Vita Lukan, who was Top-6 in all her five Lead WCs in 2021, has onsighted her first 8b+, Geminis in Rodellar. It is one of the most classic routes, originally graded 8c, in the area and this was the second onsight out of the 183 ascents in the 8a database. Previous, only a handful females, have onsighted 8b+ before and Charlotte Durif is the only one to have onsighted 8c. The next day the 20-year-old also onsighted Gladiator 8b. (c) Nace Gosnik
"This was actually my first time rock climbing this year😅. Since the first time I saw this line my goal was to onsight it therefore I was a little bit nervous before my try. I knew it's gonna be hard because I am not the most familiar with climbing with kneebars and I haven't climbed much outside this year due to competitions. But when I was up on the wall a felt pretty good and suddenly I realized that it is possible. This is when I got a bit nervous and my feet started shaking. Last few meters I had to fight really hard with the pump and even clipping quickdraws felt quite hard. Honestly, I felt quite relieved when I clipped the anchor of this beautiful route. I think I was climbing for around 20 or 25 min."
What are your winter plans and what about the next comp season?
I will take two weeks rest right after I come from Spain and then I will start with my preparations for next season :) for next season I would like to improve my bouldering skills. In Lead, I would love to repeat or even beat my results from last year
Julia Fiser, who made semi in all her six Lead WCs this year, has flashed Hupolup Kempf 8a+ DWS in Mallorca. This might be the hardest ever female DWS flash in history? "One of my proudest mental achievements. Kingline!" (c) Sebastian Marko // Alpsolut.pictures
What kind of beta did you get? How high up is the crux and how scared were you?
Misha (Michael Piccolruaz) climbed the route before and tried to give me all the beta. Unfortunately, I didn't watch him and there wasn't a lot of chalk on the holds but he somehow explained it so well that I was using the right beta right away. We think the crux is at about 12 meters but we don't know for sure 😅 I was quite scared but I tried to do one move at a time and not look down and that somehow made me stay calm and focused.
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Domen Škofic, Lead World Cup winner overall in 2016, has done his first 9b, Alihulk sit start extension total in Rodellar and amazingly it took him just three days and he did not use kneepads. Originally, Dani Andrada put up a shorter version of it in 2007, without using a kneepad. Then in 2019, Jonathan Flor made the FA of the Extension total which already has been repeated five times. Everyone has used a kneepad, although Laura Rogora did not use a proper one with rubber. Andrada has later commented that his FA should have been 9a+ if he had used a kneepad. (c) Nace Gosnik.
"After 3 days of work I brought all the pieces together and today I sent it on my first try. I didn’t expect it’s going to happen that fast and therefore I’m a little bit sceptical about the grade. Anyway, I enjoy putting this puzzle together and makes me psyched for my future goals."
Although being #4 in Kranj, 2021 was probably the worst year on the Lead World Cup since 2012 for him. The Slovenian comments on Insta, "After a rough comp season I took 10 days off from training to clear my mind."
The 27-year-old opened his own climbing gym, The Ranch this August which might explain the rough comp season. "I have invested a lot of time to make it happen and the training was not the best for the last year and a half. But now I’m getting free to climb again outdoors :)"
How come you did not use kneepads?
I just don’t know how to use them to my advantage and they make me feel immobile. I try to make as many routes as possible without them. I’m not against kneepads and I’m trying to learn this technique because I know that someday I might find a route that won’t be possible to climb without.
Michiel Nieuwenhuijsen has done his second 8C in 2021, Der mit dem Fels tanzt 8C in Chironico, after just three sessions. The 30 mover was put up by Martin Keller after having projected it for 100+ days.
"In the first session, I did not feel so good. I was going pretty bad at all the moves of the lower start. I came really close on the finish (that is Einfisch Keinfisch 8A+) but felt on the mantle. I felt so out of breath that session. When we came back to the house it made all sense, I was just feeling really bad and spend the evening and the next 1.5 days in bed. Even though I could have Covid, but the test was negative :-) So. I didn't feel too confidant about the whole line. But that feeling was also a bit false as I was sick (I was saying that as much as I could to myself, as a confidence booster) ;-)
A few days later I came back to the boulder. Did Einfish and did all the moves of the lower start: ok I was sick last time and feeling a lot better now. Did some links and the confidence grew. Took an easy day and a rest day. Thought a lot of the moves that cost me a lot of energy and already made adjustments in my mind. Today I came back and send, so just 3 sessions. I did not expect to send it today, but sometimes that is how it goes." More info on his Insta.
Clément Lechaptois has done the FA of Solitary daze 8C in Fionnay, which is a direct finnish to an 8A+. The French has previously done 18 boulders 8B+ and harder. (c) Marine Thevenet
"The problem only shares the first move with the 8A+, then it goes straight instead of traversing right to the arete. It took me about 8 days I think. I managed to do the first section in 3-4 days (but I wasn't able to do it more than 3 times per session) and I thought I could do the problem. But I was wrong. The real crux, in the end, was the last move. I tried a lot of different things but my first idea was eventually the right one for me. I used a left heel hook that was quite a low percentage but worked pretty well when it didn't slip. It's a good one I think. The holds and movements are amazing, I had a lot of fun trying it!"
