John Gaskins

Also known as: The G

Quick Info

Nationality: GB
Hardest Boulder (Worked): 8C
Hardest Sport (Worked): 9a+
Hardest Trad (Worked): E10
Hardest Trad (Onsight): HS

John Gaskins is a controversial figure in British climbing. As well as an early repeat of Hubble he has claimed many ascents of hard routes and boulder problems. However for some of his hardest ascents it is unclear whether they happened. In particular he has been unable to describe the holds or sequences on his problem Shadowplay, and shortly after claiming the first ascent was unable to pull on to the problem to get photographs for his sponsors.

Similar inconsistencies exist on several other routes and problems he has claimed including Violent New Breed (9a+), Tranquilitas (8C) which John originally claimed as Karma of the Trees at 8A and Little Women Right Hand.

Despite the above John was a capable climber and almost certainly climbed several hard problems, such as Anaesthesia (8A+) at Woodwell.

References

[1] Interview with Simon Lee from UKBouldering.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbZALxPdjZg

[2] From the same interview as [1], footage of John climbing on his board https://vimeo.com/82936059.

[3] A Profile of John Gaskins by Simon Panton, On The Edge 120 page 48.

Several of John's hardest claimed ascents have been disputed, though there are some examples of him climbing hard-ish (for example Anaesthesia is on video).

Dan Varian has tried many of John's harder problems and attempted to clarify where the lines go several times with minimal success. He goes in to detail in [1].

References

[1] https://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php?topic=30355.0

Contributors: remus

Quick Info

Nationality: GB
Hardest Boulder (Worked): 8C
Hardest Sport (Worked): 9a+
Hardest Trad (Worked): E10
Hardest Trad (Onsight): HS

John Gaskins is a controversial figure in British climbing. As well as an early repeat of Hubble he has claimed many ascents of hard routes and boulder problems. However for some of his hardest ascents it is unclear whether they happened. In particular he has been unable to describe the holds or sequences on his problem Shadowplay, and shortly after claiming the first ascent was unable to pull on to the problem to get photographs for his sponsors.

Similar inconsistencies exist on several other routes and problems he has claimed including Violent New Breed (9a+), Tranquilitas (8C) which John originally claimed as Karma of the Trees at 8A and Little Women Right Hand.

Despite the above John was a capable climber and almost certainly climbed several hard problems, such as Anaesthesia (8A+) at Woodwell.

References

[1] Interview with Simon Lee from UKBouldering.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbZALxPdjZg

[2] From the same interview as [1], footage of John climbing on his board https://vimeo.com/82936059.

[3] A Profile of John Gaskins by Simon Panton, On The Edge 120 page 48.

Several of John's hardest claimed ascents have been disputed, though there are some examples of him climbing hard-ish (for example Anaesthesia is on video).

Dan Varian has tried many of John's harder problems and attempted to clarify where the lines go several times with minimal success. He goes in to detail in [1].

References

[1] https://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php?topic=30355.0

Contributors: remus

Pics + Vids

Added at 16:01 on 13 January 2021
Added at 16:01 on 13 January 2021
Militia (8a+)
Added at 18:11 on 20 November 2023
Kaizen (8B+, FA)
Added at 18:02 on 23 February 2024
Hubble (9a)
Added at 09:12 on 29 December 2020
Isla de Encanta (8B, FA)
Added at 09:12 on 29 December 2020
Gaskins' Problem (8B, FA)
Added at 09:12 on 29 December 2020
At the Heart of It All (8B+, FA)
Added at 09:12 on 29 December 2020
Hugh (9a)
Added at 16:12 on 29 December 2020
Anaesthesia (8A+, FA)
Added at 16:11 on 18 November 2021
Brandenburg Gate (9a+)
Added at 18:11 on 18 November 2021
Violent New Breed (9a+, FA)
Added at 11:07 on 05 July 2022
Kaizen (8B+, FA)
Added at 11:07 on 05 July 2022

Ascents

36 recorded ascents.

This timeline is missing some ascents where the date of the ascent is unknown. Use the other tabs to view these ascents.
Year Climb Grade Style Ascent Date
1986 The Wasdale Crack HS Lead | onsight Jun 1986

On the centenary of the first ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 50.

