Reel Rock 16 ©

A concrete dream

Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker have a particular penchant for difficult crack climbing.
Under a motorway bridge in Devon, they find their biggest challenge yet.

We talked to Tom and Pete about their outlandish climbing project.

Tom Randall

Pete Whittaker

Tom and Pete, hardly anyone shares your penchant for extreme crack climbing. Are you a dream team or community of fate?

It’s been almost ten years since you climbed Century Crack in the Utah desert. Now you climbed another roof crack— under a motorway bridge. Which one was more difficult?


The bridge crack was a lot harder than Century Crack. The suffering was pretty bad, actually. It was one of the very hardest things that Pete and I have done in our careers. We couldn't have done this ten years ago! We have needed a decade of subsequent experience and training and becoming slightly better climbers overall to be able to do that project. But it is mainly hard because of things like the total length, the consistency, the setting, and the pressure.

Have you ever climbed bridges or buildings before?

What was the most irritating part of the whole experience?


The moving nature of the bridge! When bi vehicles were going over the top, the crack was expanding and contracting. It's a very odd sensation. When you're jamming and it gets tighter, it feels quite good. And then it gets looser again, and it gets really bad. I've never experienced this before. But even when the bridge was moving, the cams never came out!

Were you scared that one of your pieces would fall out?


That element was never explained enough in the film. It definitely is something that you have to be careful with. Most climbers have never experienced this phenomenon. They can’t really relate to it, so they don't see how much of a problem it is. And when we came down from the bridge at the end, it just felt like everything was moving all the time. It's like a weird seasickness.

Why did the crack become wider and thinner at times?

It was also probably the first time you have had to deal with the police on one of your climbs.


On our first attempt, the police were called and we had to come down. At that moment, it seemed like it was going to be a massive legal issue, and we were going to get fined or in a lot of trouble with a criminal record or whatever.


But in the end, we were able to have an open conversation with them about doing it. When they realized that we weren't trying to climb onto the road, then they were happy.
Zachary Barr ©

Did you try to get permission beforehand?


We basically confused just enough authorities that no one quite knew who was doing what and who had given permission or provided the legal paperwork. It was a very difficult compromise, be-cause if you ask too many questions, they will say no for sure.

Did you make any unusual discoveries under the M5?

Everything on this project seems to be way out of the ordinary. Was this your intention from the beginning?


The project was always very, very weird right from the outset. And because it was born out of the COVID years, there were a lot of bizarre things going on, so we thought, why does the approach have to be normal? We needed to do things [during this time] that would just make us laugh. We thought it would be hilarious to order pizza while hanging under a bridge. We totally could have done something else like taken some sandwiches, but it just seemed funnier. And we didn't really want to come back down to the ground. We wanted to feel like we were on an expedition.

Did the bridge climb feel like a real adventure?

Adventure can be found in the most unusual places. Any other learnings that you took from this experience?


The challenge is always in your mind. It's your own level of creativity. Be creative and then work with whatever conditions you've got.

Are you still looking for cracks in an urban environment?

Could bridge climbing become a trend?

Thank you for this interview!

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