James Pearson. Final top-rope practice before going for the lead on The Groove, E10 7b. Photo: Hot Aches Images
The Groove at Cratcliffe in the Peak District was one of the truly great Last Unclimbed Lines on Grit. Much eyed and lusted after, this line has shunned all suitors for over 20 years. Johnny Dawes is reported to have declared that it will only be climbed eventually by someone with very long arms and very short legs.
I'm not sure about James having short legs? but it did require absolutely perfect conditions for the ascent. Snow on the ground and a temperature barely creeping above freezing was perfect. There didn't seem to be a moment of doubt from James that today would be the day that he would finally go for the lead.
The Hot Aches team have been there during the last 2 weeks along with photographer David Simmonite to capture this special ascent.
Footage from last year's attempts on the route by James featured in Committed Volume 1.
See the clip on Climb Magazine's website along with a report about the eventual ascent.
Also see the next edition of Climb Magazine for photos and an in depth feature on James.
This is James' third E10 ascent. He repeated Equilibrium E10 7a and made the first ascent of The Promise E10 7a. Both routes featured in Committed. The Groove, at E10 7b may well now be amongst the hardest trad climbs in the world.
The climbing is highly technical, hence the 7b (British, not French) tech grade, and it is also bold. A fall from the last move of the crux would test the reaction time of the belayer; only an instant sprint might save the climber from hitting the ground - possibly. James has a strict 'no mat' policy for trad routes, so the nasty landing was not protected by bouldering mats. James also employed this strict ethic on the first ascent of his previous E10, 'The Promise'.