Same question I just mailed the author of the article:
Did Duncan Drake solo the Freny Pillar in September 1984?
Looking at the photos of him I feel almost sure that he followed Martin Hair and I up. We all dossed in that scabby bivvy hut (Voucher or something) and walked down the Grand Mulets the next day. We talked a fair bit but don't remember if he told me his name or not. He had a rather detached air about him so we didn't press him about "who he was" - a solo of the Freny was quite a big thing in 1984 (indeed, perhaps even today).
> (In reply to UKC Articles)
> Entertaining - so what happened to Duncan Drake, then?
Duncan was certainly a little wild... 'a bit edgy'. He had a good heart. It would be nice to think that he was still alive and could sit down and sink a few pints with Basher and laugh about their disagreements of yesteryear. But, sadly, now that can never happen.
To get some perspective. It would be a fallacy to think that Basher didn't do bold as well as hard. A mate watched him do the third ascent of Masters Edge and, I think, the third ascent of Chouca.
Rad's contributions to the climbing magazines has always been very interesting and entertaining but one article in particular stood out for me. It was about the Gordale Revival during the early 1990's and inspired me to seek out some of the bolder lines in Gordale.
I can't wait to get my hands on Mark's new book "A Canvas of Rock" Hopefully it will inspire a new generation to understand and enjoy the fun and fear that can be experienced on Yorkshire superb "trad" climbs.
In reply to Erstwhile: It wouldn't surprise me if he soloed the Freney, he was certainly the type of person who did not go around telling everybody what he had done. I also heard that he soloed the Pear on the Brenva face...
> (In reply to Graeme Alderson)
> Thanks Graeme,
> I used to climb with him circa 1980 when he was at Manchester Poly
Manchester? The Martin Hair I know was at Sunderland Poly in 1980.
He has indeed become a male nurse and despite my efforts to coax him out to Italy (where I now live) to climb once more, so far he has resisted (although with some moments of weakness, I think).