Pepa Šindel, 16, completes Hades (9a)

Pepa Šindel, who did a 9a+ two years ago, has ticked Hades (9a) in Götterwandl. (c) Felixtsam

Can you tell us more about the ascent?
Hades 9a is a 20m endurance line in Nassereith, Austria, right in the middle of the Götenwandl overhang. It consists of a lighter intro, 3 hard boulders and a tricky finish on small crimps. The main difficulties lie in the fact that there is no good rest between boulders and any small mistake will cause a lack of power in the last moves. Instagram videos of the hardest sequences.

I tried Hades for the first time in the summer of 2023 and after a few tries I started throwing sharp attempts. Unfortunately, I failed. So we returned to it during the autumn holidays. I was very close, but just felt short... So the plan for this holiday was clear - to finish it. And after a good rest and when the conditions improved, the climb was successful! Wow this one gave me a hard time 😅. So far my hardest 9a.

What is coming up next?
We are in Frankenjura, where the plan is to send Modified 9a+ and if everything works out, we will end our summer trip in Céüse.

Kacper Kusion, 18, ticks Let the Right One In (8B+)

Kacper Kusion has sent Let the Right One In (8B+) at Lincoln Lake and here is the video. “I saw this line for the first time back in 2022 and got immediately inspired by it and thought of it as my absolute dream line that maybe one day I will be able to try. Two years later decided to give it a try and on the first session did all the intro moves. Came back a day later, set up a rope to try the top moves and later that day everything came together and Sent!”

Can you tell us about your climbing background?
I was born in Poland and that’s where I started climbing at the age of 4 years old. Climbing very quickly became my main focus and the only thing I wanted to do. With years going by and me getting better my dad signed me up to a climbing club “KS Korona Krakow” where I met my coach Maciek Oczko. The climbing gym with the club were three hours away from my home which made it a little bit difficult to attend often, but we would drive up once or twice a week because there weren’t many good climbing gyms in the area and Maciek was a very supportive and beneficial coach, which later on turned into a close friend.

At the age of 11 years old I traveled with my dad to Boulder Colorado for three months to see how the climbing is. It was an absolute shock and climbing paradise. A year later we decided to move from Poland to Colorado, which opened up a lot more opportunities for my climbing. Once we got to Colorado my climbing became a big priority and my main focus. After a couple of years with competing in youth comps and really focusing on gym climbing and competing I wasn’t climbing nearly as much as I wanted to outdoors, and it was a huge missing puzzle for me. At the age of 15 I closely started working with Matt Fultz and the focus started to shift towards outdoor bouldering. After a few years of training with Matt I sent my first 8B last year.

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Aidan Roberts proposes 9A for Arrival of Birds

Aidan Roberts, who has already completed two previous 9A's, climbed Arrival of Birds in Chironico this spring. On an Instagram post yesterday, he decided to sug…

Enrique Beltrán Blasco does Ali Hulk sit start extension total, calling it 9a

Enrique Beltrán Blasco has sent Ali Hulk sit start extension total (9a+) in Rodellar, logged it as a 9a. The Spaniard projected it for more than 20 sessions, including making an ascent of the 9a stand start last year. The sit start send took him roughly 20 minutes and involved ten no-hands rests. (c) Dani Moreno, his trainer who, previously, also has suggested 9a for it.

Originally Dani Andrada did the FA of Ali Hulk sit start extension back in 2007, calling it 9b without using kneepads. Then Jonathan Flor added some 15 moves and "total" to the original name, keeping the grade. In total, the hybrid boulder route has over 100 moves out of which you do half of them before you tie in.

"I can not imagine how hard it was to send it like Andrada without kneepads. I stayed two minutes resting in the boulder part where he must have fought “a muerte” and I have no hands rest in all clips. Total respect for Dani for all his FAs."

Can you tell us more about the ascent?
This route is a very important step in my climbing career. This full line motivated me so much because you start at the bottom left in the cave and finish climbing out of the cave all the way to the right.

What was the key for the send?
Trust myself and climb with the heart and not with the mind, without thinking strategy, etc. Focus only on the flow on the wall.

Why is the 9a stand start no longer in your logbook?
Because I deleted it yesterday. For me [there is] only one line and one chain. The sit start is like two moves 7b, the rest you do with knee pads. It is a lower start but the same grade I think.

Natalie Bärtschi ticks Black Shadow (8A+)

Natalie Bärtschi, who stopped competing last year after 15 years on the IFSC circuit, has done Black Shadow (8A+) and Awunda (8A) in Rocklands. (c) Benjamin Weber

Can you tell us more about Black Shadow and what went into completing it?
Already during my first trip to Rocklands in 2013 I looked at Black Shadow and thought it was a stunning line but it was way out of reach at the time. Coming back in 2017 I set myself the goal to try something at my limit. Compression and toehooks are probably my favorite style of climbing so Black Shadow seemed like an obvious choice. Although I figured out the individual moves pretty quickly, the best I could do that year was linking it in three overlapping parts. I returned one year later but unfortunately tweaked my knee early that trip. Nevertheless I had one lucky go where everything fell into place and I got through the crux only to come up short on the last hard move up from the lip. In hindsight I just wasn’t strong enough to get through the crux consistently but at the time I was devastated. I even extended my trip for a week but the weather got really hot and I got sick shortly after.

