- Climbing - Dan Varian
- Climbing - David Mason
- Climbing - Katy Whittaker
- Climbing - Mina Leslie-Wujastyk
- Climbing - Ned Feehally
- Climbing - Neil Mawson
- Climbing - Pete Whittaker
- Climbing - Ryan Pasquill
- Climbing - Steve McClure
- Climbing - Tom Randall
- Show all
Well the weather in England has started to warm up, spring definitely appears to be on the way! This renews my psyche for training as it looks like cold gritstone days are a thing of the past for this winter at least!
Time to focus on getting strong for Colorado but also time to get rid of an A2 tweak I have on my right index finger. I did it just before Christmas but foolishly did no massaging or icing over the festive period! Since then every time I climb it has swelled up; it doesn’t hurt that much but I can’t try too hard on it either. Last week I decided it wasn’t going away and so something radical had to be done; cue no actual climbing for 6 weeks (apart from warming up and the occasional potter outside). The idea of this doesn’t faze me too much as the strongest I have ever been was after 6 weeks of just finger boarding, campusing and doing one armers. These sessions are much more controllable than actual climbing and by doing most of exercises in a drag grip position I will hopefully limit any further damage to my finger. After only a week it feels much more flexible, so fingers crossed!
On Friday I decided to go out for a bit of a potter on the sandstone at Churnet Valley, more specifically Ina’s Rock. I had spoken to Ed Hamer earlier in the week and he had said a team of them were going out to try Thumbelina (highball 7a) and Cornelius (highball 7c). I had done Thumbelina previously but had been too tired and bit scared to commit to Cornelius; the chance to have another go with a lot of pads got me really inspired. Friday also ended up being a really nice spring day after a week of glum, low cloud and drizzle around Sheffield.
Reaching around to safety on Cornelius (7c). Photo courtesy of Ethan Walker
After warming up and everyone else doing Thumbelina I was ready to have a go on the intimidating Cornelius. First time I managed to get through the low crux, arriving at a flat in cut ‘jug’ I was totally boxed, not able to recover or even chalk on the hold I put my right foot high and looked upwards, the sloping break looked a country mile away and I was feeling in no state to lock that far! Was I that unfit or was it just flash pump?! The latter I hoped! After 40 minutes of resting and watching the others figure out the moves I was ready for another go. This time I got through the crux and felt much more relaxed, dragging holds instead of boning the hell out of them. Time for the big left arm lock and the point of no return! Reaching up to the break I got the right hand sloper and feeling good came in to match, crossing through to a small but positive chicken head crimp thoughts of falling from here briefly popped into my head! Instant adrenaline started to course through my veins, bringing the ’fear’ pump but I knew I was nearly there. Shutting out the thoughts I reached around the arête to a finger jug and breathed a massive sigh of relief. One more big lock and I was at the top! A very exhilarating experience! Cornelius is one of the best lines in the UK in my opinion-impeccable rock, high but with a perfectly flat landing and a great variety of movement on all manner of holds!
Ahhh jug! Cornelius (7c). Photo courtesy of Ethan Walker
Back to the training for now! Sunday I campussed and then decided to nip out for an hour before work to try Puck (7b); a highball overhung arête of John Welfords with a less than desirable landing! It involves a few easy moves to get you set up for a dynamic throw to a pocket, followed by a few more high but easy moves. After missing the pads and landing on a rock I managed to just catch the sloper on my next go and re-adjust into the safety of the pocket! Another Welford tick and another great problem that doesn’t seem to see much attention!
Right am off to fingerboard!
Contributed by: David Mason
I decided to stay a few more days with the plan of doing some easier classics. After getting some stuff under my belt I got keen again and headed to Merveille. I had tried this briefly on 2 previous trips but always sacked it off as it was hot, it felt so hard, it was scary and it is very very sharp. The crux hold is the size of a couple of pound coins, with the edges sharpened for good measure. Beauty. After reaching this hold way above your head, you stand up bit by bit until you are eventually undercutting it and you can reach the top (or not).
On my first go of this trip I surprised myself by getting to the last move. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do so went for the obvious, busting a move for the top. I came up just short not once or twice but 5 times before a sore back and legs and fading light sent me on my way.
