|Pushing the psychological limits has long been the name of the game of trad climbing in Britain. A spate of recent activity, fueled by cold conditions, has now put a question mark on what was hitherto believed to be absolute limit, with new routes, hard repeats and even night repeats being the name of the game...
Dave McLeod set the ball rolling at the start of January by travelling south of the Scottish border to repeat "Blind Vision" at Froggat, Peak District. First climbed by Adrian Berry in February 2003 the route was originally graded E10 7b, but the Scotsman feels Blind Vision to be at least two grades easier than his own Rhapsody, Britain's first E11. McLeod voices his thoughts on his blog and is now set on repeating some on the hardest climbs in the country with an aim to providing some clear thoughts to the top end of the E scale.
A fortnight later James Pearson made the first ascent of "The Promise" E10 7a, an 8m arête at Burbage North with only one piece of gear, a poor slider, for psychological protection above a bad landing. At Font 8A Pearson believed it to be harder both physically and mentally than Equilibrium (Britain's first E10) which he had repeated in March 2005.
And when the sun dipped on Pearson's Promise, Ben Cossey from Australia made an audacious headtorch repeat of John Dunne's famous The Parthian Shot E9 6c! According to Planetfear Ben had attempted the route once in wet conditions, and went on to lead it via the direct start (Child's Play, an E7 6c in its own right) after a quick toprope check out... in the beam of his headtorch, placing all gear on lead except for that in the hollow flake near the top! Unbelievable! And in many ways reminiscent of Leo Houlding's headtorch ascent of Lord of the Flies when he was just 15 years old...