), which leads easily (in an E5 5c sort of way) up to the stream. Yes that’s right, the stream. This was our high point on our first day of attempts, not a bad effort I thought.
Anyway, after the stream, (which acts as a landmark, but isn’t an actual section in itself, more of a feature) you get to the ‘fangs of death’, which then hopefully lead to the final offwidth.
George has described the offwidth thus:
“The final overhanging crack has dubious protection and has nothing to recommend it except that it may lead to the top.”
I would estimate the overall French grade to be F7c, which is clearly the most appropriate grade for this route – as over at 8a.nu the E8 grade would just create confusion, especially given that the route has lots of pegs for protection (we have so far snapped a grand total of 8, but there’s lots left…) and god only knows what Jens Larssen would make of the grade XXS (Extremely Extremely Severe!)
Below is a video of the ‘Fisherman’s Groove’ (just staying still is UK 6b) and a couple of photos of the route, abseiling in (it overhangs by at least 5m I would guess), Pete gaining the Fisherman’s groove via the burly laybacks, and an overall shot of the route/crag, with our ropes running up to halfway if you look closely.
The beauty of this video is perhaps reserved for the connoisseur climber. Please take in to account that Pete is pretty good at these sort of squirming routes, and this is actually a good 10 minutes worth of footage (edited down to 2 mins) during which he manages at least 5 inches of upward progress…