Pete Whittaker and Ethan Walker have both repeated Kaabah 8c+ at Raven Tor (Miller's Dale), making the 6th and 7th ascent respectively. Kabaah was first climbed by Steve McClure in 2004 and follows Mecca - The Mid-life Crisis (8b+) but branches off just before its belay and follows a direct line on tiny holds up the sustained wall above.
Pete chose Kaabah after making short work of Mecca Extension earlier in the year:
"I went on a couple of Spanish sport climbing trips earlier in the year. After coming back from these trips I thought I'd best finish off Mecca Extension. I managed this in a few sessions and seeing as I had Mecca dialled, Kaabah seemed like a logical step."
It took Pete four sessions to do Mecca back in 2012 and he reworked Mecca this year when trying the extension. He reckons Kaabah took a further seven sessions with Mecca worked out.
Has Pete turned his attention to sport for the moment as a break from trad? He told UKC:
"I haven't turned my attention from trad, as my goals are trad climbing goals. I've turned my attention from trad in my local area currently. I just wasn't motivated for it after coming back from Yosemite last year and im still not motivated for it at the moment. This is the longest period of time I've put into sport climbing, which is currently about two and a half months. I'm rolling with it whilst it lasts, because it probably won't last long..."
When asked how a hard sport redpoint like this compares to hard trad headpoints, Pete commented:
"I think it depends on the type of route. Obviously sport climbs have the hardest grades by a long way. But compared to trad routes I've done at a similar grade to this, I had to try a lot harder on the trad lines.
"Mentally it is different as sport climbing you can fall from anywhere, whereas on a trad route that might not be an option. However again relating it to trad lines I've done of a similar grade, it was actually very much the same (as the trad lines were safe), they just had much much bigger run outs and falls."
Kaabah has been a long-term project for Ethan Walker and became his first 8c+ redpoint. Once again Ethan set his sights on Kaabah as a step up from Mecca Extension. Ethan told UKC:
"I never imagined it to eventually become the biggest mental battle of my climbing life. It is an indescribable feeling to be able to sit back now and relax, safe in the knowledge that it is done. I have never felt my emotions run like they did as I clipped those chains yesterday. Almost to the point I felt on the verge of tears!
Ethan gave the route a fair bit of attention last autumn but eventually ran out of time. Not wanting to accept defeat, Ethan battled mental pressure and poor weather conditions to finally tick the route:
"I have to admit I let the pressure get to me. The whole ‘fear of failure’ thing started to raise its ugly head and I started to beat myself up about it all. In the end I fully accepted the situation and told myself that it just required another level of patience. I knew I was good enough, but everything just had to come together at the right time. This season I approached the route with a much more relaxed and chilled attitude.
"The whole process has taught me a lot about myself and how much I can push myself mentally. Next month I am off to Rodellar for a few weeks, which will be a totally new experience!"
Watch a video featuring Ethan working Kaabah amongst other climbers and climbs below. With thanks to Jon Clark.