Whittaker and Randall climb 125 routes in a day
At the stroke of midnight, with just a head torch each to guide them, Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker launched onto the Peak District’s Eastern Edges. The two are nicknamed the Wide Boyz for their skills in off-widths.
After travelling the world to conquer some of its most difficult ascents, having a laugh in silly costumes and generally pushing their climbing skills to the limit, the pair conceived what could be their hardest challenge to date; linking 125 of the UK’s most famous climbs in less than 24 hours.
The challenge centres on a series of classic climbs known as the Brown and Whillans routes. Joe Brown and Don Whillan, two post-war climbing heroes and perhaps Britain’s greatest ever climbing duo, were the first to climb the 125 routes split across the Eastern and Western gritstone edges of the Peak District. While the routes are no longer at the cutting edge of climbing difficulty, they are still desperate affairs often characterised by the thuggish, brutal crack climbing style that was popular at that time.
Over the last few years, Randall and Whittaker have repeatedly set the record for the fastest completion of the 31 Brown and Whillans routes in the Western Peak, shaving their time down to just 5 hours and 53 minutes. When local competitors Andi Turner and Pete Bridgwood broke the Wide Boyz’s Western Peak records for the second time in 2013, the two decided to change the game entirely.
Ahead of them awaited 125 climbs and over 22 miles of running across the Eastern and Western Edges . It was 24 hours of intense physical endurance. Climbing in the dark, fatigued, and under immense time pressure is when things can go wrong.
“It was dark, we were soloing. Suddenly, I heard a massive thud, then it all went quiet. I knew Tom had fallen.” said Whittaker.
On one of the easiest climbs of the day Randall had a brutal near miss:
“I’d successfully completed one climb, and in trying to save time, I decided to down-climb an easy chimney crack instead of jogging back around to the bottom of the rock face. I slipped and fell really badly and, as it was dark, I had no idea when the ground was coming up to meet me, so I landed sideways – straight on my hip and arm,” said Randall. “As I lay on the ground a wave of nausea washed over me, and I wondered if I would be able to carry on. Luckily the adrenaline kicked in and the pain subsided, but for a moment I thought I had blown it. A simple slip was enough to put the whole challenge in jeopardy.”
“I was genuinely a bit worried then, but just made sure Randall knew that we could stop at anytime if it got really bad,” said Whittaker. “It’s alright being silly and acting the fool, but when someone actually hurts themselves you have to be realistic.”
Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker – No Sleep Till Bakewell – The Documentary from casio electronics on Vimeo.