On-Sight Without Sight: Blind Climber Sends Extreme ‘Forked Lightning’ Crack

This stunning, zig-zagging crack feature is right up this climber’s alley.

Jesse Dufton, a blind paraclimber, has put up first ascents in the Arctic, ice climbed in Norway, and was the first blind person to climb Scotland’s Old Man of Hoy. He also holds several medals from national indoor climbing comps in the U.K.

This time, Dufton isn’t going for the tallest route or most pitches — he’s climbing to push his grade. Dufton, along with his wife and climbing partner Molly Dufton, are at Yorkshire Grit at Heptonstall Quarry in the U.K. to tackle a 5.10c, his hardest route yet.

The Forked Lightning Crack is an E2 5c (5.10c)-graded single-pitch, 24m trad route. It’s tough, but a classic. “Is this perhaps the best grit crack in the UK?” the British Mountaineering Council teases in the film comments.

drone angle looking down as Jesse Dufton climbs Man of Hoy rock cliff
'Climbing Blind': Paraclimber Lead Climbs Iconic Sandstone Tower

Jesse Dufton, who's competed at and won climbing events worldwide, attempts to be the first blind person to lead climb the iconic Old Man of Hoy sea stack in Scotland. Read more…

Before climbing, his wife describes the route to him. But climbing is mostly physical — shifting your weight, reading the rock, finding the holds, knowing when to conserve strength. On the wall, it’s all up to him.

Aside from pointing out which number cam Dufton’s holding, Molly Dufton is cool and calm on the ground, occasionally giving out words of encouragement, like any other climbing partner. Like any other climber, Dufton uses hand jams and layback techniques, along with a few techniques of his own.

“What an amazing route,” Dufton celebrated at the top.

Filmmaker Alastair Lee produced this featured video.

Black Diamond Climbing Gear
Rock Climbing Checklist: What to Pack for Your Next Trip to the Crag

Whether pebble wrestling or summit seeking, having all the gear you need is essential to a day well spent climbing. There’s nothing worse than getting to the crag and realizing that you forgot that one piece of essential gear! Read more…

Mary Murphy
By

Mary is based out of GearJunkie's Denver, CO office. She has a degree in English and Journalism, and been writing professionally for over five years. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

Topics: ,