Aidan Roberts has made the first ascent of a Font 8C on the Shelter Stone at Trowbarrow, naming it Outliers. This is Aidan's second first ascent at the grade – he made the first ascent of Railway in Rocky Mountain Park in 2019 for which he suggested 8C.
The problem is on the back face of the Shelter Stone and starts sitting underneath Atrocity Exhibition. Aidan described the problem: 'It pulls on two small crimps with a crucial thumb catch on the left hand. It makes three hard moves including a physical backhand in the roof whilst holding a draining shouldery position whilst walking your feet up very high to match into an undercut in the roof before following this roof line out left.'
Aidan first attempted the problem just two weeks ago in 'far from ideal' temperatures. His sessions were short, and he didn't come close to either of the first two moves. He turned up for his third session without expectations: 'It turns out I'd unknowingly stumbled into a run of form and I was able to unlock the moves by simply trying harder and feeling stronger. Upon unlocking them I had a close go which took me by surprise and confidence and after a few more goes I found myself on top of the block!'
The problem is undoubtedly one of the hardest in the country – Aidan is one of the strongest boulderers around and has spent the last couple of years ticking hard problems from the talus fields of Rocky Mountain National Park, to climbing projects at Biblins Cave and closer to home in the Lake District. He used the problem Isla De Encanta on the same boulder as Outliers as a benchmark for grading the problem:
'Straight afterwards I jumped on Isla De Encanta which is deemed as solid at the grade and it went down first try feeling very comfortable, whereas I'd had a real battle through the Outliers sequence only minutes before. It therefore seemed logical that there was more than one grade between them.'
Not stopping there, Aidan had a couple of warm down laps on Shallow Groove (8B), which he had repeated earlier in the year: 'this felt relatively comfortable too. Initially, I was thinking of grading Outliers 8B+, but soon realised that this was maybe an unfair representation of its difficulty.'
Aidan has been working with Ollie Torr at Lattice and puts his run of form down to 'training smart, prioritising useful rest and maintaining a healthy diet.'
There are very few Font 8C problems in the UK. Notable problems with the big grade attached include James Squire's The World Is Yours and Ambition which are both at Biblins Cave and Mike Adams has added Serenata at Roche Abbey.