Neil Mawson downgrades Pickford´s E9

by Mick Ryan Big seas at St. Govans in Pembroke. In May we reported that Dave Pickford climbed new route at St Govan?s Head in Pembroke, The Brothers Karamazov which Dave gave E9 6c. It takes the groove of Pat Littlejohn´s 1986 route Crimes of Passion (E6) at the Public Enemy Area then climbs direct where Crimes moves right. Protected in part by a downward pointing peg (an 8mm placement) and involving tenuous 6c climbing, Dave utilised two belayers, Simon Cockman and Dave Walsh, to take advantage more effectively of widely spaced gear in a horizontal break. Ground fall potential is almost certain from the routes upper reaches UKClimbing report) This route was soon repeated by Dave Birkett who thought it soft for the grade (UKClimbing report). Dave Pickford responded by saying that, “A lot of nonsense gets thrown around the climbing community about grades these days, in which the grade seems to take on more importance than the climb itself, which seems bizarre and illogical. I gave ?The Brothers Karamazov? a grade that reflects how challenging I found it to be, both in comparison to the harder routes in Pembroke and to other difficult routes in the UK I have climbed.” (UKClimbing report). This just in from Neil Mawson. “I repeated Dave Pickford´s The Brothers Karamazov at St Govan´s on Friday the 19th October after top rope practice. This was first climbed utilising a hand-placed peg for protection, placed by abseil prior to the ascent and removed after. Dave Birkett also did this for the second ascent but commented the route was easy for the grade.I placed all the gear on lead and so eliminated the peg. I also thought the route was overgraded and should be E8 6c even without the pre-placed peg. It is around 7c+ to top rope, so easier than Chupracabra and San Simeon (both E8), but it is a bit bolder than both. I don´t think you would hit the floor from any of the hard moves but you´d come close! For me it felt easier to lead than when I did Chupracabra 2 years ago.”