Wideboyz 2 Download

Well, that was an exciting weekend! Just a few days ago was the premiere of Wideboyz II at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival. Unlike the viewing of the first film of Century Crack, I got to have a sneak peak of the unfinished product and I have to say it made the night feel quite a bit calmer.

Cobra Crack (c) Paul Diffley, Hotaches

Cobra Crack (c) Paul Diffley, Hotaches

I remember sitting in a Kendal cinema 2 years ago for Wideboyz I and absolutely crapping my pants. I’d never been in a climbing film before, let alone one that had my face plastered all over it. This time, knowing that Chris Prescott and Paul Diffley from Hotaches had made an amazing job was reassuring to say the least. I know it seems a foregone conclusion, but when your year’s climbing efforts are in the spotlight it’s not quite so easy to be casual about. Maybe I shouldn’t care so much, but then again, I’m only human!

So far the production has won Best Climbing Film already at ShAFF which is ace and John Coefield has written a very complimentary review on UKC here. As ever Pete and I will be doing a Europe-wide lecture tour to support the film, so please do give us a shout if you’re keen to see and hear about Pete’s sausage fingers, my nude top rope of Cobra or how you train for 8c on a 8ft wooden crack….

Download Wideboyz 2

Much like Wideboyz I, the film is available to download directly here and all you need to do is click on this link. It’ll take you straight to the download page where you can access it direct to your computer. Simple eh?!

DVD Hard Copies

You can also order DVD hard copies of Wideboyz I or II through my blog (simply comment on this post and I will email you) for £20 incl P&P.

Finally……………….

As an extra something in case you’re not into all the crack climbing – I mean, who is…? – then here’s a short video made by Guy Van Greuning about the recent first ascent of Pure Now E9 6c. Hope you enjoy it.

E is for Experience

I know “E” is supposed to stand for “Extreme” when it comes to grading, but recently I’ve tried to have a very different take on it. In just the last couple of days I completed a first ascent project at Millstone that many people would think is for all the wrong reasons. It’s not a king line, it’s not the best quality rock and it’s certainly not likely to get a repeat.

Why’s that I hear you ask?

Well let me start by talking about the last two “dangerous style” routes I did on grit; The Zone and Appointment with Death. Both left me feeling a little unsatisfied. The Curbar E9 wasn’t quite as dangerous as I imagined (especially not after Oli Grounsell unwisely took the tester fall and was ok!) and the Wimberry E9 wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. Yeah I know I should just take the tick and be happy with it, but in reality I wanted to really push myself in both dimensions. Hard climbing. Hard consequences.

This lead me to scouting around the gritstone edges looking for something that I thought would be of 8a or more to top rope but one where a fall during the hard climbing would lead to hospital. I needed it to be so uncompromising that there was no shirking away from the reality of the situation. If I wanted it, it had to be for the experience. 

When I abbed down the wall right of Master’s Edge at Millstone I had a good feeling that I’d found the right thing. You could get to the shot holes and then break out on the wall right and climb up on small edges and blunt undercuts running it out 45ft from the shot holes before meeting safety again. The best thing was that the crux was on slightly snappy edges and at a height where you’d gone beyond the zone of the jug height on Master’s Edge. Nice huh? 

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Photo by Guy Van Greuning – do not use photo without permission.

Well not really. Each session I had on the route working it, I felt pretty sick thinking about the seriousness of the route. I think it’s either the mark of a truly psychological route or me getting old. I continually brushed and flexed the holds working out which ones were the most reliable and in the end found a good sequence. Sure the odd one broke, but that was just a reminder that I couldn’t f*&k up. I liked that. 

When I eventually decided on Sunday to go for the route I was really lucky that the weather was terrible. It was blowing an mini-gale and it was like Patagonia standing on top of Millstone. This meant that psychologically I had no pressure from the route. It had already given me a “get out” and so I only needed to do it if things felt absolutely perfect. The guys at the crag knew it was unlikely as well, so what harm was there in throwing one optimistic top rope on it, just to see how much I’d get blown about. As I warmed up, it became evident that conditions were actually rather good despite the strong gusts. I smiled to myself and thought about how the route had lured me in and now I was ready. I felt calm and accepting of the factors involved. 

