Harder Faster | E9 Trad climb at Black Rocks


See also Gaia.

Harder Faster is the harder, scarier direct finish to Gaia.

Seb Grieve:

Very wild climbing. After the 'easy' Gaia start, paste right foot high and layback. Repeat twice and arrive at ledge. Graunchy mantle that could easily go wrong. Top roped clean several times but could not bring myself to lead.

Contributors: remus

Pics + Vids

Lucky Chance
Added at 08:01 on 10 January 2022
Lucky Chance
Added at 08:01 on 10 January 2022
James Pearson
View this post on Instagram

Added at 12:02 on 10 February 2021
James Pearson
Added at 18:12 on 02 December 2021
James Pearson
Added at 08:01 on 10 January 2022
James Pearson
View this post on Instagram

Added at 18:12 on 02 December 2021


6 recorded ascents, including 1 unsuccessful ascent.

Climber Style Ascent Date Suggested Grade
Charlie Woodburn Lead | worked Nov 2000
First ascent.

As I flow through the sequence of moves, I am only partially aware of what I am doing. My thoughts are hazy, in a self-induced state of obedience. The body leads and the mind follows, always one step behind, always in a state of humble acknowledgement, registering the present as it flows, unaware of future or past, free from the savage responsibility of thought. Fear and thought are synonymous and consequently the most frightening part of the ascent coincides with the only moment of dominance my mind has: the decision to go. Concentration is of the essence, the act of forcibly stupefying the senses and allowing myself to follow the drift of my own body. As I climb, I feel as though I am leaving myself behind, and by giving myself up to the movement of the rock, by concentrating myself into the subtle tensions the moves require, I am able to escape the obligation to think, and this, more than anything else, brings me a measure of peace. [1]

[1] https://www.planetmountain.com/en/news/climbing/charlie-woodburn-gritstone-masterpiece-harder-faster-black-rocks.html

Seb Grieve Top Rope | worked 2001

Top roped clean several times but could not bring myself to lead.

Mike Weeks Lead | did not finish 2003
Belayed by Tim Emmett.

Mike fell from high on the route and only the lightning reactions of Tim Emmett on the belay kept him off the ground.

Lucky Chance Lead | worked 25th Dec 2003
Second ascent. Belayed by James Pearson.

That afternoon had gone swell, especially after making an on-sight ascent of Christmas Crack at Stanage in my socks, and goose-necking my way up Flying Buttress Direct, for another top end on-sight, I knew at that point that I was on form, so off we headed for Blackies to give myself a top rope on Hardy Fasty...

It was a windy day to say the least, but I was surprised at how good the friction was. I'd been on it previously and hadn't done it from start to finish before, but within half an hour I warmed up and had done it twice in one push. Everything felt right and I had unconsciously started preparing my mind for the ascent. But with the dying rays of light fading into the distance, time was in short supply. With my brand new offset cam for Christmas, with this route in mind, the game was on.

With a check of the gear and one final lap on a rope I knew that with any more practice I wouldn't get my chance for the lead. But it felt good and I felt good, and it was Christmas for Christ's sake! It was now or never, do or die. Nothing left but to tie in.

From the first punch over the rooflet I knew I had it in the bag, it was just a matter of time and focus till I would be standing on the top. I never feel as much in my element as when I am on the lead or solo, when my life is on the line I am never more in control. I swung into the groove at the top of the flake - the best bit about this route is this position, this moment before you pull out onto the face for the final push. In this groove I was thoughtless, never more wise, never more aware of my abilities. I knew I was going to the top, I just had to keep on moving.

So with that I pressed on, relishing every position as I knew it was the last. No maddening heartbeat, no quick breaths, only pure driven control. Nothing I have done compares to that final success. At many points throughout my achievements I have had to force excitement to feel the glory but this time I couldn't keep it from coming. That's an all right Christmas, I was thinking, now it doesn't matter how much I eat.

Yeah, it's sweet I sent it. For sure the most serious one I have done but still not all that bad really, I could definitely do much harder death routes I think! I've got a few new lines in mind to save 'till I return. People aren't rushing for the headpoints these days so I think they will be safe to leave for a while... [3]

James Pearson:

We'd been out climbing on the gritstone, it was kind of a miserable, soggy day and then the sun came out, the skys were blue and we said "Maybe Harder Faster might dry out"...Toby just completely, nonchalantly, put his gear on and set off up the route. I don't even remember him top roping it before which is completely nuts now I know what the route is like!

He was absolutely in his element. He just did it. [2]


[1] https://www.facebook.com/rockarchivist/photos/a.143839010406318/143839783739574

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYA6r86JALU

[3] On The Edge Issue 135, page 30

Adam Watson Lead | worked 2012
James Pearson Lead | worked 24th Dec 2020
Fourth ascent.

Harder Faster always represented the epitome of what a hard grit route is. The climbing isn't too bad, but it's hard enough that you never feel in control and especially the style of the climbing, just being on those open slopers at the top. If something goes wrong you can't just pull harder to get out of the situation, you just hope it doesn't go wrong! [4]


[1] https://www.ukclimbing.com/news/2020/12/hard_grit_repeats_by_james_pearson_and_caroline_ciavaldini-72675

[2] https://www.instagram.com/p/CJVkwj-FiUr/

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gygJgiXGxOk

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYA6r86JALU