Last day of the trip I pottered around with Michele Caminati. Its good to climb with someone so keen when your lacking motivation. I mentioned Merveille and he got all excited offering me a spot and an extra pad, twisting my arm into trying it. I charged straight there and abbed it again, finding a small smear that was perfectly placed for the last move. I hadn’t seen this hold before as it was tiny but it’s all that was needed. I waited for Michele to turn up as a spot and another pad would have been nice but the sun was gettng low in the sky and I was getting cold. Twiddling my thumbs wasnt keeping my fingers warm! I got impatient and set off anyway cruising upwards move by move. It felt easy for some reason. The crimp bit in to my already sore (and taped) fingers bruising them further, but I knew what to do now so I pressed on. One more sketchy foot move and I was bouncing to the jug! Battle over. The best problem in font I reckon.
Michele turned up a few minutes later and made me do it again for a photo:
Photo: Michele Caminati
Contributed by: Ned Feehally
Two Sides of a Coin
Its monday and i’ve been Skiing for a week before now. A nice relaxing week without a rock shoe in sight. Incidentally i used to think these were painful until i put my feet in Ski boots for a week, their design seemingly being inspired by the makers of the thumbscrew and iron maiden. Anyway its Monday and i was too knackered to climb yesterday and i’m beginning to get tetchy that i haven’t climbed for a week (bit of an addict you see) I’m also aware that i’ve been through an Airport yesterday; airports love to fly different diseases about the place and sit them next to each other and defenceless individuals for hours on end with recirculated airflow. I could definitely feel a cold coming on.
Luckily my body was playing ball, it’d realised it wasn’t facing downhill and squatting. I set about trying my project of the moment. I’d had a productive session on it before going away and got half a sequence worked. Trying this sequence i did the foot move i hadn’t done last time but it felt hard. After about an hour of getting close to the cross move crux i started to try a different sequence, this quickly came together in about 30mins and I realised the problem was no longer a 4-5session goal, it was potentially a 4-5minute goal. I had about 20 minutes of daylight left and a flash flood of motivation and pressure washed in. I had about 2 hours of climbing behind me and it was on the same moves so tiredness wasn’t far away either. I still had an efficient start sequence to decide on as i had 2 methods. 3 goes gone and i had that sussed. Big rest, quick brew and the light really was fading now. This was my chance, i pulled on and felt good, floaty good, i sailed through the beginning of the crux, got my foot up, didn’t have the pinch perfect but i squeezed hard and it understood. Foot didn’t quite go on right. sod it just give it a go it might stick, touch the hold at the end of the crux, hit it nicely but left foot has made its last purchase of the day and is heavily overdrawn, it bolts and i go with it. My next go is technically better but my foot pops and the humidity has come with the darkness. Denied.
Its Wednesday and i’ve been pretty ill for the last 12 days i’ve attempted to get back to my project but have felt like a welterweight been shoved into a heavyweights fight to make up the numbers, there is no crush only skin and tendons working. I’m walking upto flasby fell with Katie on a flying visit to meet my folks who are staying near for the week. I’ve been wanting to try Rhythm for years ever since i heard Steve raving about it at Kilnsey when he found it. It’s only had one repeat since by Clifford and the tiny vid of him doing it has been on my pc for 6 years, knowing it might come in handy. (there is also a vid of Dunning doing it but its private) The walk in is Sommelike in muddiness from the snow melt until we get up on the fell. desiccated cracks of crepuscular rays are punching through the clouds and I have a discerning sense that i may not be back here for some time, if life has its way of offering up the usual distractions. Its a long walk too. Arriving at the Rhythm boulder it looks about 3feet high. I begin to question whether i am infact in yorkshire or wales. 10m later my question is answered.
One of the most stunning pieces of rock architecture reveals itself as the ground drops away, it looks better in the flesh than in photos. The clearing of the trees and view give it a Bouldertopian feel. I pull on the warm ups on the block with a trepidation i haven’t felt since trying to climb on antibiotics in font in 2009 after catching Strep throat from something in a Sheffield night club. Am i in the clear or was all this just a nice walk? new shoes don’t help, i feel light and ungainly in my feet, brilliant i’m going to climb like Keith bradbury, Woods or Traversi for the day. Front wheel drive here we come. Safe to say i’m not ill anymore anyway. I rocket about on young Dave’s nose until the top out comes (great problem) The time comes, i jump on rhythm and fresh skin is a blessing on the holds, having climbed on sandstone all winter it feels strange but i quickly remember what to do, hook skin on holds then pull.