Camilla Moroni, who the last month got the silver in the World Championship, has done two 8A's in Brione; Fake Pamplemousse and Entwash. "It was my first time in Brione and I was astonished by the rock quality and shapes.
I have some classic boulders in my to-do list but for the moment I only managed to send just these two 8A's.
They felt pretty easy, 40 mins on each boulder were enough to climb them."
The 20-year-old Italian had previously won three Euro Youth Cups and her best result in Lead is #10 in the World Cup in Briancon. She did her first 8A at age 17 and now she has done 13 including two 8A+'.
What are your winter plans and what about the next comp season?
This winter I will be training for next season but I'll definitely spend some weekends in Chirononico and Cresciano and find some hard projects there. I also want to try Fortunadrago, an 8B in Varazze. I hope to do all boulder WC and some Lead WC's.
Katrin Strobl from the team behind Jakob Schubert, has helped us out with an interview with Jakob Schubert, after his DWS send of Alasha in Mallorca. Schubert is the best male Lead competition climber in history who got the bronze in Tokyo. (c) Sebastian Marko // Alpsolut.pictures
Congrats Jakob on the first repetition of ‘Alasha’. How was it?
It was such a great experience! I had only been to Mallorca once before but that was a vacation with my girlfriend where I only climbed one 7c. So, this is my first real deep water solo trip and I’m having a blast. Going all in so high above the sea certainly gives a new sense of excitement.
What about ‘Alasha’? What a line, what a route! The rock quality is just amazing, and the boulder problem has some of the coolest holds! It starts with 10 meters of 7cish climbing before you enter the crux boulder which might be around fb8A 15 meters above the sea. Knowing no one has been able to do it since Chris did the first ascent 6 years ago definitely added some spice.
What did the process look like?
When we arrived, I wanted to come have a look at ‘Alasha’ soon as it was said that the climbing season on the north shore will come to an end sooner than down south. So, after a first session at the more mellow spots like Cala Varques we went to Soller where we were lucky to be able to go on a motorboat tour with Sebastian from Rock and Water Mallorca who showed us around and made us get a nice first feel of the north coast.
You haven’t been on the island for long. It feels like the send came quickly?
Yes. I climbed into the crux ground up twice before checking out the moves from the rope. I was lucky to have Jernej Kruder there as he had everything dialed and he also shared beta etc. I managed to climb ‘Alasha’ on the next go (4th try).
What about the grade, do you confirm what has been set out?
If I remember correctly, Chris never set out a grade for ‘Alasha’ or ‘Es Pontas’, it was more that he compared the process with some of his hardest sport climbs and this is how numbers made their way into media. Most of all I think sport climbing grades aren’t ideal for deep water solo climbing, especially the difficult and high ones where more factors come into play than just the ability to send hard. Even if you check out some sequences on a rope the whole endeavour is still so different from a sport climbing process, where you have all options to practice or rehearse moves or sequences countless times without the consequence of big falls into the sea.
What I can say is that during my send of ‘Alasha’ I physically felt like climbing in the 8c+ range. Also taking the commitment and fear factor into account calling it 9a feels about right to me. But the centre of attention on such a climb is something else, if you just want to send hard stuff you need to go elsewhere. After this comp season with Olympics and World Championships I felt hungry for adventure and experience outside. I got plenty of that here.
Have you been trying ‘Es Pontas’ as well?
Yes. I have now had a few sessions on it. The location is as stunning as it looks on the videos out there. I feel good on the route but I’m yet to stick the dyno.
Claudia Ghisolfi did Noia in May as her first 8c+. The great documentary includes an interview also with Seve Scassa who put it up in 1993 and also her brother and parents shares some nice insight. Claudia started doing World Cups in 2013 and 16 times she has made the semi including one time in 2021.
Matty Hong reports on Insta that he has done the first repeat of Tommy Caldwell's Flex Luthor in The Fortress from 2003. Matty, who previously has done three 9a+ and Fight or Flight 9b, thinks it should be upgraded to 9b. "It’s undeniable some aspects of the route have changed over the years."
Carlo Traversi belayed Matty and has worked it for some 8-10 days and is getting close. "It could happen any day now? (c) Margo Hayes
Do you know how much it has been tried over the years and how much it has changed since the FA?
Only a couple other people have tried. Dave Graham (one try), Sam Elias (one try) and Jon Cardwell. That’s all I know who have tried it. Jon Cardwell and I were the first to get to the anchors after Tommy. That was in 2015.
The rock wasn’t very clean, so a lot of stuff has broken, that’s what Matty is referring to. After talking with Tommy though, everything that broke was things that Tommy didn’t really use. The core of the route that he climbed is the same as what we are trying today. At least that’s what I think.
So why has the first 9a+ in the USA not been tried more?
It’s heinously hard. The weather is really difficult and it’s a long way from the car. About an hour of steep walking. In the last section, you are pulling yourself up a steep slope with ropes. Also, there are no easy routes at the cliff so it’s hard to find partners. The altitude is roughly 2 000 meters. Today it is snowing.
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