Setting off on the lead I climbed calmly up to the shot holes and explored my head. Everything felt good. I noticed that I’d placed the cam in the hole slightly wrong, but rather than taking this as a portent I simply noted it and stood up into the next sequence. Just before breaking out right into the hard climbing I had a quick shake of the arms and was amazed to feel good. It was just too good. I felt like I was on a VS. Slap out to side pull…. adjust feet….. slap again…. adjust feet again. GOOD. Bone that foothold. Reel that f*&ker in…. slow…. crimp. Bite the tips….pull it hard and slap to undercut…. YES. Ok…. go big now. No thoughts….

OOooop. Yikes. Just for a second or two I fumbled a hold and broke out of the mist. No mistakes though Tom, this is proper. Back in. 

Shake the wrist. Flick, flick. Ok…. in control. High step on the snappy hold. Be accurate. Rock up…. crimp….. crimp…. crumbly hold…. just take it EASY. Hold it light. It’s bomber. Roll out and hit the match…

And then it all came flooding in. The sequence was done and it felt flipping amazing. What a rush. I now just had 20ft of soloing on mellow edges to enjoy on an ocean of millstone wall. What a complete pleasure. It was insane how good I felt in those few moments. Everything I wanted in an experience was right there in just a few Sunday morning minutes. I knew instantly that I didn’t need a hit like that for a very long time indeed. If ever. 

 

 

A Start to the End of the Gritstone Season?

As many of us are aware it’s been a strange collection of weather conditions over the last couple of months and it’s basically been a choice of venues based on which indoor wall is quietest. Local boy Ethan Walker commented on this recently on his blog and pointed out that whilst we can all moan about the wetness, at least we’re indoors getting a little bit stronger….

Finally last week I felt like things took a turn for the better and I immediately reminded myself of the routes that I’d abandoned 2 months ago due to damp. First was a boulder-route link up at Higgar and the other being Captain Invincible at Burbage. The Higgar Tor line has been in the back of my mind for absolutely ages since I saw a thread on UKB about the direct start being done by Ed Brown (Block and Tackle Direct 7B+) and someone saying in the forum that it’d be good to climb that straight into Block and Tackle E6 6c.

When a windy day arrived in amongst the showers last week I packed everything up and got a belay off a mate. When we arrived at the crag it was blowing an absolute hooley which was good for dry rock but not exactly that easy to warm up. After working out an easier method of doing the direct boulder problem (just jump!) at maybe Font 6C it was promising that it’d all link up. Half an hour later and having flailed around even more on the boulder problem I scraped my way up the whole thing for a really rewarding first proper route of the gritstone season. Guy Van Greuning the Sheffywood Film Magnate has made a short video about the ascent, so I’ll post that up very soon.

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Setting up for crux on Block and Tackle E6 6c (c) Guy Van Greuning

Having got that route under my belt I then got really hopeful that my main winter’s project of Captain Invincible might be possible. I’d got really frustrated since Christmas with the holds always being damp or wet but over 5 days of windy conditions had to be good. Surely, surely?!

This route has been a big motivating factor for me in my climbing this winter mainly because it’s one that I’d always written off as being too hard. It was done by Sean Myles at the peak of his abilities and repeated by another Peak master – Robin “The Pocket” Barker. When I’m climbing harder routes I’ve always tended to match myself up in terms of ability with the ascentionists to know if I’m ready for something and I have to confess that those guys always seemed a bit out of my league. Their ascents of this route on the front face of the Cioch block at Burbage have been shrouded in mystery and confusion, mainly due to a lack of information. Not much in the BMC guidebook, nor in the new Peak Rock book and even a google of it brings up not much more than “8b on dubious pegs.”

