by Mick Ryan Andy Earl When big Ron Fawcett climbed the first ascent of Careless Torque in 1987 at the Stanage Plantation (Derbyshire), bouldering mats were unheard of. Ron psyched himself up for the final moves of this distinct arete by jumping from increasing heights off the neighbouring classic Not To Be Taken Away…just to convice himself that he would actually walk away unscathed (this is known as ´old style´ or ´old skool´) Since them most ascents have utilised a top rope to practice the high and hard last moves, headpoint style. Now with the advent of huge mattresses that you can strap on your back and carry to the crag and position at the bottom of your chosen route or problem make what once seemed unfeasible to boulder (or solo!), whilst not common place, at least more frequent. And bouldering mats are getting bigger and bigger. One of the biggest is made by Revolution Climbing in the USA, and is called the 12 gauge (see one here). The Climbing Works have one and on Valentines day loaned it to Andy Earl for an attempt on Careless Torque, which an earlier ascensionist, Malcom Smith thought to be Font 8a or V11. Andy reports on his blog(link),“Yesterday morning I set off to Sheffield with the hope to climb outside but the Met office painted a wet and wind picture so the Climbing Works was looking like the venue. Almost at Sheffield, with a blue sky and it was not too warm. Maybe it was going to be the day for Careless Torque, Gaz (Parry), Percy (Bishton) , the pads and myself were off on one. After a brief warm up Percy lowered down and chalked the top grips, it was on. Second go I found myself stood up and going for the top moves that turn out to be not so bad and then found myself standing on the top of one of the best blocs in the peak. Done Careless Torque ground up pretty happy.“ Earl and Parry (who just got a fine ascent of Karma, Font 8a orV11, at Fontainbleau…see his blog here ) then went on to do the crazy jump of Big Air (E6 6b) described as, „Bizarre but superb moves. Leap the crevasse for the beckoning square hold and mantel a way to glory. Not a boulder problem! “ It seems that bouldering mats, and what they allow modern climbers to do, climb hard and high without pre-practice (onsight and ground up) are now an integral part of traditional climbing, as much so as heapointing. Thank you to Percy Bishton of the Climbing Works (website) for the photograph of Andy on Careless Torque