Aidan Roberts climbs two top-end projects

© Wedge Climbing

Aidan Roberts has made ascents of two of his long term projects, The Helvellyn Project, which he has since named Spots of Time, and The Midnight Project, in Chironico, Switzerland.

The boulder requires technical heel hooks and quick moves between flat edges  © Wedge Climbing
The boulder requires technical heel hooks and quick moves between flat edges
© Wedge Climbing

The first of these, Spots of Time, Aidan climbed earlier this year. The boulder has small, relatively flat holds, and requires quick movements and good contact strength, rather than the slower movements through secure positions that Aidan typically prefers.

Speaking about the boulder in a video on the Wedge YouTube channel, he said 'it's flipping amazing, it's really hard, like really hard... it's really crimpy, but you can't just rely on that alone, there's a lot to coordinate, its got hard heel hooks, it's a very complex boulder problem'.

'It's hard to know exactly how well it suits me', he said on The Careless Talk Climbing Podcast after making the first ascent, 'it was kind of like a nice bit of variation in my style, you can't just solely static crimp the whole time'.

Aidan on Spots of Time  © Wedge Climbing
Aidan on Spots of Time
© Wedge Climbing

Having been searching for ambitious projects across Europe, Aidan found the boulder in May 2023, just a stone's throw from his home in the Lake District. As such, the boulder represented an opportunity for Aidan to spend more time at home after a long time travelling, whilst also giving him a project that really challenged him, and therefore helped keep him motivated through a winter of hard training.

Using rare dry days to project the boulder, and using the wet days in between to train for both Spots of Time and Midnight, Aidan was able to find a 'harmonious balance between training and projecting that felt really special'.

Aidan spent roughly thirty days in total on Spots of Time, and started properly trying it at the beginning of February. He mostly worked on it by himself, and managed to work out his final sequence over a period of ten days. 

Speaking on The Careless Talk Climbing Podcast, he said 'In terms of things I've done in climbing... I think it's the experience I'm most proud of, and I feel like it's really special to have found that so close to my home'.

You can see footage of Aidan working Spots of Time below, it is Project 1 in the video:

Whilst Spots of Time required Aidan to step away from his preferred style, The Midnight Project - or 'Midnight' - demanded the complete opposite, with Aidan saying that it was the first time in a long time where the area he needed to improve most in was 'the stuff that I'm good at' - controlled movements through stable positions on tiny edges. He added that the boulder offered 'a style which maybe hasn't been that represented in hard bouldering for a while'.

Midnight follows a 'series of very narrow gas bubbles' up a 'really finger intensive thirty degree face'. Aidan was first introduced to the boulder, which is near the popular boulder From Dirt Grows The Flowers (f8C), on his very first day in Chironico, back in 2022.

Aidan on The Midnight Project, now called Arrival of the Birds   © Wedge Climbing
Aidan on The Midnight Project, now called Arrival of the Birds
© Wedge Climbing

He tried it briefly then, before returning to the boulder after climbing Alphane (f9A) in the autumn of 2022. After revisiting the boulder that trip, he made the decision to prioritise it going forwards. 

Then, in the spring of 2023, Aidan went on an extended trip to Switzerland with the sole focus of climbing The Midnight Project. He made good progress, dropping one of the easier moves at the top of the boulder. Speaking about the boulder after that trip, he said that the bit of climbing he'd done up to falling off the easier top section 'probably was the hardest section of climbing I'd done'.

He returned to Switzerland alongside Shawn Raboutou in November, taking a much more relaxed approach and trying to place fewer expectations upon his climbing. As a result, the five or so sessions he spent on The Midnight Project throughout that trip were far more enjoyable than those he'd spent on it in the spring, and he found himself more motivated to train for the boulder and come back.

His sessions with Shawn also saw him change his approach to the boulder, starting at a lower slot that was a more obvious starting point - especially as Shawn couldn't reach the holds that Aidan had been trying the boulder from.

Returning to Switzerland in March - after a winter of training motivated by both The Midnight Project and The Helvellyn Project - Aidan went back to the boulder and began working it.

On his third session, he had what he described as 'almost a flawless climbing attempt from my experience' - except for a very slightly misplaced heel - and yet said that he was 'totally physically on the limit'.

Aidan on Arrival of the Birds  © Aidan Roberts
Aidan on Arrival of the Birds
© Aidan Roberts
Aidan on Arrival of the Birds  © Aidan Roberts
Aidan on Arrival of the Birds
© Aidan Roberts

Speaking on his podcast, he said that on both Alphane and Spots of Time, on the successful attempts they had felt 'pretty effortless', whereas, on The Midnight Project, even when everything went perfectly, even when he had an almost flawless attempt, he still found himself 'totally physically on the limit'.

'They're much easier moves up there', he said, 'but I was totally redlining on these holds. I never really expected those moves... to feel so limit... probably the hardest I've tried when climbing'. 

After resting, he had one final go, where everything fell into place, and yet still he found himself trying desperately hard at the top. 

'It felt like I climbed it really perfectly', he said, 'it felt like just nothing went wrong, I felt really good on all the holds, and I still felt like I was trying flipping really hard at the top... It was nice to feel... quite with it, quite relaxed, and [to still have] that feeling where I fully just felt like I was just maxing out in my fingers'.

You can watch footage of one of Aidan's attempts on Midnight in the video below:

Aidan is yet to offer a grade for either of these boulders. He is currently out in Finland, working the world's first 9A boulder, Burden of Dreams (f9A), alongside Clem Lechap, Nico Pelorson, Kokoro Fuji, Ryuichi Murai, and Ryohei Kameyama.

We'll be sending some questions over to Aidan shortly about his time on these boulders, so keep an eye out on site for the resulting piece.

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Aidan has repeated hard problems around the world and added a few of his own - Isles of Wonder Sit Start 8C+, Superpower 8C/+, Railway 8C in Rock Mountain National Park...

Aidan's Athlete Page 33 posts 18 videos

17 Apr

Incredible news. Sounds like the limit for hard bouldering in the UK has been raised again. What are the chances that it was on his doorstep from his family home?! There can't be that many things of this difficulty that even exist out there. And yet another amazing extremely hard line in Switzerland. Bravo Aidan!

17 Apr

Amazing news.

I wonder if Shadow Play is on his radar, an ascent of that would be a nice completion to that infamous arc.

18 Apr
I think I saw some footage of Will Bosi pawing the holds on Shadowplay describing how it might go. I got the impression it was possibly climbable, but too ridiculously difficult to be worth the effort? You’d think that if it was 9a It would have already been repeated by Roberts or Bosi, but who knows?

Here's a link to the video where he talks through the moves:

18 Apr

just give it a grade Aidan, I don't care if it's not 9A+... hnngggg I need to bust!

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