Wednesday 13 June 2007

Thoughts about Indian Face

Thinking about moves on Indian Face. Photos: Hot Aches

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 ; )


  1. Anonymous13 June, 2007

    Hi Dave

    I've posted on UKC that Dawes admits to climbing routes that play to his strengths (Stone Monkey extras). Indian Face was one and good on him. Trauma sounds like one that suits you too so it is easy to see why you enjoyed it more at the time.

    You are right - peer pressure to gain a CV tick should not be the focus for climbers.

    Enjoy it if you do go back to lead it.

    Glyn Jones

  2. Anonymous13 June, 2007

    I guess you read the thoughts on UKC about your blog post on Indian Face. It was great to read this latest post, and it gives us more insight into what you were thinking, and is much more positive about such a historical route. Keep up the good work!

  3. Anonymous22 June, 2007

    Dave - are you re-considering the grade of Rhapsody having decided that The Indian Face was unjustifiably dangerous?

  4. Hi Anonymous, Sure, I'm am continually re-considering the grade of all new routes I've done, especially big ones like Rhapsody. In this case, there is more than two grades difference between Trauma and Indian face, and Rhapsody I think. The grades are memes that shift around like tectonic plates sometimes, sometimes one pushes others up or down, but they are all floating.

    I sense you might have misunderstood slightly the reason why Indian Face aws unjustifiable for me when I visited it - It was unjustifiable because I was not especially motivated for the climbing, not unjustifiable per se. If I had been more inspired by the climbing, It would have been justified.