Sheffield-based climber Tom Randall, known for his exploits with Pete Whittaker in the Wideboyz, has put up a new line on the cliffs of Blackers Hole in Dorset. The route, named Supernova and graded E8, was an aid line used by Pete Oxley when making the first ascent of The Schwarzechild Radius but had seen no previous free climb.
Randall was trying his hand at nearby route Laughing Arthur (also an E8) when he spotted an alternative line up the cliffs and was rewarded with one of those Eureka moments “where you look at a line on the crag and think “wow, what’s that?!” and then check the guidebook and see that it’s unclimbed.”
Supernova did not submit to Randall without a fight. An early attempt at the climb nearly went disastrously wrong when Tom had a 127 Hours moment and found himself jammed in the rock. “In the middle of the roof is an upside-down by the feet double foot jam and I took a rest here,” the climber said, “but as I weighted the jams, one of my feet suddenly pulled through a bit of a constriction and got proper jammed – really jammed down on the bone.”
Though supported by a belayer on the ground and with Mike Hutton in relatively close proximity on the abseil rope (but unable to climb to Randall’s aid), Tom was very much on his own. “I’d say it was 10-15 mins off getting really serious as after about 5-10 mins I really wrenched it out. Just took the pain a bit as I preferred to hurt myself rather than have a major rescue epic.”
The ascent was more straightforward thereafter, though Randall had to improvise a bit when he missed a ticked pocket towards the top of the climb. Blacker’s Hole is a “funny cave,” he noted, “sometimes the conditions are great and it feels ok down there and if they’re just a tiny bit off everything feels like 8c!”
Supernova is the latest highlight of an exceptionally productive year for Randall in which, in tandem with Pete Whittaker, he smashed the Staffordshire Nose speed record and discovered and climbed the world’s longest roof crack in Utah.
Randall has recently spoken with great candour about what climbing means to him and the unorthodox journey that’s led him to push his personal limits on the rock. The embedded video “Obsession” charts Tom’s journey from surprising origins on the London stock market to a more balanced life in Sheffield – though he freely admits that climbing is his biggest drive.
Tom’s busy mind quiets – in his words “rests” – on the rock, when the physical challenge of climbing is all-encompassing. Check out the video for greater insight into the forces driving Randall to new heights as a climber and his answer to the eternal question of high-risk climbing: why do you do it?