Gill Peet has ticked Dave Kenyon's classic The Traverse Of the Gods 8b+ at Craig y Longridge, Lancashire. The 300ft climb traverses from left to right along the crag and is renowned for being a pumpy testpiece.
Having witnessed her partner, Ian Vickers - who once climbed the traverse three times in a session without a rest - lapping it for years, it wasn't until recently that the idea of doing the full link entered Gill's mind, despite bouldering regularly at the crag. Gill told UKC:
'I always preferred to boulder when I visited Longridge as I would often get shut down trying to traverse just a few metres and found myself heading home after just an hour. I was used to standing in awe watching my partner Ian Vickers doing laps on it every time we visited, but this was just the norm for him! Inspired as I was, I figured I could possibly climb to 'The Wobble Block' (7C+) and I successfully managed this link a few years back and was happy with my achievement. I was probably a 7b climber then, and doing the full traverse was simply a lifetime project that I could continue to have a dabble at.'
Gill's friend Tanya Meredith - who completed the traverse in September 2015 - proved to be an inspiration for attempting to complete the project. She explained:
'In 2015, Tanya told me she was going to dedicate some time to the traverse and try and send it that year. Like me, it was her lifelong project that we both shuffled along every visit hoping to get a move or two further. As soon as Tanya decided to commit to it, she was making excellent progress and became the first lady to complete the full traverse. I am inspired mostly by my friends in climbing and Tanya did exactly that.'
Prompted by Tanya to get stuck in, last summer Gill dragged Ian down to Longridge a few more times to work the sections of the traverse that she had never explored: the daunting high break, the V7 Boulder problem of Bend of The Rainbow and the last section. As is common in Britain, the weather put the project on the back burner:
'I was pleased to flash 'Bend' and managed one shuffle along the high break, but that was it for the rest of that very wet summer we had. I started to get negative and demotivated, blaming the British weather and my lack of time, so the traverse was once again put back onto the long term list of goals.'
Gill couldn't climb much in the lead up to Christmas due to a shoulder impingement, but thankfully time was the greatest healer in the end. She told UKC:
'My only goal was to regain the strength I had a few years back when I was competing. I threw myself back into my climbing and opted for a concurrent training style where you mix strength, power endurance and stamina into a weekly training plan rather than focusing on just one element. I did all my training on the wall at Boulder UK and mixed up strength sessions, circuit sessions and other bouldering workouts and definitely felt the benefit.'
The only project Gill had in mind initially was the development of a new bouldering wall, Boulder UK Preston. As a result, she realised that the Longridge Traverse was a good project to return to with it being local. Gradually, Gill made progress on the links. She commented:
'I started getting stuck in again in April this year, but for those who know Longridge, they'll know that each year is like starting all over again, however it didn't take me long for the fitness to come back and I was managing to do some laps on various sections and I now knew all the moves. The weather stopped play a few times which only allowed for one or two visits per week throughout June but I managed a new link each time by basically starting the traverse further in and each visit moving the start backwards. I was happy to do each link on my first go and the prospect of actually doing the full traverse now seemed realistic.'
Last week, Gill arrived at the crag ready for her first attempt of the full traverse.
'Despite suboptimal conditions, I was able to recover at all the rests and managed to chicken wing my way through the last couple of hard moves of Bend of the Rainbow to find myself bridged at the final rest ready for the very last section. I was excited that I could possibly do this, but then I would reign my thoughts back in and reminded myself that I might not do it on the first link. The thought of having to do it again also spurred me on to complete it. Shaking my arms out for the last time, unsure if they were ready or not, I pushed myself through the final low section to the finishing jugs of the Traverse of The Gods.'
Commenting on her achievement, Gill told us:
'I stepped off the very end and waved my arms and I think I may have said "Thank God for that!" I totally enjoyed working the traverse as I have never been massively been into redpointing sport climbs, but I have enjoyed the process of seeing how you improve on such a project and then feeling the buzz of achieving something that used to feel impossible!'
With a big bouldering wall project on the cards, Gill will try to make the most of her current form as and when she can:
'I am definitely keen to put my new fitness to the test on something else but for now, just getting to climb outside in between the new wall developments will be a bonus!'