Wideboyz Smash Staffs Nose Record by Two Hours

© Dark Sky Media

Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall - AKA The Wideboyz - have knocked a staggering two-and-a-quarter hours off the previous record for the The Staffordshire Nose challenge. Despite temperatures of 21 degrees Celsius, the pair climbed all 31 routes in just 2 hours, 44 minutes and 28 seconds, surpassing Pete Bridgwood and Andi Turner's 2014 record of 4 hours 58 minutes and the Wideboyz' own personal best of 5 hours 53 minutes by an astonishing margin.

Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall breaking the Staffs Nose record in 2016  © Dark Sky Media
Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall breaking the Staffs Nose record in 2016
© Dark Sky Media

The challenge, also known as the Brown-Whillans Day Out, originally involved completing each of the Joe Brown and Don Whillans routes at The Roaches, Hen Cloud and Ramshaw in under 24 hours, but since Tom and Pete set the first record, it has become, much like The Nose on El Capitan, a test of speed, efficiency and insanity. The pair had meticulously planned the order of each route and the style of ascent - either lead, second or solo - and tactically left ropes and gear in place mid-challenge for the first abseil and lead after the initial solo climbs to ensure slick transitions.

Tom had also put in one month's worth of endurance preparation before taking on the challenge again, and Pete's recent rope-soloing mission to Squamish clearly set him in good stead for beating the record.

UKC were present throughout each stage of their journey, and can vouch for how exhausting just keeping up with Pete and Tom on foot was, let alone actually climbing the routes! Below is an account of their climbs - well, the bits we could keep up with anyway!

View the full list of routes here.

Read the rules of the challenge on Tom's blog.


Beginning at 5:03pm at the  Roaches Lower Tier, the Wideboyz set off simultaneously, Pete soloing Rhodren HVS 5b and Tom on Choka E1 5b, before swapping over and moving leftwards onto The Bulger VS 4c and The Mincer HVS 5b. Already setting a quick pace, the Boyz move onto Valkyrie Direct HVS 5b and Matinee HVS 5b, leading and seconding efficiently before soloing Slippery Jim HVS 5b and Lightning Crack HVS 5b and then swapping over. They lead out on Ackit HVS 5b, then ab into Teck Crack E1 5c. That's the Lower Tier finished.

Having set a blistering pace, the pair finish off the twelve lower tier routes in under 1 hour and 10 minutes. Moving on to the  Roaches Upper Tier, Pete takes on a solo ascent of Saul's Crack HVS 5a whilst Tom starts off on Aqua VS 4b. A bemused group of local youths sat on top of Saul's Crack express their surprise as Pete pops over the top, shooting him an even more incredulous look as they look back and search for his non-existent rope trailing behind him.

Swapping over, Tom attracts similar attention whilst Pete runs to the foot of The Roaches classic The Sloth HVS 5a and begins prepping the rope for a planned simul-climb upon Tom's return down from Saul's Crack. Here, their attempt stalls for about 3 minutes as Pete struggles to flake the tangled rope out. Tom arrives to find Pete still at the foot of the route, rather than up at the halfway point. Tom asks me to check the stopwatch and looks surprised as I tell him, "1 hour 15." So far, they've cruised the first 15 routes, which would have passed quicker were it not for the rope faff. This minor blunder doesn't stop them from topping out The Sloth rapidly in simul-climb fashion, Pete placing just three pieces of gear.

Pete soloing on the long and exposed Bachelor's Climb, Hen Cloud  © Dark Sky Media
Pete soloing on the long and exposed Bachelor's Climb, Hen Cloud
© Dark Sky Media

Next, a mad, mostly uphill dash in the heat across to  Hen Cloud for the next nine routes and the pair arrive around 1 hour and 25 minutes into the challenge. Despite trying to set off as Tom is topping out on The Sloth, they still managed to overtake us on the path, running like men on a mission. After struggling to locate the Wideboyz, we find them already topping out on solo climbs. Pete asks Tom how many routes he's done so far at the crag: "Four" Tom responds. "Four?! I'm only on three!" shouts Pete, to which Tom exclaims "I know, it's weird for me to go quick, isn't it?", adding "I thought I was going to be sick on that. I feel really nauseous." The longer, bold solos begin on Bachelor's Left-hand HVS 5b and both Wideboyz climb with caution after their tiring set of routes at the Roaches and a run in the evening sun, which still carries a lot of heat despite the time of 6:50pm.

