British Climber Emma Twyford Breaks the Barrier in ‘The Big Bang’

Filmed in 2019 but just released to the public this week, “The Big Bang” captures Emma Twyford’s journey to becoming the first woman from the U.K. to climb 5.14d.

Like many of the U.K.’s crags, conditions at the Lower Pen Trwyn (or ‘LPT’) seacliff of North Wales are often unclimbable; a matter made worse by the cliff’s sea-level location. But that hasn’t stopped some of Britain’s best climbers from developing the area, which has been at the forefront of U.K. sport climbing since the 1980s. The routes there are stout, arduous, steep, and temperamental.

First climbed in 1996 by Neil Carson, “Big Bang” 5.14d (9a) is the most difficult route at the LPT — an unrelenting gritstone crimpfest. At the time of Carson’s FA, the climbing world heralded it as Britain’s first 9a line.

When Twyford first encountered the route in 2016, only one other climber had managed the send. She was determined to claim its first female ascent (FFA). And although the owner of many proud, elite redpoints, “Big Bang” would prove to be a 3-year project and her ultimate test piece.

On September 17, 2019, after years of training, Twyford clipped the route’s chains. The send would cement her as its third-ever ascensionist and the first British woman to break into the grade.

Runtime: 28 minutes

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Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing — and life would never be the same. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear family. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.

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