Calum Muskett and Tom Randall have just made the First Ascent (FA) of two new stunning E7s on a quick-hit trip to Scotland. First up, the pair both lead Dan Dare, E7 6b, on Rora Head, on the Isle of Hoy. Calum then made the FA of a very bold new route at E7 6a, climbing an arete, near the village of Mid-Clyth.
The pair met up with photographer Ben Winston for a Rab photoshoot and caught the two ferries from John O'Groats to the Isle of Hoy, after climbing the Old Man of Hoy, they turned their attention to a new route on Rora Head. After spending a day cleaning and working the 1st crux pitch, Tom and Calum awoke on their last day on Hoy to find the wall in the shade, and greasy from sea-spray. But with the team having limited time before their ferry left for the Mainland, Calum and Tom cracked on, top-roping the line and brushing it to try and dry it as best they can.
First up for the lead was Calum, who described the pitch on the Rab blog:
"The first section of the pitch is quite steady, reasonable pulls between slightly fragile sandstone ledges lead up to a compact wall off high quality sandstone. Once committed to this, a confident approach is best suited. A long run-out with strenuous climbing follows a line of crimps up to a rest beneath the crux section. From here a series of big pulls on reasonable holds leads to an enigmatic final reach up to a break, miles above the last piece of gear."
With Calum's lead going very smoothly, he lowered off, stripping the pitch for Tom to lead, photographer Ben Winston describes Tom's lead on his blog:
"Tom's style is very different [to Calum's]. His small green figure stands out against the orange wall as he climbs slowly, mindfully and steadily, looking completely self assured. His climbing states that even here on a remote and adventurous Orkney cliff, there's just no need for drama."
Calum then seconded the pitch and lead through, the second pitch being a big, sustained E4 5c pitch. Upon topping out, Ben informed them that they had to run back to the van in order to leave Hoy that day. Luckily the team arrived at the ferry just a few minutes before it was due to leave. Naming the route Dan Dare, Calum explained the reason behind the name:
"We named it after a terrible joke of Tom's we were told as we travelled North."
Upon arriving back on the mainland, the team headed back to an unclimbed arete that Calum had come very close to on-sighting the first ascent of before they left for Hoy, however a handhold breaking with no gear to protect him from a groundfall, saw him downclimb to the ground. After briefly top-roping the route, Calum made his second E7 FA of the day:
"The sole protection for the route is two skyhooks and the climbing, although never desperate is difficult enough to warrant the rather worrying grade of E7 6a".