Back in the day there was Brown and Whillans – an unstoppable working class UK duo that dominated the climbing in the UK and the greater ranges. Later there was Livsey and Fawcett, Ben and Jerry – each pair synonymous with hard climbing, travelling and crushing wherever and whenever they chose.
Then in 1996 Hard Grit changed all that – the gritstone edges of Derbyshire and the Yorkshire became the focus of everything and everyone. These diminutive crags with their bold technical climbs had been elevated to the status of folklore in many circles and they held a special place in many hearts and minds.
The problem is – they aren’t that hard. Not to say climbing End Of the Affair isn’t a huge achievement, quite the contrary – it requires a great degree of commitment. But in terms of difficulty that the Euros understand it weighs in at a fairly paltry F7b, and so whilst we satisfied ourselves with getting scared, the rest of the world was getting fitter and stronger. Add to that the fact that every time Johnny foreigner came to visit they showed little or no respect to our revered classics, casually dispatching them and heading off again whilst the locals sat there and scratched their heads.
Thankfully there’s a new generation of up and comers who are fitter, stronger and willing to show the world that the UK is still a force to be reckoned with.
Ed Hamer is one of those. he landed in Sydney 3 weeks ago and has systematically been ticking off pretty much every one of the hard Blue Mountains sports climbs. Nothing super hard (if you can call 8c not super hard) but a stack of routes in the 8b\8b+ range that were dispatched with little or no fuss. I climbed and photographed Ed on several days and he really is unstoppable with seemingly endless enthusiasm. Thankfully – he’s gone now and sleepy Blackheath can return to being sleepy and we can all go back to hanging on the bolts on our favorite projects without being shown up.
I hear he’s off tho the Frankenjura next, this time with his brother in tow. If the Germans are lucky, it’ll rain alot.