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Since Danny Cattell put up Louis Armstrong in 2007 adding a sit start has been one of the Cave's most obvious unclimbed challenges. Malcolm Smith put some effort into linking it from the In Hell start and no doubt he would have done it had he lived a bit closer.

In fact there are three potential sit starts to do into Armstrong. From the start of Left Wall, from the Hatch start and In Hell. The In Hell start is perhaps the most appealing of these challenges, combining a worthwhile jump in difficulty and also a logical line.

A few weeks ago Wirral warrior, Mike Hart, climbed Louis Armstrong for the first time and got stuck into the In Hell link. Mike is one of the new generation of Cave wads and already has the 3rd ascent of Pilgrimage on his CV. After a few sessions Loucifer 8B+ was in the bag and the Cave had a new potential hardest problem. Mike chose to climb In Hell via the powerful original sequence which goes at hard 7C+. There is an easier alternative sequence which uses the back wall. This would probably bring the difficulty down slightly but the link would still be worth a solid 8B+.

A talking point is whether this new link is the hardest in the Cave with the other obvious contender being Alex Megos's Louis Cut. It's likely that climbing into Armstrong is harder than climbing something after it but time will tell. Linking the two is now a blatant challenge and would no doubt be the first Cave's first 8C. Mike warmed down by climbing the Cave classic Director's Cut. Not a bad day!

NWB reporter: Chris Doyle

Loucifer 8B+ from Mike Hart on Vimeo.

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