Friday 12 November 2010

Die by the Drop E10 7a

After a a couple of weeks of October deluge in the highlands, the mountains had turned an amazing bright gold colour lit up by a rare morning of sunshine. I took my chance and headed out to Glenfinnan with Kev for a look at the slab. I was off to Spain that evening, so it was worth going for a look even just for a few hours. On arrival at Lochailort and inspection of the slab through my binoculars, it was still soaking. 
Over several brews in Arisaig’s caf’, we discussed how precious it was to be have dry days on mountain crag projects in Scotland. It had been over two weeks of waiting since our last day at the slab, and I realised it would over three before I could come back again after a trip away and some work for sponsors. 
The discussion was ringing in my ears when we arrived at the crag at noon to find my E10 project almost dry. It isn’t a long route so I there were no excuses about needing to work sections of it anymore. I knew exactly what to do and that it would never be any easier to lead than today. So why not? Well, because the knowledge of the moves meant I knew how easy it would be to fall. A desperate snatch for a thumb press and another for a poor smear were definitely low percentage moves, above a sole microwire in dubious rock and a couple of comedy skyhooks in a flake you could pull off with the same force as you’d need to open a fridge door.
I guess I was in the right frame of mind, so I led it anyway. Of course the inevitable happened and everything went wrong on the crux. I caught the thumb press but at the same time my toes seemed to buckle on a tiny smear and my body arched backwards. In that breath, I fully expected to fall. But at least I also fully accepted I was committed. So survival instinct could fully kick in and I pressed down into the crimp I’d locked to my knee level with strength you only get above an unprotected drop. That was enough to escape the impending splat and I pressed on, wobbling like jelly, all the way to the top.
What a great experience and I must say I felt a lot better after it and that I’d decided to go for it. 
It’s a slab so who knows what bloody grade to give it? I know there are some hard slabs out there, and I also know I’m an awful slab climber. So all I can really do is compare it to recent slabs and other trad routes I’ve climbed: Harder than Indian Face & Walk of Life? Check. Harder than If Six Was Nine? Check. Harder than Muy Caliente? Check. Etc etc... So maybe it scrapes into E10 7a. 
PS: Will post up some video stills and pics when I’m home from Spain.


  1. dave you're an absolute legend! that sounds terrifying.. great effort again.

  2. Excellent work!

  3. awesome Dave, can't wait to see the images