Ahead of the eagerly awaited new North Wales Bouldering guidebook, Pete Robins has waged a remarkable campaign of first ascents. Conscious that it’ll be a long time, if ever, before such a detailed bouldering guide to the region is published again, Pete has spent the past twelve months or so purely focused on difficult new boulder problems; including plenty of committing highballs.
Guidebook author, Simon Panton, has enthusiastically played a part in generating all this extra work for himself, often directing Pete to the lines marked as ‘projects’ on the topos.
“At times it has felt like Pete is doing five or six new grade 7 ascents every week. Flicking through a draft of the guide and roughly totting them up, he's done over a 100 in the past two years. Prolific doesn’t really do justice to what he has achieved. He’s certainly earned ‘the hoover’ nickname,” says Simon.
Last week Pete added a further two grade 8's to his tally of first ascents. The first, Hammerhead
(8A+), at the little known Anglesey venue of Fedw Fawr, was followed two days later by Agent Orange
(8A), among the jumble of blocks that make up the Talfarach headland.
Commenting on Hammerhead, Pete said: “It’s actually really cool and I got well into it. Perfect clean dry rock. It’s great down there on the limestone platform, looking at the waves and ships. I know it looks easy in my vid but there are two poor holds and it's actually 30 degrees overhanging. You can't really tell that from me filming it straight-on with my phone”.
Two days later Pete headed down towards the tip of the Lleyn Peninsula and Talfarach, across the bay from Porth Ysgo. Warming up with the first ascent of a topo project, Clampusurass (7B/+), he turned his attention to the striking concave wall right of Owen Hayward's Equinox (7A+).
Starting off a small block to get established on the wall, then setting up and making the dyno for the lip from a small diagonal edge, was the crux of the three star Agent Orange. Conditions were perfect in the bitingly cold wind. “I don’t think you could hold those edges if it was at all warm,” reckoned Pete. The only sour note to the day was Pete aggravating an old elbow injury on his successful attempt.
Only once details of all the problems surface and they are repeated will we know how Pete has fared with the tricky detail of grading them. Something he acknowledges is difficult to get right all the time. But local opinion is not to expect any soft grades.
To give you an idea of how committing some of the problems are then take a look at Pete’s haul from one day last November when he climbed six new problems up to 7B+ in a day at Porth Ysgo, including Seams a Bit Much (7A+) and Project Zero (7B+). Both shall we say, requiring a certain degree of composure.
As to when this bumper North Wales Bouldering guidebook will materialise, Simon assures us he’s very close to going to print and this time he means it. The last guide was published in 2004 and has been out of print for the last few years.