Tom Randall has climbed a new line on Ilam Rock at Dovedale, which he has named The Final Round and graded HXS 8a+/b. The route is believed to be the hardest limestone trad climb in the Peak District. Tom first spotted the line earlier this year whilst climbing Eye of the Tiger E7 6c.
Writing in his blog, Tom described the origins of The Final Round:
"I spotted what could be a route of proper hard trad up the centre of the buttress. I saw that you could approach the 3rd-height niche of Eye of the Tiger by a bold sequence direct up the face and then climb through the hard crux and finally finish up a new headwall that I’d established this year. Essentially, taking in all of the hardest climbing and going direct on the centre of the face – no deviations off left or right and no easy climbing."
Not one to opt for limestone trad normally, Tom was nonetheless drawn in by the combination of hard moves and a high element of risk:
"This route for me has been about finding my limit on a medium that I’m not that great at and exploring the balance between physical difficulty and danger."
Having climbed the highball Font 7B+ lower section, Tom had an epic in the following section as his minimal protection of skyhooks and microwires fell out of place. With the extra hanging-around to re-place gear and a few garbled sequences throwing Tom off-balance, he reached the crux of Eye of the Tiger feeling less than optimistic:
"Normally you’d arrive here fresh, but I was toasted and not feeling that happy or psyched. For the next 30ft of the route I dug into a mental reserve that I normally save for the Crack Cellar under my house where you deal with “the unpleasant” and switch off and do the business.
"Each hold I moved off of, was a little closer to success and in the final burning moments of my forearm’s efforts I still told myself “I’m not going to bloody do that bottom bit again!”"
Regarding the grade of HXS 8a+/b, Tom is open to suggestions from other climbers, but for now is very much satisfied that the climb is over and done with:
"I’m sure others out there will fill in the blanks if they desperately want to assign an E-grade to it. All I know is that I’m putting my skyhooks away for a couple of weeks…"
Watch a trailer video of Tom's ascent below:
Tom Randalls Final Round FA Trailer
Tom Randall smashes new first ascent. Film by Crimpington Bear TV!!!!Sublime Climbing The Climbing Station UKClimbing.com EpicTV Climbing Daily Climber Magazine Rock and Ice magazinePosted by Crimpington Bear - Climbing and Adventure Photography on Monday, 7 September 2015