Andrew EarlTyneside strongman Andy Earl has had an impressive year both on plastic and off. Like other top UK boulderers Andy has been climbing problems across Europe starting the year off in Font with an impressive tick list including Tigre and Dragon 8a, Verdict 8a and also Never Never Land 8a, but not before one of the comedy moments of the year after falling from the last move. Never Never Land 8a Earl was also able to make incredibly short work of some hard problems in Switzerland tallying six 8a's three 8a+'s and five 8b's including the stunning Vecchio Leone, which isn't bad going. If you think that's a good effort check out and typical Earl summer holiday tick list in Targasonne, from his blog: 12-Aug Nazgul 7c 2-Go Clem Rit 7c
13-Aug Sing while you may (du fond) 8a 2-Go I shot Sarconazy 8a Flash Psoas Hole 8a+
15-Aug Tarite de demonologie 7c Flash La beaute de la chose 7c+ 2-Go
16-Aug La beaute de la chose (da) 8a+ Flash Black bloc 7c 2-Go Black bloc 8a Flash
18-Aug Orgasm Machine 7c+ Jump Flagellun Daemonium 7c Jump Andy was also active on home soil investing some time in his love of highballs, notable ascents included the pristine arête of Careless Torque 8a, ground up (Ground up is attempting a problem from the ground without practicing any of the higher moves with a ladder or top rope). In Yorkshire, Steve Dunning's testpiece Hi Fidelity 8b had seen only one other ascent from the “Energizer bunny of Grit” Ben Moon. After a quick look on top rope Andy dispatched this and celebrated quietly. Hi Fidelity 8b On his own turf in Northumberland Andy made quick work of The Magician 8a, which could weigh in at E8 in old money. The Magician 8a Also new to the County courtesy of Earl this year is Blood Sport 8b, located on the ever popular Turtle Rock Boulder at Shaftoe. This is an awesome block in itself jutting straight out of the hillside creating the big roof which Blood Sport tackles. The quality of the line was confirmed by a series of raids from hopeful parties looking for the second ascent, but to date this remains to be claimed. In amongst all of this Andy also managed to achieve one of his great ambitions, a World Cup win. Andy's name has been synonymous with competition bouldering for years now and he's consistently been top of the boards on UK bouldering ladders. Find an account of his win on his blog andrewearl.blogspot.com and at www.e9climbing.nl
You can follow Andys' climbing adventures at his blog: andrewearl.blogspot.com
All was captured on video by Crabstix Productions and will feature in The Uprising due for release around October."
Of course, Pearson transferred his awesome power and technique to routes with his historic ascent of the groove below Fern Hill at Cratcliffe Tor. 2008 looks like being an interesting year for James Pearson who is currently snow boarding in Chamonix before heading out to China on a trip organised by his sponsor The North Face.
You can follow James' climbing adventures at his blog and website: www.jamespearsonclimbing.com
Tyler LandmanYoung gun Tyler Landman (dual UK and American citizen) has continued his amazing form this year beginning in Hueco Tanks, America's bouldering Mecca and home to many of its hardest problems. Hueco is an amazing playground with classic hard test pieces by the bucket load, all characterized by the steep powerful nature of the climbing. Landman soon got to work and Luther 8b soon fell though Tyler thought it to be soft for the grade. Next up was El Techo de los Tres another another 8b, despite climbing this quickly Landman felt that it was not suited to his style, unlike Crown of Aragorn 8b, which he climbed in five goes on his fifth day on. Jamie Emerson climbing Crown of Aragon 8b After spending a bit of time cruising around on V11, 8a territory (for a rest) Landman upped his game again to send Coeur De Leon a hard 8b first climbed by bouldering legend Fred Nicole almost ten years ago. Not one to rest on his laurels Landman set his sights on another more recent Nicole test piece Nagual another crimpy offering originally graded 8b+ before the demise of a key hold brought the grade down to 8b. Ok that's the first two months of his year covered and we've already tallied five 8b's - there must be something in the water. In vogue at the moment amongst the American bouldering community are the extensive boulder fields of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, which is where Tyler decided to concentrate his efforts during the second half of the year. This started out with an astonishingly quick repeat of what was at the time the hardest problem in the area Ode To the Modern Man. Daniel Woods first climbed this in 2006 giving it the grade of 8b+, but after repeating Fred Nicole's Terre De Sienne in Hueco (eight attempts), also 8b+, upped the grade to 8c. Landman climbed the line on his third day of attempts, which are limited by the skin destroying nature of the holds and the fact that it's ridiculously hard. Ode To the Modern Man 8c Not content with repeats Landman made a swift, one-day ascent of a brand new problem The Power of Ten graded 8b and involving ten moves of steep powerful climbing (see what he did there). Then it was off to his second objective of the day a flash of Lone Star 8a The Power of Ten 8b Then it was back to the UK for swift visit. Despite poor weather Tyler was keen to join in on the North Wales scene, which has been buzzing this year with new problems left right and centre. Typically steep ground was top of the menu and Landman managed to make short work of Mr Fantastic 8a+ made famous by a ripped Mark Katz bouncing his way across it on Stick It and managing to change his shoes before the top out. Then it was time for a true test of power, Parisellas Cave. Landman had been previously unimpressed by what the cave had to offer and vowed never to return but soon changed his mind after a repeat of Halfway House 8a+. Halfway House 8a+ While Landman was in the UK, Daniel Woods, the American bouldering superstar stepped in to make the first ascent of what was known as The Green 45 Project at Rocky Mountain National Park. This pristine tilted wall had attracted some of the worlds best climbers including Dave Graham who stated that it was the hardest boulder problem he had ever tried. Naming the problem Jade Woods gave it the mighty grade of V15 or 8c creating a new contender for the hardest problem in America. First Ascent of Jade 8c by Daniel Woods: video by Big Up Productions Clearly the psyche was on for Tyler and after a summer trip to Squamish to climb with Tim Clifford and check out The Singularity a potential 8b+/ 8c problem put up by Tim this year it was straight back to Colorado for a repeat of Jade. Tyler's thoughts on his ascent can be found here on the Moonblog Still not satisfied and hot on the heels of repeating all of Daniel Wood's hardest test pieces in the area Landman put the hours in working Aslan, a monster linkup of an 8a and an 8a+ to give a 25 move 8b+ leviathan. Tyler spent a few days gradually building up the necessary power endurance and refining his sequence till he finally found himself pulling over the top. After a quick trip to Bishop where he took the opportunity to repeat The Swarm a crimpy 8b+ established by the UK's Matt Birch, Landman returned to find virgin territory in the form of Midnight Express a problem featuring an adventurous top out which he though warranted the grade of 8b+, confirmed after a swift second ascent by Daniel Woods. Video at Moonblog. I have concentrated on the most significant ascents made Landman during this year because there are so many repeats and first ascents of 8a and above it would take more bandwidth than UK climbing could provide to document them all. Fortunately 8a.nu has most of them here in list form here and this list makes for astonishing reading, that's about sixty eight problems of 8a and above, nineteen of which are 8b and above. If he continues at this rate he'll have to retire and do something else 'cause he'll have ticked Earth by the time he's about twenty three.
