Monday, 14 March 2011

Fire in the Rain 8b+ at Anston Stones

Recently I finally had that elusive perfect go and succeeded on what feels like a long term project at Anston Stones. I’m going to call the line 'Fire in the Rain' and suggest a grade of 8b+. It is essentially the full left hand continuation of an existing 8a+ line called 'White Light Direct'. There is a bit of a story behind this bit of rock and i wrote about it in a previous post which can be found here: . To pick up where that left off; it seriously niggled in the back of my mind and a month later I found myself on a ladder cleaning the holds on the left and working on the moves. (trying the line in the December snow photo T Simpson)

The full line now takes an amazing line up the left side of the arete and is severely overhanging all the way. This line now has a proud highball feel to it and In my opinion by far the best line at the venue with some great moves. If I was to offer a criticism it is slightly eliminate you have to stay strictly left under the roof all the way keeping your right hand on the poor arete holds only, and your left on the left most holds. This is not as bad as it sounds as when you look at the rock this seems like the obvious challenge and bailing out early feels like just that! The picture right shows the holds i used (not in order), anything right of the red line is on the side wall and therefore out.

Numbers Rundown

Here are some comments on the grading as clearly this will raise a few eyebrows. Well for starters I feel like I have been building up to this climb for a long time. If you read the link you will get a run down of the history. But basically 'Fire in the Rain' starts sitting as for 'White Light' which you have to climb with my original 8a sequence (Hard White Light?) to allow you to eliminate the side wall holds on the harder version. There is an easier method which is still climbable despite a hold breaking that is only 7c+ but you are forced into using a good edge and a jug just above on the sidewall, which lead naturally right into the corner. Instead you have to stay left and make tricky on/off heal hook moves to get to a good slopey crimp. This is essentially 'White light Direct' which is about 8a+, which goes up for a juggy ledge on the side wall a bit further along the arete. This is called 'Direct' as the logical finish for this is to climb up the right side of the arete rather than right to the corner.

'Fire in the Rain' stay left and involves a further tricky dead point and another tenuous heel hock move were you have to move your hand to a poor hold. After spending some time on the problem i think this is probably the hardest move. After this some basic locks get you right to the top of the crag. Linking all of this together was both hard and very frustrating as the more I would try the more I got frustrated with the on-off nature of the moves. After the start which finally felt powerful but fairly secure you have to make a series of moves where at any point you could just slip off. The most frustrating thing was the final heel hock move!! (Trying to get the top heel to stick photo T Simpson)

So bearing all this in mind with the top being quite hard in its own right with a very tenuous move it makes sense that this climb is at least 8b but I think its move than a one grade extension. Also for me it felt like one of hardest and certainly the most frustrating climb I've ever done. It certainly is a lot harder than Keen Roof or Serenity/Serendipity and took me a lot longer to climb in total, so I really think it’s worth the plus. Recently the variations have been tried by a couple of strong climbers and that left me happy about my logic and that I’ve not lost the plot. ‘Fire in the Rain’ certainly feels very hard but in a different way to normal power style problems, where it is usually just about getting stronger in a basic way, something I feel makes this climb a bit special!

(A different perspective of the problem photo T Simpson)

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