I suggested to Cobes that we hide from the Jubilee up the Cobbler. I had once been told by Niall McNair that the rock up the Cobbler takes a lot of getting used to and that it is worth taking some time to get your Cobbler apprenticeship before attempting the hard things. I had only been up once before with my Dad back in 1998. I thought the advice was worth heeding.
I set off up Club Crack E2 with an unexplained bout of Raynaud's setting in. My numb hands meant I had a hard and very frightening time. If this was what an E2 was like, then Dalriada must be insane!
Long after we came down from the route, the sensation had returned and the sun was warm.
Dalriada from below. It's Steep!
I knew there must be some chalk still on Dalriada though I could not see it from the ground. The thread was enticing. I was sure I could get that far. I could see the good gear placements above that, and the rest described in the guide. The description really didn't make it sound that bad, 7b climbing. I had onsighted 8b once. Why not go for it?
There was fixed gear to clip and I could see places where other gear must go. I had also just bought a whole rack of BD Cams too from Crag X, they are amazing, and made me feel more confident. It was on.
Shiny new cams. Thanks CragX
Progressing up I told myself that both Daves, Macleod and Birkett, thought the route E6. I have onsighted quite a few of those. Given the pegs had probably deteriorated maybe it was creeping towards E7 but the gear in between them was good, the fall would be big but not deadly. Yet I never felt like I would fall. The holds were huge.
I reached the stance below the final headwall without much of a pump. The position was out there but comfortable. I had plenty of time to consider that from here it was just likely to be the protection of the pegs at the lip to the top. Pulling round the angle change I was off my arms but the character of the rock had changed too. The scallops and scoops all looked like holds but most were slopers at best and generally not holds at all. Any chalk up there had washed away. It was all up to me. I committed to a crimp and what looked like a break. It was nothing. My body arced backwards. Somehow I recruited every fibre in my body and dropped down on to small scoop and pulled it back in. I scuttled down to the safety of a big crimp rail near the last peg. I was flummoxed. After 10 lonely minutes getting an exceedingly dry mouth, I finally saw a way through and pulled out my first E7 onsight. If it is E7.
Cobes semaphores news of the ascent back to Glasgow from the summit.
My belief in pegs is very minimal given my experience the last time I went for an E7 onsight (as seen in Committed). Yet there are so many on Dalriada and the gear in between is so good. Without any pegs it may well be E8 (I am stunned it ever got this grade), or at least what I imagine E8 may feel like. Undoubtedly in the 10 years since the Daves' ascents the pegs will have deteriorated in the Scotch mist. The route is out-there and intimidating. I'd like to think it was E7 for the position and the uncertainty of the gear but the climbing just isn't that hard. French 7b would seem more in keeping with an E6. I guess I will have to try a few more E7s to decide! Did someone say "Trad Revival 2012"?