Wright’s Lake District Send ‘As Terrifying As They Come’

In a country bristling with injurious trad climbs, Mathew Wright has repeated one of the scariest of the scary.

Neil Gresham’s Lexicon checks in at E11 7a. The route is prohibitive throughout its 30-metre duration, but a crux near the top has proven to induce near-disastrous falls.

Wright joined the short list of the route’s repeaters on May 19. In his mid-20s, he’s by far the youngest Lexicon ascensionist. Gresham and the two other climbers to finish it, Steve McClure and Dave MacLeod, all climbed it in their 40s or older.

The host of elder statesmen is also a docket of usual suspects. Combined, the three hard men have survived decades’ worth of hard, scary ascents. You may not have heard of Wright, but he’s pretty good, too — he’s climbed routes up to 9a and bouldered as hard as V15.

“With difficulties of 8b+ (5.14) and one hell of a run-out, [Lexicon] is one that needs little introduction. Fearsome. Yet captivating,” he assessed on Instagram.

Captivating looks like a good word for it. Despite the evident fear factor, the route’s fourth ascent came in its eighth month of existence. Some test pieces like it go unrepeated for years.

But the experience clearly stimulated Wright so highly; it’s no wonder why he sought it. And though he didn’t choose the same word we would to describe the feeling of avoiding a possible 30m freefall that ends on the ground, we see what he’s getting at.

“Nerve endings on fire, fear eating away at every muscle; yesterday, I pulled over the top. An experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. And one that feels so natural,” he said.

We might use his partner Anna Taylor’s description of it. Her analysis? “Probably about as terrifying as they come.”

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.