The Staffordshire Nose Speed Record

Whilst out in America last year, Pete, Alex and I went to see a local showing of the REEL Rock Tour that shows every Autumn. The town of Laramie near the wide crack Mecca of Vedauwoo, was hosting a round of the climbing films and one evening we drove down to take advantage of the free screening.

Sketchy Andy doing it his way

At first we were excited just because we were getting to see it a few weeks earlier than anyone back at home, but this soon turned into a massive bout of psyche once we’d seen the “Speed on the Nose” film and also the “Sketchy Andy” short. The latter, was like watching a modern day version of Dan Osman – a Desert Rat by the name of Andy doing anything and everything that you’ve probably never had the balls to do yourself (or is that lack of self-preservation?!). However, it was really the Nose film that got us thinking…..

Route no.430 after 14 hrs of climbing: Pete Whittaker soloing Mantelpiece Buttress Direct (HVS 5b) at Stanage Popular, 142 kb

Pete during the 550 routes in a day fiasco.

We don’t have El Cap in the Peak District, nor do we have zee Huber Brothers or Hollywood Hans…. but we do have our own very special (and very British?) version of this challenge – “The Staffordshire Nose.”

The Challenge

I’m not sure who conjured up this beauty, but I do remember reading Andi Turner’s article in the mags about how he and Mark Sharratt had tried to complete the deed. They’d battled with late starts (isn’t that normal Andi??), Ramshaw horrors and of course plenty of jamming. In the end I think Crack of Gloom got the better of them and they called it a (very long) day just inches short of the finishing line.

The “Staffs Nose” is also known by some as the “Brown and Whillans Challenge” and not that surprisingly asks the participant to climb all of the B & W routes (Western Grit) in a single day. There around 30 of them, which in essence doesn’t sound very taxing. However, if you consider that this includes routes like Ramshaw Crack, Crack of Gloom, Brown’s Crack and Teck Crack, then you start to see the dilemma. The problem lies in the depth of the difficulty that you have to complete rather than the volume – sandbag after sandbag and nearly every route includes some form of desperate jamming.

After Andi and Mark had valiantly battled it out, then I believe that Grimer and someone else tried “The Nose.” Possibly if my memory serves me – Graham Hoey and Mike Waters tried? Ultimately, all parties got tantilisingly close but stumbled at the finishing due to exhaustion, wet conditions, skin loss etc. When Pete and I tried to complete this challenge a couple of years back we knew of all the previous attempts and this definitely spurred us on. By sometime in the evening, we completed the last of the routes to finish in a time of 9hrs 31mins.

So Where’s The Real challenge?

To conclude my initial thoughts about getting psyched on the REEL Rock Tour, I’ve decided to write this blog in the hope that someone out there will get motivated and go and beat mine and Pete’s time. We weren’t really very slick on our strategy and we definitely did take a good long lunch break! I’m really keen that someone out there can get some Hollywood Hans competitiveness going and go and thrash our time – bring California to Staffordshire!

The man himself. Don Andi Turner.

You don’t need to be an awesome climber – most of the climbing is below E2, but you do need to be a decent all-rounder. With some good decisions and some planning I reckon the time can easily go to 7 or 8 hours and maybe less if some risks are taken. Know anyone who’d be keen?

The Rules

As far as I know (Andi correct me if I’m wrong) the rules are:

  1. All Brown and Whillan’s routes at Ramshaw, Hencloud and Roaches must be climbed by both people on the team.
  2. You can either solo the routes or do one lead and one second per party.
  3. There must be no falls on route (by leader or seconder). If this does happen, then either party must lower to the ground and re-start.
  4. The routes can be climbed in any order.
  5. No pre-placed (A la Huber Brothers) protection can be strategically placed on the routes before commencing.
  6. Time starts as leader starts first route and finishes as seconder tops the last route.
  7. Motorised transport can be used between crags.

Champagne always awaits the successful finisher… unless you’re Grimer.