I look at the holds from the top of the boulder which appears to be a climbers Rorscach test, interpret it how you like but there are only really 2 proper holds there and you need about 4. Cliffords way looks like it’ll mince skin if you rip off the crimp. I’ve heard dunning went more out right to a vague dish/pocket/crimp (its barely anything so is bizarrely all of these) This looks nice and getting up from below it feels very usable, i end up using this and a bizarre arrangement for my LH that involves pretty much just pushing my skin into lots of tiny dimples and a pebble. It works and i nail the last move first try. Skin 1 rock 0. Getting into it from the stand it takes a while to suss the body position and i rip off the crap holds a few times until i suss the body position out. The stand comes together quite fast and i’m happy, i haven’t even tried the sit and it looks both easy and hard, big hands no feet. It completes the line like a visual exclamation rather than being only a full stop without that little extra fleck of ink !.
The ramp is easy, about 7a so i know i have a good chance, just as that realisation comes,
the sun comes out for 20minutes and i stop trying it, i pass the time swearing at the sun and do my best Canute impression. It gets the message and my next go ends with me dropping off the last holds with numb fingers. Another Brew and another crunch time. 30 minutes of light left, not much skin left maybe enough for 2 more goes but 1 really if i want to keep it intact for county projects. The coin lands on its other side today. It feels grippy and i float up it hitting the holds perfectly. I’m at the last move, calm, i punch up and get the hold, nothing rips like it so easily could of and i top out like Keith Bradbury, all arms and no legs.
The last 2 weeks have taught me about biding my time more and that you can’t win them all in the closing moments of the game. Of course the joy of it all is that i can go back to my county project too. boulder problems not boulder moments. But every boulder has its moment. Its perfect time to complete it. and like the sweet spot on a bat it feels bloody good when you hit it. Rhythm was one of those for me, and its made up for the week before.
Katie took this picture just after i did it and i think it captures the mood perfectly.
Rhythm is such a beautiful line. Great effort Steve.
Contributed by: Dan Varian
This last week has been a very strange one indeed. It’s been hectic, frantic and surreal – I’m not really sure if any of it has happened to be honest….
The 5.10 Boots that did it all............
Since coming back from the USA last year, there’s been loads of great feedback from mine and Pete Whittaker’s trip and it’s amazing to see (and hear) of some people that are now inspired to climbing some offwidths. God help your souls! Mostly, it’s been reassuring to be back in the climbing community talking the same old banter and getting grief off everyone for how bad my grading on routes is.
This week though, things took a turn for the more weird as an interview that I did with a journalist a few weeks back seemed to slowly seep from the woodwork. The London Metro said “Jammed in a Crevice” the Daily Mail said “They’ve Cracked It” [ha, ha, ha] and the Star stated “It’s Tough at the Top”. What made the popular media interested in this obscure niche of climbing, I really don’t know. Within just a few hours I was asked to do an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield and one for BBC News 24 – crikey, I thought – do they actually know what an offwidth is??!!
Daily Mail antics http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2098610/Theyve-cracked-Two-British-climbers-conquer-160ft-fissure-Utah-national-park.html
All in all, it was pretty good fun and I had an interesting insight into some TV and radio studios. I also found out that the Daily Mail comments pages are much funnier than UKC and that climbing forums are proper friendly bunch really. The fun hasn’t quite ended though, as both Pete and I have been asked to do something with Channel Five TV and I have a slot on BBC Sheffield this coming week at 10.35-10.55am (22nd Feb) if you’d like to hear about decisions that changed my life. Makes me sound old and past it?
Here’s the programme’s interviewer http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d7gs
Pete and I are very honoured to have been awarded a Golden Piton Award for crack climbing. I’m not totally sure what it all means, but with any luck I might be able to melt down the piton to make some ultra-soft RPs???
Contributed by: Tom Randall
Sooooo I did my first V10 the other week called 'Walk on by' at Curbar.
It is definietly my kind of terrain, steep slab climbing!
The original way went leftwards but since a hold broke (is now totally nails going left!) it seems most people (well Caff and Ryan.) now trend right at the start to a pinch then do a tricky slap to another pinch, then get an intermediate and slap straight up to the finishing ledge.
