Chris first considered the potential for a link-up after Ally Smith bolted Almost Familiar earlier this year. Chris told UKC:
'Back in February Ally cleaned, bolted and climbed a new route going through the lip of the cave. He took the easiest line of resistance starting up Parisella's Original at about French 7c. It joins the finishing jugs of Trigger Cut, so was it was an obvious challenge to climb directly into the route. I thought Director's Cut (Lou Ferrino + Trigger Cut) linked into it would obviously be brilliant but a bit out of my league.'
Chris linked Trigger Cut 7C+ into Almost Familiar at 8a+ and also managed a bigger link from deep within the cave starting up Halfway House 8A at 8b/+. He told UKC:
'At that point, I never even thought I'd ever do Director's so didn't consider trying the whole thing. I got a bit better and shocked myself by getting to the last moves of Director's. I spent a while falling off there then eventually did it. I knew I could probably do the route extension if I could get there but the main problem was doing Director's again.'
Feeling as though his form was diminishing, some fingerboard training left Chris feeling better than ever and eventually saw him falling off the route section twice, before managing the full link the following day.
Commenting on the grading of this unusual boulder/sport route mix, Chris told UKC:
'It was pretty easy to grade. Director's is a tough font 8A+ if you use kneebars, so that would be 8c in its own right. The extension isn't that hard relatively, but it's steep and adds pump as you can't really rest much. A few people have said to me that it should be harder than 8c but it probably depends on how wired you have the cave!'
Has Chris got his eye on any other link-ups at the cave and is it 'climbed-out' yet?
'I live 10 minutes away and it's really convenient so I'll always go there. I guess the life goal in there would be Pilgrimage (a man can dream!)'
'No, the Cave is unlikely to ever be climbed-out. The hardest link-up I can conceive of is maybe Font 8C+, so unless someone like Alex Megos gets really keen (unlikely) there's always more to do in there whoever you are.'
Chris was initially climbing in the Cave to train for a sport project which he has been trying for a few years. He told us:
'I should probably have another go at that, although I've only got three weeks before I go to Australia on a three week non-climbing holiday so it's unlikely to happen this year.'
Watch a video of Chris climbing Final Cut below:
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