Felix Wilkins links Persian Dawn into Hajj at Raven Tor as season ends
- Wednesday 25th October 2023
A couple of months after getting the third ascent of The Bastard at Rubicon, Felix Wilkins continues his assault on Peak Lime with a new link-up at Raven Tor; Persian Dawn into Hajj.
Very much an “under-the-radar” climber, Felix has been quietly working his way through the hard routes on Peak Limestone over the last few years ticking off numerous test-pieces with hardly a murmur. His link of Persian Dawn (F8c+) into the upper section of Hajj (F8c) was done just before the recent storm and could well be one of the last hard routes sent on Peak Limestone this year now that seepage is rearing its ugly head once again after the deluge. Buster Martin’s Persian Dawn (F8c+), itself a direct version of Zippy’s Make it Funky (F8c), ends at the lower off on Mecca (F8b+). Suitably rested, Hajj then blasts off up the crimpy and powerful wall above climbing just left of Mecca Extension (F8c). This upper section of Hajj is harder that the corresponding section of Mecca Extension.
Earlier this summer Felix became on the third ever climber to dispatch John Welford’s under-rated Rubicon test-piece, The Bastard. Originally, one of the very last aid routes added on Peak Limestone in 1986, Free That You Bastards was first climbed free – and renamed The Bastard - by local legend John Welford back in 1995. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the second ascent went to the Peak’s undisputed master of fingery gnarl, Steve McClure in the late 90’s/early 00's. Despite a number of very strong and capable climbers attempting to dispatch The Bastard over the last 25 years, Felix finally made the third ascent of what is one of the most emblematic of all Peak Limestone short crimpy routes.
Whenever things like this get ticked off there is inevitably speculation about the grades. Both Mecca Extension and Hajj adds a grade to the original line of Mecca there has been some speculation that Felix’s link-up might nudge the grade up and over the threshold into the Ninth grade. Equally, rumours have been heard that The Bastard might merit an upgrade given those which have been turned away empty-handed.
Climber have been in touch with Felix for his thoughts on the grades for both and - in keeping with the Peak’s reputation for staunch grading – Felix is having none of it. Here’s his reasoning…
The Bastard is an archetypal Peak test-piece – ie super short, boulder and crimpy. Given it’s rebutted a number of very strong climbers in recent years it seemed it might be a shoe-in for an upgrade; however, you think it’s OK at F8c+?
Yeah classic Peak Lime, five hard moves and it’s over! It’s definitely tough, but I do think its F8c+. Although if you can’t reach the big span at the start it is a lot, lot harder - maybe where the reputation comes from?
Linking Persian Dawn into Hajj is a fairly long and involved outing; how hard was it to hold it together for the full link-up?
Having done the two parts of the link before, I was quite confident I could scrape through with some good conditions which luckily I got.
If Persian Dawn itself is hard for the grade, as some think, it seems that adding the Hajj extension on top might well tipped the balance over into F9a but we understand you’re thinking F8c+ is ok; that’s gotta be pretty stout at that though – right?
I think Persian Dawn is mid-F8c+, and Hajj probably adds about F8a+/b I don’t think it quite adds enough to take it to F9a. It’s probably a little bit easier than Stevolution at low F9a (Evolution into Kabaah)
The Peak might well be finished for the year now after the recent rains but have you got something in mind to try next? Something else at the Tor perhaps?
Yeah it doesn’t look good does it! Will have to pick off the dry bits and start climbing inside again (grit is rubbish). Haven’t really got any projects on the go.