Angelina (Angie ) Scarth-Johnson, who did her first 9a last autumn, reports on Insta that she has done Jorge Broncano's Nolekita 8A in La Pedriza. (c) Talo Martin
Angie started making headlines on 8a already in 2013 when she did her first 8b at age 9. The year after she did her first 8c and before turning teenager she had done two 8c+. Here is the first 8a interview from that time. The Australian spent several months every year mainly in Spain being "home-schooled" by her non-climbing parents.
Marco Müller, who last week did Dreamtime 8C, has on the other side of the big block done The Story of Two Worlds (8C) in Cresciano. "Sit start, without kneepads, head first."
Interestingly, the Swiss national had previously only done three 8B+ and then he does two super classic 8C's in a week. For a couple of months, he is doing his master thesis in Mechanical engineering which he hopes to finish in April.
How was the process taking it down?
I could climb "The Dagger" (stand start) seven years ago, which took me seven or eight sessions if I remember correctly. I briefly tried the sit start a couple of years later, but couldn't do the moves. This year I was in much better shape. After I climbed "Dreamtime", I quickly went on the other side of the bloc to try the sit a bit and it felt possible. A couple of sessions later everything was dialled in and it finally went down.
How have you been able to step up your game lately in spite of all your studying?
I'm not sure, maybe due to more consistent training. I don't know what other factors there might be. The limited-time I have to train in the evenings helped me a lot to strictly stick to my training plan and make the best use of the time I had. And all the outdoor projects kept the motivation to train extremely high.
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Daniel Fuertes has set a great onsight personal best at age 41 with El camino de las flores R-2 (8c) in L'Ocaive. Interesting is that the last 18 months have been his best ever including Ali Hulk sit start extension total (9b) and Patanics (9a+).
"It was a wonderful day of Reyes!!! It was a hard mentally fight because the route has a long technical sequence. I’m very happy, it was one of my dreams 🤗 Previously, I have done some 8b+ onsight and very close to some 8c, but the latter without success 🤷♂️ Now, I hope to repeat the goal!! Jaja 😂🙏"
The 50-meter route and 15-meter overhang route was bolted by Pedro Navas and it is divided into two parts. The first physical part is 8a+ and then the second part is more technical, including the most difficult cruxes.
It should be mentioned that during the last years, there has actually been a decline of hard male onsights. During the last four years, only a dozen have onsighted 8c or harder. Adam Ondra has onsighted 86 routes 8c and harder and contender for being runner-up is Piotr Schab with eleven 8c onsights.
Anak Verhoeven reports on Insta that she has done Escalatamasters 9a (8c+) in Perles. The excellent climb was originally 9a but was later downgraded but is probably back to 9a again after a hold has broken in the upper part. In total, the former very successful competition climber has done twelve routes 8c+/9a and harder. (c) Ramon Pajul
"Esclatamasters is a route of about 35 meters and is made up of 2 very distinct parts: an overhanging traverse on tufas and a more vertical, technical top part. This last one is the most difficult and gives the route its 9a grade. It’s an amazing line situated in a beautiful landscape. I first spent 2 pretty relaxed days working the traverse. In the third session, I worked the upper part; I went up twice and managed to do all the moves. I would have preferred to know the route a bit more into detail, but the end of the trip was drawing near and if I still wanted to have a chance of climbing it, I had to do an attempt the next climbing day. So that’s what I did and I topped it in my first redpoint try! (With a bleeding ring finger – not ideal for delicate climbing and deadpoint moves on 3-finger edges, haha)."
And then you did it a second time, without knee pads?
Climbing it again without kneepads was a completely unplanned, personal challenge. Not easy because I had only had one hour of rest between the sends (it was getting cold and dark). In my opinion, there wasn’t that much of a difference between climbing it with or without kneepads (for this particular route), because of the no-hands rest in the middle of the route which is also possible without pads.