When I first started working this route before Christmas, it was a bit of a wake up call. I couldn’t even do some of the moves after a few sessions of working, which is never promising. After a while I also tried going on it with a few people who I’d consider being really strong to see if they could show me the way and that I’d just mis-read it all. Nope. I was just not pulling hard enough! Maybe that was what I needed though, as it meant I put my mind into a new gear and decided to get a bit more gnarly. That means for me, going down The Climbing Works, doing some campussing and back-3 finger boarding. I know that’s probably pretty normal for many of the Sheffield boys, but that’s big changes for me! No more cracks. No more hiding behind endurance.

A Christmas of training, a New Year of training and finally Jan & Feb training, finally got me to the base of Captain Invincible last week ready for a lead attempt. Andy Reeve (more E9 belay ticks than Pete’s mum probably?) had come out for moral support after nailing his heel on another one of his weekly grit forays and seemed psyched that I’d chosen to go for the lead just a few hours before needing to go and catch a plane to Spain. Nothing like a bit of pressure.

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Last break before crux of Offspring E5 6b. Photo (c) Andy Reeve

In the end the lead went brilliant and unusually for me, I felt pretty solid on it. There was a bit of waver in the middle where it gets a little interesting if you were to fall there, but I could hear Reeve’s voice below pushing me on. Once you get to the last break (see photo) then you’re into the crux of Offspring and I made sure I shook out fully knowing at least one of the previous ascentionist had fallen here. What an absolute heartbreaker. I’d already pulled on a “back 3″ like it wanted to break my fingers and twisted a pinky mono until I winced, so I had no desire to do that again. I still hurts a bit thinking about it now.

Overall I thought the route was absolutely amazing, mainly because it’s so unlike many of our hardest grit routes in the UK. It’s actually physically hard, you need to be sport fit, there’s toe hooks, heel hooks, mono’s and slopers. Everything you’d want to take to a desert island I suppose. It’d need to be a cold desert island mind….

Gritstone Esoterica

Earlier this year I spent quite a bit of time – too much time – working on a first ascent down at Shining Cliff. It was a short gritstone route that linked hard bouldering in with some bold route climbing and produced a really cool bit of physically hard climbing. I’d not really spent much time up until that point trying grit routes that featured climbing above about 7b+. I guess this is because you can climb loads of E6s and E7s in good style without having to go above this! Once you try and step outside of this zone though, it’s pretty much obligatory to be pulling somewhere in the region of 7c-8a.

One of the Wild Country reps, James Blay came down with me to Shining Cliff on the day that I wanted to do it. I’d not really prepared him with the brief that he’d be filming me soloing, but I knew he could handle the task! He’s mates with Ned Freehally, Michele Caminati and all those wads, so he must see that kind of stuff all the time right? James?

Well, he survived the experience and me gibbering around like a scared fool and enjoyed himself so much that he even got round to editing a video short of the route – THANKS JAMES!! I have to put this bit in capitals, as he went out of his way to put this together. Nice one mate.

 

On a side note I’d also like to congratulate Ethan Walker for making the second ascent of this route. Whilst it might not appear that it’s something that’s off the radar in terms of difficulty, he’s really impressed me by doing something that’s technically hard but also esoteric. There’s no real reward of the big lights for doing this route as it’s stuck in a backwater and you’ve got to do it for yourself. What also makes me think that this lad will go far (sorry to embarrass you Ethan if you’re reading this) is that he also did Unfamiliar at Stanage recently. This is yet another route that’s actually got hard climbing and not just a “bold stroll” once you know the moves.

I’m pretty certain that when you combine this attitude of being prepared to travel off the beaten track and tick the “low-lights” for little reward, then there’s great potential. People often go on about what it takes to be a talent in climbing and my personal opinion will always weight a lot towards those who will follow the path a little less trodden and with unbending, unwavering consistency. No backing down. No loss of psyche. These guys go to the top. Nice one Ethan.