Photo by Ryan Pasquill
Contributed by: Katy Whittaker
Myself and Pete Whittaker are doing some lectures this Spring to tell you all some tall (and wide) stories from our recent trip to the USA where we went off to maul ourselves in a load of upside down offwidths!
We've got a few shows/lectures this Spring and then we're going full on "roadee stylee" in the Autumn when the Hotaches film from our trip comes out! The lecture is neither serious, nor normal. Lots of cool slides and pics from Alex Ekins and exclusive training footage from the offwidth cellar underneath my house that gave the beans for Century Crack, 5.14b.
We will keep the Wide Boyz blog up to date with lectures as they're sorted, but here's a few to keep you going in mean time. Hope to see you there!
23rd Feb - Sheffield, expert night at Adventure Film Festival
2nd March - Kendal Wall, Lake District
31st March - Outside Cafe, Hathersage
Contributed by: Tom Randall
I am not sure what has happened with Britain’s weather over the past few months. We have had unseasonably high temperatures, mixed with humidity and rain; this as we all know does not result in good climbing conditions. There has been the odd spell of cold dry days but just as momentum starts to build with psyche and motivation, in sweeps another warm, wet front to dash any hopes of ticking off those projects. The weather being like this also makes it hard to train- what are we training for?! Why do we do this?! Are questions that circulate around my head. So, if the weather in the UK wasn’t going to supply me with psyche I would need another impetus, and the only way I know of is a.... plane ticket!! A few clicks and phone calls later, a flight was booked!! Colorado here we come!! I have always wanted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and Mt. Evans, the lines don’t look as stunning as places like Rocklands or Bishop but the movement looks phenomenal. Boulder also looks like a fun place to hang out, eat nice food and live the good life!
It’s funny how a piece of paper promising to take you to a new destination and a substantial decrease in one’s bank balance can increase levels of psyche tenfold, but for me it is definitely the answer to waning levels of motivation.
Training was planned over Christmas in Ireland and after the food consumption it would definitely be needed!!! My family seems to awaken at around 6:00am and cook non-stop till bed time! Amazing!
A wet trip to Fontainebleau over New Year didn’t even dampen my spirits; I managed to complete the Real Thing ticks with Bicep Mou, drink a good amount of red wine and eat some lovely buttery air, that the French call croissants!
After having nearly 3 weeks of very little climbing it was time for the training! The weather even played ball. Rubbish weather means I don’t feel guilty for not going out on the rock! However we managed to get the odd day of nice weather. In early January I went back to Darkstar, a highball 7c+ of John Welford’s that seems to have been all but forgotten. I brushed it up and worked out the moves before Christmas but it was a bit damp to finish it off. A cold, breezy day came and that was the first thing on my mind. After warming up at home and giving the holds a chalk on a rope I managed to send it on my second (and third) attempt. I was made up, it felt so much better because I had had to clean it up and put a bit of effort into making it climbable again. A great problem that will hopefully see a little more attention now. I was lucky enough to get the ascent captured by Outcrop Films and it will appear on the upcoming film Life on Hold.
Darkstar, 7c+: Courtesy of Outcrop Films
The good weather disappeared as quickly as it had arrived and it was back into the training! Always keeping a watchful eye on the weather, as time on rock is really important for me! During this period fellow Moon and Five Ten athlete Phil Schaal stopped over in the UK for a week before heading to the granite boulders and cold temperatures of Ticino. The weather meant he spent most of his time in the wall but he also sampled his first FULL English breakfast, Fish and Chips and a typical pub meal of.... PIE!! He managed a few sends too, of which I am sure he will update you all at some point!
A cold front seemed to be coming for the end of January and beginning of February. Fingers crossed!
And as we all know a few good days did arrive! I headed up to Bowden for the weekend; having never been here before I was as excited as a child on Christmas morning. There were particular things I wanted to try but I basically ran around for 2 days trying everything!! Both days we were first at the crag and last to leave, it reminded me of times gone by when if you weren’t completely boxed with bleeding tips then the day hadn’t been a success! I will definitely be visiting the County more often as there are a number of climbs I would like to do up there. More restraint will be critical next time!
