Eliot Stephens has returned from a fantastic two week trip to Magic Wood where he climbed New Base Line, a Bernd Zangerl 8B+. Eliot also climbed seven other problems that were 8A and above.
Eliot first tried New Base Line three years ago, but didn't get particularly stuck in and says that retrospectively he 'didn't have the skill level or mental game to do it back then.' This time around, Eliot arrived when there was still snow on the ground and once the boulders were dry he quickly got to work.
Eliot told UKC:
'Both the process of climbing it and the actual ascent went perfectly for me. The first session I had on it this trip was very short lived. I spent about 30 minutes barely struggling to do most of the moves I had done 3 years ago, and not doing a couple that I had also done before. I've struggled with a finger injury over the past 6 months so I wasn't surprised by this result on a problem this intense on the fingers.
With other problems taking a while to dry I had another quick session which was slightly better and unlocked a much nicer end sequence for me which was where I had struggled previously. On the penultimate day of the trip, with the two main problems I wanted to try being wet, I decided to have a last go on NBL, just to rationalise a return trip at some point. After about an hour of trying I just had one go from the start and got pretty close to the end. At that point I realised I could climb it, and maybe even the next day. On our last day I decided to go back and try it again, but being 3rd day on I wasn't expecting to climb it. But sometimes with these things, the confidence and small bits of beta gained become more valuable than skin and energy, and I was able to do it in a handful of goes.'
New Base Line is a hard and iconic line, despite this Eliot felt relaxed topping out: 'The realisation of climbing it began to hit me in the minutes and hours later, which is always a feeling I enjoy from climbing. This problem was strange for me, as once I'd done it my mental view of it changed. I sometimes give problems too much respect when trying them, and then they lose some of their mystique once I've done them. I think this is something I'll take away from this problem, in that it's always worth getting stuck in and trying these problems that you would love to do, even if they seem too hard on initial viewing. This problem went from feeling very hard, to quite straightforward in a matter of hours for me, and that's something I've not experienced at this level of climbing before.'
'A couple of these problems were low starts to ones I'd done before, but the others all were fairly short encounters. This trip was 1 week's worth of climbing on anything dry just to climb, followed by the last few days where suddenly almost everything dried out and there was quite a bit to choose from.'
Rocklands is the main item on the agenda for Eliot this summer and hopefully he won't have snow to contend with...