Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker have recently broken the speed record on the Staffordshire 'Nose' Challenge, set in July by Andi Turner and Pete Bridgwood at 8 hours and 41 minutes. Randall and Whittaker held the original record at 9 hours and 56 minutes, now holding it at 5 hours and 53 minutes.
The Staffordshire 'Nose' Challenge is also known as the 'Brown-Whillans Day Out', and involves climbing all the Joe Brown and Whillans routes at The Roaches, Hen Cloud and Ramshaw. Originally, the challenge was to simply complete the routes in 24 hours, but since Tom and Pete set the first record, it has become, much like the Nose, a test of climbing speed and efficiency.
In July, Andi Turner and Pete Bridgwood beat Tom and Pete's first record by 1 hour and 15 mintues, even having time to have a break before climbing Ramshaw Crack. This inspired Tom and Pete to get back and have another go at the challenge and try and get the new record. After a practice day the weekend before, Tom and Pete headed out, with Guy Van Greuning to capture the success.
Unfortunately, as the trio arrived at the first crag, they found it, and both the other crags, wet due to a claggy mist. Rather than letting this stop them, they focussed on the positives and cracked on. Soon the weather turned from bad to worse, and it began raining. Unperturbed, Pete and Tom cracked on, though it definately got more difficult as Tom described on his blog:
"Pete’s lead of Dorothy’s Dilemma (very bold E1 5b) was 'scarier than Meshuga' in his words and I very nearly fell of seconding it as I tried to pull on holds that resembled bars of wet soap. By the time we’d reached Hen Cloud and 16+ routes were under our belts, we had entered the zone of no return. We were screwed and we knew it. Our trousers and tops were soaking wet, our shoes were drenched and chalk didn’t seem to do very much except colour the rock."
The care and attention that the pair had given to things such as rope-flaking and boot cleaning were, by now, well out of the window as the pair raced up route after route, soaked to the bone but driven on by single-minded determination to beat Andi and Pete's record. Soon, exhaustion struck Tom as he fought to second Masochism, HVS 5b, thinking he may have tried harder on Masochism than Century Crack, they faced one last route; Ramshaw Crack, E4 6a. Tom spoke about the final routes of the challenge:
"I felt like a deadman walking. Deadman climbing? Somehow his [Pete's] unrealistically optimistic words booted me in the arse and I crawled upwards. I don’t know how. It was so close I felt like I’d just topped out on Century Crack again. In fact I think I might have tried harder on Masochism?! Just half an hour later Pete lead Ramshaw crack in soaking wet conditions and I joined him at the top, slithering into a pile of Tom-shaped clothes. Guy was screaming, Pete was screaming and we were over the moon to get a new record time of 5 hrs and 53 mins."
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