Sunday, 4 May 2008

Finally I am just about recovered after my epic 24 hours on Friday/Saturday. After leaving work at 11am, and dashing back to Manchester I made a brief stop at home to say hi to Emily and shot off to the wall. The Christies Seven Summits Challenge was organised by Molly and Sophie, two 10-year-olds who are regular climbers at Manchester Climbing Centre. Molly's mum Carol is a patient at Christie's cancer hospital and the girls were inspired to come up with an original way to raise money to help the hospital continue its vital work.

The idea was simple, teams of three would be sponsored to climb as high as they could in a 24 hour period, the higher they climbed, the more money they raised for charity. The combined heights would then be added together and hopefully the combined total would be more than the combined height of the Seven Summits (43???)

The event started at 3pm and by 7pm I was ready for the end, my hands were sore, my muscles ached and the thought of 20 hours more climbing was not a happy one. There was a competition between teams to see who could climb the highest and my team (John Dunne and Dave Barrans) were determined to win. We had set of at a blistering pace, which turned out to be a big mistake and we were soon feeling the strain. Thankfully we were quite far ahead of all the other teams and relaxed for a short while to plan out the rest of our time. We decided to push on in 1,000m stints until we had racked up the equivalent height of Everest. This lofty feat came at ~ 4am and we decided to celebrate with a few hours sleep, arranging to meet back up again at 8.30am for round two.


I woke up to find my inner thighs on fire, red raw from chaffing from my super-light sport harness which in hindsight was a bad choice. After applying copious amounts of talcum powder I dragged my way back to the wall and was surprised to find lots of people already climbing. It turned out they had been climbing through the night, slow and steady, gradually gaining distance as we slept. We were 2,500m behind the leading team, a phrase about a Hare and a Tortoise sprang to mind.

Getting back that sort of distance was not going to be easy but we were determined to give it our best, reputations were at stake after all. Up, down, up, down, up, down, monotonous to say the least. No rest, keep moving, forget about the pain. The minutes ticking by were both fantastic and terrible. Each one that passed brought us closer to the finish, but with bigger blisters and deeper aches. At last, 3pm came.


15,710m was all we could manage, thankfully enough to win, making all the suffering just about worth it.

Here is a report of the event;

“Last weekend saw climbers at the Manchester Climbing Centre taking on the challenge of climbing the height of the Seven Summits (43,322 meters) in 24 hours, in order to raise money for Christie's hospital in South Manchester. Enormous heights were climbed, and sales of finger tape rocketed as over 200 climbers took to the ropes, including over 60 hardy souls taking on the full 24 hour challenge.

The event was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, and ITV's Dr Chris Steele, along with over 70 young climbers from Manchester High School for Girls. Hollyoaks star Stuart Manning also added his effort to the proceedings. Christie Bear also made an appearance, and even had a climb....

A fierce competitive spirit quickly took over, leading to some incredible feats of endurance. Anyone fancy trying to beat the current record of 1,700 metres without resting? The target height of 43,322 metres was achieved in an incredible 5 hours, and so further targets were needed to keep the motivation flowing!

The event was now the 'Fourteen 8,000-metre peaks Challenge', giving us a target height of just over 115,000 metres. Teams climbed throughout the night, spurred on by huge amounts of Gatorade and other sugary goodness, and the target was one again within reach. By 9am, target no. 2 was in sight. E

Once again, climbing was proving too easy, and so the original mountains were added back on! We were now aiming for a height of 150,000 metres, and everyone was still worryingly awake...

By the end of the event, an amazing 161,580.5 metres had been climbed. The team climbing the highest consisted of world class climbers John Dunne, Dave Barrans, and James Pearson, who notched up 15,710 metres between them.


After a few days of rest, I headed to Widdop with my friend Jim for a pleasant days bouldering before I got back into my training routine. It was the first time I had been to Widdop and I was really impressed with the beautiful setting. I climbed some of the classic boulders and took a wander up to the edge to look at some of the trad routes. Reservoir Dogs E8 7a looks absolutely stunning, a real 3* line and a good contender for an onsight attempt in the future.



For the last month I have been semi-focused on training for a certain route I would like to try. I have yet to make the journey to try the route so it is very difficult to know exactly what I need to work on but I have spent many (tedious) hours analysing the footage of the first ascent and think I have a fair idea of what to expect. As far as the individual moves go, I think I will find it OK but the whole route is long and very sustained and so I have been working on increasing my endurance.

The Manchester Climbing Centre kindly allowed me to replicate the route on their main leading wall and so after making a plan of where all the holds need to go Plan_2 I set to work stripping some old routes and setting the new one. With the help of Andy Jack, everything went really smoothly and within a few hours we had almost finished. After trying a few of the moves, and watching the video again we decided that our version needed to be a little harder and so changed around a lot of the holds for smaller/worse versions. It looked that the holds on our version were generally poorer than the holds on the real route (as far as we could tell from the film) and I was a little worried that ours would be too difficult. After a few final tweaks, I decided to give the route a go and procided to climb it all, falling on the last move.

This was a little strange as it felt a lot easier than I had been expecting. The holds were all very small; much, much smaller than the other routes on the same wall and, like I have said before, appeared to be smaller/slopeyer than the holds on the “real” route. All in all, it should have felt hard, but it didn’t?

Thinking about it a little more deeply, I came up with numerous possible answers and could probably have come up with more and more until the cows came home. At the end of the day, they would all be guesses, the only real way to be sure is to go and try the route in the flesh. Hopefully (weather permitting) I will make the trip just before I have to go back to work which gives me roughly another week and a half to work on my fitness.