Franco Cookson discovers Nothing Lasts at Sandy Crag
British climber Franco Cookson has made what is likely to be one of the most difficult and dangerous trad climbs in the UK with his first ascent of Nothing Lasts at Sandy Crag in Northumberland.
Off the beaten track, Sandy Crag is dominated by two arêtes, namely Mark Savage’s Greenford Road Direct (E8 6b) and the arête which Franco Cookson has now managed to free after what he estimates as being 100 sessions spread out over 30 months. Cookson has graded his Nothing Lasts H10 7a, indicating with the H grade that he worked the route, called headpoint, prior to his free ascent.
Just like his 2015 Divine Moments of Truth at Kay Nest, this is the hardest headpoint grade Cookson has ever put forward and before succeeding he survived a potentially extremely dangerous groundfall. Unsurprisingly, trad climbing expert Tom Randall has described the climb as "… next level. Very very fine addition to the "proper hard, proper dangerous” genre of British trad climbing."
Speaking to planetmountain.com, Cookson described the gear as follows "The central third of the route contains most of the hard climbing and is protected by 2 skyhooks. These are fairly good and take most of the force out of a fall up to about half height. I linked it on a shunt about a year ago, but leading it was a different story!"
When asked about how this new addition compares to his 2015 creation, Cookson explained "Northumberland Sandstone is less positive than Moors Sandstone and therefore less easy to feel solid and also less my style. Nothing Lasts is also fairly long. So I definitely had to try a lot harder on this route than any other I’ve done before. But is it harder? I don’t know. I’d like to see someone with really strong fingers have a look at Divine Moments of Truth. It’s bolder and maybe harder than Nothing Lasts, but it’s basically just a couple of moves. Despite all this though, it’s obvious that these climbs are nowhere near the limit of what is possible. When you see the boulder problems someone like Dan Varian is doing, the potential for Trad is mind-bending. Someone needs to take that kind of strength into the no-fall zone."
Writing about his climb after the ascent, Cookson commented "The name is about our place in space and time. All that we are, will one day cease to be. With the immense sadness that this realisation brings, comes an opportunity to rid oneself of the shackles of the human condition. We can reach a blissful trust that the rawest of our essence is beyond the physical world and at that point abandon fear. To climb this line you have to not only accept that your existence is finite, but want to celebrate that fact. It is the embodiment of that which is most eternal, whilst offering us the most fleeting of moments on this earth. It is out of the blankest of rocks that the holiest realities form."