16 year-old Ellis Butler-Barker has recently been climbing hard at Brean Down, Somerset, coming away with a redpoint ascent of Steve McClure's Brean Topping, 8b, the crag's hardest offering, and Snakes 'n' Wankers, which at 8a+/b is Brean's second hardest route.
Ellis, no stranger to hard climbing having climbed 8b in France and 8A in the UK, first tried the route in the spring, but owing to warm conditions at the crag, could not use the normal beta for the crux, involving two tiny crimps. Ellis managed to work out a different sequence for the crux as he described on his blog:
"I found a set of moves which used a few fairly small pinches and one of the crux crimps (the better of the two) but only to use as an intermediate before I go to another pinch."
Ellis then had a few redpoint attempts, frustratingly falling off holding the flattie at the end of the hard climbing on his last go. He was then unable to return to Brean for the summer, but returned this October, with Brean Topping set firmly within his sights. After a short session reacquainting himself with the moves, he headed back to Brean in late October, managing a redpoint of the route despite greasy conditions at the crag. Talking about his ascent, Ellis said:
"I rested for a while and went for my first redpoint of the day but still feeling a little cold and not ready for the attempt but pushed on anyway. I arrived at the break and took a while to think through the next few moves. I pulled onto the crux section and hit most of the holds wrong but before I knew it I was eyeing up the big flatty, I went for it and latched it just right! I screamed a little and struggled through the upper wall (and almost dropped one of the moves) before I arrived at the chains. I came back down feeling pretty happy about ticking the route which just over a year ago I believed I would never do!"
On his blog, Ellis discussed the breakdown in difficulty of the route:
"The route can be broken into two main sections; the first is around a F7b+/c route to a break where you get an okay rest on slopers (where I spent quite a lot of time) then into the main section. The main (and crux) section for me consisted of around 7 moves at around V8/9 before hitting a huge flat hold and then probably F6a+ to the top from there"
Below is a video of Ellis climbing Brean Topping:
Ellis returned recently and redpointed Snakes 'n' Wankers, 8a+, though he commented that he felt it was "similar in difficulty to Brean Topping".
Ellis Butler-Barker is sponsored by: Mammut, Liquid Grip and Infinity Pro
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