Staggered, 7b: Courtesy of http://marksavagephotography.blogspot.com/
Another problem on my winter tick list was Brownian Motion at West Chevin in Yorkshire. This was climbed by Andy Brown way back when.... well I don’t when but needless to say it didn’t get repeated for a long time. Andy had used a toe hook around the arête which was a country mile away and given it the paltry grade of 7c+. Strong Bingly based Martin Smith aka Shaggy aka Pencil aka Terrace Ghost decided to use strength (as opposed to seriously long legs) to get the long awaited second ascent a couple of winters ago and proposed a more realistic 8a+ for it. Dave Barrens grabbed the third ascent earlier in the month and after watching the video of Dave doing it I was psyched! A few easy set up moves leads to a long lock off a right hand crimp to a slopey left hand rail, this is followed by poor feet and a number of poor right hand intermediates to the top! It was fifth day on but I had done relatively little (even sacrificing training) the previous day as I knew the weather looked pukka! A friend Dom volunteered to come along for moral support and a spot, he was resting on his laurels after climbing The Pinch at Crag X the day before. Arriving at the Crag I felt good, it looked even better in real life and much higher than I had expected but with a perfectly flat landing. I chalked up the holds and to my relief it wasn’t even damp. I had briefly warmed up on the finger board at home but the rock was cold. Needless to say I jumped on, soon realising that the first right hand crimp was sharp! My goes would be numbered! Thoughts of going home with a split tip after a few tries were not appealing. A few more goes and I was close to the long move up to the left hand hold but my skin was becoming wafer thin. I estimated two more goes at most! The long move for me seemed to be a mix of a lock and a pop at the last minute. I put the poor skin thoughts out of my head and pulled on, hit and adjusted the right crimp and surged up to the slopey rail and this time stayed there, for a brief moment surprise stopped me dead, I re-adjusted the hold-it was worse than I had expected- I brought my left foot out onto a very small foot hold and moved my right hand to the first intermediate, as I did this my foot popped, I tensed everything, getting to the top of my out swing I realised I had just managed to stay on. I steadied myself and campussed to the next intermediate, steadied myself again and went for the top hold!! Holding it and topping out from darkness into sun was one of my best climbing feelings!! I had been frustrated with my attempts at climbing outside recently and with this send it all disappeared!! I couldn’t believe first time after doing the first hard move I had managed to continue to the top, especially with the cut loose and campussing!
Ecstatic was the word and relief, my right index wouldn’t have taken another go. Three hours driving (there and back) and £15 in petrol for 7 goes to climb a bit of rock and it was all worth it, having said that the line between success and failure must have been pretty thin. The mental battle to have done the drive again knowing I would only get half a dozen goes would have been difficult! Oh climbing is a funny game!!
I finished the week off with a send of Zoo York, an overhung arête imported directly from Switzerland and Terry, a highball slab involving a mono pinch on pebbles, definitely a more typical gritstone experience!!
A few other ticks during this week of good ‘nick’ included- Domes sit start (Rowtor), Green Man (Stanton Moor), Salle Goose and River of Life (Turningstone).
River of Life, 7c+: Courtesy of Outcrop Films.
Salle Goose, 7c: Courtesy of Outcrop Films.
Contributed by: David Mason
Being British, I love a good winge. Its either too hot, too wet, to cold too average etc. Font had been unseasonably warm – up to 18 degrees in November! And not really dropping below 10 degrees even at night. Still, at least it wasn’t too wet.
When I planned this trip I had one thing on my mind – gecko assis. The perfect font problem revolving around weird moves between terrible slopers. The issue is that for me to link gecko I need perfect conditions, dry, cold and breezy (for Ondra bad conditions and one go would suffice). Sadly this wasn’t going to happen so I had to make other plans. Fortunately font has a bit to choose from so finding something to try until it got cold wasn’t too difficult.
Narcotic is a roof, mostly on big jugs so perfect for warm weather. First session was spent spooging around in the heat figuring out the moves and nearly linking it. After a rest day I was back with more favorable conditions, 17deg! Get in. However it was wet. After walking up that hill I wasn’t going to leave empty handed so out came the towels and after an hour of drying and emptying the finishing jugs of water it was ready for action. After tweaking the sequence (and poor Leo tweaking his knee even more) it was done.
