Pete's one of those guys that makes your heart skip a beat if you are a climber... his audacious burst onto the scene with the incredible 'Dynamics Of Change' E9 7A, and it's mindbending photo and video coverage was one of the higlights of the last few years grit seasons and for me one of the most amazing grit ascents ever. So I for one am mega-psyched to have him on the Wild Country team for 2011 and pretty keen to see what he'll get up to next...
Pete tells us more about himself:
"Some stuff about me - I got into climbing through my parents, they are really into the outdoors so I didn’t have much choice really. (Not that I would have had it any other way!) We used to have family days out walking, scrambling and multipitching in The Peak, Wales, The Lakes and places like that, we would all follow Mum up as she lead the pitches. This started when I was about 6/7. From this age I also did the usual thing of entering the local comps, I was on the British Competition Climbing Team for about 5 years as well and managed to get to compete internationally which was good. The team trips were usually pretty eventful too!
Throughout this period I gradually progressed with my trad climbing. But it wasn’t until I met Ben Cossey, when I was 16, who came over from Australia that I realised I could climb significantly harder then I was climbing at the time. I started to progress through the grades at a pretty rapid rate, cramming in absolutely piles of routes, climbing everything I could and having a right laugh.
I keep a diary of routes that I have done and looking back at that period of time is ridiculous even for me to look at, I went from climbing E3 5c to putting up a new E9 7a and climbing English 7b, in a year! At the time it didn’t feel like I had taken that big a step, as my progression was fairly even just very quick.
Since Ben went back I have found a new regular climbing partner who can often be found hanging upside down in an offwidth somewhere. Yep that’s Tom (Randall.) He is pretty much as stupid as me and is always up for a good laugh, so since meeting him the climbing trips have been some of the best ever with a lot of my best climbing achievements incorporated in there somewhere. I don’t know how because usually the trips consist of complete epics and ‘Where the hell are we?’ Sometimes I wonder how we even get any climbing done!
Anyway, since this time I have managed to climb at lots of different places and widen the variety of rock I have climbed on, mainly trading it with some sport climbing and bouldering thrown in there if my biceps can take it (they usually say ‘no’ though, but I’m working on it!)
Over the last year I have been getting into the wider variety of cracks (that’s offwidth cracks by the way), I’m pretty psyched for this climbing as it requires a different type of strength that most other climbers aren’t up for using. It makes you try really hard and you know you’ve given every bit of effort after coming ‘out’ an offwidth route, which is what it’s all about.
I have done quite a few new routes in the last couple of years and this is what I really enjoy doing. I have some routes in mind that I want to try in the future, I just need to train harder to make sure I get up them.
Overall, I just love to go climbing whatever the weather with good friends and try and climb to my potential.
Climbing achievements - A few first ascents:
- Dynamics of change E9 7a
- Loose Control E8 6c
- Inspiration dedication E8 6b/c
- Grandad’s slab E7 6c,
- Re-mastered edge E7 6c
- Gobbler’s Roof E7 6c (completely recommended………….)
- Gloves of war E6 6c (first new route abroad)
- Back Down Under E6 6c (my first, first ascent)
Few of my best or favourite repeats:
- Braille Trail E7 6c
- A little Peculiar E7 7b (2nd ascent, first repeat for 16 years, also climbed it without the bomber side runners)
- Ugly E7/8 6b or XS (2nd ascent, first repeat for 17 years)
- Quarryman E8 6c (groove pitch, although I want to go back and do the whole lot)
- Ray’s Roof E7 6c (5th ascent)
- All Elements V11 (2nd ascent)
- A lot of E6’s and E7’s ground up, a couple of E7’s flashed.
Other 'stupid' things:
- Traversed the length of Stanage (4 miles) 2nd ascent
- Record for most outdoor routes climbed in a day, 550 each (with Tom Randall)
- First pair to complete Staffordshire Brown and Whillans Challenge (with Tom Randall).
Wimberry Prow aka Baron Greenback
So Saturday, an incredible Gritstone day.
It’s May, it’s warm, Limestone season is upon us. But for those keen gritstoners, Limestone isn’t here, the Moorland grit is calling. More specifically Wimberry. Tom, Nathan and I were up there on Saturday. Projects all or nearly worked and we were psyched. But for everyone to succeed on there chosen subject was a near impossibility, so how it actually happened I’m not entirely sure! All I can say is it was one of the most satisfying days of grit climbing I’ve had, not just because I succeeded in what I wanted to do but to see my mates pull off some outrageous ascents. First up was Tom, his assignment for the day was Sam’s Appointment with Death. After a greasy slightly shaky start, all went smoothly in the ‘no fall zone’ and Tom pulled off what must be one of the most significant and sought after gritstone repeats. Tom has done a nice two part series to his ascent which you can see here…http://bit.ly/10r0WKo
Next up was Nathan on Order of the Phoenix an E8 (originally E9?). I’ve never climbed with Nathan before so it was really interesting to see how he worked on these gritstone horrors. Watching Nathan solo the route was well impressive, no messing, no dithering, just business, and he was up there before I could even think what had happened.
