The Process: Brian

Well I can’t believe I finally did this route; its always seemed to be that impossible route which has been tried by some very strong climbers but never repeated. Almost 12 years ago, back in August 2003 Ken Palmer made the first ascent of a huge Anstey’s link which takes in some of the hardest moves on Ferocity wall as well as some of the coolest sequences. It starts up Poppy a desperate 8b+ before going into the crux of Postman Pat which is around a V8 boulder before going into a half decent rest before you then finish up Tuppence Ha’penny, another 8b+.

Since I first visited Anstey’s back in 2012 it has been a dream to climb Brian. However I could never see that being a possibility, it just seemed too hard. I kind of knew that I would be able to climb an 8c+ one day but I never thought that Brian would be possible for some reason. I think I was partly intimidated by it because it has been rumoured to have been tried by some of the UK’s best sport climbers without any success and having been unrepeated for so long I couldn’t imagine it being me getting that second ascent!

Brian 8c+. Photo by Tom Wright

Brian 8c+. Photo by Tom Wright

I first tried the route in 2014 just before a trip to Rodellar back in June 2014 and I had around 4 sessions, I felt fairly comfortable on the route but when I went to Spain I came back feeling really weak on the route and didn’t put much time into the route.

After I did Chimera Extension in February this year I was keen to start trying Brian again. I started trying to get into shape for this route; eating much better and more nutritional foods, waking up early before college to go for a run or stretching session and trying new training techniques. The first session on the route went really well and all the moves felt much easier than I’d remember them, I tried a few quick links but didn’t get very far, it was my first session and I wasn’t expecting much. The next session I decided to go for a redpoint to see how far I could get and I got a new high point, it was only one move further than I’d got last year but it was progress and I was pleased. After that I had two sessions which went massively down hill, I couldn’t touch the crux of Poppy and I just couldn’t pull at all! I had a couple of comps coming up and a couple of weeks where I could do a little bit of training. For the first time I’d try a bit of stregnth training by doing some campussing and some fingerboarding and try to be a little more methodical about it, my campussing in the past had consisted of trying to pull hard at the end of the session and seeing how far we could get but nothing serious.

The fifth session of the year after some training went really well. I had a hard campus session in the morning and then headed to Anstey’s for a quick session in the evening. This time even after a hard session earlier in the day I felt so much stronger and did the crux move first time. The light was fading fast but I went for a redpoint, I felt really good and managed to pull out an extra two moves to make a new high point! I knew it was back on and I’d get the Easter holidays to have a few days on it to try and redpoint the route.

I took a full rest day yesterday to try and have a couple of redpoint attempts today and I had 5 other days planned where I’d be able to try and get the route done. I warmed up by doing Flo Rida, a cool 7a+, then straight onto The Lynch 7b+, then I quickly went through the Poppy moves and finished my warm up by doing Patpence Ha’penny 8b. 20 minutes rest and I was tying in for my first try of the day, I made through Poppy pretty quickly, moved into the Postman Pat section but felt a little powered out but made it through. Now I was at the rest before I had to tackle the redpoint crux of the route. I spent a bit of time here knowing that this is the point where I always come off but this time it felt different. I felt fresh, moved through the moves and I was at my previous high point, clipped, moved into the upper section of Tuppence, slapped and I’d caught the pinch and now I had a good rest before doing the final 7c section of the route. I spent ages at the rest not wanting to leave incase I dropped the last part of the route which I knew so well. Eventually I decided to go and climbed as carefully as possibly, watching every foot placemet engaging my core, being very precise with every movement. It paid off and I’d clipped the chains, it was done! I couldn’t believe that I had just made the second ascent of BRIAN, the 8c+ which I never thought would be possible!

Part of Brian 8c+. Photo by Tom Wright

Part of Brian 8c+. Photo by Tom Wright

Overall I spent roughly 10 sessions on the route and I had around 8 redpoint attempt this year but I’m not sure how many last year. I’m so happy to do this route and it hasn’t been an easy process, its by far the longest I’ve spent on a project and it required me to be a little more tactical with my climbing which is something I haven’t really done before. I’ve really enjoyed the whole process but it’s nice to get the route done. I have also been told that this is the youngest ascent of an 8c+ by a Brit. I was told Malcolm Smith was 18 or 19 when he did Hubble (although this is likely 9a) which makes me the same age or a year younger! I owe a huge thank you to Jamie and Charlotte for the support on the route; the Quay for the training facilities and also Mammut and Five Ten for the kit which gets me up these routes!

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