Saturday, 28 April 2007

Trauma E9

Friday saw the Hot Aches team back in Wales, at Dinas Mot in the Llanberis Pass. A 600 mile round trip in a day was a gamble - in order hopefully to film James Pearson make the much coveted second ascent of Leo Houlding’s Trauma, E9 7a.

Route Inspection

We filmed James on the route last Saturday, his first day on the route other than a brief recce a few years back. That Saturday after working the route his lead attempt was then aborted when a crucial blind wire placement went wrong. James survived one of those horrible barn-door moments and by then it was getting late and time ran out.

The line of Trauma follows an overhanging crack line and crimps, the only line of weakness to breach the nose high left on the buttress. [all photos, Hot Aches Images]

This Friday was James’ last opportunity for Trauma before heading off the Thailand for a two month trip. Despite a less than perfect forecast we were back. On cue, ast the moment we arrived all the other climbers knowingly left the crag and the rain began. We sat it out in a cave until things looked a bit brighter and then headed on up. Might as well now we're here.

Conditions were now good, but the wind was gale force. I really expected James to bail out. No way you could climb hard in that much wind? I was on abseil with cameras and was being blown all over the place. However James set to work and first examined that problematic wire placement in close detail and then had a solid burst on the top rope.

He felt good. Despite the wind we were still on.

James Pearson leading Trauma, E9 7a (to overseas readers, the '7a' refers to british techinical grades, in this case french 8a+)

On the lead James hand placed a pecker onto the top of a broken off old peg, then up to the crucial wire placement which this time appeared to seat in well.

E9 protection, a pecker.

He tugged it hard to test it and it seemed ok this time, so on and upward through a long sequence of hard moves, a huge amount of climbing for a short route, and finally to relatively easier ground and another gear placement before topping out.

A fantastic piece of climbing by James. At the top he doesn’t scream, he just smiles and beams with satisfaction. “An awesome route”.


This was a tough day on camera. Combining the role of filming and stills photography is hard at the best of times, but in a buffeting wind on a route that is too hard for the climber to go back on to ‘pose’ it requires a lot of planning and preparation.

We worked out the section of the route that I wanted to take the stills photo at. With Diff covering video on that section safely I juggle from video to stills camera. A 7 second window and then I juggle back to video as the next section of the route needs to be covered by my angle.

In the end we did get chance to re-shoot some stills, but for us that never cuts it compared to shots of the real ascent.


Finally a big thanks to Tony Waite, belayer extraordinaire. Finding a belayer for Friday was proving difficult for James. Apparently loads of people have day jobs and can’t just drop everything? Else those that just boulder turn out to not be so keen on the ‘long’ walk in. So Tony stepped in for the second time this year, to travel a ridiculous distance in a day to hold someone’s rope. Many thanks.

Tony Waite, Dinas Mot is perhaps not the best place to have to learn how to jumar. But needs must.

Also many thanks to Wayne Smith who drove from Manchester to stand on a scree slope for 4 hours in order to get us some great long shots.




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