Few new climbing grades create myths or monsters, rarely are they game changers, not so with the grade of E9. The first E9 was the legendary Indian Face which made a new leap in boldness. It took the madcap genius of Johnny Dawes to create its fatal mystery. It is a perfect line up one the UK’s most imposing mountain crags and heart stoppingly bold. It’s a crag steeped in history. As the route gets steeper the gear gets worse, the line inescapable and the crux comes need the top. It remained unrepeated for 8 years. Nick Dixon got the second ascent with Zen like calmness or do the wild eyes in the Clogwyn Du’r Arddu guide photo suggest otherwise? ‘Live in the present. Throw away all your pre-conceptions and step into the arena, thinking only about what you can give to your performance and not what you expect in return’. A few days later Neil Gresham ‘Slayed the Beast’. It’s described on page 9 of the guide. How is it possible to forget such a harrowing account of a repeat? Neil went through a full body shake with a disbelieving belayer below. Then the calmness came.
There have been numerous E9’s since that ground breaking ascent but none with such a history. World Cup Climbing Champion Mauro Calibani started his clothing brand with the name E9 in 1998. Later inspired by the movie Hard Grit the Italian climber visited the Gritstone Outcrops of Derbyshire in 2002. The unique style of climbing inspired him to put up his own E9 back in Italy. He gave ‘Is Not Always Pasqua’ the grade of E9 7a. To this day it’s only had a handful of repeats.
E9 Clothing has grown in popularity since. With it’s neat Italian styling it’s become classic wear for boulders and sport climbers through-out Europe, highlighted by its bright colours, fitted excellence, fabric performance and with a cool mix of hanging out and bursts of athletic intensity when bouldering. It’s become an integral part of the culture that’s grown up around the popularity of bouldering and it’s great to welcome the brand back into the Castle Shop after a hiatus of six years.