The Gop - North Wales limestone's crucible of finger strength and body tension has seen a flurry of first ascent activity this year and now incredibly boasts 11 grade 8 problems. Quite a feat when you consider it is only 10 metres wide.
Marcus Rushworth kicked things off last October adding a right hand start to the crag favourite E Honda. Consensus now seems to be 7A+ for E Honda rather than the guidebook grade of 7B. E Honda RH adds some great moves and makes it a solid 7B.
Chris Doyle started his campaign in February this year adding a useful 7A+ to the left hand side of the crag. Chris started Adopt a Lad on the far left side on a backhand in the roof with the right hand and a low sidepull on the arÍte with the left. After making a move to a jug on the arÍte the problem climbs the prow into the finish of Choke a Bloke. A rare compression problem for the Gop. Chris has since suggested it probably makes more sense to start on the jug rather than a move lower.
Chris then got to work on a low start to his own Choke a Bloke that he'd spotted a few months before. Choke a Bloke Low went down in May at 8A (consensus for Choke a Bloke is now 7C+ rather than the guidebook grade of 7C). Start directly under the original crouch version on a pocket pinch for left and a square cut crimp on the ramp with the right.
Mike 'Psyche' Hart got in on the action and made the obvious connection of Ken Masters into E Honda RH to give Chun-Li (8A). Chris made the second ascent and reckoned his sequence was the best bit of climbing at the crag. Chris then went to work on an alternative harder start to Choke a Bloke that he'd been dabbling with for a few years, starting down and right on the low rail beneath Push The Button. Push the Bloke went down in July at a stern 8A.
Danny Cattell, one of the original Gop pioneers, revisited the crag and immediately went to work on the low start to the crags hardest Paper Birds (a notoriously tough 8A+) The low start only adds one hand move and a tough foot release but added significant difficulty. After a promising start Danny endured a few backwards sessions before conditions and form came good on 6th August and he finished the deal (a couple of days before a two week holiday). Danny reckoned the low moves were enough to bump the overall grade to 8B, giving the crag its hardest line and his hardest FA to date.
Chris checked out the possibility of a new direct low start to E Honda that he'd done the moves on in 2013. His attempts ended back then when the jug start undercut pulled off. He wrote it off then as too hard but on revisiting the line managed to pull off the ground with the two remaining poor undercuts. The first move and the third move proved very low percentage. On the day Danny did Paper Birds Low Chris fell off E Honda then had to bide his time as a deluge came and the crag got wet. On returning a few weeks later conditions were far from ideal but Chris managed to finish it off. E Honda Low rates a tough 8A and likely marks the end of the crags development. (NB. The starting foot ledge at the back of the roof goes into the ground but it's obvious and logical as to what is in and out).