Then finally it was up to me to try and do my project. My project was the direct start to Appointment With Fear. I remember when I did Appointment With Fear coming back down to the bottom and looking up at the unclimbed prow and thinking, ‘that’s got to be one of the best lines on Gritstone, I want to climb it.’ The protection though? No cracks, pockets or edges will take any sort of gear. Three old aid bolts right in the centre of the route are what entice you and make you think…’maybe, just maybe’ However I heard people talking about how Miles had been trying it. Rumours that he was crimping so hard it looked like his fingers were going to snap, rumours of a Font 8B crux and rumours that it was so brick hard it was near impossibility to stop and clip the bolts. Well it must be all these things right? Only now are we starting to see Miles’ old E8’s being repeated and he did those years ago. After hearing these tales the prow went to the back of my mind and was slightly written off. I’m no Font 8B climber, plus I can’t see any holds on it and thinking about it I’ve never seen any holds on Miles’ other routes and this thing is way steeper then those.
Fast forward a year or two, I’m frustrated that everyone else has cool looking projects and I’m not stuck into anything. I’m tired of searching and scratching out the new lines on my local crags… I want something that’s hard, that’s going to be a real project for me, not just something I can nip up in a session or two, something on grit… yes, I like grit. I do know of one. Nahhhh, that’s way to hard for you… I thought you wanted something hard? Well I do… Well push on then, and go and check it out…When I abbed down the line for the first time I was shocked to see actual holds. Quarter pad, positive, crimpy holds and they all seemed to be in perfect places. If one wasn’t there it wouldn’t have worked, but it all seemed obvious. It was snowing, windy and freezing but I still got my boots on and had a go at the individual moves. After an hour or so of freezing to death and swinging about in mid air trying to jug about and make rope directional’s, I’d actually managed to do all the individual moves, I couldn’t believe it. This thing was on! Rumours of Font 8B had been obviously been Chinese Whispers and f8b seemed like what it might be.
Over the next few months I made 5 or 6 more trips up there working moves, testing the bolts and working out gear knowledge. I then managed to toprope the line once in a oner and that was it, it was time for some leading action. I reasoned that the bolts were good collectively and with a nice soft comp style belay I should be fine if I fell onto them. My plan was, to climb the bold section to the bolts, clip all three of them (they can only be clipped from one position on the route), then down climb to the floor for a rest, then blast to the top in one.
The climbing on the bold section went quickly and smoothly, bolts one and two were clipped smoothly. The third is a little more awkward as it is out of reach, so I hatched a plan to use a bamboo cane as an extendable quickdraw/clipstick on route. As well as the great climbing on grit, I think the quirkiness that each route holds is what brings it to life. Where else would you use a bamboo cane to clip an out of reach bolt on route? Some people might think this is daft, stupid, unethical, but at the end of the day I think its these little things that bring routes to life. After a pumpy down climb and rest, it was on. My first attempt landed me outrageously pumped about three moves from the jug and I was off. Aid bolts held, excellent, round two…
Enter the crux, good crimp, rock round the arête, terrible sloping edge, heel smear, long move to positive edge…breathe…hold the cut loose, get those heels really high by the head, slap slap slap, biscuit, jug, no hands rest, its in the bag. Overall it has to be one of the most satisfying grit ascents that I’ve done. The quality of line, climbing, position, holds, danger and safety are all perfect, you couldn’t have asked it to be better in any other way.
Everyone always asks about grades, I don’t think people should get too hung up about the grade of this one, because it’s the quality that really matters, but if you have to then I reckoned it was tough f8b to toprope. If the bolts hold, it’s safe and hard. If they rip its massively bad news. Just be careful basically, we don’t want another Parthian Shot.
Also should be noted the first 5 moves Miles’ and I started differently. I started round the left side of the prow and Miles was coming from straight underneath. Miles’ way is definitely harder and bolder which is why maybe he never did it (or maybe it was the fact that when I told him I’d fallen onto the bolts he thought I was a nutter, but everyone has different opinions and ratings they put on gear so it’s all subjective). However, either way you look at it both ways are superb and there is no getting away from that.
