It was all kind of going to plan originally and then things just got messy.....
I think it partially started with Trench Warfare, 5.12d. After us both flashing the route (this route couldn’t have suited us better) I decided to go for a tickle without a rope. Generally I’m a complete pansy about stuff like this, but I just felt so good on the day the option of decking out on my head from 20ft without spotters didn’t even cross my mind. After doing this I think Pete and I definitely hit a new level of confidence and we finally started to believe in ourselves a bit more.
|Tom bouldering on Trench Warfare.|
Century Crack (by Pete)
Moving on from Trench Warfare we were now into double figures of the number of hours left before we were able to get onto Century. Two years ago when we started training for this route it seemed like a joke that we’d ever reach the base, but now we only had 48hours until we could actually get on the thing. The morning of the first day on the route I think we could both barely contain ourselves when looking up at the route. The roof is actually the biggest, baddest thing I’ve ever seen. In fact it’s so big it dwarfs its own proportions.
|Pete feeling like he's back in my cellar|
We didn’t mess around and tried not to get too psyched out. We did all of the roof section in 10-20ft sections (resting after each section) straight off, putting the cams in on lead as we went. I couldn’t believe that we’d both just rinsed across the roof so quickly on our first go. It felt like I was back down Tom’s cellar ticking sets of 100ft sections of Wide Pony again. I thought;
“Well this is a bonus. Tom’s built a cellar out of old kitchen worktops, which seems to have worked as it feels as if I’ve been working on Century back in Sheffield for two years. Niceeeeee!”
We worked the crux end barrel and the heart-breaker grovel top out which had a slightly different sequence of knee locks, leg hooks and dangling squeeze chimneys, then called it a day.
|Pete nearing the lip on Century|
The next day we wondered whether we were being to over optimistic and that actually linking the whole thing together would be monumental. Luckily, we’d spent too many hours hanging upside down like a fruit bat for that to be true. Hanging upside down with hand stacks on this thing felt like being asleep. Well, not quite true - it actually still felt like a ‘tricky little number’ especially with the rope drag at the end that nearly pulled me off.
Overall the massively specific (you could say lucky?!) training had paid off in huge bundles of Edale hay stacks.
|Pete topping up on his training just before getting Century|
So, that morning we both had a bit of Century Crack for breakfast, and that was a two year project done. BOOM!
It was also pretty cool that Crusher Bartlett (who solo aided the route back in 2001) was there with us to share the final chapter of our massive journey with us. He also conjured up some killer tortilla wraps as well!
Well what shall I do with my life now? Hmmmmm go and climb some more wide I think........
Gabriel (by Tom)
Fresh from our success on Century, we arrived in Zion a few days later nearly healed on the scab-front. Whilst I felt physically in the best shape of my life, my mental state was far from it. It was almost as if I’d achieved on Century too early – I’d built the route up to be bigger than it was and I just wasn’t ready to move on. I’d almost go as far as to say I felt deflated from getting Century so quickly and so when I arrived at Gabriel I just wasn’t as hungry as usual. Some of the fight and keenness had gone...
|Gabriel vs a Valley Giant|
Fortunately Pete, was being his usual silly self and soon cheered me up with some crag-antics. Big Bros were fondled with, the “Private Pirate” was simulated and gritstone thrutches remembered. Anyway, enough of my moaning..... the route, the route! The climb and first free ascentionist, Pamela Pack were the recipients of the Golden Piton award a couple of years back for trad climbing and in some ways I was a little confused when I found half the route’s gear to be bolts – perhaps it’s a sport/trad hybrid??!
|Looking up at the roof crack of Gabriel|
That aside, the climbing is absolutely fantastic. Invert squeeze with groundfall potential, into some hardcore “Private Pirate” into a final section of invert and blue collar grovelling. We did the route in the same style as the first ascentionist with the gear already in place from our working attempts. Overall, the climbing was harder than Gobbler’s Roof (5.13b) and very similar to Thai Boxing (5.13c in ours and Haston’s opinion) – so perhaps 5.13c? Compared to the Vedauwoo routes we’ve done earlier in the trip, it’s really quite a bit harder and all credit to the FA for getting this done.
|Do we actually know what we're doing?!|
After working on the route for only a couple of hours, Pete duly dispatched the route in front of Chris Alstrin’s rolling cameras and I had to come back the next day for the mop-up duties. What was interesting about this route for me, was that I couldn’t fudge the sequence at the crux, which indicated that it really was quite hard. I had to get it exactly right to pass the 2nd and 3rd quickdraw and no amount of burl could box me out of the situation. Many other routes on this trip, we’ve tended to tick with somewhat poor beta, but this route didn’t allow that.
|Chris Alstrin filming some of the usual grunting|
|My daughter Hannah testing gear|
|I owe these 2 girls A LOT! My wife and daughter...|