Monday, 16 August 2010

Big One

Since the last post the siege engines have been well and truly wheeled out on Monumental. I’ve been happy to do this because it’s without doubt one of the Peak’s great lines. Much as I love it, sporty limestone of the Peak variety rarely has much of a line, climbs tend to join together the bitty features, or more often just blast up in a straight line a given distance from the neighbouring ‘line’. Even when a strong feature does exist, those on Revelations or Mecca for example, these often fizzle out halfway up the crag. Not so the mighty Monumental, this is a great big slash across the whole face of the Cornice, overhung in all dimensions – this thing has more line than Network Rail. Yorkshire lime has the Big Three, the Triple Crown, a triplet of peerless 8a+ routes on the Dales’ big three limestone crags. The Peak has only one 8a+ (grade debate aside) of this calibre, as such Monumental is surely the Peak’s Single Crown, this is our Big One.
I’ve passed by this feature many many times and it’s always intrigued me a lot. It just looked so unattainable, as much because on almost all occasions it was festering under gallons of alien death slime and peppered with half buried rust blobs for bolts. The crown had slipped, the Big One was long in the wilderness, unclimbed and unclimbable for over a decade. Years have come and gone and all attempts to resurrect it have been vain. Reviving this route would clearly take an exceptionally dry year and several determined climbers several days of misery. 2010 looked like it might just be the year. Simon Davies and myself both spent a day tunnelling through years of accreted slime crust, one man saviour of Peak sport climbing Jon Clark put in two days of bolting and cleaning, then Kris Clemmow finished the job by removing the old bolts. This was a month or two ago and with subsequent traffic (at least eight ascents to date) the route is now in fantastic condition, bone dry, super clean and re-equipped with shiny new 12mm resin bolts. Standing beneath it today it’s hard to picture just how horrendous it was at the start of the season. For a brief while the Big One is back in all its glory. Long may it hold out, though in the end the slime will always win.
The window of opportunity being brief and unpredictable, I really wanted to take the chance while it lasted. The only problem was that it didn’t seem to want me to get up it. Despite having lots of knees and weirdness it just didn’t suit me, the reputedly ok crux section felt like the world’s hardest move to me(a persistent left wrist injury didn’t help) and the final lurch into the groove hurt my dupytren’s afflicted hand, as well as being a notorious sting in the tail from hell. Progress was slow and sessions on it left me feeling beasted for days. Gradually though the pieces were coming together. The fettling of kneepads became a minor obsession for me and Nige. The ultimate pad arrangement involved one on the left knee stiffened with a plastic insert and a thinner one for the right with a grippy rubber top layer, both held in place with a combo of gaffer tape, lacing and double sided sticky tape. Each use incurs a price in kneepit chaffing and hairloss on removal, though I never quite stooped to shaving the knees.
An uncounted number of sessions later (I’d guess at about nine!), the war of attrition was won, second redpoint on a Thursday afternoon session with back two Dan. I was lucky it went down that go too, as I acquired a split tip and a tweaked shoulder on route. Nige turned up shortly after and finished off his (somewhat shorter) Monumental battle.
All in all I really enjoyed the whole thing and I’m happy to add to the hype around the route. It’s a superb climb, with brilliant satisfying moves and not a single glued hold throughout ( a rare thing on a Peak route of this grade). Get on it people, it’ll soon be gone again and for who knows how long this time.

I haven't got any pics of Monumental, so here's one of Roy Mosley on nearby jug Jockey. This pic was taken in 2005, the last time the crag dried out. MA is the (dirty)left to right groove left some way left of Roy.


Doylo said...

good stuff bonjella! bit gutted this crag was always wet during my sheffield years!

Fiend said...

No shaved knees, no tick.

Nice one tho!