I have called it ‘Baron Greenback,’ which is a name Miles had when he was working it, and he was the one who really got this route going, so cheers.
Look out for the film of Baron Greenback coming in the next few weeks filmed by HotAches Productions
And just how steep is Baron Greenback...
Carlos Simes sends us this report from the Orco trad meet...
Sunday the 16th of September. We’ve just arrived to Ceresole Reale and so finished another driving periple across: Catalonia, France, the gigantic tunnel of Frejus (11km) and through a last smaller one that led us to the late afternoon light and chiller – than at sea level – temperature of Vall dell’Orco. The event standard was hanging from the front door of a nice alpine Italian construction; inside, a warm room and three gentlemen wearing the, for now on, official yellow badged (Club Alpino Accademico Italiano) jacket, “checked us in” with kind smiles and promising hospitality. A short briefing followed, introducing everyone’s faces, life basics and climbing organisation for the next six days. Cool atmosphere and psyched could be felt! First evening dinner together and bed time.
Big morning action (8.30am) at the outside of the dorm building. According to what would be the daily routine, a type of relaxed army call – poster with climbing teams and related routes/crag names in hands – and laughing mobilisation occurred. Here we go, kindly driven and oriented to the bottom of amazing granite/gneiss targets. Day after day, hand palms and fingers got more wounds and swollen (depending on individual climbing/tapping skills & ethics), meters of crack climbing accumulating and recurrent lines names and settings were discussed at dinner table along with epic Italian menus…good stuff! Thanks WildCountry and the great organisers, namely Mauro, Claudio and Angelo for such a friendly, fanatic and enjoyable meeting; for the opportunity to climb and hang out with people from such different cultural backgrounds, without clinging too much to nationals affinities or, cliches, climbing levels – table seat…Performances: to be remembered by all those who excelled themselves, participated or watched.
And Pete Whittaker writes:
Name/grade of the new route is 'Pump up the Pony' 7c+/8a (trad protected). its a slab, to 45 degree roof, with fingers and flared hand jams. its at a crag called CippoTondo. The crag was a newly developed crag and the guy who developed it took me there to let me have a go on the project which he had previously aided. Oh yeh I managed to do both Greenspit and Gloves of War again (on the same day) somehow!! Think all that jamming practice/training for america had really helped me with just standard hand jamming as the crux thin hands felt absolutely fine... weird!! Having not done any of that sort of stuff since the States I now realise we must have been well on it when we went over there for this route to still feel ok a year later and no specific training for it.
Pete on 'Pump Up The Pony'
Unreformed grit terrorizer Pete Whittaker declares the 2012/3 grit season open with the first ascent of a worrying line at the back cornerof Burbage's dankest quarry. In less than ideal conditions, with wet streaks covered with towels to stop seepage and on a 25 degree day (hence the wait until near dark for the ascent) Pete casually dispatches yet another gnarler!!
Nice to see Pete back and on form after a two month virus which stopped our intrepid hero from walking upstairs without being out of breath!!
Read more about Pete and see more videos here: bit.ly/QN6UU8
Pete Whittaker declares the new grit season open on one of the hottest days of the summer…
It was his mum who gave it away as I rang the house to catch up with Pete “We’re climbing this afternoon then I’m belaying Pete on his new route….oh, maybe I shouldn’t have told you that”
So after a quick call to Pete, “How did you find out??” I ended up spotting and being a ‘pad donkey’ as he sent his new route, (no name yet) but graded E7 6c, and yet another very hard ine to breach the back wall of the second quarry at Burbage South.
Although it seemed the most unlikely day for a new route, with temperatures reaching 25 in the Peak even this couldn’t put off the ever keen Pete. Waiting until near dark and some cool at around 7.30, (yet despite the heat needing beer towels taped to the wall to absorb streaks of water that were wetting his holds!!!) Pete dispatched the very bold route with the minimum of fuss.
Pete himself was pleased and relieved as, after a summer where he’s been laid low with a grim virus and still can’t train, he proved that although he may have lost some strength he certainly hasn’t lost his cool on the grit! The addition of another E7 makes this wall, already containing Pete’s own ‘Inspiration Dedication’ E8 and Si Moore’s ‘French Kiss’ E7, another venue for only the boldest of climbers.
As a bonus since we were already filming in the Peak with James Pearson and Paul Diffley from HotAches we were also able to get the ascent on film which you’ll be able to see soon on the Wild Country websites.
By the way, thanks to the guys (sorry I didn’t get your names) who helped us with the cameras as we ran out of hands due to spotting duties!!
