E9 6c, the video of John Redhead and Johnny Dawes
E9 6c, the climbing documentary featuring John Redhead and Johnny Dawes, by Dominic Clemence.
E9 6c. For British climbers this is a magic number, but for all those who weren't born under Queen Elizabeth, incessant drizzle and trad with all its nuts and Friends it's not much more than a string of numbers difficult to comprehend. It is, in extreme synthesis, an indication about a certain degree of danger (E stands for extreme and ranges from 1 to 11) combined with a technical grade which attempts to photograph the hardest move of a route. An alphanumeric scale, i.e. 4a, 4b, 4c, 5a, 5b, 5c etc. all the way to 7b. So while an E1 5c is technically harder than an E2 5b, it offers better protection and is therefore less dangerous. And so forth, up to the current limit which is somewhere in the region of E10, perhaps even E11, with routes like Echo Wall and Rhapsody, both put up by Dave Macleod in Scotland, or Equilibrium by Neil Bentley on England's gritstone.
There are of course only a handful of routes this difficult and in truth there are still few routes graded E9 6c, that magical grade mentioned at the start which for decades was simply unattainable. So difficult that it became "mystical" and "legendary" in the minds of all climbers on the other side of the British channel. The climber who first entered this realm of technical and above all psychological difficulties was young Johnny Dawes who with John Redhead contended an infinite slab on the temple of British climbing, Cloggy. A physical and mental battle which resulted in The Indian Face in 1986, even today one of the most famous trad routes in the UK. Dawes and Redhead… two key figures who in the '80's and '90's marked an era for British trad, as documented in this film Dominic Clemence, now online.