Fresh from climbing the first ascent of one of the UK's hardest problems, Aidan Roberts has ticked Badger Cove in Deep Dale in a single session. This includes Dandelion Mind (Font 8B), Bewilderness (Font 8B+) and the tricky Badger Badger Badger (Font 8A). Only a day later, he went on to tick Superman Sit Start (Font 8B+) in a session.
Aidan climbed the three main problems at the crag in only a handful of tries. Badger Badger Badger, a relatively high 8A with a hard, dynamic move, took him 3 attempts. He despatched Dandelion Mind, the first of Dan Varian's desperate high-8 testpieces, on his second go and then finally ticked Bewilderness in a few more attempts to round off the session.
Commenting on his outrageous session, Aidan told UKC:
'I got Badger Badger Badger done in about 3 tries, it's hard to warm up at a crag where the easiest climb is 8A! I then tried to give Bewilderness a good flash go and got into the crux left hand undercut with relative ease but felt as though I couldn't move the foot at all, it turns out this was because I was using the completely wrong right hand. I thought I'd come back to it, so pulled on Dandelion Mind expecting it to feel hard for me as it looked like awkward and techy body positions, but to my surprise, it suited me well and though it felt as though I dropped off out of surprise on the first try, I was happy to do that 2nd go.
'I then went back to Bewilderness and I tried a completely different sequence for the next few goes which I thought was a better way to do it and after a savage dry fire and hefty back slam, I finally tried the method everyone else had used. Lesson learnt, download videos and watch them carefully if you're wanting to flash hard climbs. Anyway, with the usual method it took a couple of tries and felt steady.'
The day after his destruction of Badger Cove, Aidan had a session at Cressbrook where he came agonisingly close flashing Superman (Font 8B), eventually climbing it on his second attempt. He went on to climb the Font 8B+ sit start in the same session.
'I jumped on Superman and surprised myself by dropping the last tricky slap to the sloper on my flash attempt, I happily settled for 2nd try once more and the sit took a few extra tries but I was pleased to get that done too. It seems flashing isn't my thing but it's never been a big source of motivation for me.'
'All in all, a really pleasant intro to some of the best Peak Lime. A couple of relaxed days of amazing weather and I hope to return soon as Badger Cove seemingly has the potential for many more climbs.'
Just last week, Aidan climbed Outliers on the Shelter Stone at Trowbarrow – his new Font 8C. He finished up the session by climbing Isla De Encanta (8B) and a couple of warm down laps on Shallow Groove (8B). Aidan's session at Badger Cove is yet another impressive achievement for the rising star of UK bouldering.
Commenting on the grades of the recent problems he has climbed, Aidan said: 'Having pretty much exclusively climbed in The Lake District in terms of outdoor climbing over the past year I feel perhaps it was hard to judge the level I was climbing when most of the sessions were finding and figuring out new climbs. Perhaps more a reflection of my own interpretation of grades rather than that of the problems I tried the past couple of days, but I found all the climbs I did pretty comfortably within my ability which perhaps results in my reconsideration of grading first ascents.
'I'm unsure whether or not these climbs are perceived as fair for the grade so would be intrigued to see if I've snatched up some holiday big numbers or have been getting it wrong myself, or even a bit of both.'
Based on Aidan's thoughts and the fact that the problems at Badger Cover and Cressbrook aren't renowned soft-touches, it's fair to say Aidan's own problems might be quite stern for the grade - could Outliers even be the UK's first 8C+? Only time will tell.
Dan Varian first climbed discovered Badger Cove in 2011 and subsequently developed the crag, climbing Dandelion Mind, Bewilderness and Badger Badger Badger. Bewilderness is considered one of the hardest problems in the Peak District and has had three other repeats from Dan Turner, David Mason and Will Bosi.
Ben Moon made the first ascent of Superman Sit Start in 1994 and the grade was thought to be in the 8B/8B+ range. After his ascent, the crucial sidepull snapped making it harder. It wasn't until the early 2000s that Tim Clifford reclimbed the stand start using a small crimp instead of the broken sidepull. In 2015, Ned Feehally reclimbed the sit start at the grade of 8B+. Will Bosi made another ascent of it earlier this year.