Dan Varian Repeats Superbloc E8/Font 8aby Kevin Avery- Assistant Editor- UKC Dec/2008
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Now updated with photos
In an exciting weekend of gritstone action, 21 year old Dan Varian made the first ground-up ascent and second ascent overall, of Miles Gibson's Superbloc at Moorside Rocks in the Peak District.
He tackled the route as a highball boulder problem, utilising around 10 bouldering pads for protection and it took him four sessions. Due to the sunny conditions he waited until early evening and climbed the line by lamplight. Dan said that he thought the climb was of the highest quality and for him it ranks as being as good as any of its kind on gritstone.
Superbloc was originally soloed after top-rope practice and given a grade of E8 although in the new Peak District bouldering guide it suggests that highball Font 8a may be nearer the mark. Whilst Dan wasn't specific about the numbers he did say that he felt it may be a tad harder than that.
He cited a list of top climbers (Ben Moon being one) who had tried but not yet been successful as his reason for saying this. One of these climbers, Ryan Pasquill actually got very close himself on Saturday (just before Dan's successful ascent) being robbed by an unexpected slip as he reached for the finishing pinch, so it sounds like a third ascent may not be too far away.
Earlier the same day Ryan had climbed a new highball of his own on the crag above Stanage Plantation. This is thought to be in the Font 7b-c category, and according to Gaz Parry:
"A bad fall from the last move could send you and your spotter down a 30ft gully!"
Read the news report Dan and Ned-Peak District Toy Boys to hear about some of Dan's other recent exploits.
Dan Varian is supported by Bigstone, the UK importer for Five-Ten and Arcteryx. He is originally from Carlisle in Cumbria and is currently a student at Sheffield University. Alongside Dave Bowering and current British bouldering champion Ned Feehally, he runs Beastmaker, a company who specialise in producing high quality wooden fingerboards.
Thanks to Gaz Parry and George Taylor for providing photos and extra details for this item.