The two Britons Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall manage to climb the steepest and probably longest crack route in the world: The Great Rift (7b + to 8a +, 60-70 pitches). The special thing about it: It is an artificial crack structure of a motorway bridge.
Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall, also known under the pseudonym Wideboyz, surprise the climbing world once again with an extraordinary performance. Not only in terms of climbing. Driven by the restrictions of the corona pandemic, the two were looking for an alternative for their planned trip to the USA.
The two found what they were looking for on the M5 motorway between Birmingham and Exeter, Great Britain. On the highway? You read that right. The M5 runs over a long section over a bridge, divided into two directions. A perfect climbing crack runs between the two elements of the bridge.
As long as Half Dome high
The bridge in question is not a normal bridge, but a real monument. The crack in the construction is around 760 meters long, so it is as long as Half Dome in Yosemite. But this crack here is completely horizontal!
Specific training for the route
Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker were obsessed with the project. For a whole summer the two trained specifically for their motorway project, took three trips to reconstruct the bridge, had to give up once in the middle of the bridge, until it finally worked on the fifth trip.
Tom and Pete spent four days and three nights at the Portaledge under the highway bridge until the mega-project was completed. The entire tour counts around 60 to 70 pitches and ranges from 7b + and 8a +.
As if such a long and consistently horizontal route wasn't enough, the external circumstances made the ascent very difficult. Pete Whittaker and Paul Randall have certainly spent more relaxing nights in the Portaledge than directly below a busy motorway bridge with the corresponding traffic noise.
They often climbed with ski goggles because small particles and dust kept falling through the crack. During their first exploration trips, they also noticed that the traffic of heavy trucks gave climbing a good deal of extra challenge.
The film about "The Great Rift" will be released in spring 2022
The two mad Brits were accompanied by a film team during the project. The corresponding film about the project will be released as part of the Reel Rock Tour 16 in spring 2022.
That might interest you
- Tips for crack climbing by Tom Randall
- Will Bosi in an interview: Is mutation even 9b?
- Climbing until the ribs break: Seb Bouin in De l'autre côté du ciel
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Credits: Pictures Ray Wood / Reel rock