Monday, 31 December 2012

The Best way to End the Year- 'Guy Fawkes' Font 8a (V11)

After the Brean trip being cancelled on Thursday 27th, due to the person who I was going with picking up an injury the day before the planned day trip, I was worried that I wasn’t going to get another outdoor session in before the end of the year. On Friday feeling a little worried about not being able to finish the year with a cool route/problem I decided to do some training and went out for a long trial run (with some of the steepest hills I’ve ever ran up). Later that day I received a text about a possible trip to Portland on Sunday due to a short window of good weather on the isle. So obviously I took this opportunity and on 30th December 2012 I was heading to Dorset for my final session of the year.

After an early start and a journey into Totnes, to meet Dan and Andy, I was feeling very tired but extremely psyched to try and get the most out this session, especially because it was my last session of my first complete year of climbing (I started climbing February/March 2011, so only did 10/11 months in 2011). After a 2.5 hour journey I had finally arrived on the Isle of Portland for my first time climbing in Dorset. I had originally planned to try ‘Fighting Torque’ F8a but when we arrived e decided to just boulder (due to low temperatures and high wind speeds) meaning not too much time would be spent standing around belaying or spectating.

As we headed towards The Cuttings Boulder field I spotted a section that I had previously seen in photos, the classic ‘Stompin’ with Bez’ was. I knew that a problem which I have always wanted to do ever since I started climbing was nearby and maybe worth looking at. This problem is the very highball font 8a (V11)- ‘Guy Fawkes’, originally climbed by Jim Kimber in ’99 but has had big hold broken off since and was reclimbed by John Gaskins and then after a few more repeats was given benchmark 8a (v11) and supposedly the hardest established problem in Dorset. ‘Guy Fawkes’ was the first ‘difficult’ problem that I had heard about as I newbie so has always been a problem which I was quite keen to attempt when I got the chance to go to Portland. So we scrambled over the bank and had a look along that wall where Dan and Andy decided to try ‘Stompin’...’ and I was going to have a few attempts on ‘Guy...’ to see what it what it was like. To be honest my initial impression of the problem was that it looked rather hard and pretty high. I think that my opinion on its difficulty was due to the two awful hand-holds that were in front of my face when I stood next to the problem.

We decided to get warmed up on a nice looking traverse that the guidebook appeared to show as V2 but later we found out it was V8 (so not the most appropriate warm-up).  I had a few attempts on ‘Guy Fawkes’ still feeling a bit cold but thought it felt a bit hard. I decided to have a flash attempt on ‘Stompin’ with Biz’ but didn’t quite manage the flash, straight after my attempt Dan found new easier beta though!

Back to ‘Guy Fawkes’ and after figuring out all the moves but one (which I hadn’t tried) the rain started to pour down on us making some holds on the problem a little wet, I had a long rest while waiting for the rain to stop; eventually it did and I started to try the problem again. I brushed all the holds and thought they were now dry enough to use, this saw me back on the problem trying it from the start where I fell from the move that I hadn’t yet tried (a heinous move from a poor side-pull to a horribly polished crimp with left hand, while on an okay two finger undercut with the left). After around 2 minutes rest I quickly got back on the problem and stuck the move, now all I had to do was two hard moves and I would be on for the race to the finish. I did the first hard move... Then moved out comfortably left for the next hold, as I grabbed the crimp my hand slid straight off and I was now lying on my back on the floor. My screaming after that was compared to Adam Ondra’s when falling off of the La Dura Dura Project (

After 20 minutes rest I went back on and stuck the move I had previously fallen from but as I did the first of the easier moves I popped and again had been spat off this problem. 

Feeling a little annoyed I went for a walk, thought about the problem and went through the sequence over and over again in my head. After 15 minutes I was back and ready to finish this problem! I did a little warm-up in between spotting Dan on an interesting problem that he was trying- ‘Fire starter’ V5. I put on my shoes, applied some Liquid Grip, thought through the sequence one final time and pulled on to the starting holds, into the undercut, side pull, switch feet, big throw over to the crimper, out left to the next crimp then high feet, drop-knee and big throw out to another poor edge. Cutting loose, I managed to hold the swing but didn’t quite catch the hold right and had caught it as a 2 finger half crimp instead of the 4 finger full crimp which I was hoping for but somehow pulled through! All I had to do now was remain calm and composed and climb the V5 section to the top. After a lot of hanging around and worrying I moved up feeling slightly pumped from hanging around on the pinch and crimp hesitating whether to move out to the gaston but I soon went for it and somehow pulled through and matched the soaking wet finish. I had done it, ‘Guy Fawkes’ Font 8a (V11), my last boulder problem of 2012 and a very good one at that!

Feeling very pleased I packed up and heading home. The remaining one day will not be used for climbing (mainly due to a lack of skin) but I’ll use it to train be going for a run and doing some core training. I’m very very excited about what awaits me in 2013 and I hope I and everybody has a great year.

Thank you to strong local climber and photographer Tommy for the photos.

Thanks for reading,


Images coming soon...