Climbing History

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Lord of the Rings | 8b Sport route

© Kim Carrigan Collection

Bolted by Kim Carrigan in 1982 this route was ahead of it's time (Kanal im Rücken, typically considered to be the first 8b in the world, was only climbed in 1984). Carrigan came tantalisingly close to making the first ascent but it had to wait for Stefan Glowcaz to finish it off .

Carrigan:

Yeah, The Ring Route aka Serious Young Lizards really proved a bridge too far. The astounding thing was, that I'd bolted this route in 1982, long before anyone thought this would even be possible, which meant that I spent a long time learning the moves and developing the strength and fitness needed for a route like this. There was a complete lack of other routes of this difficulty from where this fitness could be gained. Despite being able to climb every move in my sleep, I could never quite bring it together. I still remember my best effort. I'd been shopping in Horsham for the weekly groceries and my fingers were already strained from carrying the shopping bags, but I thought I'll just pop up and give it a go. It had been drizzling, but because the wall was so steep, the route remained basically dry. First shot, I managed to redpoint straight to the last hold, but promptly slipped off mantling onto the wet slab above. That was it.. [1]

The route later featured in a now-famous Patagonia advert when John Sherman shot a carefully staged photo of himself seemingly soloing the route in flip flops, beer in hand!

The route got it's name from the ring bolts used to protect it.

References

[1] https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/features/kim_carrigan_and_andy_pollitt-9629

© Kim Carrigan Collection

Bolted by Kim Carrigan in 1982 this route was ahead of it's time (Kanal im Rücken, typically considered to be the first 8b in the world, was only climbed in 1984). Carrigan came tantalisingly close to making the first ascent but it had to wait for Stefan Glowcaz to finish it off .

Carrigan:

Yeah, The Ring Route aka Serious Young Lizards really proved a bridge too far. The astounding thing was, that I'd bolted this route in 1982, long before anyone thought this would even be possible, which meant that I spent a long time learning the moves and developing the strength and fitness needed for a route like this. There was a complete lack of other routes of this difficulty from where this fitness could be gained. Despite being able to climb every move in my sleep, I could never quite bring it together. I still remember my best effort. I'd been shopping in Horsham for the weekly groceries and my fingers were already strained from carrying the shopping bags, but I thought I'll just pop up and give it a go. It had been drizzling, but because the wall was so steep, the route remained basically dry. First shot, I managed to redpoint straight to the last hold, but promptly slipped off mantling onto the wet slab above. That was it.. [1]

The route later featured in a now-famous Patagonia advert when John Sherman shot a carefully staged photo of himself seemingly soloing the route in flip flops, beer in hand!

The route got it's name from the ring bolts used to protect it.

References

[1] https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/features/kim_carrigan_and_andy_pollitt-9629

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Ben Moon's ascent of 8 Ball
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John Gill was one of the pioneers of bouldering, putting up many hard fist ascents in the US in a time when bouldering was not understood as an activity in it's own right.

With a background in gymnastics Gill applied a similar mentality to rock climbing by transferring some of the training ideas to rock climbing. He was also one of the first climbers to consider the use of gymnastic chalk while rock climbing.

In stark contrast to modern bouldering, where the focus is on physicality and doing the hardest problems possible, Gill's focus was on form and quality of movement while climbing a problem. This did not stop him from establishing many extraordinarily hard problems however, and for a many decades his problems were amongst the hardest in the world.

When he applied his skills to taller routes Gill also excelled. His route The Thimble, climbed solo and ground up in 1961 and considered around 7a+ was well ahead of it's time. After attempting to repeat the line, Royal Robbins said of it

I considered my greatest failure to be my efforts on the thimble. I could see that even if I worked on it forever I would never achieve it.

References

[1] https://www.climbing.com/people/john-gill-father-of-bouldering/

[2] Pat AmentJohn GillYvon Chouinard, Rearick, Dave. John Gill: Master of Rock: The Life of a Bouldering Legend. United Kingdom: Vertebrate Publishing, 2018.

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FdMLil9lNU

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9yaGXFkC8M

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When I established this line in January 2021, I wasn’t grading first ascents. I later slapped V14 on it without much thought, but now that I’m reflecting on it I’m pretty certain it’s harder. It’s the most difficult boulder I’ve climbed in NC by a long shot and it fits my style really well. This was my main focus for a month and a half long trip and I finished it up on the very last day, with perfect conditions. I’m confident that V15 is more appropriate compared to everything I’ve climbed before and after it. [1]

References

[1] https://www.instagram.com/p/Cc9Rp9lJ6JK/

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[https://www.instagram.com/p/CW6fSWnjRl2/]

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7gB1bBlLGM

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https://www.instagram.com/p/CW6fSWnjRl2/