Fast Grit

One of my favourite things about climbing with Pete is that he loves a silly challenge. It doesn’t matter whether it’s painful, tiring, embarrassing or just ridiculous – he’s up for it. I’ve climbed over 500 routes in a day with him, lead Master’s Edge dressed as a transvestite and various animals and also completed the Staffordshire Nose Challenge. 

It’s this “Nose” challenge that I’ve actually grown to be most fond of. It’s an interesting mixture of competitive speed climbing and brutal gritstone crack climbing. Not exactly the day out that most people enjoy, but who said climbing was supposed to be easy?! The task of the day is set out as follows:

1. Climb all of the Brown and Whillans routes in 24hrs at Ramshaw, Hencloud & Roaches

2. Both members of the team must climb each route cleanly and in any order. 

3. The clock starts at the first route and finishes when the seconder tops out the last route. 

4. Beat Andi T’s time!!!

Over the last few years, the challenge has morphed from one where the aim is simply to complete it in 24hrs (it’s actually blooming’ hard) to trying to better the fastest time it’s been done in. Last year the Staffordshire Hotshots (Andi Turner and Pete Bridgwood) broke mine and Pete’s time to set a new record at 8hrs 41mins. They’d prepared well and got some really good section times in, especially at the Roaches. With the record broken, Pete and I started to get really psyched. It was just like Hans Florine and Dean Potter on the Yosemite Nose…. times were coming down and non-serious rivalries developed! 

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Andi T & Pete doing an “Uber-Huber” © Dave Hudson

Last week – after a preparation day the week before – Pete and I went for the record. We were pumped up and amped to the max. I’d even persuaded Pete that stopping for lunch was NOT an option. As we waited at the base for our start time, we felt apprehensive as both of us had a developed a need for frequent toilet stops. I’d eaten a month’s worth of Clif Bars at the Kendal Film Fest the day before and I was paying the price. Guy Van Greuning came out to capture the day’s action on film (by the look of his face at the start I think he couldn’t believe that two climbers could be such idiots and still contemplate this day out!).

The day actually went very badly considering all things. The main problem was that only one route on the whole day was actually dry, due to a claggy mist that enveloped all three crags and later rain. Fortunately one of the first routes that we had to do was the dry one, so somehow Pete and I focussed on the positivity of this and pushed on. After an hour or so, it started to rain and things got fairly critical. Pete’s lead of Dorothy’s Dilemma (very bold E1 5b) was “scarier than Meshuga” in his words and I very nearly fell of seconding it as I tried to pull on holds that resembled bars of wet soap. By the time we’d reached Hencloud and 16+ routes were under our belts, we had entered the zone of no return. We were screwed and we knew it. Our trousers and tops were soaking wet, our shoes were drenched and chalk didn’t seem to do very much except colour the rock. 

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On our preparation day we’d been careful about cleaning our shoes, making sure there were no damp spots on the rubber and coiling the rope carefully. Now, at 1pm on Hencloud we were soloing Main Crack with feet that were so wet that any drying was hopeless. The water seemed to emanate from within! Fortunately Pete and I had a secret weapon. Neither of us ever admit to the other person that we should probably give up. We know that as long as the fateful words are not spoken then failure isn’t an option until literally someone can’t drag themselves up another single move. 

That did nearly happen at Ramshaw though. I was seconding Masochism (how the hell is that HVS???!!) and reached a point of total exhaustion. I was smoked. I couldn’t breathe and my arms wouldn’t bend. I’d gone all-body anaerobic and Pete just sat above shouting  words that made me feel like a hero. 

“Yes! Nice Tom. You’ve got that. Stick it. STICK IT!”

I felt like a deadman walking. Deadman climbing? Somehow his unrealistically optimistic words booted me in the arse and I crawled upwards. I don’t know how. It was so close I felt like I’d just topped out on Century Crack again. In fact I think I might have tried harder on Masochism?! Just half an hour later Pete lead Ramshaw crack in soaking wet conditions and I joined him at the top, slithering into a pile of Tom-shaped clothes. Guy was screaming, Pete was screaming and we were over the moon to get a new record time of 5 hrs and 53 mins. What a day and so happy to have had those two guys to have enjoyed it with. Think I might do a bit more of this! 

