On returning from Spain I felt fairly strong and hungry for some more success. I kept thinking about a project arête roof that I had been shown down at Cloughton Wyke. It was a great looking line with brutal tricky deadpoint slap moves on slopes for the right hand, with some frustrating blind toe drags and snags as well. I had a fairly productive session on it at the end of summer with my friend David, but we could not do one crucial cut off move and it felt a bit hot and sweaty. We came away thinking it could be an 8b. Hungry to get it done I came back and had a very unproductive session which lead to me straining my groin in a bad fall. After that I had to leave the problem alone, but it stayed there at the back of my mind. I kept thinking that in good conditions it would go. The only trouble is that the venue is tidal and does not dry fast. Also it hardly gets any sun, so to get good dry conditions was going to be very frustrating. Nonetheless, a few months passed, my groin got better and I kept thinking about the problem. As winter came and with it the cool conditions I kept checking the weather looking for that perfect day.
Eventually at the end of January that day came. A strong easterly wind that was going to blast the rocks and rain not forecast until 3:00pm with a perfect low tide as well. I jumped in the car and blazed a trail across to the east coast. Working the moves of 'Before the Rain' 8a+ Photo- Lee Robinson On getting there I thought I had got it wrong as it was spitting with rain. Undeterred I set off down the rope to the boulder. When I got there it was getting a battering from the wind and dried in seconds after the rain had stopped. It was perfect conditions. I warmed up on some of the easier moves then set about trying the crux sequence. It felt ridiculously hard and I felt so far away from doing any of them. I thought to myself that I'll just have to put some time in, build fitness then come back. I sorted out a sensible start which made me even more excited to climb the line. Then slowly move by move the unbelievable happened; I started to land them. I could really feel the blind toe hooks and was landing them consistently. I even found a way to hold the impossible swing. Then it dawned on me that I might be able to do it that day. The only trouble was the rain forecast at 3:00pm; I started to feel excited and anxious. I had waited ages for this day and didn't fancy waiting again. I took a long rest and set up my phone to video, just in case. I set off and to my surprise I got through the three hardest moves but I got too excited and then my foot slipped from two slopers. That sense of panic rose again, the rain is coming! I took another long rest and then pulled on. This time I experienced one of those moments we all climb for. Every move felt like a joy, every hold was hit perfectly and it felt like I floated up until I suddenly realised I was looking at the juggy lip and a certain top out. Suddenly my arms felt heavy and I yelled as I slapped it; probably more out of relief than anything else. Then as I pulled over and on to the top I felt it start to rain. I remember thinking wow that was close it must be 3:00 o'clock then. Sure enough as I went back to my bag and checked it was 3:15. It was like he rain was deliberately waiting until I'd done. Normally I hate the rain but in that day I really didn't mind packing my things up and walking out listening to the rain. The name seemed obvious I couldn't call it anything else but 'Before the Rain'. As I walked out I talked myself out of the 8b grade, and settled on the more sensible and conservative 8a+ grade. It is still the hardest problem in the North York Moors Area and it's the first 8a+. The video I made is shown below, unfortunately I didn't have a tripod and the angle I took the video from is quite bad. The video doesn't do the climb justice at all, but at least it shows the great moves on this climb. https://vimeo.com/35922441 The next day I woke up and was still hungry for more. The easterly was hanging around for another day and it looked like there was another weather window. I decided to head over to the coast again to clean and climb some overlooked projects. Firstly I went back to Cloughton Wyke and to the ship boulder. I did two great arête's, with the harder being the right hand one which i called Wayfarer and graded 7b+. Then for some reason I terrified myself by climbing an exhilarating highball 7a+ish slab climb with very poor holds. I then hightailed it over to the Fox Holes and got on three projects I had been shown previously on a rainy day. The first was Life is Life a great arête only spoilt by the fact it stops at a break, this became Life is Life 7b. Then a very followed this by doing a great 7c slappy powerful double arête problem i called Mad Dog. lastly i did Pale Rider a hard crimpy dynamic 7c line that will be impossible for the shorter climber. All these are shown in the video below. https://vimeo.com/35994781