Pete's one of those guys that makes your heart skip a beat if you are a climber... his audacious burst onto the scene with the incredible 'Dynamics Of Change' E9 7A, and it's mindbending photo and video coverage was one of the higlights of the last few years grit seasons and for me one of the most amazing grit ascents ever. So I for one am mega-psyched to have him on the Wild Country team for 2011 and pretty keen to see what he'll get up to next...
Pete tells us more about himself:
"Some stuff about me - I got into climbing through my parents, they are really into the outdoors so I didn’t have much choice really. (Not that I would have had it any other way!) We used to have family days out walking, scrambling and multipitching in The Peak, Wales, The Lakes and places like that, we would all follow Mum up as she lead the pitches. This started when I was about 6/7. From this age I also did the usual thing of entering the local comps, I was on the British Competition Climbing Team for about 5 years as well and managed to get to compete internationally which was good. The team trips were usually pretty eventful too!
Throughout this period I gradually progressed with my trad climbing. But it wasn’t until I met Ben Cossey, when I was 16, who came over from Australia that I realised I could climb significantly harder then I was climbing at the time. I started to progress through the grades at a pretty rapid rate, cramming in absolutely piles of routes, climbing everything I could and having a right laugh.
I keep a diary of routes that I have done and looking back at that period of time is ridiculous even for me to look at, I went from climbing E3 5c to putting up a new E9 7a and climbing English 7b, in a year! At the time it didn’t feel like I had taken that big a step, as my progression was fairly even just very quick.
Since Ben went back I have found a new regular climbing partner who can often be found hanging upside down in an offwidth somewhere. Yep that’s Tom (Randall.) He is pretty much as stupid as me and is always up for a good laugh, so since meeting him the climbing trips have been some of the best ever with a lot of my best climbing achievements incorporated in there somewhere. I don’t know how because usually the trips consist of complete epics and ‘Where the hell are we?’ Sometimes I wonder how we even get any climbing done!
Anyway, since this time I have managed to climb at lots of different places and widen the variety of rock I have climbed on, mainly trading it with some sport climbing and bouldering thrown in there if my biceps can take it (they usually say ‘no’ though, but I’m working on it!)
Over the last year I have been getting into the wider variety of cracks (that’s offwidth cracks by the way), I’m pretty psyched for this climbing as it requires a different type of strength that most other climbers aren’t up for using. It makes you try really hard and you know you’ve given every bit of effort after coming ‘out’ an offwidth route, which is what it’s all about.
I have done quite a few new routes in the last couple of years and this is what I really enjoy doing. I have some routes in mind that I want to try in the future, I just need to train harder to make sure I get up them.
Overall, I just love to go climbing whatever the weather with good friends and try and climb to my potential.
Climbing achievements - A few first ascents:
- Dynamics of change E9 7a
- Loose Control E8 6c
- Inspiration dedication E8 6b/c
- Grandad’s slab E7 6c,
- Re-mastered edge E7 6c
- Gobbler’s Roof E7 6c (completely recommended………….)
- Gloves of war E6 6c (first new route abroad)
- Back Down Under E6 6c (my first, first ascent)
Few of my best or favourite repeats:
- Braille Trail E7 6c
- A little Peculiar E7 7b (2nd ascent, first repeat for 16 years, also climbed it without the bomber side runners)
- Ugly E7/8 6b or XS (2nd ascent, first repeat for 17 years)
- Quarryman E8 6c (groove pitch, although I want to go back and do the whole lot)
- Ray’s Roof E7 6c (5th ascent)
- All Elements V11 (2nd ascent)
- A lot of E6’s and E7’s ground up, a couple of E7’s flashed.
Other 'stupid' things:
- Traversed the length of Stanage (4 miles) 2nd ascent
- Record for most outdoor routes climbed in a day, 550 each (with Tom Randall)
- First pair to complete Staffordshire Brown and Whillans Challenge (with Tom Randall).
Carlos Simes sends us this report from the Orco trad meet...
Sunday the 16th of September. We’ve just arrived to Ceresole Reale and so finished another driving periple across: Catalonia, France, the gigantic tunnel of Frejus (11km) and through a last smaller one that led us to the late afternoon light and chiller – than at sea level – temperature of Vall dell’Orco. The event standard was hanging from the front door of a nice alpine Italian construction; inside, a warm room and three gentlemen wearing the, for now on, official yellow badged (Club Alpino Accademico Italiano) jacket, “checked us in” with kind smiles and promising hospitality. A short briefing followed, introducing everyone’s faces, life basics and climbing organisation for the next six days. Cool atmosphere and psyched could be felt! First evening dinner together and bed time.
