New Grit Challenge

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Steve McClure, Britain’s strongest sport climber, has turned his attention to gritstone and climbed a desperate but fairly well-protected problem at Curbar Edge. Elder Statesman (HXS 7a/b, or solid 5.14) gains the arête left of the classic Elder Crack. The “wild jump around the arête is one of the hardest moves I have ever done,” McClure said on a British online forum. “If you don’t hold the crimp out left you will swing way out, drag your ropes all the way down the arête, and then crash back into the crack – a bit of a clatter, but not E8 bad, unless the ropes cut.” To bar against any slicing on the arête, McClure tied into three ropes to protect the move. He declined to give the climb a traditional British “E” grade, saying he did not have enough experience with gritstone to rate it properly; he also said a “really tall” climber might be able to do the dyno to the arête at hard 5.13. Many top British climbers have failed to do these moves on toprope, and McClure is one of the strongest sport climbers in the world, with three 9a (5.14d) first ascents in Britain. See www.planetfear.com for a photo and video of the climb.