26 year-old Coventry-based climber Frances Bensley has repeated Fat Lip 8B at Raven Tor (Miller's Dale). In 2015, James Noble made the first repeat in 8 years since Steve Mcclure's first ascent in 2007. Fat Lip climbs Cave Problem 7B+ from the slot then traverses left to finish up Keen Roof 8B. Frances is only the third British woman to climb the grade after Shauna Coxsey and Mina Leslie-Wujastyk.
Frances started climbing at the age of 7 and has been climbing for 18 years. She competed as a junior, winning the Youth Climbing Series, and has continued to perform well in both bouldering and sport climbing over the years. Frances set herself the goal of climbing an 8b+ sport route and an 8A boulder this year. She told UKC:
'In April I climbed my first 8b+ (Kalea Borroka) in Siurana and then set myself the challenge of projecting Pilgrim 8A/+ at Parisella's cave which I had tried on and off in the previous couple of seasons. After completing Pilgrim and enjoying an amazing first trip to Magic Wood, I came back feeling in decent shape. I was looking for a long term project and I had checked out Fat Lip previously this year. Feeling stronger than I had before on the Fat Lip moves made me think that with enough time and effort, it might be possible.'
Already ahead in her goals for the year, Frances had nothing to lose and committed fully to the cause. She explained:
'I think it is fair to say that this is the most single-minded and dedicated I have ever been with a project. I have never before put in so many sessions - 10/11 sessions over roughly a month and a half. The knowledge that the Tor becomes wet and out of condition during the winter months very much meant that if I wanted to climb Fat Lip this season, I would have to fight for it a little. Luckly this time, it all paid off for me! I'm glad I don't have to make the 4 hour round trip to the Peak District again for a little while!'
Other notable problems on Frances' ticklist include Corridors of Power 8A at Cwm Glas Bach Boulders and Foxy Lady 8A in Magic Wood.