Hobbie Noble, Highball 8B First Ascent for Varian

© Mickey Stainthorpe

Top British boulderer, Dan Varian has just made the first ascent of a highball 8B boulder problem at Christianbury Crags, in the Eden Valley, Northern Cumbria. Hobbie Noble is one of the most perfect problems Dan has climbed incorporating some very hard climbing very high above the ground.

Dan Varian climbing the lower section of Hobbie Noble, 8B, Christianbury Crags  © Mickey Stainthorpe
Dan Varian climbing the lower section of Hobbie Noble, 8B, Christianbury Crags
© Mickey Stainthorpe

Having worked out most of the sequences on a rope and after carrying a lot of pads up to the crag, Dan began trying the problem from the ground, eventually succeeding at the end of June on his second go of the session, Dan gave the problem 8B and named it Hobbie Noble. Dan commented further on the Beastmaker Blog:

"It was a beautiful experience putting up this one, a complete package and everything I could wish to find in a highball. The grade is on the soft side if you get it wired on a rope (I only ever abbed the top section, so never top roped the whole thing as that always takes away a bit of the magic for me). I do think the grade may be on the hard side to anyone who steps up to ground-up it as that would be an incredible effort, as ground up climbing always is, far superior and far harder."

Dan first found the problem last summer and was surprised to find such a stellar line just 30 minutes away from his house in Carlisle. Upon abseiling to clean the holds and check the moves, Dan found the crux to be very hard and very high. Dan spent a bit of time working out sequences until he felt he knew enough to begin trying to climb the problem from the ground. Dan described the crux top-out:

"It took me 30minutes just to figure out the top out on a rope that day so I wasn't overly optimistic about taking huge falls from the last moves. Every time I shockloaded the gri gri I just thought; 'splat, splat, splat and a long crawl back to the car'. It is the type of slopey top out where every sequence is a dead end except one, which involves about four foot moves and four hand moves to move 50cm upwards.

It is certainly the hardest crux I've ever done at height and I feel I have a decent record to draw from on highballs. What kept me going was that it was too fun, working the moves on a rope I was left grinning each session from the quality, I was constantly having little chuckles to myself as to why the best highball in font had turned up 30mins from my house in Cumbria, such is the brilliant randomness of life."

Dan Varian taking the lob high up off Hobbie Noble, 8B, Christianbury Crags  © Mickey Stainthorpe
Dan Varian taking the lob high up off Hobbie Noble, 8B, Christianbury Crags
© Mickey Stainthorpe

Hobbie Noble is found at Christianbury Crags, which is located a mile South of the Scottish border, and 500 meters from the border with Northumberland'. Dan named the problem Hobbie Noble after a Border reiver who was a bit of a maverick and whose morals divided the local people depending on whether he was stealing from you or helping you out (You can read Hobbie's story here).

In May, Dan also made the first ascent of a high quality 8A+ at Reiff, that he has called Veinglorious.

You can watch a video of him making the first ascent below:

Dan Varian is part of the team behind Beastmaker

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Dan Varian

Dan is a prolific first ascensionist based out of Carlisle. He has developed many grade 8 problems in The Peak District, The Lakes, Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Scotland. He is well known for his hard highball...

Dan's Athlete Page 17 posts 1 video

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9 Jul, 2014
9 Jul, 2014
Yes. I went up once in the 1980's and decided that most stuff was either too easy or far too futuristic for a punter like me. From what Dan has done it seems like it's true. If the crag was nearer the Big Smoke it would be far better known. There is more stuff at Black Stantling a few km away but again, a nice long walk to get there.
10 Jul, 2014
Magic place - far too hard for me - not sure about the 30 minutes from home - especially if you flog up through the trees from The Flatt. Well done Dan
10 Jul, 2014
For sure the hike through the trees is hard enough - never mind the problem! Steve
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