The Return of the Gaskins .. and Mark Leach

by Mick Ryan – Gaskins The South Lakes strongman, John Gaskins, perhaps the most powerful climber in the UK is back climbing again after a lay off.John is author of the world´s hardest short sport route, Violent New Breed 9a+ and the boulder problem, Walk Away Sit Start Font 8c/V15 at Fairy Steps, both unrepeated – not to mention his 2006 solo of a hard grit route at Thorn Crag given Font 8b. Consider that the neighbouring route, The Last Temptation is E6 and this route, called A Moment of Clarity is just as high, E10 or E11 anyone? Gaskins gave up climbing for a while and some say it was due to being accused of lying by the German climber, Markus Bock after Gaskins made quick repeats of Bock´s hardest problems, including Gossip, Font 8c in 2004. Greg Chapman at broke the news and writes. “A recent chance meeting with John Gaskins this week gave us the opportunity to probe the world´s strongest climbing enigma on his recent comings and goings.As you may be aware, after the shabby treatment he received at the hands of Markus Bock and others a few years back, John had taken a step back from the limelight and his intense climbing regime – obviously losing much of his faith in his fellow climbing brethren – to concentrate more time on his family and the more accommodating sport of running. Over the last year or two he has “dabbled” in and out of the sport in which he made his name, re-climbing such lines as Cloning Technology (8a+) and adding the odd endurance link to his local limestone crags, but for the most part he´s flown under the radar and stuck to endurance ground, that whilst hardcore for most, is at a relatively modest level by his old standards.On meeting John this week I couldn´t help but notice the fact that he looked physically much stronger compared with our last meeting some 9 or 10 months back – forearms that could power a jackhammer anyone? On commenting as such to him he stated that he had recently put his campus board back up, been back on his training board and even been out and about “a bit” over the previous winter and spring.” Read the full story at In other comeback news, Mark Leach who made the first ascent of Malham´s Cry Freedom 8b+, Bat Route 8b+ and free climbed the main overhang at Kilnsey to give us Mandela 8b, has been seen working out on the sport routes at Malham Cove. Mark was one of several climbers who brought sport climbing kicking and screaming to the UK in the late 80´s and early 90´s before becoming abarrister. Please, no mention of a pink Porsche or sequined leather cowboy boots in the associated discussion to this report.