A week into his title of British Lead Climbing Champion, 16 year-old Jim Pope from London put his obvious fitness and tenacity to good use for a quick repeat of the Peaks most popular 8c, Mecca Extension at Raven Tor (Miller's Dale)
Almost exactly a year ago Jim made the news by becoming, at fifteen, the youngest to climb the classic power endurance testpiece Mecca The Mid Life Crisis 8b+. The scene of many a siege the Extension tacks on a technical and sequencey 8a after the Mecca belay. When Jim tried the top part last year he couldn't do all the moves and failed to figure out a sequence for his diminutive frame, so left the route as a potential future project.
On Saturday, Jim returned to Raven Tor a couple of inches taller and a lot stronger wondering if the moves would now feel possible, and how long the Extension project might take him. As the day warmed up and the Raven Tor faithful started to complain of the conditions, Jim had a chance to try the moves on the top and see if he could remember a sequence for Mecca itself. Having done all the moves first try, back on the ground at a typically busy crag we discussed the vagaries of the sequence and I suggested that Jim tried to do a link of the moves on part of the top section.
"No I think I'll try Mecca, I'm going to change my sequence for the crux" was Jim's reply, he also remarked that the disappointingly polished footholds on the traverse part of the Extension were 'a lot better than expected'.
A few minutes later and with the sun now coming onto the crag, Jim set off from the ground and fought his way up Mecca, seemingly getting caught between sequences in the powerful groove section but just managing to slap his way to the rest at the Mecca belay. From there he recovered quickly and set off up the Extension, chalking and shaking his way through the moves, patiently recalling the sequence. The final delicate heel placement has been the scene of many a heartbreak and the large audience at the Tor held their breath but as Jim pulled up it was never in doubt. He clipped the chain easily to complete one of the most impressive performances Raven Tor has seen for some time, the youngest and quickest ascent of Mecca Extension.
Jim commented: "I was really pleased to have climbed Mecca Extension, I didn't expect it to go so quickly so it was a nice surprise!"
So Jim Pope needs a project, and for that it seems he will have to get on something properly hard.