"When the belayer asks to have their own spotter... you can tell the route is somewhat serious..."
The climber we went to film was the youngest from the Whittaker clan. So young in fact, that he had to get permission to leave school early that day in order to have enough time for the climb before it got dark.
It was 6 o'clock. Pete decided he would go for the lead. He hadn't even managed to link the moves from the dyno to the top, but he decided that he was ready. The atmostphere at the crag was tense. His family usually seem pretty blase, certainty that Pete will succeed. Today everybody was clearly concerned.
As Pete climbed higher I was shaking. The other camera people were shaking. His family were shaking. And as he reached the crux Pete was shaking. Everybody was willing him not to fall off. The rock over move took an age, inch by inch he fought and grimaced and slapped and pulled. "On top-rope, on top rope" was the mantra he kept repeating as he tried to gain composure for the final crux. We could hardly watch.
Pete did the final moves and pulled over the top. Relief and emotion was everywhere. Some spectators had crept up unnoticed to watch, and there was a spontaneous round of applause. Pete was now dizzy and had to lie down on the top.
For More Info and Full Photo Sequence: Hot Aches Blog
Pete Whittaker is sponsored by 5.10, Patagonia, Naked Ape and The Edge.