One rainy day we went up to check out Satan I Helvete. Its steep and crimpy with a crux leap between 2 poor edges. It is considered to be quite hard for the grade and the hard climbing is packed into half of 1 move – holding a swing on some crimps. Not your typical font problem. Steep dynamic climbing on crimps is probably my weakest style and I really didn’t think I’d stand a chance so was keen to avoid it.
However in the warm it made sense to stay away from slopers and climb on more positive holds. I dragged people up to spot me way too often, usually finding very poor conditions. Because the rock was cool and the air was warm and humid we were having problems with condensation. The undersides of the boulders were coated in a layer of water at night which would only dry off if the breeze picked up. Eventually the temps dropped to 9deg with a slight breeze. I was really fed up with throwing myself at 1 move which I thought I had no chance of doing, but in better conditions it suddenly felt very possible.
Instead of rushing in order to keep as much chalk on my fingers as possible I was able to relax and climb more slowly, grabbing everything just right and sailing across to the sloping edge with strength to spare (thats how it felt on that go anyway!) After digging my teeth into my chin to kill the swing I paused to catch my breath, even the smallest mistake on the last few moves and I would have been doing battle with that flipping move, again! Luckily I held it together.
photo: Leo Moger
Contributed by: Ned Feehally
As in a winter that is any use to us. Us being climbers. So far its been no use to anyone, last year it was good for kids building snowmen and good business for sledge sellers. At last we have those cold clear crisp days where you remember what the gritsone was invented for. More used to warmer days it feels like cheating! Jerry’s traverse easier than it’s ever felt, even the drop down traverse a path. But the big sloper slappy stuff I still can’t do, that takes a little getting used to, not translating well from indoors and limestone crimps. Hopefully there will be some time. Yesterday (Friday 3rd Feb) was amazing, but it’s forecast snow today!
If you go out know that anything in the sun is perfect, if it’s not, or hasn’t been at all, it’s probably frosted up and unclimable without a brushing.
Contributed by: Steve McClure
So in Mid November last year i came back from one of my most successful climbing trips i've ever been on, YES, me and tom actually managed to find the crag and tick everything that we wanted to
We had been training for this two month trip for two years not knowing how it was going to turn out, so to say we put "all our eggs in one basket" is an understatement. Our expectations on what we wanted to do were HIGH.
Anyway below is a summary (even though its quite long) of our trip
Vedauwoo - Wyoming
This was the first place we visited. It is known as an offwidthing heaven, where the cracks are wide, flared and tough. The reputation of every route in the area being a complete sandbag is known internationally and skin loss on them is a certainty.
Tom and I had only allotted 2 weeks to repeat the areas hardest wide fests and felt we may as well warm up in the country in ‘a hard man area.’ We had set ourselves a goal of repeating ‘The Big Five’ – Vedauwoo’s five hardest offwidth routes, Lucille 5.13a, Spatial Relations 5.13a, On a Wing and a Prayer 5.12c, Trip Master Monkey 5.12b, Squat 5.12b.
In the first week we had both repeated the last 4 on the list all in super quick time and I’d also made the first ever onsight of ‘Squat’ as my first route of the trip.
During the second week the emphasis was put on repeating the nationally famous ‘Lucille’. This is a massively intimidating line, being a 40ft horizontal squeeze chimney roof. I managed to make the 4th onsight of this route, which I was so happy with as it was such an iconic route and one I had been waiting to climb for so long.
As an added bonus, because we finished what we hoped to climb so soon, we managed to climb all the hardest offwidth boulders in the area as well. Most were flashed or onsighted with the two hardest taking a couple of sessions.
Salt Lake City
There was only one route which we had in mind here, ‘Trench Warfare’, Originally put up by ex-pat Brit Jonny Woodward. We knew that it had never been flashed before so (as with every other route) we knew to give it our best shot first go. I managed to flash the route adding an extension to it in the process, and Tom managed to flash the original, then promptly soloed it afterwards, awesome!
Century Crack, Moab, Utah
So this was the route that we had been training towards, for two years, a route strong man Stevie Haston had failed on. A 120ft horizontal roof of perfect size 5 Friend and then another 25ft of vertical grovel.
