New Font 8B+ for Solly Kemball-Dorey at Hartland, Devon

© Mikey Cleverdon

19-year-old Solly Kemball-Dorey has climbed his first Font 8B+ at  Hartland Quay, Devon. The problem was a first ascent and links two of James Squires' problems - The Vault (Font 8B) and Autobahn (Font 8A+). He has named the problem The Speed of Light.

In recent months, Solly has been making his way through some of the hardest problems in the south-west. Back in July, he climbed a Font 8B version of Revolt at Hartland. In September, he was back at Harland attempting The Vault (Font 8B) which was a six-month process for him. At  Tintagel North, he climbed Alex Waterhouse's Merlin's beard, a Font 8B that Solly has described as 'a real head game.' He repeatedly fell off the final moves of the 21-move endurance-based problem before completing it at the end of September.

When he's not repeating climbs, Solly has an appetite for finding and developing new ones. He describes the possibilities in the south-west as 'endless.'

'New crags are being found every month or so on the coast because it's 100 odd miles of rock which is constantly changing every winter due to the storms. I enjoy getting first ascents as you get to climb something new and explore places where not many, if any, people have been. I have also climbed most of the boulders on the Culm Coast and don't have the time to be travelling constantly.'

Solly has climbed some king lines and hard additions on the coast; Rusty Gem (Font 8A+) at  Lynmouth, A Race Against Death (Font 8A) and Brawlhalla (Font 8A+) to name a few.

His hardest first ascent so far is The Speed of Light, a link-up of the hardest moves on the  Hartland Quay. He knew the individual sections well from his ascents of The Vault and Autobahn, but the difficulty meant that it still took 2-3 months to complete.

Solly has been climbing for the past ten years and was a competition climber for seven of them. In 2017, he dropped out of the GB development squad and took a trip to Switzerland with his coach, Tom Bunn, which drastically altered his focus. His improvement has been fast - in April of 2019, he climbed his first Font 8A+ and a year and a half later, he's nearly run out of climbs in the south-west!

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