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Friday, 4 October 2013

What a year!

I spent the start of the year on a gas plant wondering if my project down Pigeon's Cave would dry out. Now I'm there again with the route in the bag and I've been pondering those emotions we go through when trying to finish up these new routes. Most redpoint seiges are stressful but it always seems more heightened to me when the route in question is a new line. I personally always feel extra pressure with a new route, it feels part of your local legacy that you really want to get finished especially with new guidebooks coming out! It occurred to me that quality new routes on British limestone are scarce resources that are inevitably going to dry up at some point and it's important to try and enjoy them even when the going gets tough. Pete Robins said to me after doing Dark Energy: "you spend most of the time worrying about not doing them". So true! When you're in that moment of stress and despondency on a project you crave closure. But i think its important to try and cherish the whole experience. It can be a rollercoaster but ultimately the lows make the highs.

The sport season is winding down and what a season it has been. After the washout of 2012 we really needed a year of good weather and boy did we get it. The amazing first ascents kept on coming. Pigeon's Cave got the shortest 8c in the country and one of the most impressive, unique hard routes in Dark Energy. Ben Bransby completed The Beast, probably the best 8c in the UK and also a hard 8b+ to its right. A list of the new grade 8's so far:

Pump Up the Jam 8c, Pigeon's Cave. (Pete Robins)
Follow Your Heart 8a+, Pigeon's Cave (Ben Bransby)
Dark Energy 8c+, Pigeon's Cave (Pete Robins)
Speckled Jim 8b, Pigeon's Cave (Chris Doyle)
The Beast 8c, The Diamond (Ben Bransby)
The Pink Panther 8b+, The Diamond (Pete Robins)
The Tide is High 8a+ (dws) , The Little Orme (Pete Robins)
Cherry 8a+, The Diamond (Tommy Chamings)
Beauty 8b+, The Diamond (Ben Bransby)
Hades 8a+, Devils Gorge (Owen Davies)
Cerberus 8a, Devils Gorge (Ally Smith)

That's 11, a couple shy of 2011 which was the most frenetic year of new routing ever. More importantly every route is 2 or 3 stars. Cerberus is the only link up and it's a pretty good one. The Beast and Dark Energy are nationally significant hard routes.

My own climbing has had a bit of a disappointing end. I felt really good in early September but i hurt my finger doing Moonwalk down LPT. It felt better a few times but always stiffened up again after getting on something hard. I was very close on Insomnia at Dinbren in quick time and Masterclass on the Orme but work and injury have put an end to them for now. I checked out Owen's route Hades last weekend, its very cool and the should become popular. The first half is a 7c called Undwerworld and that is excellent in itself.

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