It’s tough at the top

Close call: Tom Randall scaling Century Crack.                        Picture: Alex Ekins.
Close call: Tom Randall scaling Century Crack. Picture: Alex Ekins.
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HE’S cracked it. Sheffield climber Tom Randall is one of two brave Brits who became the first men to conquer the world’s most difficult climb - a 160ft fissure in Utah’s Canyonlands.

Tom, aged 32, and Pete Whittaker, 20, free climbed the Century Crack by squeezing body parts into the gap and shuffling painfully upwards. And they practised for two years in Tom’s cellar to pull it off.

During that time the pair forced themselves through 17,500ft of horizontal upside down climbing, completed 250,000 core and abdominal conditioning movements, did 42,300 pull-ups and bicep curls, and almost 16 hours of static abdominal holds.

Tom, based at Big Stone on Kenwood Park Road, Nether Edge, said he and Pete had to put in the work if they were to have a chance of completing the climb.

He said: “It had to be extreme to the utmost - or we’d never push ourselves close enough to our limits which we knew needed to be reached. I was renovating my house at the time so had a lot of kitchen cupboards and sideboards lying around. We turned them into loads of artificial cracks in my cellar to practise the climb.

“For two years we patiently practised. Six days a week, three hours a day which was a combination of weights, conditioning, normal climbing - a bit of a mixture.”

The majority of the climb is scaled while upside down, with climbers squeezing their legs inverted inside the crack above them the whole way.

“All the work is done by our hands and feet,” said Tom. “Feet work well because they’re around the same width as the crack whereas with our hands we had to stack them together in all sort of bizarre shapes.

“It’s a very specialist type of climbing which not many people do.”