2004 Golden Piton Awards - Traditional Cragging

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Somewhat off the male standard, but an eerie flash of brilliance from a cultish discipline shunned by most women, was Lisa Rands’ ascent of End of the Affair at Curbar Edge, one of British gritstone’s classic E8s. The Brits’ E grades are the most holistic numerical expression of the challenge of an individual rock lead. You generally tick the grade by marshalling serious mental power, for which the Brits have worked out a very precise measurement, but you can also do it with sport-climbing protection, in which case E8 means 5.14a climbing. Note that on toprope, most climbers find End of the Affair to be mid-5.12. The route’s pucker factor, then, is exactly six letter grades’ worth — go figure. No woman before Rands had ever climbed the E8 grade, and only one, the consummate trad hardwoman Arlie Anderson, had previously led grit E7.