Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker climb their biggest roof crack below UK motorway bridge
Last summer British rock climbers Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker spent four days making the first ascent of The Great Rift, a circa 800m horizontal multi-pitch roof crack below a motorway bridge in the UK.
Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker have a penchant for bizarre challenges and after crossing canals and overpasses, their latest seems to have eclipsed all previous efforts: a circa 800m horizontal roof crack located on the underside of a huge concrete motorway bridge they have described as being possibly "THE biggest roof crack we'll ever do."
Acting on a tipoff from Mark Bullock and Tom Wright, last summer Randall and Whittaker checked out the viaduct above River Exe and realised it was split by a continuous hand-sized roof crack. Over four days and nights, bivouacking in a free hanging portaledge amidst the roaring din of traffic, the pair shoved their hands and feet thousands of times into a crack that vibrated and flexed as delivery trucks rumbled just a few feet overhead.
Delving into this concept on his Instagram account, Randall explained "The bridge does actively contract and expand during the climbing and belays so it does take a while to get used to it and not freak out!"
The "horizontal bigwalling" resulted in 80+ pitches dubbed The Great Rift. In all likelihood the new route won’t be repeated in the foreseeable future, not only because the logistics involved, but also due to the sustained 5.13 (8a) climbing throughout which makes, despite its eccentric nature, one of their finest achievements to date.
This "thoroughly modern adventure" requires a full set of cams and, importantly, goggles as eye protection. It will be featured in next year’s Reel Rock 16, due to be released in March 2022.