Dave Macleod has been busy over the holiday period, attempting and finally climbing James Pearson’s Walk of Life, an E12 at Dyer’s Lookout on the coast of Devon. In Dave’s blog he covers the ascent as well as the grade.
I was knocked back recently for some comments that I made about James ability to grade. However despite never having seen the route other than in pictures I find it quite interesting that many of my ‘guesses’ were reasonably right. With The Indian Face as a benchmark for E9 where you’re gonna die, it seemed ludicrous that a slab can get E12.
I have seen The Very Big and The Very Small a F8b+ slab being attempted and there simply aren’t many holds larger than two matchsticks thick. It is extremely easy to fall off even after lots of practice. Interestingly if grade tables are anything to go by would make it necessary for an E12 to be F8b+ or harder, and be bold.
Now given that Dave MacLeod didn’t wish to grade his route on Ben Nevis, Echo Wall which for a few weeks was dubbed the hardest trad route in the UK, until James ascended and affixed the E12 tag to his route. Rather than idly gossip online about it Dave got in his car drove the length of the country and set about repeating ‘The Walk…’ downgrading it to E9!
Despite downgrading the route Dave concludes his blog, “A huge thanks and congratulations to James Pearson for his brilliant effort of climbing The Walk of Life…I enjoyed doing the walk tremendously, and I wouldn’t have had that were it not for James’ effort.”
However having seen a string of down grades for Jame’s routes in the past few months The Groove, The Promise and now The Walk… I can only guess as to the answer behind this. James will talk of not using pads, however some of the routes have been judged to be 2 or even three grades out. So whether its is a genuine mistake or a method to attract media attention and sponsorship who knows. I jokingly looked at some research into personality and climbing a few weeks back that could be interpreted to give a comment on over-grading.
I also found it interesting that when Dave was talking about some modern desperate test-pieces he said… “it’s my opinion some of them have been overhyped when they are not as hard as others hard routes that have been there for a good while such as ‘if 6 was 9′ or ‘Widdop Wall.”