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Alex Barrows has made the much coveted second ascent of Pilgrimage 8B+/F9a/+, Malcolm Smith’s epic stamina problem in Parisella’s Cave.

This line has resisted attempts by several top climbers and was accepted as the hardest piece of climbing (route or boulder problem) in North Wales.

Alex’s ascent was done with the use of rubber knee pads which allowed him to milk crucial advantage from various knee bar positions throughout the line. He has stated, that for him, it felt like doing a F8c+.

The use of rubber knee pads in the cave has generated some controversy in recent times. To read a bit more on this check out Doylo’s blog and this thread on UKBouldering.com. (There’s a bit of waffle at the start but it soon gets down to the nitty gritty.)

This leaves us with a dilemma for the new guide - should problems in the cave be given two different grades (one 'bareback' and one with rubber pads), or should all the old test pieces be downgraded and the original 'bareback' grades be removed?

For the record, NWB.com's position is that Parisella's cave is a unique venue (at least for North Wales) with a fairly unique climbing style and history, and that consequently both grades should be recorded and individual climbers can take whichever grade matches the style of their ascent.

Oh, and well done Alex - it was a good effort.

Relevant links: