James Pearson repeats Immortal (E11, 7b) and downgrades | A never grading story

James Pearson repeated Franco Cookson's Route Immortal in North Yorkshire. He had issued grade E11 for his line at Maiden's Bluff. With this rating, Immortal is in the league of the big British trad lines, or is it?

James Pearson's motivation, with Immortal Attempting one of the hardest trad routes in the country arose from the fascination with its first ascent, Franco Cookson, and the challenge of his line.

«I was blown away by the ease with which he climbed the Meltdown and I wanted to see how extreme a route could be that combined his strengths on small holds with his notorious willingness to take risks!

James Pearson

On January 19th, James Pearson was able to climb Immortal. The fact that the route seemed easier than expected presented him with the dilemma of having to comment on the level of difficulty in more detail. Something that the climber, who was branded a climber in his younger years, wanted to avoid as much as possible.

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I don't want to comment on the degree, but I also don't want people to think that my silence means that I agree with the assessment, or worse, that I don't accept it but am happy to "take it" anyway.

James Pearson

Flashback to overestimating yourself

There is a certain irony in the fact that he has spent a lot of time in the last year talking about the consequences of his own “overvaluation,” says Pearson. “Only to now find myself in a similar situation that Dave McLeod must have been in back then.”

James Pearson had for his first ascent The Walk of Life E12 was proposed at the time. The experienced trad climber Dave McLoad, on the other hand, classified his line as E9.

I remember feeling hurt by Dave and his decision to suggest E9 for The Walk of Life, and I hate the thought that I did the same to someone else.

James Pearson

But in reality, Dave was just expressing his opinion. “Perhaps this realization and overcoming this problem is the last stop on my own journey?”

Video: James Pearson in The Walk of Life

Immortal for Pearson no E11

Evaluating Immortal is pretty tricky, says Pearson. The route is short, very morpho and flat. “And it has a very strange, difficult to quantify protection. If the safety is good, the line can almost be considered safe; if it is bad, it is a solo.”

All of these variables make it difficult for eGraders to spit out a degree. But if I go with my gut, I climbed Immortal too quickly and it felt too easy for an E11.

James Pearson

Despite his detailed thoughts on evaluation and the implied devaluation, James Pearson refrains from naming a specific level of difficulty.

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Credits: Cover picture @neil.gresham

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