1987
1988
1989
1990 Comedy 7c Lead | worked 1990

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

1991 Gigantic E8 Lead | worked 1991
Second ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Reservoir Dogs E8 Top Rope | worked 1991

Top roped cleanly before Robin Barker made the first ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Toltec Twostep E6 Lead | worked 1991
First ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

1992 Magnetic Fields 8b Lead | worked 1992

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

1993 Widdop Wall E10 Top Rope | worked 1993

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Militia 8a+ Lead | worked 1993
Second ascent.

In contrast to popular opinion the loss of holds on this route has actually restored it to it's original grade, the holds that broke actually grew in size after JD and I had done it, something that I assume weakened them. [1]

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

1994 Hubble 9a Lead | worked Sep 1994
Third ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 51.

1995
1996
1997 Cloning Technology 8A+ Boulder | worked 1997
First ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

1998 Work Hard 8A+ Boulder | worked 1998
Second ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

1999 Isla de Encanta 8B Boulder | worked 1999
First ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

2000 Anaesthesia 8A+ Boulder | worked 2000
First ascent.

Climbed with feet on the back and given 8B. New beta using heels on the lip has taken the grade to 8A+.

References

[1] https://youtu.be/RbZALxPdjZg?t=856

[2] On The Edge 120, page 49.

2001 Kaizen 8B+ Boulder | worked 2001
First ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge issue 120, page 49

[2] On The Edge, Issue 113

Walk Away 8B Boulder | worked 2001
First ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

8 Ball 8A+ Boulder | worked 2001
Second ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

2002 Walk Away SDS 8C Boulder | worked Sep 2002
First ascent.
2003 Brandenburg Gate 9a+ Lead | did not finish 2003

In interviews John has stated he got relatively close to climbing this line [2].

Redpoint highpoint was going for a blind edge at the very end of the hard climbing.

Paul Reeve also witnessed an attempt where John nearly made it in to Make it Funky. [1]

References

[1] https://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php/topic,10607.msg647558.html#msg647558

[2] Interview with Simon Lee https://youtu.be/RbZALxPdjZg?t=1950

[3] On The Edge 120, page 49.

At the Heart of It All 8B+ Boulder | worked Oct 2003
First ascent.
2004 Gossip 8C Boulder | worked 2004

At the time of the ascent Markus Bock publically disputed it. There was a lot of back and forth with no resolution.

Il Pirata 8C Boulder | worked Feb 2004
First ascent.
Violent New Breed 9a+ Lead | worked 21st Jun 2004
First ascent.

References

[1] https://www.ukclimbing.com/news/2004/06/john_gaskins_new_9a+_-_the_hardest_in_the_world-11117

[2] https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/ukc/gaskins_climbs_long-standing_project_to_give_a_new_9a+-90333

[3] News item in On The Edge Issue 140 August/September 2004

John Gaskins has redpointed his long-term project at the G-Spot, Giggleswick, Yorkshire, to give the first route to be graded F9a+ in Britain.

John reckons the line is harder than Hubble, the closest comparison route to it. Hubble took John 12 days, yet by the end of 1995 he'd spent 60 days on this line and not redpointed it.

John said: "It's very bouldery, V15 (Font 8c) or so, and is essentially five moves long, of which the first and last moves are reasonable (this climbing is preceded by a short and easy wall). Whilst straightforward the first move (gaining a very small pock mark edge) is the key move on the route in many respects. The move that follows represents one of the hardest moves I've ever done, being harder than any move on my project at Raven Tor [ed: Brandenburg Gate?]. The following two moves are easier although still hard, the first being harder than the crux move of Hubble. The final tricky move to a jug is not hard but is potentially fall off-able. All that remains are a couple of easy pulls on good holds."

John bolted the line back in the autumn of 1993 and tried it extensively over the summers of both 1994 and 1995. In 1994 he redpoint- ed Hubble but didn't make significant progress on this route. The following year he spent about 50 days attempting it, his high point being touching the good edge at the end of the major difficulties. But in early 1996 one of the holds broke and his interest in the line waned as it was then even harder.

John returned in 2000 and a number of days on the route saw him re-climb all the moves and link all bar the first of the five main moves. The following year saw him become involved in his on-going project at Raven Tor in part due to foot and mouth restrictions placing Giggleswick off limits'.

