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Earlier this year I spent quite a bit of time – too much time – working on a first ascent down at Shining Cliff. It was a short gritstone route that linked hard bouldering in with some bold route climbing and produced a really cool bit of physically hard climbing. I’d not really spent much time up until that point trying grit routes that featured climbing above about 7b+. I guess this is because you can climb loads of E6s and E7s in good style without having to go above this! Once you try and step outside of this zone though, it’s pretty much obligatory to be pulling somewhere in the region of 7c-8a.

One of the Wild Country reps, James Blay came down with me to Shining Cliff on the day that I wanted to do it. I’d not really prepared him with the brief that he’d be filming me soloing, but I knew he could handle the task! He’s mates with Ned Freehally, Michele Caminati and all those wads, so he must see that kind of stuff all the time right? James?

Well, he survived the experience and me gibbering around like a scared fool and enjoyed himself so much that he even got round to editing a video short of the route – THANKS JAMES!! I have to put this bit in capitals, as he went out of his way to put this together. Nice one mate.

On a side note I’d also like to congratulate Ethan Walker for making the second ascent of this route. Whilst it might not appear that it’s something that’s off the radar in terms of difficulty, he’s really impressed me by doing something that’s technically hard but also esoteric. There’s no real reward of the big lights for doing this route as it’s stuck in a backwater and you’ve got to do it for yourself. What also makes me think that this lad will go far (sorry to embarrass you Ethan if you’re reading this) is that he also did Unfamiliar at Stanage recently. This is yet another route that’s actually got hard climbing and not just a “bold stroll” once you know the moves.

I’m pretty certain that when you combine this attitude of being prepared to travel off the beaten track and tick the “low-lights” for little reward, then there’s great potential. People often go on about what it takes to be a talent in climbing and my personal opinion will always weight a lot towards those who will follow the path a little less trodden and with unbending, unwavering consistency. No backing down. No loss of psyche. These guys go to the top. Nice one Ethan.

Tom Randall – originally published on Tom Randall Climbing