After a long period of not being able to get out due to bad weather and work commitments, Tom Peckitt made use of the exceptional and long awaited conditions this weekend to reap the rewards of trying hard on grit, repeating Ranieri's Reach 8A and making the first ascent of Ill Gotten Gains Direct 8A.
On Saturday, he managed to repeat the seldom-climbed problem at Caley Crags Ranieri’s Reach. Given Font 8A, it has had few repeats considering its prime location and aesthetics.
Tom commented: "It might have something to do with big moves between small sharp crimps! I thought it was pretty tough for the grade to be honest, one of those Yorkshire sandbags. Mine was the fourth or fifth ascent I believe since Ben Moon’s first ascent some time ago."
He then went to Eastby Crag in Yorkshire and climbed a superb project - which he claims is possibly one of the best out of his 100 or so first ascents in Yorkshire. Tom gave us some background on Ill Gotten Gains Direct and has made two excellent videos of his rather productive weekend.
Having been inspired by the new YMC Yorkshire Grit Guide and tales of an extraordinary sweeping groove line, I ventured to Eastby during the snowy spell for a walk and to check out the problem.
I was gob smacked when I stood beneath Ill Gotten Gains (Font 8A+), first climbed by Steve Dunning in February 2011 I believe. The rock was immaculate, the feature prominent and the climbing clearly high quality. It had it all.
This problem had apparently received quite a bit of attention prior to Steve’s ascent, with contenders trying to climb the groove feature directly. In fact, Mark Katz had been very close indeed but a crucial pebble for his sequence snapped off, rendering his method almost impossible.
Steve Dunning turned up for a look and managed to quickly find a sequence that worked for him, involving a wild toe hook to the arête then, using his extraordinary span, he climbed the arête and groove feature combined. Steve gained the toe hook by utilising a very positive square-cut pebble after the first couple of moves that allowed him to generate the swing to throw his toe to the arête. Ill Gotten Gains was born and would probably be physically out of reach for many climbers due to the span.
Tom Newman very quickly repeated the line, I think finding a slightly easier sequence. That being said, the lad is very strong so he might have just found it easy because he’s very good!
When I returned this Sunday, with expectations fairly low to be honest, I had the intention to try and repeat Ill Gotten Gains and, if successful, to try the ‘direct’ version. The direct problem, straight up the groove, has been sought after as a proud, independent line, one which I’ve heard about for some time and which has repelled many efforts of strong climbers over the years. However, the fact remained that the ‘direct’ would be slightly eliminate as you would choose to avoid the arête, unless you couldn’t physically reach it (which many probably couldn’t). This could possibly detract from the direct problem but, as the feature is so stunning, it still makes sense to climb it as a stand-alone problem.
Upon arrival, I eyed it up and got excited. Then I glanced at where the large, square pebble WAS. It had gone, sheered off, flush to the rock. I took stock, evaluated and believe this has made Ill Gotten Gains (Steve’s original version, reaching to the arête) impossible, or at least so much harder you may as well just go straight up the groove. The upshot being, the ‘direct’ was the only option.
I figured out a sequence, which involved leaving the groove and using a very sharp crimp with the right hand at about mid height, then pulling on this immensely to slap a fairly poor pinch towards the top of the groove. Having done Raineri’s Reach the day before, my skin was a little fragile to say the least.
Several good goes of locking the crimp as hard as I could but misjudging the slap to the pinch, the inevitable happened and my index finger pad tore and gushed blood…but I was so close, too close to give up.
The people who know me know I like to crimp – a lot; and on the smallest things I can find. Or largest actually, I don’t mind. I’ll try and crimp anything. I love it; almost as much as a pork pie and pint at the Hunters Inn after climbing (but not quite that much). With such a twisted past time as crimping, I’m fairly used to having to tape up and carry on. I employed the same methodology here – tape up and crimp on.
To my surprise and elation, this paid off and I managed to climb the fabled Ill Gotten Gains Direct project, around the 8A mark. I was surprised it had rebuffed the previous attempts, as it didn’t feel as hard as many grit 8s so maybe it’s easier?
The very next day (in fact right now as I type this – breaking news!), after some excitement following putting the first ascent on Facebook, our very own homegrown talent, Will Buck, swooped in and managed to climb the problem during a night-time lamp session. It seems like he has a slightly different sequence too, involving getting a higher heel hook but still around the same grade. Good effort that man!
So after years of rebuttals, it’s now seen two ascents in as many days and probably more to follow. Long may the cold dry conditions continue!
Watch the videos of Tom on Ranieri's Reach and Ill Gotten Gains Direct below: