23 year old David Fitzgerald from Dublin has repeated Voyager Sit Start (f8B+) at Burbage North. Ben Moon made the first ascent of the problem in 2006 and it has since been repeated by Niccolò Ceria and Ned Feehally. David's ascent is particularly impressive as he has only been climbing for five years.
David came over to the UK at the start of February for six days and was shown Voyager by Sheffield local Andy Harris. He tactically rested his skin over three sessions and managed to bag the stand start at just after 5am on his third session, just before an imminent downpour. David said:
"It was a crazy experience and one that encourages me to try my luck more often. After that, I decided to return in March to complete the full line. It was always my intention to climb the sit start, but the weather hadn't allowed it during my first trip.
"I didn't exactly have a ticklist for my trip, as I didn't really know what to expect. However, there were certain lines that really appealed to me, such as Voyager SS. There's something special about it. Each hold is such that you must be precise and in control at all times. The holds are sharp, so you must be careful, yet make calculated decisions when trying it. It's a complete mental game and one that I love to play. I kind of knew this before I came to the UK. Climbing at home can be similar, so I know what to expect when climbing on sharp holds. If you lack precision, you'll lose your skin before you have a chance to climb it. That challenge was something that appealed to me.
"When I came back, I took the first opportunity I saw. I went out to simply pracitce the opening moves and hoped that I could do them. In the end, I actually pulled on and linked the opening moves into the stand start first go. Then, on my third go, I climbed the full line."
It has become notoriously difficult for aspirant ascentionists to find good conditions for Voyager. The problem is around 12 moves long and extremely skin intensive. I asked David about the issue of conditions to which he replied:
"I always carry the opinion that, unless it's raining, conditions are never an excuse. Voyager was something I really wanted to do, so it could have been in the middle of summer and I still would have tried to do it. That being said, it obviously makes it more difficult, but if you stay positive and really listen to your body between attempts, then you've always got a chance. Despite the rain, everything went pretty smoothly, but, being from Ireland, the rain is something I always expect."
Voyager SS wasn't the only problem David managed to tick whilst he was here. He was over for a meet up with the Moon climbing team and had a few sessions at the infamous School Room where he managed to climb the classic Perky Pinky (8B). Nine days into his trip he attempted The Ace (8B) at Stanage and decided to take a rest day for a last ditch effort on his final day.
"Somehow, on the hottest day of the year so far and with four split tips, I was able to do it just before the sun came around onto the holds."
After such a successful trip, we can obviously expect quite a bit more from David in the near future. His plans at the moment are to focus on some projects close to home at Wicklow before it gets too warm, as well as training for several trips to places like Fairhead, Austria and Sweden.
"Despite my trip to Sheffield being a relative success, I still have a long way to go. I've learned many things from this trip, but also noticed many things that I will work on. This only serves as motivation and I've already started to make these adjustments. My goal is to keep training so that when I find an opportunity to travel, I can go with confidence. I'm just beginning to travel more, so I'm excited to visit all of these areas that I've heard so much about. Getting stronger is my next project."
A film of David's trip to the UK produced by Puzzlegrass Films will be released soon.
David is sponsored by: Moon