This year John had his university finals so his time was restricted, meaning trips to Giggleswick were more feasible than to Raven Tor (John lives in Carnforth on the edge of the Lake District).

John eventually redpointed the route on his own, tying off the rope to the first bolt and giving himself enough slack to get to the top, clipping the second bolt before the hard climbing starts and the third when it's finished but not enough to hit the ground in case of a fall. However, he didn't fall off.

There is a picture of John on this, however Dan Varian has spoken to the photographer, Ray Wood, who said that John was unable to repeat any of the hard moves.

Head Like a Hole 8b+ Lead | worked 7th Aug 2004
First ascent.
Shadowplay 8C Boulder | worked Oct 2004
First ascent.

When asked directly about it, John has been unable to describe the holds on the problem or the sequence he used on it despite supposedly spending tens of sessions over multiple years on it. Other capable climbers, notably Dan Varian, have been unable to find any meaningful holds.

References

[1] https://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php/topic,30355.msg594312.html#msg594312

2005 Endless Nameless 8B Boulder | worked Oct 2005
First ascent.
Gaskins' Problem 8B (approx) Boulder | worked 5th Oct 2005
2006 Information Highway Revisited 7C+ Boulder | worked 2006
First ascent.
A Moment of Clarity E10 Boulder | worked Feb 2006
First ascent.

One of the last hard lines John climbed.

Climb Grade Style Ascent Date Suggested Grade
Violent New Breed 9a+ Lead | worked 21st Jun 2004
First ascent.

References

[1] https://www.ukclimbing.com/news/2004/06/john_gaskins_new_9a+_-_the_hardest_in_the_world-11117

[2] https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/ukc/gaskins_climbs_long-standing_project_to_give_a_new_9a+-90333

[3] News item in On The Edge Issue 140 August/September 2004

John Gaskins has redpointed his long-term project at the G-Spot, Giggleswick, Yorkshire, to give the first route to be graded F9a+ in Britain.

John reckons the line is harder than Hubble, the closest comparison route to it. Hubble took John 12 days, yet by the end of 1995 he'd spent 60 days on this line and not redpointed it.

John said: "It's very bouldery, V15 (Font 8c) or so, and is essentially five moves long, of which the first and last moves are reasonable (this climbing is preceded by a short and easy wall). Whilst straightforward the first move (gaining a very small pock mark edge) is the key move on the route in many respects. The move that follows represents one of the hardest moves I've ever done, being harder than any move on my project at Raven Tor [ed: Brandenburg Gate?]. The following two moves are easier although still hard, the first being harder than the crux move of Hubble. The final tricky move to a jug is not hard but is potentially fall off-able. All that remains are a couple of easy pulls on good holds."

John bolted the line back in the autumn of 1993 and tried it extensively over the summers of both 1994 and 1995. In 1994 he redpoint- ed Hubble but didn't make significant progress on this route. The following year he spent about 50 days attempting it, his high point being touching the good edge at the end of the major difficulties. But in early 1996 one of the holds broke and his interest in the line waned as it was then even harder.

John returned in 2000 and a number of days on the route saw him re-climb all the moves and link all bar the first of the five main moves. The following year saw him become involved in his on-going project at Raven Tor in part due to foot and mouth restrictions placing Giggleswick off limits'.

This year John had his university finals so his time was restricted, meaning trips to Giggleswick were more feasible than to Raven Tor (John lives in Carnforth on the edge of the Lake District).

John eventually redpointed the route on his own, tying off the rope to the first bolt and giving himself enough slack to get to the top, clipping the second bolt before the hard climbing starts and the third when it's finished but not enough to hit the ground in case of a fall. However, he didn't fall off.

There is a picture of John on this, however Dan Varian has spoken to the photographer, Ray Wood, who said that John was unable to repeat any of the hard moves.

Brandenburg Gate 9a+ Lead | did not finish 2003

In interviews John has stated he got relatively close to climbing this line [2].

Redpoint highpoint was going for a blind edge at the very end of the hard climbing.

Paul Reeve also witnessed an attempt where John nearly made it in to Make it Funky. [1]

References

[1] https://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php/topic,10607.msg647558.html#msg647558

[2] Interview with Simon Lee https://youtu.be/RbZALxPdjZg?t=1950

[3] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Hubble 9a Lead | worked Sep 1994
Third ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 51.