Wild Country are proud to unveil their 2012 UK climbing team - a group of reckless and hardy individuals who help us test and promote our gear whatever the danger and cost to themselves...! Well, it’s not exactly like that, but, led by James Pearson, the Wild Country climbing team is peopled with climbers that we feel help represent the values and ideals of Wild Country across the spectrum of the sport.
So, leading the way with a slew of hard ascents in 2011, from almost flashing E10 to multi-pitch monstrosities like Joy Division and flashing 8b+ is James Pearson, now living in France but originally a Buxton lad and working with Wild Country since 2004. There’s a superb video of James in action on his E10 flash attempt here - http://vimeo.com/25140891.
James Pearson seen here on his flash attempt on Muy Caliente E10
Hot on his heels are the incredibly talented ‘Wideboyz’ team of Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker, who as well as tackling the worlds hardest offwidths – and the first ascent of Century Crack E9 (as you may just have heard about) have produced a load of awesome grit routes in the past few years filling some very cool gaps on the Peak District edges – you can see some Century Crack footage here - http://vimeo.com/35270800. Sheffield based there’s also Ben Heason who’s been working with Wild Country for years and is still sending 8b+ and E8, and the enigmatic Miles Gibson – the quiet man of the legendary super-desperates ‘Superstition’ and Superbloc’ on the gritstone. Also Peak based the youthful Hamer brothers have both been performing superbly in 2011: Ed probably outdoing his brother Sam with his fantastic results in the youth world cup climbing comps with a couple of 2nd places – but Sam showing he’s no slouch winding his neck out with few E8’s on the grit to even the scales – see the Hamers’ in action here - http://vimeo.com/26593785.
Last, but not least, long term teamer, Katherine Schirrmacher is hoping to build on her hard trad and grit E7 ascents after a year out to have a baby and build a very successful guiding business and will be starring in and sharing her technical knowledge in Wild Country’s ‘how to’ video series later this year.
Then up in Lancs the super psyched Jordan Buys is joined this year by his wife and partner Naomi to make an all action team. Both are multi discipline masters, mixing bouldering, trad climbing and sports climbing to a very high standard Jordan to 8c and E9 and Naomi to 8a+ and E7. See Jordan in action here: http://vimeo.com/34862987
Over in Yorkshire, Jenny Woodward, has an incredible resume and after a bit of a stop start year last year after having a baby and suffering a few injuries and only sending up to 8A+(!!!) has some even harder projects on the go...watch this space!
Further north, in the Lake District, Dave Birkett and Adam Hocking are both climbing at the highest level and still doing stunning new trad lines and bouldering at the highest level – there’s a great video of Adam on a new E8 here – http://vimeo.com/25808567
New team member Naomi Buys in action on Snap Decision E7 6C Ilkley...
Meanwhile in Scotland the evergreen Malcolm Smith of has been relentless on rock with a recent new 8c+ Blood Diamond, while the fearless Kev Shields simply sets new standards for his bold soloing and some great winter ascents. And across the ‘pond’ in Ireland Andy Marshall has been representing Wild Country and has also sent some pretty rad lines including E8 2nd ascents and plenty more.
Our boulder team (thought that terms a bit restrictive as they’re more than that) is headed up by the amazing Ned Fehally who seems to be taking bouldering up a notch as well as blurring the lines between highball and routes making some very hard ascents in 2011 including Samson E8 7a, and the Prow E9 7a both solo. See Ned in action here: http://vimeo.com/33103583. Nigel Callender also manages to continually impress, sending 8b+ - http://vimeo.com/20435941 - while studying to be a doctor in Newcastle and taking advantage of the awesome sandstone of Northumberland. Then in the south east the strong Ben Read is helping establish a new wave of sandstone desperates as well as writing guidebooks and promoting the excellent climbing around there. Joining these guys this year is year is Stewart Watson, a very strong climber who’s been competing internationally in boulder comps for a number of years and is adding 8c ascents to his pretty awesome bouldering CV.
We also have some young climbers doing well and with Tara Hayes we have one the most up and coming of the UK junior competition climbers who in her first year managed to grab an overall 6th place in the European Youth B standings.
So a big thanks to all those I’ve mentioned and anyone else who’s been flying the Wild Country flag - and you can see more about all Wild Country’s UK team at our website here:
And to get any news from the team first and fastest you can follow Wild Country on:
Twitter - @wildcountryuk
On our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wild-Country/97486098594
Or to watch all our videos our Vimeo page is here: http://vimeo.com/wildcountry/videos
Here's young gun Ed Hamer doing what he does best - climbing very very well on something that's very very steep!!!!!!