“I loved climbing ‘Empire’, but mostly in retrospect. Situated in beautiful Anstey’s Cove on the South Devon coast, it takes a fairly direct line up the steep Empire Wall. Most of my climbing friends had climbed it and it's the local climb everyone always asks: ‘have you done?’ So I tried, and it felt desperate.
I tried again, not much better. On my third go I did a tiny bit better. Then I spent half an hour giving two visiting climbers beta, and realised I actually knew the route quite well, and knew where the better holds were, where to rest, where to go fast. Next go I managed to do it bolt to bolt quite comfortably (which still felt scary as bolts 4 and 5 look far apart). Then I did it 2 bolts at a time. Then in 2 overlapping sections, and then finally, from bottom to top.
That redpoint process isn’t uncommon of course, most sport climbers know that feeling well. But on the final redpoint attempt, it felt so easy, I was more nervous of messing it up than I was about getting pumped or falling. It’s a cliché to say it, but the moves just flowed into each other like a dance. I’d got the timing just right, so it was still a thrill to do it, I didn’t have it SO wired that it was boring, and honestly it was a joy that I’ll always treasure. I remember standing at the chains and just smiling, relishing it, for quite a long time before I clipped them and said “Okay. Safe. Bring me down.”
- Mark Bullock, Learning & Development Advisor