Mike Adams has climbed two new Font 8C’s on the Far Eastern Limestone near Anston. After working on the ‘proper start’ to his problem Bordello at Earth Quarry throughout the winter, Mike was finally succeeded and it weighs in at a lofty 8C. He also went on to add Serenation 8C at Impossible Roof – a crag already well developed by Mike himself. This puts Mike's tally of 8C first ascents up to three in total.
Mike had worked the full version of Bordello for three winter seasons, battling with conditions and finger injuries from the problem. After taking a break from the limestone, he developed some new gritstone problems in Lancashire with Robin Mueller and when he returned to Earth Quarry realised he was in quite good shape:
“I decided I was going to get stuck into the climb again and during the autumn months I just did lot of board climbing trying to focus on power endurance, basically climbing problems with similar moves and a similar total amount of moves. As soon as it got cold I went back to Bordello and tried it. I found that I was in better shape and managed to link the start moves into the standing position within three sessions. I realised my hand didn't hurt and I put a lot of time in on the finish. After a number of session I was doing this on the end of my warm up. I then realised it was just a case of carrying attempting until I had that elusive go where I hit every hold perfect.”
Mike describes the process of working Bordello as ‘the most difficult mental process’ he has had to go through. He found that to climb the problem he needed to train specifically for it, something that he doesn’t necessarily find motivating.
“I tend to only train when there is something I really want to do but can't. I then try and isolate why and try and train that element. I did that with Bordello, firstly by introducing finger boarding to work on my finger strength and lock offs, then by climbing a lot of power endurance board problems.
(video from 2014)
“I think this means that for some climbs, whilst I do them, it takes me a long time to go through the process. This makes them tough to do mentally. Also being a busy parent means that time is quite precious. It's hard to spend a lot of time doing something you don't enjoy in the training, to go and hang out late at night after the kids are in bed on your own in a dark quarry. I nearly gave up so many times, but I get past the point of no return; where I have put in so much time that if I give up, I know I would have to do it all again. So it’s a case of keeping going and seeing it through to the end.”
It was clearly worth all the nagging doubts though, because Mike climbed the full version of Bordello and then bagged a ‘bonus’ first ascent of Serenation at The Impossible Roof. He describes the problem as an ‘after thought’ and a bit like cheating, because he knows the crag so well after spending so much time there over the years (it sounds like commitment to us). Mike had done the standing start before and with the fitness he had gained from Bordello, the ascent happened relatively quickly.
“I obviously feel very pleased. For me it feels like I’ve reached a nice place with local climbs, where most of the challenges I had set myself I have managed to now realise. That's a nice place to be in. Obviously I feel a lot happier about Bordello than Serenation as that's a new climb rather than a variation and was my main goal. Serenation totally felt like a bonus and a by product of the process of climbing Bordello.”
Mike has been a developer of the far eastern limestone areas for over a decade now and has added many hard problems, as well as a great deal of classics to the area. It appears the apparent endless supply of rock that Mike has found is starting to wear thin though:
“The rock on the far eastern limestone does appear to be more or less all discovered now. There are other places myself and Lee Robinson know about, but the rock quality is not the best or access is a pain. I think for the keen there is still stuff to do. One thing I think is that this rock type seems to lend itself well to giving hard challenges. There is still lots of potential for futuristically hard climbs. Stone mill is a great example of this and some strong talent will one day realise some amazing climbing feats there.”
So what’s next for Mike?
“Since climbing both these lines it seems I have taken a bit of a break from climbing hard. This was not necessarily intentional. Right now I feel my family has suffered from me doing so much climbing and training and so I want to spend some time with them, especially my son who asks if he can come with me to go climbing all the time. It breaks my heart to say no. I have had to though as it's very hard to focus. That is a really difficult thing to keep doing. So I want to just go out climbing and take him out a lot more. Also I have spent so much time on my own this winter that I want to catch up with friends and just go climbing and enjoy the banter. I also feel I need to concentrate on my career and put a bit more time into that.”