Wide Boyz Blog

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Loving Lucille

I remember seeing a guidebook topo for Lucille about 2 and a half years ago and I didn’t know what the scale of the route was. I thought it was an upside down shuffle with your feet inverted above you and your bum on the wall below...how wrong I was. The next photo I saw of this big bad offwidth was a picture of Craig Luebben making the second ascent and first onsight of the route. I couldn’t believe how small he looked turning the lip compared to the rest of the route and couldn’t work out how he had got through that massive 40ft roof.

One Scary MoFo - Lucille

It was then 2 and a half years later that I somehow found myself taping up on the slabs below trying to convince myself that the roof wasn’t that big and everything in Britain was way more intimidating. It’s not just the line that is intimidating it is the history behind the route; the tale from the first ascentionist, the onsights that have followed, the stories of failures, epics and puking on route. Everything about this route had built up in my mind and it felt like a big deal to me.

When Tom and I got to the belay I already knew I was up first as we had flipped a coin the night before to see who it would be. Unfortunately I lost out and had to go first.

The rack for Lucille

I was so nervous at the beginning of the route I could barely pull off finger lock moves of about 5.8 difficulty. However I got to a ledge filled with greasy bird poo and it made me feel like I was back in England and I soon realised I was even more at home as my head and upper body were stuck in a massive crack. With all nerves completely settled I found the sequence to conquer the 40ft roof and got myself into a “side winder position”. I got into such a rhythm of advancing chicken wings and armbars that when I started to turn the bulge I forgot to move my last Friend #6 with me and didn’t place my #5. Suddenly I found the chicken wings became a lot less secure and I had to really do some hip scumming to get to the secure knee lock. With a mild amount of swearing, thankfully the knee lock appeared (knee lock and hand stack combined = belay), I then knew I wasn’t falling out of there and punched it out to the top, fortunately without my rope getting stuck behind the lobe of my last Friend miles beneath.

Pete finally reaching easier ground on his onsight

I got back down the belay cave and found Tom shaking away, I told him not to worry and that this puppy would warm him up. He told me he wasn’t cold but nervous. I had actually never seen him this nervous before a route so reassured him that it was his style of climbing, (even though I knew we had done nothing like this before) and that because he looked after chickens he was really good at chicken winging. Tom put in a solid effort on his first go but got stopped by a massive flapper on his palm and the full body exhaustion. However an hour later he sent that wide crack in super style. Quickly, efficiently and without any swearing and made it look about E2. Well good!!!

So what about the grading? There is no trick to this route like many of the other offwidths in Vedauwoo, which is why I believe it has been onsighted a few times and some of the easier graded ones haven’t. To climb the route you’ve got to build a threshold to sickness, seat a chicken wing and get moving. The grade of the route comes through its continuity not the difficultly of a few single moves that are hard to read, like on some of the other wide ones out here. Awesome route Jay.

Pete showing off his chicken wing on 8oz


  1. Nice to see a modern site/blog dedicated to the wide. Sort of a modern Wide Fetish. Dig it.

  2. Been checking you out on ukc hannahs blog and here and you are doing the country proud. Keep at em tigers. Chris