The Wideboyz Return to Century Crack
November 6th, 2011
What do you do when you have climbed the hardest offwidth in the world and one of the world’s hardest trad routes with pre-placed protection? What’s next? The obvious choice is to return and lead the route again placing all the gear as you go. Start at the beginning, rack up and go. And that is exactly what Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall did last Thursday.
So, myself, Pete, Tom and film maker Chris Alstrim drove back down that long, long, bumpy 4×4 trail to Monument Basin. The temperature on our bivi the night before their second ascent was a chilly -5, but the day dawned bright and the conditions were excellent. This time there was a new and tangible nervousness. They both knew how utterly hard this route was and how it had previously pushed them to their physical limits. Also one month on from their original ascent, psychologically they felt weaker and less psyched.
Pete went first this time. A month ago they had used 13 pre-placed Friends which had to climbed around as they climbed. For their second ascent they opted to carry eight. Pete’s progress along the upside down ‘Wide Pony’ section was slow and by the time he has reached the more upward section he was visibly and audibly wearied. I have watched Pete climb a multitude of hard routes but I have never seen him so stretched. He was talking to himself, muttering, groaning, moaning and croaking. Somehow he managed to summon the fortitude to reach the top having forgotten to places one of his Friends.
Tom readied himself while Pete stripped the gear. He looked eerily resigned to his fate and was palpably nervous. Tom moved quickly across but towards the top began to lose the terrible battle. He complained of cramp in his calf and having placed a Friend struggled to clip the rope due to a pumped right hand. He too muttered, groaned, moaned and croaked. However after much pain he too grovelled his way onto the sand of White Rim high above the Colorado river.