Ray's Roof (E7 6c) is a classic gritstone horror, short and unbelievably savage. The horizontal off-width fissure was first climbed in 1977 by visiting American Ray Jardine and has seen only a few repeats since then. It is one of the hardest off-widths in the country. The upside down body struggle provided a fitting finale for the film 'Best Forgotten Art', seeing film director Johnny Dawes and an all star cast of Chris Plant, Rich Heap, Johnny Woodward and Boone Speed tussle unsuccessfully with the unforgiving foot jams. 'Crack Master' Chris Plant later returned and completed his ascent. Now the crack has seen two more ascents from Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall.
Tom Randall is the British team manager and is no beginner when it comes to hard cracks. Recently he made the first ascent of a Font 8a roof crack near Bath [UKC News Report]. He recounts his and Pete Whittaker's ascents of Ray's Roof:
"We'd both been out a couple of times recently and were really psyched for some burly roof action, so it was perfect that we both got ascents one after the other. Pete managed to look pretty sketchy on the bottom section, but really got stuck in past the lip, with some of the most inspiring climbing I've seen in quite some time. I think his words were "let me rest here a bit, I think I'm going to throw up!"
After this, I knew I couldn't go away empty handed. Reaching round the final section of the crack and realising that Pete was actually using a totally different jam to me was not a good moment and I knew I just to had to shut up and man-it-up. Unfortunately, the shut-up bit didn't happen as I needed a quite a few grunts to get to the top! I didn't opt for the sick bag option..."
Photographer Nick Smith was on hand to capture the ascent. He has a gallery of photo's on his website Climbers.net.
Pete Whittaker is sponsored by Patagonia, 5.10, The Edge Climbing Wall and Tendon Ropes.