Big morning action (8.30am) at the outside of the dorm building. According to what would be the daily routine, a type of relaxed army call – poster with climbing teams and related routes/crag names in hands – and laughing mobilisation occurred. Here we go, kindly driven and oriented to the bottom of amazing granite/gneiss targets. Day after day, hand palms and fingers got more wounds and swollen (depending on individual climbing/tapping skills & ethics), meters of crack climbing accumulating and recurrent lines names and settings were discussed at dinner table along with epic Italian menus…good stuff! Thanks WildCountry and the great organisers, namely Mauro, Claudio and Angelo for such a friendly, fanatic and enjoyable meeting; for the opportunity to climb and hang out with people from such different cultural backgrounds, without clinging too much to nationals affinities or, cliches, climbing levels – table seat…Performances: to be remembered by all those who excelled themselves, participated or watched.
And Pete Whittaker writes:
Name/grade of the new route is 'Pump up the Pony' 7c+/8a (trad protected). its a slab, to 45 degree roof, with fingers and flared hand jams. its at a crag called CippoTondo. The crag was a newly developed crag and the guy who developed it took me there to let me have a go on the project which he had previously aided. Oh yeh I managed to do both Greenspit and Gloves of War again (on the same day) somehow!! Think all that jamming practice/training for america had really helped me with just standard hand jamming as the crux thin hands felt absolutely fine... weird!! Having not done any of that sort of stuff since the States I now realise we must have been well on it when we went over there for this route to still feel ok a year later and no specific training for it.
Pete on 'Pump Up The Pony'
Unreformed grit terrorizer Pete Whittaker declares the 2012/3 grit season open with the first ascent of a worrying line at the back cornerof Burbage's dankest quarry. In less than ideal conditions, with wet streaks covered with towels to stop seepage and on a 25 degree day (hence the wait until near dark for the ascent) Pete casually dispatches yet another gnarler!!
Nice to see Pete back and on form after a two month virus which stopped our intrepid hero from walking upstairs without being out of breath!!
Read more about Pete and see more videos here: bit.ly/QN6UU8
Pete Whittaker declares the new grit season open on one of the hottest days of the summer…
It was his mum who gave it away as I rang the house to catch up with Pete “We’re climbing this afternoon then I’m belaying Pete on his new route….oh, maybe I shouldn’t have told you that”
So after a quick call to Pete, “How did you find out??” I ended up spotting and being a ‘pad donkey’ as he sent his new route, (no name yet) but graded E7 6c, and yet another very hard ine to breach the back wall of the second quarry at Burbage South.
Although it seemed the most unlikely day for a new route, with temperatures reaching 25 in the Peak even this couldn’t put off the ever keen Pete. Waiting until near dark and some cool at around 7.30, (yet despite the heat needing beer towels taped to the wall to absorb streaks of water that were wetting his holds!!!) Pete dispatched the very bold route with the minimum of fuss.
Pete himself was pleased and relieved as, after a summer where he’s been laid low with a grim virus and still can’t train, he proved that although he may have lost some strength he certainly hasn’t lost his cool on the grit! The addition of another E7 makes this wall, already containing Pete’s own ‘Inspiration Dedication’ E8 and Si Moore’s ‘French Kiss’ E7, another venue for only the boldest of climbers.
As a bonus since we were already filming in the Peak with James Pearson and Paul Diffley from HotAches we were also able to get the ascent on film which you’ll be able to see soon on the Wild Country websites.
By the way, thanks to the guys (sorry I didn’t get your names) who helped us with the cameras as we ran out of hands due to spotting duties!!
Wild Country are proud to unveil their 2012 UK climbing team - a group of reckless and hardy individuals who help us test and promote our gear whatever the danger and cost to themselves...! Well, it’s not exactly like that, but, led by James Pearson, the Wild Country climbing team is peopled with climbers that we feel help represent the values and ideals of Wild Country across the spectrum of the sport.
So, leading the way with a slew of hard ascents in 2011, from almost flashing E10 to multi-pitch monstrosities like Joy Division and flashing 8b+ is James Pearson, now living in France but originally a Buxton lad and working with Wild Country since 2004. There’s a superb video of James in action on his E10 flash attempt here - http://vimeo.com/25140891.
James Pearson seen here on his flash attempt on Muy Caliente E10
Hot on his heels are the incredibly talented ‘Wideboyz’ team of Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker, who as well as tackling the worlds hardest offwidths – and the first ascent of Century Crack E9 (as you may just have heard about) have produced a load of awesome grit routes in the past few years filling some very cool gaps on the Peak District edges – you can see some Century Crack footage here - http://vimeo.com/35270800. Sheffield based there’s also Ben Heason who’s been working with Wild Country for years and is still sending 8b+ and E8, and the enigmatic Miles Gibson – the quiet man of the legendary super-desperates ‘Superstition’ and Superbloc’ on the gritstone. Also Peak based the youthful Hamer brothers have both been performing superbly in 2011: Ed probably outdoing his brother Sam with his fantastic results in the youth world cup climbing comps with a couple of 2nd places – but Sam showing he’s no slouch winding his neck out with few E8’s on the grit to even the scales – see the Hamers’ in action here - http://vimeo.com/26593785.
