Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The tale of Chaos (8A?)

One of Redhill's oldest proposed 8A's, "Chaos", has seen a lot of attention in the past few months, with several climbers bagging the line for their 1st of the grade. Most recent was Alan Hills, who has agreed with common opinion that the problem should perhaps be downgraded? As reported before "the original concept of the problem involved a long move off a sloper rail to poor sloping crimps, before slapping up to slopers on the lip and topping out. "Chaos" remained a project for several years, repelling attempts from a number of capable climbers, until Emile Esterhuizen thought of a slightly easier sequence by moving further to the right to a poor sidepull, and then moving back left into bad underclings above the sloper rail and skipping the crimps altogether. Although the line was complete, many Redhill locals felt that the true line was yet to be climbed. In 2007, Marijus Šmigelskis finally made the first ascent of the originally intended line bumping the grade up from 7C to 8A".

Now however, it seems that the problem may be suffering (or benefiting?) from a strange phenomenon that is common for sloper climbs at Redhill. Fresh rock in the area seems to have a strange form of micro lichen that grows between the texture of the holds. As people start climbing on the holds, adding chalk and brushing them, the lichen dies off and over the years, the friction improves dramatically. We've seen classic examples of this on "Rolling Stones", which went from 7B+ to 7A+ and "Four Singers".

Check out Clinton Martinengo making light work of "Chaos" this past summer, climbing it on his first redpoint go after flashing the crux section in isolation:


  1. I love the theory on the micro-lichen! It's actually quite believable! Strange phenomenon indeed... Just for the sake of complete info, I didn't climb it quite the way Clinton does.
    I bounced left from the first crimp to the second (The big tickmark in Clint's vid) Then went straight up to the slopers with my right, Didn't use the underclings at all. It did seem as if conditions were particularly good on the day (Chinatowns mean slopey crimps saw a couple of ascents).

  2. yeah, i think you (alan) sent it the way we all tried it years ago but couldn't do. it's a huge reach to that second crimp! nice work on skipping the undercling!

    back then, the 1st crimp was not even holdable...

    thoughts on the grade?

  3. To be honest, it felt pretty easy on the day but it is definitely one of the hardest problems I've tried. I had two or three sessions on it last year and after each, I couldn't try it for ages because it's tough on the left knee. Left knee is still tweaky! I'll need to get a few more of the grade to give a realistic opinion. To be critical, I'd say it's soft for the grade, probably 7C+, but having the wingspan of a pterodactyl probably helped!