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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

More 3 Star Routes on the Diamond

It's funny to think that when climbers started re-visiting the Diamond back in 2009 the hardest route was 8a+.  Considering it was one of the biggest, steepest, most impressive bits of rock in the UK the years of hibernation had ceased development despite the obvious soaring project lines.  The amount of unclimbed rock was gobsmacking, the lines of the future were there staring us in the face.  After a couple of years of consolidation Neil Dyer struck first (after two failed seasons by yours truly).  The Brute was an old project and the stand out hard line that the crag had been waiting for and deserved.  Despite this it was still only 8b (albeit a hard one), which is a fairly modest level in this day and age.  This crag had to have some high 8's/low 9's, it was too impending and impressive not to.  In 2012 Pete Robins struck to give the crag its first super hard route.  Diamond Dogs features some immaculate hard climbing, Pete battled through terrible conditions to get it done.  It still has an extension that will take it to the top (it got wet so Pete couldn't couldn't finish where he had initially intended to).  Two years ago Ben Bransby, one of the best climbers in the UK came over for a piece of the action.  He took the bull by the horns and along with Sam Whittaker bolted an extension to The Brute.  Steve Mayers had planned to take The Brute higher up the crag just below Diamond Dogs extension lower off.  Ben saw the potential for a more direct extension that had some amazing rock and was considerably harder that the extension to the left.  A super project was born, climb The Brute, one of the best 8bs in the country and then continue direct to the top of the crag with another 8a+/b pitch on top.  The extension was different in style to The Brute but was equally amazing.  The rock changed from the slick rock of The Brute to rougher and more grease resistant stone.  Also whereas the Brute was in essence a sustained power endurance romp the top extension had shake out jugs but with hard boulder problems in between.  The first job however was to tick The Brute and Ben managed this with minimum fuss in 2012.  He knew the challenge that awaited him and the fitness levels that he would have to acquire to clip the lower off of this 30 metre monster.  Ben recognised that with the crag having such a short season, with it being away from home and with it having somewhat fickle conditions he would have to return prepared and be clinical when Diamond season came.  He went away and in winter started to build up the massive fitness needed.  He did a lot of circuits on his home garage and did plenty of shaking out practice, he knew that would be key - if he could could recover on the top shake outs he'd be in with a shout.  On his first session he was surprised to link it from the top from the 3rd bolt, it seemed all his hard work had paid off and he knew it was on. The next day was greasy to begin with but he got through The Brute on his 2nd redpoint.  This is where he needed those rests to count.  I was hanging from Diamond Dogs filming, the shakeouts were a god send for me as it meant i could jug up as Ben was shaking out.  It was incredible to watch, Ben grunted his way through the hard moves and he soon found himself a couple of metres below the top on a big hold but still on very steep ground.  After all that effort it would be heartbreaking to drop the finish now, he came to 50/50 moment as he eyed up the top of the crag but made no mistake and with another grunt pulled up the rope and clipped the belay.  The route (currently unnamed) is without doubt one of the best routes in the UK and i don't think it would be out of place at any classic crag in the world - it's that good!

The line:

 Ben was a little unsure about the grade as it had gone down so quickly but 8c/+ seems likely (read probably 8c+ !)     The footage is some of my favourite ever, here are some stills but they don't really do it justice:

Pete Robins also got in on the action by despatching a project that Chris Webb Parsons had tried a couple of times last year.  Chris was thrwarted by shit conditions and seepage but this year the crag is dry and mint.  The line in question does the first few juggy moves of The Waiting Game then blasts straight up a perfect 45 degree overhang - amazing board climbing!  It then joins the top diagonal crack project and climbs this to the end.  Pete put a lower off in above the crack at the end.  The last move of the route is a big powerful move which isn't too bad on its own but heartbreaking from the start.  The line may not be a big soaring line like Ben's new route but it is 3 star climbing in its own right.  The moves and holds are amazing and its a draining power endurance romp.  Pete kept dropping the last move but it went down soon enough- The Pink Panther 8b+!
Film trailer:

Fresh Meat Trailer from Chris Doyle on Vimeo.

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