Eliot Stephens climbed the first Font 8C in Wales adding a sitstart to The origin at Dinas Rock, a Font 8B + which he climbed in 2019. He has climbed several Font 8C problems overseas, but this is his first in the UK.
The sitstart adds five hits at around 8A + before joining the existing problem in a few moves. Eliot told UKC:
“It’s basically about connecting two pretty powerful issues back to back. Probably an 8A + and an 8B. The very first move is one of the most difficult undercut moves I’ve done, just pulling two pretty miserable undercuts up above your head into a roof. Then it switches to more powerful movements on a bad crimp and a bad sloper.
After that, Eliot got the heart of The origin to struggle with; a long pull on a small crimp on the right before harder undercut movements. Looks like focus is key in the top section with five moves that are “very out of balance” on the vertical head wall.
Eliot attempted the sitstart movements for about four sessions while refining the pit start he had completed in 2019. Even after he tied the sitstart in the pit, it took him another seven sessions to complete the project.
It was one of those issues where once I had done all the moves I knew it would be possible. But I also knew it would require me to introduce myself a lot. None of the moves are really high end other than the first one, but the first 10 are all still hard on their own, so adding them all together, I knew it would be a task.
“For the level, this problem was for me, I had to have most of the things, the weather, the skin, the sleep, the energy, on my side to do it but luckily not everything and the kitchen sink.
Despite climbing what is arguably Wales’ toughest bouldering problem, Eliot doesn’t think this is a special moment in terms of climbing. The nature of the problem meant he knew it was only a matter of time before he fixed the problem:
“I just went through the movements. When you’re used to projecting abroad, doing it at home is a much more relaxed process. I did this at the end of the session and the sun had just come out which usually ends a session. So maybe the classic “no wait send” was in play? I just had to get to the crucial point a little cooler and then not fumble around the top which I was lucky enough not to do.
It was the 3rd Font 8C 29 years after the ascent Arzak and Dirt grows flowers, both in Switzerland. He was a prominent figure in the South Wales bloc scene for several years and continued to develop hard bloc in the region. Earlier this year he climbed a new Font 8B to Neath Abbey Quarry, another area he has developed extensively.