The next few years were quite busy with competitions and school and I didn’t make it back until after the pandemic in 2022. My mindset around projecting became a lot healthier and although I was psyched to go back it didn’t feel like an obligation. I shared some valuable sessions with my friend Nic and started to enjoy projecting again. Although I could do the individual moves quite consistently, I never managed to link the crux from the bottom and even the end felt like a bit of a gamble. However, this time not sending didn’t feel like a failure, it just left me excited to come back even stronger.

My first session this year was like meeting up with an old friend. I reacquainted myself with the moves and it felt like I had never left. I was able to consistently link the crux into the finish but was too tired coming from the bottom. That session really gave me the confidence I needed to come back after a good rest. It took me a lot of patience not to climb on too many other things but I returned a few days later with fresh skin and well rested. My first attempts were good but not good enough and I forced myself to take a long break. I don’t like climbing after dark but I needed to let my hands cool down for better friction. Next try I hit the bump move perfectly and I knew immediately this was it. I topped out under the beautiful night sky full of stars and just sat on top to soak in what had just happened.

Preparing for World Championships last year really helped me keep up a good training routine throughout the summer and I probably felt the strongest I ever had. However, I underestimated how much mental energy it took and when I finally stepped away from competitions I felt pretty empty. Luckily it didn‘t take long for my motivation to come back and for the first time in almost 20 years I could fully focus on rock climbing. Although my training doesn‘t look too different, making my rock climbing goals a priority definitely had a big impact. For the first time I came to Rocklands with a fresh mind and body and not straight off a full comp season.

This trip also taught me a lot about tactics and being patient. I’m very bad at resting especially in a place like Rocklands but taking full restdays and resting enough between attempts is absolutely crucial. I‘m still trying to get my skin more durable for climbing on rock but more rest and being intentional with your tries is probably the most important. An extensive off the wall warm-up routine focused on fingers, shoulders and knees was definitely a game changer. Not only do I feel well prepared to try hard, it also helps to prevent injuries and preserve skin. Last but not least I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such a motivated and supportive crew here, sharing your passion is what makes this sport so fun!

Nathan Phillips and Aidan Roberts send Trance (8C)

Aidan Roberts and Nathan Phillips have done the second and third ascents of Will Bosi’s Trance (8C) in the Peak District and Nathan comments. ”First boulder after turning 30. Life in the old dog yet. Chose not to top out. I decided if I was to top out it wouldn’t be for my self and only to appease other people.”

Can you tell us more about the boulder?
It climbs an extension of maybe upper end 8A into the hard part of Bewilderness (8B+) the crux being what is probably a 2 move 8B at the end after a lot of moves.

I starting trying last summer after I climbed Bewilderness and managed to do it in 2 halves but never had a real good go at the crux from the start. This year I climbed it on my 4th session. I hit all the holds perfect until the crux where I was slightly off but managed to pull through and do it.

What is the thing about the top out?
Basically the top out is chossy mud filled holds (easy climbing) and then you grab some trees to top out. If you watch Will’s video of it it’s super sketchy and in my eyes the obvious jug just below this part is a better place to finish and I didn’t want to risk the top out for no reason. Myself and a few others have finished on the jug without the top out for Bewilderness.

Staša Gejo ticks Incubator (8B)

Staša Gejo, who has won two World Championships bronzes, has sent Incubator (8B) in Zillertal. ”I finally found some time for rocks, now that the Olympic dream crashed. Back to rocks babe :D first 8 grade boulder in a very long time. Comps kill the outdoor vibe. Dialled in the start so well, took quite a few slips on the heel in the crux move (right heel, right arm). Two sessions, sweet.”

The 26-year-old has been on the IFSC athlete comission for many years raising problems with eating disorder and the different scoring systems. In 2017 she won both the European Championship as well as the World Games. In regards her Olympic dream, the Serbian was runner-up in the Euro qualifiers for both Tokyo and Paris.

Lucia Dörffel does Riverbed (8B)

Lucia Dörffel, who got her Olympic ticket two weeks ago in Budapest, has sent Riverbed (8B) in Magic Wood. ”I was in Magic for just two days. It was just a perfect short trip with good vibes and good weather. Really cool boulder. Endurance training worked :)” (c) Elias Arriagada K.

Can you tell us more about getting your ticket in the Olympic qualifier series in Budapest?
It was the toughest comps I’ve ever climbed because there was so much mental pressure. I think for all athletes who competed there. After the first one [Shanghai], I was kind of in a good position for a ticket so I’m really happy I could manage my mind in the second one and could show my best climbing.

Ainhize Belar Barrutia completes Parasitorik ez (8c)

Ainhize Belar Barrutia, who has already completed 16 routes 8c to 9a, has sent Parasitorik ez (8c) in Araotz/Oñate. Pictured is the 18-year-old sending Honky Tonky (8c).

It was the first time that I went to Korea [the sector] this year and I wanted to try something to get used to the climbing style again. It is a route that very few people try, even though it’s one of the best routes on the wall, without many tricks and quite a lot of resistance. Finally, I was able to do it on the third try.”