Solly Kemball Dorey on his First Ascent of Tempest in a Teapot, 8B+

© Leo Skinner

Earlier this year, Solly Kemball Dorey established a sit start to an existing 8A+ boulder, The Tempest (f8A+). He named the boulder Tempest in a Teapot, and gave it 8B+, making it one of the hardest boulders in Wales.

The past year has seen Solly going from strength to strength, with two 8C ascents to his name in 2022, in Paradise Found (f8C) and The Story of Two Worlds (f8C). Tempest in a Teapot was his fourth FA at 8B+, and his twelfth at the grade overall.

With Solly having since identified Tempest in a Teapot (f8B+) as the finest of all his first ascents, we got in touch to ask about his process on the boulder, how it breaks down, and his plans to take on one of the hardest boulders in the UK.

What was it that drew you to the boulder?

I had heard there was potential for a hard sit start to The Tempest so I thought I would go have a look. The first session I had on the bloc the stand start was soaked so I just tried the sit move and managed to find some beta that I thought would work. This is what really enticed me.

Talk us through the sit start, and what it adds to 'The Tempest'?

The sit start adds four moves into the stand, the first two are relatively easy, however you then have to do a pretty hard foot move which requires a lot of tension. This can be skipped by doing the foot move and then moving the hand, but the hand move is then equally as hard. The third move is a bit of a blind cross over to a poor sloping side pull which also requires a lot of tension through the left foot. The fourth move is definitely the crux coming into the undercut that you start from for the stand start.

I used what could only be described as a toe hook drop knee which apparently Spanish climbers call a 'colibrí', and the throw up into the undercut. From here you are into the stand, however your left hand is in a worse position so it makes the first move slightly harder. Overall I think this adds somewhere between 8A+ or 8B to get into the stand.

How would you describe the boulder as a whole? Is it the same style the whole way through or does it have distinct sections?

The climb is very tension dependent and all revolves around toe hooks or toes as well as the left shoulder and for me it was very wristy. The style is pretty consistent on mostly slopers or sloping crimps with relatively big moves. The climbing and holds are some of the best around in my opinion, with the only downfall being a drop off.

What was the crux of the boulder as a whole?

The crux move was definitely the fourth move and doing it from the ground felt near impossible. Luckily I only had to get through that move twice, managing to do the boulder the second time I got through the crux.

Did you have to do any specific training for it?

The only specific training I had to do was some wrist strengthening exercises.

How long did you spend working the boulder in total?

It ended up taking six sessions completing The Tempest on the second session once it dried out. For anyone wanting to try it I would recommend waiting till summer as it will more likely be dry.

How does it compare to other boulders you've established or repeated at the same level?

For me I think it fitted my style pretty well which makes it hard to compare to other blocs. It feels a similar level of difficulty to Practice of the Wild so definitely at the top end of 8B+. It potentially could be 8C, but I guess time will tell.

You seem to enjoy a mix of repeating top-end boulders and establishing your own hard boulders, tell us a bit about how the two processes differ for you, and what you enjoy about each:

Both repeating and establishing boulders have their perks. Establishing boulders definitely requires more patience and problem solving as you have no reference to anyone doing it. There's also the thought that the boulder is not possible or you are not good enough to do it.

At least with repeating boulders you have a pretty good gauge as you can watch videos of other people doing them and they have already got a grade so you have some sort of a ball park to how hard it will feel for you and you know that it is possible. I personally prefer the idea of first ascents because of problem solving, but on trips repeating boulders is my preferred method just because there is so much to go at!

What else are you working on at the moment? Any trips planned in the near future?

At the moment I have been trying Isles of Wonder SDS (f8C+), and plan to go up to North Wales for the month in May to try get it done. After that I'll be heading out to South Africa in June.

18 Apr

Yes Sol, nice one! :)

Reminds me of when Dave MacLeod repeated The Tempest (IX 9) and did a blog post entitled "Tempest in a Teacup".

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