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You Can’t Win Them All

One of the big aims for 2013 was to improve my finger crack abilities – the usual methods of systematic analysis of what was needed were applied. I needed better Front-2 strength, more strength in my pinkie in the “drag position” and really good shoulder power endurance amongst other things. Once I (and Pete) had this worked out, we set about training really hard. That’s the easy bit, right?!

You can train undercut monos, right?

Who said monos aren’t fun?

What we realised was that it’s all very well to do the training to increase performance, but how do you know you’re actually improving? Does a Front-2 deadhang set on an 18mm edge lay down on rock? Would a pinkie mono on a beastmaker really make every crack move a rest?

Question 1: Yes!

Question 2: Not really and ended up injuring me.

So what I did, was make a list of finger crack routes in Europe that I wanted to do during 2013 as a way of measuring my gains. I could try a number of real routes on real rock to see how it was going. I booked some trips to Italy and I reminded myself of some UK crack projects. Whilst the Italian cracks went well (8a-8b felt ok), it was the UK lines that were probably the hardest, move for move. It’s all very well pulling off 8a+’s on cracks, but it’s not exactly pushing the envelop is it?

Entering the low crux on Dinas Project (c) Simon Rawlinson

Entering the low crux on Dinas Project (c) Simon Rawlinson

There’s two obvious finger crack projects that I know of in the UK. One is at Dinas Rock in Wales and the other is the infamous finger crack right of Ramshaw Crack. With a couple of sessions over the years on the latter, I have always found the moves totally out of my league. It’s not really route climbing. It’s crack campussing! Three simple, very hard, very painful moves. I guess it’s the epitome of crack power. Climb that and you’ve got the power reserves to climb 9a on crack.

Anyway, back to the other project. Dinas Rock. It’s been a line that I’ve actually dabbled on for over 2 years now (or is it 3?!) and it’s somewhere in the same league and style as Anna Kournikova. Short, very steep, in your face all the way, and even less rests than its Italian sister. It climbs a 3 bolt old sport route to some chains and then continues through an 80 degree finger roof crack on small nuts. The sequence of climbing is absolutely awesome and I was so psyched when I worked out how to put everything together. Every move seems to “wrong hand” you, so half of the difficulty is puzzling out the way to move upwards.

Feet first rules at the lip (c) Simon Rawlinson

Feet first rules at the lip (c) Simon Rawlinson

This year I put some serious effort in trying to climb this line. I was sure that it would be great preparation for Cobra Crack and would also allow me to measure if my strength and power was increasing. Over 4 weekends this summer I relearnt the sequence and started to have redpoints. Each time though, I got shut down on one move. I could do it in isolation, but it was just too close to my strength limit to do when I’d got very slightly pumped. I resigned myself to only trying the route when the conditions were perfect (condensation can be terrible at Dinas) and started making isolated trips to Dinas, trying not to think about the 4hr drive each way. As I got closer to the route, I got more and more motivated and sleeping in the carpark after arriving at 1am the previous night seemed worth the chance of climbing route. In one desperate moment, I even went to try the route on the way to the airport to go to Canada! All was to no avail though, and I ended up going to try Cobra without having completed my “training goal”

Hard floor, happy times

Hard floor, happy times sleeping under the route

Returning from Canada having done Cobra, I knew I was on seriously limited time. I guessed at around 4 weeks of possibly friendly conditions before the rain arrived. I found a couple of days free after returning from the E.O.F.T in Germany and went back for what I thought would be the formality of finishing off the route (I mean, it can’t be harder than Cobra can it?!). On day two I climbed through the crux and found myself at the last hard move. It was so strange… I’d not really worked out how it would feel to get there. How hard would I have to try? Did I need to go static when pumped? Did I really have to shake my foot out, or could I ignore the numbness?

