Northern Ireland has been a hotspot for hard trad over the last few weeks, with the Fair Head meet attracting swathes of climbers travelling from far and wide to check out the routes. Local boy Ricky Bell has recently managed some impressive first ascents in the area - with Long Runs the Fox E9 6c at Fair Head and Peace Time E8 7a at Buzzard's Roost.
Long Runs the Fox is a bold slab at Fair Head on a high boulder that leans up against the Murlough end of the crag, which Ricky chose to solo.
Ricky wrote in his blog:
"I'd worked it on a rope on and off over the last month, then soloed it without pads. It's very high and the hard climbing is near the top and I'd wanted to do it in this style. No pads, no messing about, just get your head in the right place and commit. It's a bit of an ego killer this thing. Never desperate but never secure. Twelve tricky foot moves. On two of these moves you have to sustain momentum or you're off. You can't just pull onto the footholds - you gotta float onto them."
Having watched James Mchaffie and Ryan Pasquill's ascents of Divided Years E8/9 last week (UKC News Report), Ricky made the first ascent of Peace Time E8 7a shortly afterwards, which starts up the E5 War Music (E5 6b). He commented in his blog:
"The route climbs really well and is not very sustained. The boulder problem in the middle of the wall is mega. There was a bit of traffic at the crag that day and I hadn't planned my journey too well and set off as Oli Grounsell was on the traverse of Spirit Level. I got into a bit of a traffic jam which is a first for me on that crag. I punted the last moves of the boulder problem and took a very tame fall onto the gear.
Ricky Bell going for his new route on the Buzzards Roost with Oli Grounsel trying to get in the way pic.twitter.com/F7BCe5gt1S— james mchaffie (@McHaffieJames) June 22, 2015
"I lowered off and had a rest then climbed the route to the top. I didn't ab in and strip the gear, so the crux wire that I'd placed on lead, a small brass nut was insitu (which did make it easier to get through the boulder). I've always placed all the gear on lead on FA's in the past but this day was a bit busy and I wanted to get the route done before my belayer disappeared off for a well deserved pint."
For more information, see Ricky's blog.