Hugh 9a Lead | did not finish
Head Like a Hole 8b+ Lead | worked 7th Aug 2004
First ascent.
Magnetic Fields 8b Lead | worked 1992

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Militia 8a+ Lead | worked 1993
Second ascent.

In contrast to popular opinion the loss of holds on this route has actually restored it to it's original grade, the holds that broke actually grew in size after JD and I had done it, something that I assume weakened them. [1]

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Comedy 7c Lead | worked 1990

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Climb Grade Style Ascent Date Suggested Grade
Walk Away SDS 8C Boulder | worked Sep 2002
First ascent.
Il Pirata 8C Boulder | worked Feb 2004
First ascent.
Shadowplay 8C Boulder | worked Oct 2004
First ascent.

When asked directly about it, John has been unable to describe the holds on the problem or the sequence he used on it despite supposedly spending tens of sessions over multiple years on it. Other capable climbers, notably Dan Varian, have been unable to find any meaningful holds.

References

[1] https://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php/topic,30355.msg594312.html#msg594312

Gossip 8C Boulder | worked 2004

At the time of the ascent Markus Bock publically disputed it. There was a lot of back and forth with no resolution.

Kaizen 8B+ Boulder | worked 2001
First ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge issue 120, page 49

[2] On The Edge, Issue 113

At the Heart of It All 8B+ Boulder | worked Oct 2003
First ascent.
Asphyxia 8B+ Boulder | worked
First ascent.
Little Women 8B+ Boulder | worked 8A+
First ascent.

John originally claimed at 8A+.

References

[1] On The Edge Issue 140 August/September 2004, Page 68

Traci Lords SDS 8B+ Boulder | worked
First ascent.
Isla de Encanta 8B Boulder | worked 1999
First ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Walk Away 8B Boulder | worked 2001 8A+/8B
First ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Endless Nameless 8B Boulder | worked Oct 2005
First ascent.
Gaskins' Problem 8B (approx) Boulder | worked 5th Oct 2005 8A+/8B
Impossible Slab 8B Boulder | worked
First ascent.
Shallow Groove 8B Boulder | worked
First ascent.

It seems unlikely that John made the first ascent of this problem.

Dan Varian:

Re shallowgroove i think it's incredibly important to stress that [Aidan Roberts'] is the second ascent of [Ryan Pasquill's] direct. The line John describes in his interview should get written up as a seperate finish after the first move. If vitruvian man has a RH and LH version so should this. Even more so because the RH line has a proven track record of attempts, fails doing moves etc but the LH line only emerged in johns interview and is something entirely different... If Ryans line was easy someone else would've done it in the last 17years. Aidan is super well suited to crimping utter crap whilst standing on a ledge (as is Ryan). Its one of the weirdest hard problems in the world IMO. Literally no extra kudos for a trainers ascent. [1]

References

[1] https://ukbouldering.com/board/index.php/topic,10607.msg609908.html#msg609908

Cloning Technology 8A+ Boulder | worked 1997 8A+/8B
First ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Anaesthesia 8A+ Boulder | worked 2000 8B/8B+
First ascent.

Climbed with feet on the back and given 8B. New beta using heels on the lip has taken the grade to 8A+.

References

[1] https://youtu.be/RbZALxPdjZg?t=856

[2] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Work Hard 8A+ Boulder | worked 1998
Second ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

8 Ball 8A+ Boulder | worked 2001
Second ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Atomic Garden 8A Boulder | worked 8A
First ascent.
Information Highway Revisited 7C+ Boulder | worked 2006
First ascent.
Climb Grade Style Ascent Date Suggested Grade
A Moment of Clarity E10 Boulder | worked Feb 2006
First ascent.

One of the last hard lines John climbed.

Widdop Wall E10 Top Rope | worked 1993

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Gigantic E8 Lead | worked 1991
Second ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Reservoir Dogs E8 Top Rope | worked 1991

Top roped cleanly before Robin Barker made the first ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

Toltec Twostep E6 Lead | worked 1991
First ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 49.

The Wasdale Crack HS Lead | onsight Jun 1986

On the centenary of the first ascent.

References

[1] On The Edge 120, page 50.

Climb Grade Style Ascent Date Suggested Grade
Pump up the Stamina 8c+ Boulder | worked
First ascent.