Gareth ParryGareth Parry began the year climbing in Font with 'legend of the forest' Jacky Godoffe, swiftly dispatching two 8a boulder problems on the first day of the year namely Tiger and Dragon at Rocher Greau and Verdict at Rampart. The rest of the British bouldering team then joined Parry, and many classics were despatched in fine style and attire, videos available www.youtube.com/parry collection Back in the UK and Gaz didn't wait around for long, he made an impressive repeat of the first 8b seen on shores Eight Ball, before bouncing back out to font for a quick repeat of the mega classic Fred Nicole test piece Karma. Then it was time for some limestone action. Parry is regular customer for the brutally steep offerings that Parisella's Cave has to offer. Known to the faithful that visit the cave regularly as the Cave of Justice, Parisella's may not be the most aesthetic venue but the climbing there is some of the best around with linkups galore and individual power classics like Rock Atrocity and Lou Ferrino; two of the UK's most sought after problems. Parry's first big success of the year (after making short work of the Greenheart Connection 8a+) came with the conclusion of his long-term endeavour to repeat Directors Cut 8b. Originally climbed by Jamie Cassidy in 2004 , who was under pressure from Malcolm Smith for the first ascent, this unrelenting link up follows Lou Ferrino before breaking right and finishing up Trigger Cut; that's about twenty-three moves of solid font 7c+ roof climbing. Directors Cut 8b This success seemed to unleash the floodgates for Gaz as a string of repeats and new lines followed, the first of these being In Life climbed by Danny Catell this problem links In Hell into Cave Life at a power sapping grade of 8a+ Cave Life 8a+
You can follow Gaz's climbing adventures at his blog and website: www.gazparry.co.uk
2008 has started well for Chris, in January he repeated Lo Lo' 8a+/V12a problem first climbed by the legendary power fiend Paul Higginson back in 2000, down at Porth Ysgo, North Wales. Then yesterday, Monday 11th February he visited Craig Y Longridge in Lanacashire and established a 7c/V9 sit down to a Mick Lovatt problem from right under the noses of the locals and flashed an Ian Vicker's 7c/V9.
The Elite UKBouldering Inventory
1: Ullola Font8b
2: Cypher Font8b
3: High Fidelity Font8b Peak District - Top 3
1: Voyager (ss) Font8b+
2: Stamina Band PUTP Font8b+
3: The Ace Font8b Wales - Top 3
1: Pilgrimage Font8b+
2: East Coker Font8b/+
3: Directors Cut Font8b Lake District Area - Top 3
1: Walk Away (ss) Font8c
2: Shadow Play Font8c
3: Il Pirata Font8c Northumberland - Top 3
1: Monk Life / Font8b+
2: Levianthan / Font 8b+
3: Lothlorian / Font8b Scotland - Top 3
1: Sanction / Font8b
2: Super Size Me / Font8b
3: Pressure / Font8b North West - Top 3
1: Gaskins Slab / Font8b
2: Super Submarine / Font8a+
3: Traverse of the Gods / Font8a Ireland - Top 3
1: Darkness Before The Dawn / Font8a+
2: Dutch Gold / Font8a
3: Johns Crimp Problem / Font8a South West - Top 3
1: Aching Balls / Font8a
2: My Chemical Romance / Font8a
3: Guy Fawkes / Font8a? South East - Top 1
Chimera / Font7c+ UKBouldering.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Dixon - age: 22 - Ambleside
"I am almost entirely taken by bouldering, nothing else gets me psyched aside from the odd bit of easy winter climbing when the conditions come good. My best climbing experience thus far has been doing Tower Ridge in winter, and after a frustrating week in Fontainebleau waiting for the humidity to subside, getting Carnage Le Joker and the Cul de Chien roof all on the last day of the trip."
He works at Lakes Climber, Ambleside. Ask him to show you his non-lined leather boots that he walked from Ambleside to Newcastle in.
Tom is also a gear reviewer for UKClimbing.com and has reviewed Snap Pads, Moon Bouldering Mats, eVent Fabric, the Boreal Mutant, the Scarpa Stix and the Moon Fingerboard You can read these reviews by going to Tom's UKClimbing.com profile, here
Today Tom is taking advantage of the glorious weather and is out bouldering at Earl Crag.