Fairhead stalwart Rob Hunter has climbed a new Font 8B+ at the crag, which is likely to be one of the hardest problems in Ireland. The problem is the logical sit start to Dan Varian's Blondie – a committing highball above a landing that requires several pads.
Rob climbed Varian's stand start in January this year. Unfortunately, the next couple of months before lockdown were 'a total washout with constant storms battering the North coast.' Managing to stay strong during lockdown on his board and specifically targeting small edges, Rob returned and climbed the sit start in his first session after lockdown, describing it as 'one of the most iconic and stunning lines at the Head.'
Blondie Sit Start adds 'a few cool compression moves on nice crimps before committing to the big throw' on Dan's original stand. From there, it's micro edges to the top. Rob explains that the difficulty on the sit start is maintaining accuracy on the sit start crimps, in order to maintain the tension on the 45-degree overhanging wall.
'This is all going on whilst blocking out the thoughts of dropping down a hole if you miscalculate catching the holds! Fairhead is notorious for its interesting landings.'
Blessed to go back outdoors. To enjoy nature, absorbing the scents of the last spring bluebells and embrace the breeze on the coast. These are just a few of the many things we have missed during lockdown. Now that restrictions have lifted a little and that we can travel for exercise whilst maintaining social distancing, its good to be back on the rock. I am not a full time athlete and being self employed I work on average 40-60 hours per week. I am fortunate to have an amazing facility at home, however I have limited time to train and practice what I love. This is were efficiency means everything. I don't have time for 4 hour sessions (as much as I'd love to!) I have to keep it effective and efficient with minimal faff! I am so psyched that this approach has paid off! This is, in my opinion the proudest line sitting in the Murlough chaos. Blondie ss V14 8B+ first ascent, the hardest problem on Ireland's northern frontier to date. Full vid IGTv #sport #ireland #rockclimbing #bouldering #passion #performance #trainingforclimbing #climbing #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #dreams #irishbouldering #irishclimbing #hardworkpaysoffs #neverstopexploring #quarantinelife #motivation #firstascent
Grading it Font 8B+, Rob explained that 'it feels like it's towards the top end of what's been climbing on the dolerite here. It'll take a few repeats to gather a consensus on the grade.'
Developing hard bouldering in Ireland is slow work – David Fitzgerald has recently moved to the US, Michael Duffy is focusing on sport climbing and Dan Varian doesn't live in Ireland; although his trips to Fairhead are often marked with a 'flurry of development.' Rob, along with Ricky Bell are still very motivated developers, but there are few people climbing in the 8's.
Rob said: I have come to realise that developers are a very rare breed.. The monumental effort it takes to explore and open new lines especially at Fairhead is only of interest to a few who love the adventure and search.'
Rob has been developing at Fairhead since the early 2000s and wrote the Bouldering Guide with his wife Veronica. The pair have since been working on the upcoming second edition of the book.