Under Pressure, M8 on Trad (is Rad!)
On Saturday Dan Joll made the first ascent of Under Pressure, a single pitch, grade M8 mixed route, immediately right of Fridays Fool on the Red Wall of Telecom Tower (West Face of the Remarkables). Thirty minutes later I fought off a mega pump to nab the second ascent. Under pressure refers to our friendly rivalry to get the first ascent and the fact that I was due at a conference in Queenstown about one hour after topping out (yes I was a few minutes late).
The exciting thing about Under Pressure is that we climbed it on traditional gear i.e. without bolts. Even better, Dan was very close to a ground up on-site ascent when we first tried the route on Friday night. With the gear left in and only 3m to go I still didn’t make it, which is to say that Dan’s effort was no mean feat. Darkness and a gathering storm sent us packing, defeated but determined to come back the next day and send. And we did.
While our ascents were on pre-placed gear (left in after our first attempts on Friday night), which is not as pure in style as placing gear on lead, Under Pressure still represents a progression towards increasingly difficult standards of mixed climbing in New Zealand without fixed protection. What this means (at least for me) is that gone are the days of seeing a great looking line, but dismissing it as being too difficult to climb ground up. Instead, perceptions are changing to embrace steep and thinly featured mixed lines and the challenges these offer. Increasingly we are starting to think “wow that looks rad, I’ll give it a shot”. All it requires is an open mind and a bit of dedication. Bring it on, I’m psyched!
Thanks heaps to Erika Tovar for taking the photos.
Dan on the first ascent of Under Pressure. (Photo by Erika Tovar).
Me on the second ascent. (Photo by Erika Tovar).
Me fighting the pump. (Photo by Erika Tovar).
Me nearly at the top. (Photo by Erika Tovar).