I am a sport climber. It says so in my DNA, I am sure it does. If you cut me open I would read sport climber down the middle like a stick of rock. So how come I have barely tied into a rope since Christmas? I am not injured, I am not sick, I am definitely psyched. What’s going on? I like a challenge. In fact, I really like a challenge. Point me at something I am bad at and I am there. In fact, if you cut me open down the middle it would probably say that inside me too. Which probably explains why I got sucked into a boulder problem project at Raven Tor: Ben’s Roof. I am rubbish at bouldering, I am rubbish at roofs, I am (if I am honest with myself) a bit rubbish at projects too. It was the perfect challenge.

Ben’s Roof is amazing – steep burly climbing through, you’ve guessed it, a roof, involving kneebars, 2 finger pockets, crimps and pinches. There aren’t many problems like it in the UK, and being a Peak District classic it’s on the wish list of every aspiring local climber.

My first forays did not go well. It was indeed true that I was terrible at roofs. I had absolutely no idea how to climb steep rock and it took me many sessions to learn how to do the moves in isolation. Still, I am route climber so linking them together once I’ve learnt them should be the easy bit, right? Wrong! After a few weeks of trying it I felt I was getting close, falling 2 moves from the end of a 17 move problem. Several sessions and 18 goes later I was still falling in the same place. Aghhhhh! This was when I had to face up to the uncomfortable truth that I was indeed also rubbish at projects. On every project I have ever had I have developed “stopper move syndrome”, falling on the same move countless times when I am not tired. Essentially, I was a choker. Time to sort it out. An evening’s googling revealed some interesting research into the best way to prevent choking in sports events, and I decided to try out the suggestions. Magic! That was the last time I fell off that move. A session or two later, with the right conditions and my new mental tricks the roof finally went down. Boom! McFlurry please.

Bens Roof from Stuart Littlefair on Vimeo.