Meini Li from China has done China Climb 8b+ (c) at White Mountain, Yangshou, in China. The 10-year-old has previously won some 40 national titles, including in all disciplines the last two years. In total, she needed 37 attempts spread over five intense weekends over two months. Climbing has the full story including interviews with Meini and her mother Emma. "After Meini started climbing, we basically arranged our schedule around hers. We as parents have no excuses to slow down but to let her push us forward."
Jules Henry started climbing 20 months ago. After six months of climbing, at age seven, he did his first 7B+ boulder. Due to the pandemic, most of his training and climbing since then has occurred on their home wall. In March, this 124-cm-tall kid did his first 8a and last month, he did his first 8a+, Sacrilège in Saussois. This means that Jules is the youngest ever to have done an 8a+. On his latestInsta - Jules9a, he says he tried an 8b and did all the moves.
His father says he climbs five days a week out of which three outdoors. It is Jules who picks the routes and currently he is working on another 8a. During the lockdown, they were mainly climbing at their home wall where his father creates challenges for him.
What is your climbing background in the family?
I have two kids but we are only two who climb, Jules and me. When he was a child, he was not so interested in climbing but we have always done activities in the mountains. I climbed for years but I stopped to focus on long trails runs. After that, I restarted to climb and he was old enough to climb too. I climbed 20 years but no so focused on high grades (never trained, just climb). I sent a few 8a's but with a lot of projecting including dedicated little sessions of training and campus boarding.
How do you pick Jules' routes?
I always talk a lot with climbers to know which hard routes could be possible for him with his little size (1m24). Even so, Jules often tries many different routes to find one project and in the end, he has to find his own methods.
How much does he climb and who is he climbing together with?
Most of the time, he climbs twice indoors on our climbing wall and we try to climb outside 3 times in a week. We climb with other people, but it's always adults, climbers of the area or friends. He is not yet in a club. We always climb with the same people. He is not afraid to cheer them loud, which explain maybe his motivation to climb hard. Due to the fact he is not in a club and the global lockdown, he doesn't climb with other kids.
How can you explain his extreme progression?
The fact that he won his first competition counts a lot I think in his actual motivation and in the fact that he always wants to be the best. For example, when we climb in an adult group, he doesn't want extra holds for his size, even crimps. But for sure, the moves are sometimes too long for him. An important thing is we got the global lockdown in France. During this period, the only thing we could do, stuck at home, was playing on the climbing wall. In the beginning, it was playing, but it turned quick in a kind of training sessions, with dedicated movements for his size and his progression.
Michele Reusa, who has previously done three 8c', has done the FA of Up forever 8c+ in Falesia del ghëddo after just three sessions. "It is made up of two parts, a fairly easy first part of 8a to the fifth quickdraw and then there are long moves on small holds as you continue and you feel more and more pumped until the last crux which makes the grade. I hope someone comes to try it to find out their opinion. I think I just needed so few sessions because I feel very fit."
The 14-year-old was #6 in the European Youth Championship last week. Last month, his younger brother Matteo became the second in the family, after his father Iuri, to do an 8c+ by repeating Bucking Bronco. The whole family is developing Falesia del Ghëddo in Piedmont together. Currently, there are some ten routes but they aim for 30 routes almost 20 meters high.
Philipp Gaßner did the 27th repeat of Action Direct, generally considered the first 9a in the world, two weeks and commented.
"Psyched to have finally climbed that one. I’ve wanted to do it for a long time but somehow I’ve only spent there a couple of days over the past few years. This spring I was super excited to give it a serious go. And on the fourth day of this season, I did it with great support from my friends. There is not much left to say about the route. This thing is just absolutely iconic and it‘s still a difficult test piece. Looking forward to moving on to the next projects!"
What was hardest for you redpointing it?
The hardest was to be that certain mental state to be able to climb the route because I knew I was strong enough to do so. Just focusing on the very next move and not trying to calculate if I can send it or not. And even though there was a little mistake during the send go I did not let go.
Irina Kuzmenko has done Eliksir molodosty natoshak which her boyfriend Vadim Timonov put up as an 8A+ in
Triangular lake. "In my opinion that’s one more like 8B. Too hard for 8A+ but so nice one!" The Russian, who got the bronze in the Euro Championship in 2019, has previously done twelve boulders 8A to 8B.
"It took two very short and two quite long sessions. During the first two sessions, it was no chances to make one separate move and it felt like “hmmm what I am doing here, maybe I should try something different”. Then I came back again, did all the moves in 20 mins, and decided to rest for recovery. This boulder is crimpy and the hold is sharp and usually, you need two days to make skin good again. So after 2 days I just came back and did it very quickly! So happy :-)"
If you can do 8B so quickly, it should be possible to do at least 8B+?
I already did one session in an 8B+ and did all the moves in 40 mins 😅 so maybe you’re right!🥰
Maya Ene (11) has had a good week doing God’s Own Stone 8b+ and Swingline 8b in Red River Gorge. During the last three months, the 137 cm tall and 30 kg, has also done two 7C+'. Her father Ionel (46), finished his World Cup career in 1999 by being #19 in Speed and #43 in Lead in the World Championship. His personal best 8c, he did in 2003 and recently he also did God's Own Stone.
"Both, my wife and I have been climbing for 30 years, so Maya was exposed to climbing at an early age. Plus, we own a small climbing gym in New Jersey so it seemed like just a matter of time before Maya started to take climbing more seriously. About three years ago I participated in a Psicobloc competition in Canada. She was so amazed by the cheers of the crowds that she decided to be "as strong as my father" as she would say. The determination of getting stronger grew bigger month after month. About six months ago, we went to a local bouldering area and she was able to hold very tiny crimps (the size of the edge of a credit card), so we decided to have her try harder stuff. She went from 5.13a (7c+) to 5.14a (8b+) (God's Own Stone) in five months.
Maya doesn't have a particular climbing training routine, however, we are both climbing three times a week. We take any occasion to climb outside since this is what we enjoy the most. While she does both, sport and bouldering, I believe she has a predilection for sport. It's amazing to see your child climb as strong as you."
Illya Bakhmet-Smolenskyi, who did his first 9a at age 13, has done the first repeat of Alex Megos Turkish Haircut 9a in Citdibi, after some 12 days projecting during two trips. "Puff, it was a long story with shattered skin, damaged tendon and tons of Footslips. So glad to finish this line, a really cool and unique climb!" (c) David Kaszlikowski/Verticalvision.pl
On Insta he describes the whole process taking it down. The 16-year-old has been travelling together with his parents for several years. "I have this separate homeschooling class. The school gives us works to do to get the annual grades, we have deadlines for them and we should fit in. We study and search for materials on our own or with help of side teachers)."
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