Tora Bora VIII 8, Black Ladders

Chris Parkin on the first ascent of Tora Bora VIII 8 photo: Graham Desroy

Chris Parkin has produced yet another hard new route on his favourite crag, the Black Ladders. On Wednesday he set out with Pete Harrison to repeat Pagan Daughter, a V 6 first climbed in 1996 by Nick Biven and a young Stu MacAleese.

Unable to locate the line he then found some retreat gear left by another team a few weeks back (you can see this retreat in this film:  Imminent Conflict).

Chris forged a direct line above the abandoned gear and soon found himself embroiled in another hard new route.

Tora Bora VIII 8, 6, 4, 5 takes a line between Broken Ceasefire and Imminent Conflict. The main pitch involves a turfy groove, a hanging crack, then a flake crack finishing with a desperate move right to turfy ledges.

Pete thought it to be harder than Blenderhead VII 8 on Clogwyn Du, and Chris thought it was nearly as technical as the crux pitch of Cannon Ball VI 8, albeit with much less gear, thus the grade of VIII.

The crag was loaded with unstable snow on the day and Chris experienced a real moment of drama high on the route. Miles out from his last runner he nearly came a cropper when a large section of snow slipped free underneath him, leaving him hanging from his axes wondering if he was about to take the big one! Luckily Chris’ axes held and he maintained contact.

A full description of the route will appear on the wiki soon: Welsh Winter Climbs.

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