Hard Ascents at Biblins Cave for Hamish Potokar and Aidan Roberts

© Paul Wood

Biblins Cave has seen a flurry of action recently with Hamish Potokar ticking his first Font 8B+ and Aidan Roberts climbing a hard project. The limestone cave has become synonymous with the highest concentration of the hardest climbs in the country.

Spaceship was Hamish's first 8B+  © Paul Wood
Spaceship was Hamish's first 8B+
© Paul Wood

Hamish's ascent of Spaceship (f8B+) was the longest he's 'deliberately worked on a climb,' taking him around ten sessions. Hamish has previously made ascents of some of gritstone's finest 8B's, such as The Ace (f8B) and Voyager (f8B), but Spaceship was his first 8B+:

'It began as just an obvious direction to funnel my energies whilst Covid smothered normal life. It's a really stunning feature, in a beautiful setting near to Bristol, and I knew it was going to throw up a challenge for me, so it seemed like an obvious target. For most of the process I just enjoyed the rhythm it set me in; puzzling through sequences, making small progressions, intermittent dips in the Wye, which runs past two minutes scramble down the hill. I think towards the end a bit of monotony was creeping in and I was ready to say bye to that same car journey and those same thoughts and visualisations which cycle round the head.'

Luckily, Hamish had a board at home on which he could train during lockdown, using it to fill monotonous empty days whilst the pandemic carried on. The extra training led to a 'surge in motivation' which Hamish regards as the most important factor to ticking Spaceship.

Spaceship, first climbed by James Squire is an extension to Godzilla  © Paul Wood
Spaceship, first climbed by James Squire is an extension to Godzilla
© Paul Wood

Spending the last few years studying in Glasgow, Hamish got to know the problems at Dumbarton and using problems like Firefight (f8B), a steep Malcolm Smith 8B, he was able to benchmark his progression:

'I think it does mark a bit of a level up. Some of that stuff I have done there might be at the heels of this thing, but it's hard to make comparisons without having the two things next to each other. On balance, I think this took that bit more time and effort.'

For the next year, Hamish will be working in Madrid and plans to spend some time exploring areas such as Pedriza. Until he leaves, he plans on spending time climbing in the UK:

'Generally, I feel pretty excited about the amount of good stuff we have in this country. This is certainly something that the current crisis has revealed to a lot of people, and I hope some have been encouraged to reconsider some of their backdoor potential.'

Whilst at Biblins Cave, Hamish showed a project to Aidan Roberts, knowing that he would likely have the steely fingers required. Aidan explained that 'no proper sequence had been discovered' and initially attempted a suggestion from Hamish, although came up short.

After finding a smaller edge at a better angle, the sequence became clear. Aidan told UKC:

'The climb requires some flexible hips with a high foot for the crux slap. With that sequence, it only took a couple of tries but I feel, had I tried it more, I'd have figured out the movement better and kept my feet on which would likely have made it feel significantly easier.'

Aidan named the problem 'Ebbing the Flow' and graded it Font 8B.

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