Neil Gresham emailed with some thoughts about Indian Face last night. Neil repeated the route several years ago and since then It’s had top ropes from other climbers who thought it was too snappy to justify. Neil didn’t find it snappy, I guess because nothing must’ve snapped on him! A part of a hold snapped on me while I was working the moves just before the RP cluster which would’ve been a 80 foot groundfall for me had I been leading at the time. Meaningless death is not cool.
Of course dealing with loose rock is all part of the game of climbing. Part of the normal everyday headpoint process is getting a sequence that allows for more careful use of creaky or thin holds. As routes go I agree with Neil that this one isn’t actually that snappy. There were just two or three holds that were a bit worrying, especially the “brittle spike” that Dawes mentions in his account of the first ascent. Before a lead you could minimise (but unfortunately never eliminate) the risk of them snapping by spreading the force more equally across limbs. The other unfortunate is that if they did snap you would probably die.
Indian Face is an excellent climb overall and the snappyness was a minor issue compared to the aesthetics for me. I wasn’t that psyched to spend another day going back up there to lead it when it wasn’t really that enjoyable moves for me and getting sore feet (I always get foot cramp on big slab trad at the start of the summer season – I should have waited til later maybe). Lovers of this type of climbing will undoubtedly think the moves are excellent (and no climber could mistake the quality of the line). It so happens my taste in moves meant that Trauma was the much better route for me, hence I spent the rest of my few days climbing that instead.
It would be cool to climb the route just for the history attached to it and the awesome experiences the previous climbers have had on this wall. But I’d never climb something you could die on just for the sake of a climbing cv or following others. How stupid would that be! I also like to save the times when I really stick my neck out for climbs that push my limit. I don’t feel the need to go around ticking classics for the sake of it.
I might go back on Cloggy if I’m passing that area again and perhaps fall in love with the moves more slowly? They will silently brew in my head as always. But I doubt it would be an obsession for me – and that’s what I look for in climbing. So I’ll second Neil’s good word for the quality of Indian Face. If you are in the pass – go do it…
after Trauma ; )