Masa on airy Fruit Eliminate, belayed by Brian, during the (arguably) first ascent. [© Annabell Ison]
The Brand — Leicestershire's premium crag.
I have established two new routes there recently (see Part 1 of this article). What is next?
Not surprisingly The Brand has been almost fully developed, crammed with routes next to each other. I was excited when I spotted a clean face and realised it seemed free of recorded routes. After a quick inspection I drew three potential routes, among which the left-most appeared to be the easiest. I practised repeatedly on the two harder routes on the right first, and successfully headpointed them a few weeks later.
Now the seemingly easiest one is left, with my estimate of the grade of E1/2 5b, or HVS climbing in the underprotected situation (which is kind of confirmed in another source, as explained in the footnote). I have not practised it, aiming to do the first ascent ground-up. It's gonna be a fun!
A week after I had made the first ascent of the other 2 routes, I visited The Brand to finish the job with Paul.
Two weeks later I went back with Brian. In the walk-in I observed my mind and realised my confidence was not there. The failure two weeks ago obviously tainted my confidence. I am feeling a fear my foot might slip without warning, maybe… In addition I have had a couple of confidence-denting experiences in the last two weeks; I fell off repeatedly and even failed to top out on a VS, fell off on a HVS and backed off another HVS. It did not help boost my confidence to lead an unknown and underprotected E1/2 route ground-up. Practically I was crippled.
But at least the rock was dry. The cool temperature meant the fricition was good (or as good as slate could offer). I just needed a serious warming-up both physically and mentally. So we started the day slowly. By the time I had climbed two easier routes up to HVS, I had regained the familiar feeling with slate rock, and so back came my confidence. The last week's bad luck must be down to the rock condition. Nevertheless I must not make the same mistake — underestimate. Chalk-bag is here and so is all the marginal gear ready on my harness. This time I am well prepared.
(12th November 2012)
Acknowledgement: I thank Paul McQuade, Brian Quinn and Annabell Ison for having come with me and helped to establish this route. I am also grateful for Robin Richmond's continuous update of Leicestershire Climbs website (http://www.leicestershireclimbs.co.uk/) and works related to the forthcoming new guidebook of climbing in Leicestershire.
There is a statement in the current (rather outdated) guidebook:
To the left lies an obvious corner [Mango]. A route has been climbed up its right wall at E1 5b but is not worth recording.
This suggested route seems to be in agreement with the route I climbed, Fruit Eliminate, E3 5c. There is an apaprent inconsistency in the grades. However Fruit Eliminate is the easiest line on the right wall, independent of Mango. Therefore they are likely to be identical with a difference in the subjective views of difficulty and seriousness of the route. Or, there is a possibility that the route suggested in the guidebook may climb up Mango first before traversing right to the face after the crux of Fruit Eliminate, with bomber gear in the crack of Mango, which would be closer to E1 5b. The description in the guidebook, as cited above, does not mention any detail, and hence the truth is unknown.
Note: All the photos in this article are taken by Annabell Ison, unless stated otherwise, and all rights are reserved. Click each photo (which is linked to the Flickr page) and you can see the original photo as well as its detail, including the copyright and licensing.