Friday, 7 May 2010
Dave Redpath climbing Devastation Generation 8c, Dumbuck. Photo: Mark Mcgowan
I was most excited and heartened to read Dave Redpath’s blog this morning of his success on Devastation Generation (8c). Not just any 8c, or any 8c ascent. It’s a victory after 14 years of bolting it, naming it with a lot of personal meaning, trying it on and off, training for it, talking about it, thinking about it and pulling on that grim sequence of flat undercuts.
Only those who are up to the pain of 14 years of struggle and uncertainty get to have a chain clip as satisfying as this. Photo: Mark Mcgowan
I first tried it with Dave in 1999 (!). Later, he passed the baton briefly to me while he did a PhD and I had a fine battle with to climb it in 2004. Malcolm Smith got a repeat in 2007. Even though I managed to climb it first, it was definitely always Dave’s route, not just because of the name, but it became important because it was important to Dave.
It’s funny - that idea. I saw the same thing happen with my own route Rhapsody. It got a lot of attention when famous climbers came to little old Dumbarton to repeat it. Folk couldn’t understand the big attraction because it was a bit of a weird line, a bit eliminate, and the crag is a bit scruffy. Was it just the grade that created the draw? No, it was the meaning created by the effort of the first ascent. That was communicated in the film E11, and it was enough to make climbers fly around the world twice and fall off that headwall countless times to repeat it. A good reason to make climbing films, don’t you think?
Of course, there are stories like this everywhere. The other week I was climbing at an obscure little crag in Yorkshire with a 9a+ on it called Violent New Breed. Looking at it, I have no doubt it’s up there with the hardest sport routes anywhere. The holds are almost invisible. Unless a curious soul takes it on, it will probably sit there unnoticed for a long time. Does it matter? Not in the grand scheme of things.
But it is a shame that John Gaskins story of this route is essentially untold. Sharing inspiration is a good cause. The routes themselves are not all climbers can give to their sport. Cynical ‘old prunes’ (to coin a British phrase) with blinkers on think blogs, films etc are all about self-promotion and ego massage.
All I can think reading Dave’s blog this morning was that I was inspired and thanks for sharing it! If you’d like a slice, Dave’s blog is here.