Harder then soloing, or harder then top-roping? The inherent nature of protection is to protect the climber. Otherwise it's only there to weigh you down. Granted a route with little to no protection will be more difficult to climb without the security of a TR, but a climb sans gear qualifies as a solo.
Isaac, I think you just have to look at it differently. There is gear on this climb. The other pic of Nick shows at least 3 pieces of gear. The lake often reminds me of Gritstone. Gritstone routes have minimal protection and often only have 1 or 2 pieces of gear. But they get led with gear. Why aren't all those guys just soloing the grit...I think for 2 reasons. 1 - it's an ethic thing 2 - like Nick said, it makes it harder. Just soloing, you have nothing extra on, you don't have to stop to place gear, or clip.
Its seems that we differ slightly Jason. Your definition of style and ethics was just different from mine. Your definition of style is what I mean when I talk about ethics. I suppose I had the two mixed up a bit. So I will change that saying "Nick likes to lead things because it's his style (not ethic)" Same goes for Gritstone. They lead them because that is the style they prefer.
Also, I just didnt elaborate as much as you did. What I meant when I said "it makes it harder" I meant physically. If you want me to go more into it, I'll send you an email, but I agree with you on what you stated there, so the email would be pointless. I do have to disagree with the weight of the rope and gear, yes it makes a difference. Do swimmers (gay as it is) shave their legs because it makes no difference....nope. Actually, it "shaves" time off. No gear/rope = less weight = less to carry up the climb. Also, no rope/gear means you have less to think about. The rope isn't getting in the way of your feet, causing you to waste energy kicking it out of the way. Less is less. Can't argue that. But I do agree that the piece of mind that comes from a piece of gear, being bomber or complete shit, is a major help.
Classic gentleman. By saying "because it's harder that way" I could also say "for the training weight."
Soloing is more difficult in the sense that it is more mentally committing but I would say that trailing a rope and even a few pieces of gear does make it more physically demanding, even if it is just ever so slightly.
I don't solo because it is not my style and I enjoy the aspect of figuring out the gear not just figuring out the moves. I think passing up perfectly good protection is a bit silly but that's just me and I would never judge someone else negatively for their soloing.
This climb is NOT a solo, simply because there is gear on it that I did use, no matter how spaced out it was or how grim the placements might seem.
I've wondered how much I'm fooling myself when there's a significant runnout above negligable gear. Am I leading, or simply soloing while placing gear as mental succor. At some point your just soloing with a rope. Not trying to take anything away from the climb, I've always thought this to be an exceptional line, but it's something I've thought about in my free time.