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Tom Randall working the immense Century Crack, beneath the White Rim in Utah's Canyonlands, USA.
Photo by Steve Bartlett
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Century Crack 8c

02.11.2011 by Planetmountain

Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker have produced a grade for Century Crack in the Canyonlands, USA: 8c.

At the start of October British climbers Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker carried out the first pinkpoint ascent of Century Crack, that enormous, majestic horizontal roof which defies belief in Canyonlands, USA. The ascent marked the culmination of two years of intense, specific training and although both Randall and Whittaker felt it their hardest offwidth climb ever, they decided perspective was needed to produce a credible grade for the route. 

In the weeks that followed the two Brits made swift work of some of the hardest offwidths in the country and this tour took them past highlights such as Gabriel 5.13c in Zion (established by Pamela Pack) and Price of Evil 5.13b and the famous Belly Full Of Bad Berries at Indian Ceek (first climbed by Brad Jackson and even onsighted by Whittaker). These, plus the second and third ascent of Army of Darkness 5.13d (Rob Pizem, 03/2008) at Canyonlands, the on-sight of Lucille at Vedauwoo and over 100 difficult off-widths dotted around the USA and Europe, have now provided the basis for the grade of Century Crack, which they believe is 5.14b, or 8c.

Randall has reasoned at length on his blog and points out that the speed with which they climbed the route (first go on their second day on the route) has a lot to do with the fact that all their preparation had been with this in mind. In fact "As many people know, Pete and I spent 2 years slogging our guts out in a crack cellar underneath my house. We trained so specifically for Century Crack – we had an almost exact replica of the whole route and we trained....and trained.... and trained.... We did over 17,000ft of Century Crack climbing in 2 years, which equates to having already climbed it 42 times each! It’s this point I really want to hammer home – I know it sounds like a short time to do a major project in 2 days, but in effect, we’d already had countless sessions on it back at home. All of this training was carefully periodised to bring about peak performance for our American trip and to avoid chronic overuse injuries."

Pete Whittaker concluded, quite rightly: "I think any grade for the route, whether its 6c or 8c gives little sense into what it is like to climb the thing. To get a feel of what it’s really all about you need to go down there and actually stand under it and give it ago. This is the only way to feel the real monstrosity of the beast. So get down there, it would be good to get a consensus on this thing!"

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