FUUUUUUUUCK…… I fumbled the hold. I was off.

Strangely back at the ground I felt an unexpected feeling. I was psyched out of my mind. Despite the fact that ultimately I’d failed, I found the enjoyment of the climbing so satisfying. I chuckled to myself that I could find such a great piece of climbing on a small limestone roof hidden away in the Welsh valleys. For once, I wasn’t disappointed with a lack of result. I was inspired by the process.

As I sit here writing this, I know that realistically the season is over. Dinas Crack won’t be mine this season, but I gave it everything I could. I slept at the base, I spent nights in the car park in my cold van and I gave up days at work just for the slim chance the conditions might be good. This whole process has reminded me how much I love climbing and why I’m prepared to sacrafice so much for it.

 

Anna Kournikova – Orco Valley Crack Mission

It’s funny when you sometimes reflect on where you were years ago. In the late 2000s, whilst developing new routes in Orco Valley with Pete Whittaker, I came across this mega steep roof next to a waterfall in a small side valley called Val Piantonetto. From the road I could see there was a crack in it, but until I walked up to the base I couldn’t see the size of the amazing splitter right through the centre. Oh my God, it was like my own European “Cobra Crack.” A route that I maybe, just maybe wanted to do one day had it’s own little sister in Orco Valley. What it lacked in length, it seemed to make up for in steepness. What a find!

Since that year, I have on and off tried this route with Pete on various trips. Even during the year that we’d both successfully redpointed Greenspit we couldn’t do the crux moves and I think both of us wrote it off in our minds as just two powerful for the weak trad climber punters that we were. As a consolation prize Pete did a brilliant line that came in from the right to join the final roof of the project called “Fat Tony” which was pumpy, steep and well protected 7b+/7c climbing with an offwidth-box finish. Proper good fun!

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Pete on the “Fat Tony” finish. Hanging out in the box.

After getting really psyched for finger cracks this year, myself and Pete have devised a new training programme of the usual ridiculous methods. As we emerged from the cellar and into the Spring it was time to see if the “pinkies” and “index monos” were on target and we booked some trips. Pete went to Sweden and crushed. I went to Italy and it mostly rained. I mustn’t complain too much, as I did get some stuff done, but ultimately I was really disappointed to not do the project that we’d found all those years before.

This last week, after a trip to Poland and Czech Republic to get scared on the sandstone towers, I headed out to Orco Valley for one last push on the project. My diary had practically no time left in it, and squeezing in 5 days of redpointing seemed a little optimistic, but when there’s no other choice…. what do you do? I partnered up with an Argentinian (but Italy-based) crack climber called Lucas Iribarren who I’d met on a previous trip. If you think you’ve met the most psyched climber ever, well this guy is more psyched! An exceptionally kind, motivated and driven partner is always brilliant and I got bags of it from him in those five days.

We split our time evenly between the FA finger crack and the “Pura Pura” project I’ve also been trying. Good progress was made on the first couple of days and both of us were making good links and Lucas was using his Thai Boxing skills (that boy can fight!) to totally school me in fist-jamming. By day three though, I was red-lining and I could barely face another jam. A rest day was in order.

Day four, I felt a lot fresher and decided to start having redpoint goes on the finger crack.

GO 1: Waaaaaaay too shaky. Nervous as hell and pumped.

GO 2: Much better, but made a silly mistake and slipped mid crux.

I now had to make a decision. I had just one day left (the next day), but only 4 hours of climbing as I had to leave the crag at 2pm to catch a plane. Despite my inner rage at having fluffed the sequence on my previous go, I held back and decided to go all out on the final day. Just two redpoints, all eggs in the basket. Go big, AND go home.

