Pete Whittaker has nabbed the second ascent of French Duke (E9 7a) at Earl Crag, Yorkshire.
French Duke is a bold and technical gritstone arete, first climbed back in 2008 by Burnley based climber Jordan Buys. You can see this ascent in the video below.
Pete, climbing with first ascensionist Jordan Buys, repeated the route on Friday 11th March after a few days of top rope inspection.
Jordan recounted Pete's ascent:
"He set off confidently and was pretty quickly into the crux sequence. This went very smoothly but then Pete suddenly started to flounder - he was desperately slapping and grasping at the slopers above, with a strangled cry of "watch me". We could hardly bear to look as he clawed his way up the final few moves, facing a certain ground fall from 10 metres. But then he was on the top, breathing heavily and shaking like a leaf! Well, it was the hardest belaying I've ever done, I was prepared to sprint down the hill like Usain Bolt in my wellies....."
Meanwhile Jordan was trying a new route to the left of Mindbomb (E7 6c) on the same buttress as French Duke:
"I had a go at the new line to the left. This route climbs to the Mindbomb ledge and then attacks the problematic left arete/wall via a distant edge on the left wall. I had previously attempted a lead one week earlier but aborted after the gear unexpectedly ripped and I decked out onto my back (Ed's Note: See Photo!). I kind of bounced but it did hurt. This time I returned armed with more pads, spotters and some superlight nuts, backing up the zero cams. This time the gear managed to hold, and it was a good job too as I fell off the crux repeatedly!"
After a few more falls and a scraped shin, Jordan managed to route and has named it The Baron of Boing. Pete Whittaker stepped in for a very swift repeat after working the moves on abseil.
Commenting on the grade of his new line, Jordan said:
"It is a serious proposition without lots of mats and the gear is too low for comfort so... maybe E7 6c for the climber of average stature, but possibly E6 6b for the very tall. It was great fun and there were some lovely rainbows."
RELATED VIDEO: Jordan Buys making the first ascent of French Duke in 2008