The approach to the route is a journey within itself. It’s situated right in the heart of Canyonlands National Park, so backpacking permits need to be obtained, 2/3 days of food/water and a massive rack of size 5 and 6 friends all need to be taken down. The drive down is a gruelling 3 and a half hour 4x4 ride which sickens you before you’ve even made it to the climb.
When we first approached the climb you can see it from across the Rim and the whole route is so big it just looks like an innocent hand crack. Then after abbing in and walking up the approach gully it really starts to hit you. The route is an absolute monster, it just blew my mind. I hadn’t expected for it to be so big, exposed and aesthetic. The few photos I’d seen of Stevie working the route hadn’t prepared me for scale of the whole thing.
After we’d finally found our feet again and stopped tripping over things from looking up to much we got to work on the route. By the end of the first day we’d done every move on the route, but only ever done links of 20ft sections.
We only had two days of food, water and permits with us, so the next day we knew we would have to leave after climbing. As we had done all the moves the day before, we decided that it would be a good idea to try the route as a whole to see what it would really be like to try and link the whole thing together. We had left the gear in the route from the previous day of working it and didn’t strip the route as we knew it would waste far too much energy for the rest of the days climbing. Unbelievably both Tom and I climbed the route on our first redpoint attempt to make the FA.
Tower enthusiast Crusher Bartlett, who originally solo aid climbed the route had come down with us and it was so cool that he got to see me and Tom climb the route. There is a piece below of what Crusher said about the route after we had climbed it:
“Watching Pete sending Century Crack was definitely one of the all-time best displays of rock climbing I've ever seen. And that's saying something. I've been climbing over 30 years. In that time, I've witnessed many top climbers: Lynn Hill boldly launching herself up the then-aid climb Vandals; a gifted, inspired Skip Guerin displaying a cat-like grace on the boulders; a young Jerry Moffatt demonstrating his own gift of brute determination and hunger, Ben Moon cruising the Eldorado testpiece Rainbow Wall for its first onsight flash. These ascents are engraved on my brain—the very best climbers pulling it all together, showing the rest of us the potential that we all have, if we could only dig as deep. Thanks Pete and Tom!”
Zion National Park
After climbing Century Crack the plan was to go and try to repeat the former hardest offwidth in the country, ‘Gabriel’. This was only put up in 2009 and had been a project to the previous generations beforehand. It was Pamela Pack who eventually made the FA along with her climbing partner Patrick Kingsbury, who made the second sometime afterwards.
After acquiring some Big Bro’s and a Valley Giant to protect the crack with, we went to find the route. The style of this route hadn’t really been what we had been training for as it was a lot wider and the techniques to climb it wasn’t by using stacks and bat hangs, but by using an upside down chimney technique. This position felt a lot more solid then I had been expecting and I managed to climb the route on my first day trying it.
Indian Creek, Utah
We moved onto Indian Creek where there were two main offwidths that we wanted to do. First was the world famous ‘Belly Full of Bad Berries’. Before going I knew this route hadn’t been flashed and knew that it was my style of offwidth climbing. Professionally I did 10 pull ups to warm up and then managed it on my first go, but not without running it out at the top after the guidebook had sandbagged me on the amount of Friend 5s to take.
Next up was the slightly harder but less well known newer addition to The Creek, ‘The Price of Evil’. It was more of trick route and once you knew the trick to the crux it felt ok. I managed to climb it in a day, which was cool as again, it had previously been a project from the past with Bob Scarpelli trying it and more recently Pamela Pack, before Mason Earle eventually did it last season.
Century Crack 2, Moab, Utah
Nearing the end of the trip we realised we had done all of the main routes we had wanted to do and so decided to go back down to Century Crack to try and do it placing the gear on lead.
We knew we would not be able to place all the gear that had been pre placed when we initially did it, so had to thin down the rack to about half the number of cams we used. Again, we both managed to do the route placing the gear on lead. In the end I placed seven #5 cams in 140ft of climbing making the start of the route incredibly bold. At the end the ground is a lot further away and only massive falls would have been taken if we’d fallen.
I couldn’t believe we’d both managed to do it again.
A load of other climbing was done within this trip, these are just some of the main highlights. It’s definitely one of the best climbing trips I’ve ever been on. Amazing!
I've finished climbing offwidths now, maybe if I find others I will climb them, but for now i have other plans. Lets hope I can reach these aswell.
Contributed by: Pete Whittaker