Pete Whittaker (17) made the long awaited second ascent of Paul Higginson's A Little Peculiar (E6 7a/b) today on the Roaches Lower Tier.
The route is described in the Roaches guide as 'a one-armed footless mantelshelf onto the sloping lip, and may be one of the hardest moves of its type in the world'. Pete finished up Elegy (E2) and later, when asked by me
"So, is it 7b?"
Pete stated "Yes, I reckon so!"
Pete headpointed the route with relatively minimal practice and was still falling off a lot more than getting up when he went for the lead. The route was powdered in snow in the morning which Pete gently wafted off about an hour before his ascent. From where I was standing it appeared that the cold had taken its toll by the time he was on Elegy and I was more concerned that he might come off this, rather than the ridiculous rock over crux!
You can view more photos on Andi's Flickr account.
Pete Whittaker is no stranger to hard gritstone climbing, hitting the UKC headlines several times in 2007 and 2008. You can read more about him in this 2008 Trad Article. With ascents under his belt of tricky, rarely repeated routes such as Ray's Roof (UKC News), alongside his extremely hard new routes such as Dynamics of Change, Pete is one of a small band of young climbers who may push gritstone climbing to a new level.
A Little Peculiar was first climbed by Paul Higginson back around 1995. Paul is a North Wales based climber who was one of the team behind the recent film Upsidedown Wales. Paul is the author of several tough problems, including Slags and Slappers also at the Roaches lower tier and Pools of Bethesda (Font 8a+) in the Llanberis Pass.
Recently when discussing hard grit routes, Johnny Dawes noted that no-one had repeated A Little Peculiar and he held the route in very high regard.
The route is graded E6 7a in the current Rockfax guidebook, but votes on the UKC and Rockfax websites suggest it may be E7 7b. Interestingly there are nine votes but only two ascentionists.
Pete Whittaker is sponsored by Patagonia, 5.10, The Edge Climbing Wall, Naked Ape, CAMP and Tendon Ropes.