Lisa Rands places the only gear on Gaia (E8 6c): good pro for the crux moves just above but not for the desperate finish a long way above.Photo by Josh Lowell/Big Up (www.bigupproductions.com)
Lisa Rands has headpointed the English gritstone classic Gaia (E8 6c), a bold route immortalized in the film Hard Grit. Pioneered by Johnny Dawes in 1986, Gaia climbs a beautiful corner and groove system on a 50-foot prow at Black Rocks. The route’s only protection is below the halfway point. The 5.13- crux comes shortly afterward and is said to be harder for short climbers. But the real business lies near the end, where insecure moves out of the groove gain an arête and safety. Hard Grit memorably captures French climber Jean-Minh Trinh-Thieu blowing these moves and crashing into the corner at the base of the climb, just off the ground.
In 2004, Rands made the first female ascent of an E8 on English grit, sending End of the Affair (E8 6c) at Curbar Edge. She traveled to the Peak District this year specifically to attempt Gaia. Rands spent a couple of days toproping the route and then made a few frustrating lead attempts, falling at the low crux in poor climbing conditions. On April 16, her fifth day of work on the route, she finally made it through the crux and kept it together to complete the terrifying finish.