Curbar – a John Allen homage

Jake is back home for a while and keen to get some Peak climbing in the bag, and a fairly arbitrary decision saw us pick Curbar for a rather damp and humid afternoon. As seems to be the norm these days, whilst the parking was busy, there were not many climbers about – we just met a couple of boulderers and a solo top-roper. Unfortunately, the midges weren’t heeding social distancing measures – I’ve rarely encountered worse in the early afternoon. 😦

As a “warm-up” we picked L’Horla, coincidentally my first E1 lead well over 30 years ago. Here’s Jake approaching the roof.

The humid, windless conditions weren’t helping, but I’d more blame my lack of strength for struggling to make the “pop” over the roof. “warm-up” indeed!

Jake had some classic routes in mind, starting with Moon Walk, a “Top 50” E4 6a “one of the finest grit experiences”. Jake’s bouldering prowess saw him cruise the scary final run-out. Here he is getting the final gear placements sorted before going for the top!

Fortunately, Jake’s winching strength also matches his bouldering!

Just to the right is Moon Walk’s “tough twin”: Moon Crack, E5 6b. Thuggish to say the least, but Jake prevailed in style.

On a roll, Jake decided to “twist rather than stick” and take on another “Top 50” E4, Profit of Doom, which also features in Extreme Rock. The guidebook advises placing the key fiddly gear at the crux on top-rope:

Reaching the iconic crux hanging groove is challenging enough, and the moves through the bulge are absolutely desperate – super-wide bridging on not very much, followed by a wild slap for the arete.

Sadly, Jake’s 100% record for the day was dented by a quick sit on the rope to figure out the move – still a pretty successful outing!

Idly scanning the guidebook later, we realised that Moon Walk, Moon Crack and Prophet of Doom were ALL put up by the incomparable John Allen – doing this trilogy just a few weeks after his tragic accident seems a fitting if unplanned tribute. What an incredible legacy of quality routes the “God of Grit” left behind.

There’s a great account: “God of Grit, the Legend” in this article in Climber https://www.climber.co.uk/news/news/john-allen-god-of-grit-the-legend/

Footnote – the article suggests of Prophet of Doom: “Steve Bancroft was to grade it 6b in his infamous 1977 supplement – rumour has it because he wasn’t able to second John on the first ascent!” That makes me feel a bit less useless!

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