Back this, Bowden that, whatever. Suffice to say I've redeemed myself from my previous punterage and shoddy strategies, and went back and did a couple of fine routes:
On The Verge has inspired me for 10 years or so. It just looked cool. Very much a grit-style bold slabby arete, but I've never been routing there in grit-style weather. Well the other day was a perfect grit-style winter's day: Below zero at dusk, snow on the roads, frozen ground, searingly crisp air and soothingly warm sunshine. Gentle slabby bouldering got my feet warmed up and faffing with gear got my mind warmed up. Stepping into the slab was a bit of a child-bearing-hip manouvre, above that it just flowed smoothly to the top.
Now, on to the grade geekery. Yay! The Tube is spot on. A bit bold, a bit pumpy, a few quite tricky moves. On The Verge seems to be following the bizarre trend in the latest definitive guide, along with Outward Bound, by going up a grade when it's one of the few County routes that should go down a grade. E2 5c move to get stood in the crescent + E3 5b move to place the cam by the good hold + E1 5b/c to finish, all on a restful slab = E3 5c. It's science, motherfuckers. In fact it's such obvious, clear-cut science that it makes me wonder if the blindingly obvious cam placement you go for "isn't in". Except:
1. The guidebook says "bold and committing moves lead up the arete until a crack is gained which provides an easy finish". There is only one crack to gain and although you don't actually use it to climb (the arete slants away so it would be harder to fall into it than to keep laybacking the arete!), it's a crack that can be used for gear.
2. The crack is right next to a crucial arete hand-hold:
(Conversely, the side-runner on Auto Da Fe at Berrymuir requires traversing a metre or so away from good holds and into another route to place...).
So what does it all mean?? Either OTV follows the true line and is a steady E3 5c **, or it's an inferior eliminate at E4 5c *. The way I did it was very nice anyway :).