Funny game climbing, sometimes its like buses, you wait for ages, getting more and more frustrated, and then, just when you've given up, two come along at once.

Last week was a weird week. It began in typical British style, the style we expect now in summer. We drove to the crag and found it utterly soaking. Everywhere else was wet too; we drove straight back home to the local climbing wall! With damp weather for a while my motivation had been sliding downwards as fast as I slid from the greasy footholds. That day it took a distinct nose dive to zero. Indoors in August was just not right. I gave up! Mentally I packed in climbing for a while. There were some parties to go to for the next few days. Then it got boiling hot, too hot to climb, then I climbed Hubble! This was confusing but very nice indeed. Perhaps my shortest and most bouldery route ever. Now I could really relax and party!


Before this I’d been trying a route at Malham cove, a link between Bat Route, Rainshadow and Overshadow, but with quite a lot of new climbing. I dreamt this up a while ago but was inspired to get involved after I got a call from the British Broadcasting Corporation (the TV)! However, their brief was that I climb a brand new ‘hardest route in the world’ at Malham Cove on a specific day of their choosing. Apparently I was capable of simply walking into a cliff, spotting an unclimbed line, and then climbing it first time without any inspection to give the hardest sport route in the world! My first job was to explain their initial brief was fairly unlikely without totally putting them off. The next challenge was pretending to be a suitable ‘personality’, hiding my lack of TV looks and complete absence of on-camera ability until the last minute when they met me and it was all too late.



photo - keith Sharples


After  five or six days of brushing out old bird’s nests and practicing the moves, linking the sections and swinging around like an ape I was ready for an attempt. I’d been holding off, hoping to get the moment of success on the single day they could do the filming. Forecast was for clouds that day, which being British summer you’d expect to be right, or more likely raining, but sunshine blazed down and directly in to the cove. The BBC were psyched, awesome conditions, and were confused at my lack of excitement! First go I gave it everything, the camera spurring me on to glory. I got to within three moves, half a metre. Close but absolutely no cigar. The BBC were happy, it was all a bit more than they’d expected anyway. Second go was even closer, better conditions now but tired from the first effort. The last move, close enough to be satisfied I’d do it another day, though when that day would come was anyone’s guess.


That day came just after Hubble, just after a large party with lots more beer. A totally unplanned trip to the cliff on a hot and sunny day. I climbed the route first go, one of the longest and most sustained pump fests on the crag. A total body drainer with an assortment of desperate bat hang and kneebar rests along the way. There could not be a bigger contrast to Hubble! Within a week I’d gone from giving up, to doing one of the hardest bouldery routes of my life, to one of the longest and most sustained. The moral of the story is: if you want to do a hard route, sneak up on it when it’s least expecting.


The programme called ‘Inside Out’ is due to be shown on BBC 1 sometime early October around 7.30pm.