After a mad fifty minutes of work at Hen Cloud, Pete tops out on Slimline E1 5b and starts to run towards the car, again beating us to it in our anticipation to keep up with him. Tom arrives 30 seconds later and we head towards  Ramshaw Rocks. A busy parking bay causes a slight delay, but Pete has already ran up to the crag and topped out on The Great Zawn HVS 5a, Masochism HVS 5b and The Crank VS 4b just a few minutes after arriving and we catch up with Tom as he starts up Masochism, 2 hours 25 minutes in. Pete makes a smooth ascent of Brown's Crack E2 5c, mentioning sore shoulders from so much pressing and mantling, and Tom follows, demanding another time check at the top. 2 hours 30 minutes. The end is in sight. 

After careful solos, an urgent retreat back to the base at Hen Cloud.  © Dark Sky Media
After careful solos, an urgent retreat back to the base at Hen Cloud.
© Dark Sky Media

Following Prostration HVS 5a and Don's Crack HVS 5b, just one route remains - and it's not a give-away either: the notorious Ramshaw Crack E4 6a. Once again we attempt to meet them at the top, but they're already on the starting ledge as we run desperately to scramble up the gully to the top. Knowing that they've more than smashed the record, all that remains is to enjoy the burly jamming, they've saved the hardest till last. Pete leads and Tom follows, reminding me to "Stop the clock!" as he tops out. 2 hours, 44 minutes and 28 seconds later at 7:48pm, they're done...

Visibly drained (and that's just us!) the Wideboyz are content with their performance. "I really don't think we could have gone any faster, considering how we didn't really make any mistakes!" Tom exclaims.

The WideBoyz after a long day...well, 2 hours 44 minutes of intense climbing and running...  © Dark Sky Media
The WideBoyz after a long day...well, 2 hours 44 minutes of intense climbing and running...
© Dark Sky Media

Summing up their feat, Tom told UKC:

"This attempt was one of the few times where myself and Pete have gone beyond our usual overly optimistic expectations. We'd hoped just sneaking under 3 hours would be very nice, but somehow we really surprised ourselves! I don't think we could have done much better. Lucky day!"

Tom is also a part owner of ???, a Director of Sublime Brushes, and a Director of Lattice Training.

 


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Tom is a trad climber at heart, whose passion for the unknown in climbing has lead to numerous new routes both in the UK and overseas.

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17 Aug, 2016
Inspiring. I'd love to do this challenge one day, if I'm ever good enough. Although maybe cheat and do it over a long weekend. :) Interesting reading Tom's blog from a few years back... "With some good decisions and some planning I reckon the time can easily go to 7 or 8 hours and maybe less if some risks are taken."
17 Aug, 2016
Amazing effort! One question, was flicking through western grit and noticed Joe's Hanging Crack a Joe Brown E3 on Roaches lower tier that isn't included in the list. Does anyone know a reason for this? Cheers
18 Aug, 2016
Hah! If that's what I think it is, then it's the upgrade of something long mentioned in guides to have been climbed by JB at HVS but left unnamed. After narrowly escaping with any skin at all left on my hands after a desultory solo attempt a few years ago, I'm glad to see the thing being given a more realistic description. I think the answer why it isn't in the course is that the course was designed before the publication of Western Grit. It probaby should be, though. Back you go, boys, I'm afraid! jcm
18 Aug, 2016
I think the main reason is that it wasn't in the original list, and seems quite forgotten. I think even Joe Brown's recollection of it is quite limited, although I did once hear a rumour that he said it was the hardest crack he ever climbed... Needless to say, it could maybe be included in future ciruits although maybe at the expense of removing routes which were only aided by JB.....
18 Aug, 2016
Yeah both roaches and western grit were published in 2009 but it only appears in WG and is described as the hardest offwidth he ever did. Not trying to diminish efforts as have set this as a future challenge for myself, albeit just in a day. So was flicking through the guide and noticed it. Looks like a great day out regardless! :-)
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