Last, but not least, long term teamer, Katherine Schirrmacher is hoping to build on her hard trad and grit E7 ascents after a year out to have a baby and build a very successful guiding business and will be starring in and sharing her technical knowledge in Wild Country’s ‘how to’ video series later this year.
Then up in Lancs the super psyched Jordan Buys is joined this year by his wife and partner Naomi to make an all action team. Both are multi discipline masters, mixing bouldering, trad climbing and sports climbing to a very high standard Jordan to 8c and E9 and Naomi to 8a+ and E7. See Jordan in action here: http://vimeo.com/34862987
Over in Yorkshire, Jenny Woodward, has an incredible resume and after a bit of a stop start year last year after having a baby and suffering a few injuries and only sending up to 8A+(!!!) has some even harder projects on the go...watch this space!
Further north, in the Lake District, Dave Birkett and Adam Hocking are both climbing at the highest level and still doing stunning new trad lines and bouldering at the highest level – there’s a great video of Adam on a new E8 here – http://vimeo.com/25808567
New team member Naomi Buys in action on Snap Decision E7 6C Ilkley...
Meanwhile in Scotland the evergreen Malcolm Smith of has been relentless on rock with a recent new 8c+ Blood Diamond, while the fearless Kev Shields simply sets new standards for his bold soloing and some great winter ascents. And across the ‘pond’ in Ireland Andy Marshall has been representing Wild Country and has also sent some pretty rad lines including E8 2nd ascents and plenty more.
Our boulder team (thought that terms a bit restrictive as they’re more than that) is headed up by the amazing Ned Fehally who seems to be taking bouldering up a notch as well as blurring the lines between highball and routes making some very hard ascents in 2011 including Samson E8 7a, and the Prow E9 7a both solo. See Ned in action here: http://vimeo.com/33103583. Nigel Callender also manages to continually impress, sending 8b+ - http://vimeo.com/20435941 - while studying to be a doctor in Newcastle and taking advantage of the awesome sandstone of Northumberland. Then in the south east the strong Ben Read is helping establish a new wave of sandstone desperates as well as writing guidebooks and promoting the excellent climbing around there. Joining these guys this year is year is Stewart Watson, a very strong climber who’s been competing internationally in boulder comps for a number of years and is adding 8c ascents to his pretty awesome bouldering CV.
We also have some young climbers doing well and with Tara Hayes we have one the most up and coming of the UK junior competition climbers who in her first year managed to grab an overall 6th place in the European Youth B standings.
So a big thanks to all those I’ve mentioned and anyone else who’s been flying the Wild Country flag - and you can see more about all Wild Country’s UK team at our website here:
And to get any news from the team first and fastest you can follow Wild Country on:
Twitter - @wildcountryuk
On our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wild-Country/97486098594
Or to watch all our videos our Vimeo page is here: http://vimeo.com/wildcountry/videos
Here's young gun Ed Hamer doing what he does best - climbing very very well on something that's very very steep!!!!!!
The Final Count and What's Next?
Now that we've finally settled back into the dampness of England and unpacked 42kg of size 6 Friends, it's time for some deep reflection, pondering and musing.........
|Right, who needs a big friend? Going cheap.....|
IS IT 'ECK!
Let's get the tick list out (for the geeks amongst us) and then work out what's next?
63 Days in the Wide Wilderness
Below is a list of what Pete and I climbed during our trip to the States, which includes some boulder problems (some of which were actually longer than other routes at Vedauwoo!). I've written it down in grade order, as making it chronological would require some level of organisation. I've left the original grades of the routes on, rather than the new suggested grades, for the sake of diplomacy.
(B) Denotes boulder problem - long or short and whether I felt like I would pass out or not // (Sb) Denotes major sandbag - Scarpelli Style.
Century Crack 5.14b
Army of Darkness 5.13d
The Price of Evil 5.13b
Eight Ounces to Freedom (B) 5.13b
Simiantics (B) 5.13b
Angry Pirate Finish 5.13a
Monsters Inc (B) 5.13a
Belly Full of Bad Berries 5.13a
Spatial Relations 5.13a
The Vag 5.13a
The Warden (B) 5.13a
Trench Warfare Extension 5.13a
Witness The Wideness 5.12d/5.13a
The Brad 5.12d/5.13a
Trench Warfare 5.12d
What the Big Boys Eat 5.12c
On a Wing and a Prayer 5.12c
New World Order (B) 5.12c
World's Hardest (B) 5.12b
Trip Master Monkey (Sb) 5.12b
Brother from Another Planet 5.12a/b
Big Baby 5.11b/c
Worm Drive (Sb) 5.11b
Big Pink (Sb) 5.11b
Torpedo Right (Sb) 5.11a
There's probably a few I've forgotten there - and I'll have got a few of the grades wrong. It's all good though, because if anyone out there gets really psyched, all you need to do is print off this list, buy your self 7 pairs of shoes and 37metres of athletic tape!