The next morning, I ate just a small breakfast hoping to keep light and went for a run to warm up my body and mind. Walking up to the crag, I felt the usual nerves that you face when picking up exam results. I played through every scenario in my head. The potential success (and various permutations) and also the feeling of disappointment if it all went wrong. Whatever happened though, I knew I’d give absolutely everything. To give myself even more advantage I decide to climb on just one side of a Sterling 8mm half rope and cut the gear down on the crux to a single small nut protecting the deck. Why not, I thought. I’ve got my BMC insurance booked, right?

Mid crux. Two horrible finger locks and a big throw to follow.

GO 1: Good start and feel fresh after the first third. I enter the crux, slight twist of the hips on the hardest move, then I’m at the last move. Shit, the last hard move! Throw long…. throw long….. aahhh! NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Fingers slap the break but I’ve not given it enough.

Anna Kournikova, short & sweet.

FINAL GO: Ok, I’ve got just two hours before leaving to the airport and we still need to get “set-up” shots with film maker Adrian Samarra. As I pull off the ground I tell myself that this is it. No more messing. As I approach the hard move to gain the rest at one third I look down. Bollocks, I’ve forgotten the Friend 4. It’s on the ground. Bollocks, bollocks. I run it out, praying that I don’t fall on this section. Entering the crux, I snatch my way through the moves to arrive at the final throw from a terrible 2-finger lock. YESSSSSSSSS……! I latch the hold in the break. Oh God……………… for some reason I can’t contract my forearm muscles and I can’t hold the break. What? WHAT?! Screaming out in anger I swear at every person and think I can think of and realise that I’ve blown it. No redpoint, no glory, and at least a month of despair until I can return.

Back on the ground, both Lucas and Adrian are mega supportive. I can see they’re gutted for me and look as disappointed as I feel. Looking at my phone, I see the time and know that we have to leave in just over an hour. As I look at the clock on my mobile, cogs start to whir in my brain and I begin to rationalise that somehow I can fit in one last go. One final, final desperate fling. I know I’ve not got time to rest properly and I know I’ll be making Adrian sacrifice on his set-up shots, but I can’t bare to accept the failure.

Working out a minute-by-minute timetable, I tie in for the very last time with Adrian already preparing the fixed ropes and cameras for when I fail. I know all hope has gone, but at least now I’m free of the pressure and I can try without the realistic expectation of succeeding.

FINAL FINAL GO: First section goes badly, but importantly, I do remember the Friend. I feel weak on a hard fist jamming move, but my mind feels free as I know I’m climbing crap and I’m tired. At the recovery point though, I feel light and the temperature of the rock is perfect. I pull through the next sequence of hard finger jams with conviction and despite the lactic acid in my arms, I reach the final throw again. This time, there is no doubt though. I hit the hold perfectly and although I still struggle to hold it, I grimace a little harder and success is in my grasp. After a shake out, I fumble my way through the upper E5/7a-ish offwidth section (I’d not climbed it for 3 years so no idea what I was doing!) and top out with a huge smile across my face. What an end to the trip. With so little time left! With no time to bask in the glory, I immediately start rigging ropes and gear ready for Adrian to film further sequences. Just 30 minutes later we are down at the car, playing AC/DC at full volume and laughing our way to Turin Airport. What an end to a trip!

Yes…. I can go home and Lucas can get rid of me!

So the essential details of the routes? I’ve named it “Anna Kournikova” after the lovely tennis player that graced our screens for a few years. I’m going to go with the grade of 8b+ as it’s certainly the hardest bit of crack climbing I’ve done away from Century Crack. Relative to the other two hardest cracks in Italy (Greenspit 8b & A Denti Stretti 8b/+) I thought it was a significant level above as it took me quite a bit of time and never felt easy even when I did it. Compared also to other things like Profundo Rosso 8a+ and The Doors 8a+, it’s in a totally different league. Although it’s quite a short route, it really packs a punch and I always felt like there was an easier way to do the crux, but none of them worked once you actually climbed into the sequence! All in all, it’s a bit like Mecca at Raven Tor, but in a finger crack. Lovely huh?!