Dan Varian started out this year with a lengthy list of hard projects, some second ascents, some new routes and some ‘lifetime projects.’ Until recently that list was still almost as long as it had been in January, with the wet summer months proving particularly frustrating. Varian describes on his Beastmaker blog one session where on the form of his life and within a fraction of success horizontal rain saw him wrapped up in his bouldering mat, hanging on in the hope the rain would stop and the problem would dry enough for another attempt. Well it seems those frustrating sessions and all that hard effort have paid off as during the last 4 -5 weeks the successes have come thick and fast.
First was Trivial Pursuit Deluxe (8A+) an extended start to Varian’s own problem at Hepburn, in Northumberland. Two days later Varian managed a super short but super hard problem at the recently developed boulders The Stell, again in Northumberland. Great Expectations boils down to a two move 8A+ with a crux that Varian estimates he’s tried 80 times over 8 months. ‘The move is ridiculously basic, essentially a rock over round a roof from a 1/4pad back 3 crimp through a 2 finger 1/4pad crimp intermediate and then up to a 1/4pad 4 finger edge which I catch as a drag.’ He describes on his blog, ‘I can imagine it being flashed and I can imagine people never doing it. I’d guess it was the hardest single move I’ve done outside going on tries vs success ratio.’ (You can see the first ascent on video here).
Five days later Varian moved over to the Lake District and another of his long term projects the 25 degree overhanging wall right of Leopold von Buch (7C) at Carrock Fell. Success on this he wrote felt like ‘weightless movement on small grippy holds’. Home (8B) takes its place amongst the very hardest problems in the Lakes, although Varian has done the moves on the sit start which would bump the difficulty up another notch.
Finally the end of November saw Varian manage the long sought after second ascent of Steve Dunnings problem Second Coming (8B) at Goldsborough Carr in County Durham. This crosses a large roof on tiny holds to a bizarre sequence to turn the lip. Varian described it as the ‘…hardest and most underrated problem on grit today.’ Dan's feeling is that the problem is more like 8B+ with the hardest moves at the beginning of the problem, with the pictured lip sequence a mere 8A.
More of Mark Savage’s images can be found on his blog here