First Ascent of Persian Dawn 8c+ by Buster Martin

© Alex Hupje

Buster Martin has made the first ascent of the direct finish to Make it Funky 8c at Raven Tor (Miller's Dale), naming it Persian Dawn 8c+.

Buster Martin on Persian Dawn 8c+.  © Alex Hupje
Buster Martin on Persian Dawn 8c+.
© Alex Hupje

Make it Funky was first climbed by Mark 'Zippy' Pretty in 1993 after 60 days of effort spread over 3 years. The line was named after a Sheffield club night which was popular with climbers at the time. The route involves burly but technical climbing on decent holds and steep ground with lots of heel hooks and toe hooking; a style considered to be modern at the time of the first ascent.

Make it Funky starts up a boulder problem to a good hold for the left hand, referred to as the 'dog's mouth'. It's a decent hold, but only for one hand, and with poor footholds it doesn't offer much opportunity to rest. From here, Make it Funky loops out left and back right to the belay of Mecca, via an infamous mono move in an old bolt hole. Zippy removed a bolt when preparing for the first ascent, revealing the mono.

On his new direct finish, Buster told UKC: 

'Once you hit the dog's mouth jug the main difficulties of Make it Funky are over with just a 7Aish boulder to finish and this bottom section is around 8A boulder or 8b+/c route. At this point, Persian Dawn continues straight up via a delicate yet technical sequence on some very marginal holds, made holdable via a high left heel hook. This section is around 7C boulder.'

Buster first caught wind of the route when Ben Moon mentioned it to him after Buster had climbed Make it Funky in a couple of sessions last September. The route has been attempted over the years by: Rupert Davis, Rich Simpson, and Ryan Pasquill. Steve McClure cleaned the line and added a bolt last autumn and the route remained an open project, with Steve having a few sessions, as well as Mat Wright and Ben Moon giving it a go.

Following a productive winter spent in Spain - where he made the fourth ascent of Adam Ondra's El Potro 9a at Laboratori Sector, Margalef, before downgrading it to 8c+, and ticked Ley Innata 8c+/9a, Directa Rodillar 8c+/9a and Jungle Speed 9a in Siurana - Buster returned to the Tor. He said:

'I went up a couple of times at the end of my bouldering sessions to have a look. I was mostly just sitting on the bolt looking for holds. I struggle with small holds and didn't really make anything of it, but last weekend I got psyched and worked out the boulder problem with the high heel beta found by Alex Norton.'

Initially, Buster worked out a sequence going straight up from a crimp on Make it Funky, avoiding the crux move of Make it Funky to the dog's mouth. His trickery didn't pay off, though. He explained:

'I quickly realised there was nowhere to clip from, so then worked out a sequence using the dog's mouth and coming back across. It was a bit harder but allowed a clip and chalk up. There was talk that this hold should be eliminated to keep things super direct, but the reality is it's only about 3 inches further left than the other holds used and it would be a shame to force an eliminate.'

Alternative beta exists for taller climbers with longer reach, Buster adds. 'You can also go straight from the jug up to a high pocket that I used for my thumb, as tried in the past by Simpson and Ryan Pasquill. Although this would probably be just as hard.'

After struggling to get up Make it Funky again, Buster was initially disheartened as the line had gone down without much trouble previously. He explained: 

'I'd forgotten how subtle and tricky Peak climbing can be after 3 months in Spain. I was quickly humbled but came back on Sunday and sorted out the micro beta and got the route done.'

Buster named the route after a book of stories written by his great-grandfather called 'Persian Dawns, Egyptian Nights'. 

'It's in keeping with the Middle Eastern theme of some of the other routes at the Tor like Arabian Nights, Mecca, Hajj and Kaabah,' he added.

In 2019, Buster became only the second Brit to tick a confirmed 9a+, with his ascent of First Ley in November 2019. Buster is also a member of the GB Climbing Team, specialising in Lead. 

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Buster Martin is only the second Brit to tick a confirmed 9a+, with his ascent of First Ley in November 2019. In 2018, he redpointed Rainshadow 9a not long after taking a 4-year break from climbing.

Buster's Athlete Page 11 posts 2 videos

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