Norwegian climber Mari Augusta Salvesen has made the first female ascent of the burly Ray's Roof E7 6c at Baldstones in Staffordshire. First climbed by visiting American Ray Jardine in 1977, the horizontal offwidth crack remains a gritstone testpiece and is one of the hardest of its kind in the UK.
Mari was determined to try the line after her partner - crack connoisseur Pete Whittaker - doubted her chances:
'I'm quite new to the climbing in the Peak, but Ray's came up in conversation a while back, presented as this desperate route that wouldn't suit my style of climbing at all. Pete is usually very optimistic about me trying hard routes, telling me I'll piss this and piss that, but this time I could sense him lingering, and that properly fired me up.'
The line didn't go down without a fight, however. Mari explained:
'On the onsight I was convinced I could go feet first the whole way, spent probably and hour trying to smootch my bum around that lip, lost a shoe, bled out, cried a bit...it was a total catastrophe.'
The second time around, Mari approached the line more strategically, but it was too wet to give it a go. She was forced to go back once again.
Describing her first grit offwidth experience, Mari told us:
'I had a surprising amount of fun climbing on just a few metres of route. It's not over until you're whaling out of the crack. Normal beta is deep fisting, but no way would my lanky fist fit in there, so Pete's sister (Katy Whittaker) suggested I use a boxing glove at the crux. I found a more sophisticated way though, and I really don't think it's that much of a disadvantage to be a bit smaller. It was a little battle, but with body and limbs jammed in there I didn't really feel like I could fall off.'
Mari is a strong all-round climber across multiple disciplines. Her other climbing achievements to date include:
Boulder: Misanthropie 8A in Fontainebleau
Trad: Master's Edge E7 6b in the Peak.
Flying Vikings 7c+ on the Profile Wall, Norway.
Røverdatter 7c FA in Vinddalen, Norway.
Big wall: The Shield C4/A3 on El Capitan.
Skjoldet 8-, Kjerag in Norway.
Ice: Byrkjedalsfossen 350m WI5+ in Rogaland, Norway.
On climbing with Pete, Mari commented:
'Living in different countries, me and Pete don't do much training together. But I tried their Wideboyz volumes once in Tom's cellar. They were soft and sticky and great.
'Also, in Norway we have salty liquorice and you Brits are missing out.'