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Rare Ascent of Shallow Groove (Font 8B/+) for Aidan Roberts

© Katie Varian

Aidan Roberts has made a rare ascent of Shallow Groove at Trowbarrow. The problem was first climbed by John Gaskins, although the subsequent repeats by Ryan Pasquill and Aidan have climbed a different, more direct line.

Breaking a crucial hold didn't stop Aidan - the problem took him 30 minutes  © Katie Varian
Breaking a crucial hold didn't stop Aidan - the problem took him 30 minutes
© Katie Varian

The problem has seen a lot of attention over the years, but it is renowned for being 'weird and specific,' so has hardly had any repeats. Aidan described the climb and what's required:

'It has perhaps some of the smallest crimps I've ever used on such overhanging terrain but it's made easier by the fact you are essentially standing on a ledge. It's just 3 hand moves involving a backhand crimp and some strange shoulder movement to get established on the ledge before a jump to the lip which I mostly hold one hand. There's not anything out there like it really. I'd heard it was strange like this and never thought myself suited to this weird style but the ratty edges made it appealing to me and I seemed to fare ok.'

Ridiculously strong fingers, flexible hips and powerful shoulders are required. Aidan has all of these, but even so, his ascent was remarkably quick - this was his first session on the problem. Managing most of the moves straight away, the only doubt came when he managed to break a hold on his first attempt from the beginning.

Aidan catches the lip one handed  © Katie Varian
Aidan catches the lip one handed
© Katie Varian

'I then re-climbed the last move which felt a good bit harder with the new edge, but still ok, before then getting the full thing done. Maybe around 30 mins to climb it but figuring out how to hold the holds was the crux of the process for me.'

On the subject of the grade, Aidan is diplomatic saying that the uniqueness of the movement, combined with the climb's mysterious history make it a tricky one to put a number on:

'I'm good at getting the grades of climbs using small holds way off but I'm going to propose 8B/+. However, this is a prime example where the grading system breaks down a little. This boulder isn't comparable to others I've climbed before.'

Lockdown has been treating Aidan relatively kindly. Living in the Lake District now that lockdown is easing has its benefits, although he's not been taking full advantage of his situation because of his university exams.

'I'm nearing the end of that period now though so will no doubt be spending some more time off the board and in the hills.'

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