As usual, Dan Varian has had a prolific few months in Northumberland and Yorkshire, combining his time between first ascents, fatherhood and spearheading a new tree planting initiative with his company Beastmaker.
Dan has spent a great deal of time ticking off gritstone projects and whilst others may think his spreadsheet of potential new climbs might be wearing thin, he always manages to pull first ascents out of the bag.
Across Yorkshire, Dan has tackled some impressive lines such as the huge slab at Earl's Seat. Dan describes the problem as 'one for Yorkshire's High Fidelity ascensionists to ground up who think style makes no difference to difficulty, get to it chaps.' A clarion call to would-be repeaters.
Slabs don't come much harder than his addition to Caley, The Doppler Effect, which Dan reckons would be 8A+ to climb ground up. Dan also climbed the wall to the left of Childs Play at Bowden Doors, which weighs in at 8A.
His list of first ascents stretches beyond slabs, from a hard mantle at Cow Close Crag called 'Happy as Hell,' an 8A+ compression problem at Ash Head he named 'Sloane Rangers,' to a shouldery 8A+ called 'Fairy Dust ,' at Fairies Chest, Crookrise. Dan's Rift Aversion at Caley has seen some attention from Dave Barrans, who believes the problem to be closer to 8A+.
Taking a break from bouldering, last week Dan managed to climb Endless Flight (Direct) (E8 7a) at Great Wanney. Dan bouldered out the first section to a break, where he had ropes and gear thrown to him and managed to hold it together on the top section on what was a very cold day.
Ticking trad routes quickly is something of a forte for Dan, as he also managed a flash of Masterclass at Rothley Crag and made the second ascent of A.K.A Mr. Vegas. at Simonside, ground up and 16 years after the first ascent. In modern terms, Dan reckoned this to be about Font 7A+. He's also added some hard highballs at Back Bowden Doors; The Grim Creeper weighs in at 8A and 'Big Sister' which is the central line through the Weird Sisters Roof. Dan commented: 'It's basically ungradeable, but I reckon the minimum entry is 7Cish if you're 6ft and probably a bone breaking 8B for the short...'
Beastmaker have also made a generous donation to the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust. Explaining why the company was eager to get involved with the trust, Dan said: 'We are keen to make a change for the better from our side of the fingerboard this year. We are getting busier and one thing which is often on our minds is the climate and the environment.
'We more than accept that our business model essentially involves cutting down trees at stage one. We use our wood type precisely because it is a renewable resource grown in the east coast of America but that doesn't mean that we can't strive to do more and actually put our back into something else positive as well. As of last year, we have gone into partnership with the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust and have donated £6000 their tree planting schemes. By working with a local charity we should see direct results from our donations and it is overseen by a keen climber and friend of the company, Dan Turner who works for the trust.'