BIRKETT ESTABLISHES 5.14X TRAD LINE

Posted on: July 23, 2007


Dave Birkett's new line (E9 6c or 5.14a X, 25m) marked in red, with him climbing to the right on Nowt but a Flee'ing Thing (E8 6c or 5.13c/d R), Cam Crag, Wasdale, Lake District, England. He spotted the project while on Nowt but a Flee'ing Thing last year; despite incessant rain, Birkett made numerous (wet) trips to try the unclimbed route this summer. He completed the ascent on July 20. [Photo] Alastair Lee

Last Friday, July 20, Dave Birkett put up another hard trad line at Cam Crag, Wasdale in England's Lake District. He assessed the 25-meter route at E9 6c, or 5.14a X. The unnamed line ascends slightly to the left of Birkett's 2004 accomplishment, Nowt but a Flee'ing Thing (British patois for "Not but a Fleeting Thing": E8 6c or 5.13c/d R), and marks the completion of one of the longest and most challenging projects in the District. Birkett commented that the line was by far the hardest thing he has done in the past twelve months.

The route begins with brutish 5.14a climbing that consists of hard side-pulls, under-clings and an "odd, gnarly" crimp. This cruxy first half offers terrible protection, described as "dubious and very well spaced" by filmmaker Alastair Lee, before a desperate number 4 wire placement at twelve meters. Placing the piece put enormous strain on Birkett's left arm before he continued through reachy 5.11/12 moves to top out.

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Lee, who has been documenting Birkett's work on the project this year, said that Birkett began eyeing the route a year ago while filming at Cam Crag. However, bad weather initially plagued Birkett as he struggled to find windows to work the route. A number of scheduled attempts to try the difficult-to-reach climb, situated above a steep talus slope covered with brush, were cancelled due to rain. After five trips to the crag Birkett managed only two days of climbing the project—on wet rock.

Considering the Isles have been swamped with a particularly rainy summer—water levels today reached sixty-year highs in some areas—Birkett has continued to perform well this year. See the May 10 and June 20 NewsWires for reports on his ascents of Skye Wall (E7/8 6b, 115m) and The Brothers Karamazov (E9 6c, 25m).

Sources: Alastair Lee, www.ukclimbing.com

Editor's Note: For a taste of how bad the gear is on Birkett's new route, watch the Alpinist TV exclusive of the new Cam Crag line here.

Dave Birkett reaching for a crimp just before the first piece of real protection on his new unnamed E9 6c route at Cam Crag, Walsdale in the Lakes District. The number 4 wire placement follows twelve meters of rock that offer very sparse protection. [Photo] Alastair Lee

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