Maja Jonic reports on Insta, with a video, that she has done Aborigen sit in Mogan (Gran Canaria). Adrian Garcia did the FA of the stand start calling it 7C+ but later some have actually called it 8A+ and Maja did it in 2017. The FA of the sit start was done by Beto Rocasolano who suggested 8B but Maja thinks it is more 8A+/B. The 28-year-old has previously done five 8A+ and harder.
Kim Marschner and Florian Wientjes have done Crystal Ship (8C) in Cresciano in just four respectively five sessions each. Kim who took the picture of Flo shares their story.
"I tried it first at the end of last year with the support of Giul. It was really warm and I couldn’t do one of the two hard moves but anyhow they felt possible straight away. A few days later I hiked up there again with Flo Wientjes and we both stuck the move to the lip with a rope but couldn’t do the far lock-off move. The same happened one week later when I and Flo tried it again together.
Now one month later with a little time off the boulder I came back with Flo and we both felt way stronger on the lock off move. Quickly Flo stuck the move and gave shots from the ground falling three or four times at the last move to the lip. I finally found a little different position for the thumb which helped me a lot and I also stuck the move. After one try falling at the move to the lip I decided to call it a day and save the skin for another project but Flo was still psyched.
Getting tired I thought the day is also over for him but suddenly he stuck the lock off again perfectly and climbed to the top which made me super psyched again to give it one more try. With all that great sending vibes in the air, I felt super strong again and also climbed it to the top."
Alex Garriga, who last year did 29 routes 8c+ and harder, has started 2022 by doing eleven routes 8a and harder including Frenesí (8c+) and Pal norte (8c+) in Margalef. Tom Bolger did the FA of Frenesi with a 9a/+ suggestion and Pal Norte was put up as an 8c+ by Ramon Julian Puigblanque but later some guys have suggested an upgrade.
"I sent Pal Norte in a false second go (I did the first part, which is common with Pal Este three years ago). Then I tried Frenesí and could send it the following day, after four tries in total." (c) Carlos Pascual
Marco Zanone, who previously has done three 9a's, has sent First Ley (9a+) in Margalef. "The hardest route I've ever climbed, such a relief to clip the chain of this beast!! So happy"" (c) Andrea Zanone
"The first time I tried this route was back in December 2019. I've been climbing in Spain for so many years that I felt like it was the right moment to try something very hard for me. First Ley was the one I decided to try because of its unique style that usually it's the one that suits me the most. After only a few days of work, I realized it was possible, I was feeling great on the sequence except for the middle section. I was struggling because of a tricky kneebar, It was my first time wearing a knee pad so my body was a little bit confused. The 15-days trip ended with very positive feelings, falling a bunch of times at the very last hard move before moving to the left.
After that trip, I came back in February 2020, just before covid happened, but I was not able to stick that infamous last move, also due to a partial break of a key hold. (It didn't change the way I was using the hold with my hand, but it became much worse as a foothold). Then winter 2020/2021 came, same fitness, same high point again, but this time I was really busy with work (I was climbing and working at the same time here in Spain) and also the conditions were awful, always very cold and foggy, until an epic snowstorm hit the Montsant area, blowing away any other possibility.
Two years after the first time, here I am again. I knew the route became almost only a matter of good weather conditions and about finding the right mindset. After a week of very hot weather, the wind started blowing again, the clouds came in and during a perfect mid-day session with some friends I was able to get to the top of my first 9a+."
Giorgio Tomatis and Alberto Gotta have done Grandi Gesti 8c+ in Sperlonga. It was put up as an 9a and then Adam Ondra did it second go and suggested a personal 8c+ grade. Both Giorgio and Alberto confirm this and together with Stefano Ghisolfi's recent grade update, the great roof traverse should be considered an 8c+.
Gotta was runner-up in the Italian Championship after Ghisolfi in 2021. Tomatis, who did his first 8c+ at age 14 and has done four 9a's, won one Euro Youth Cup last year. (c) Sara Grippo
What is your plan and ambition in 2022?
Surely try to climb Lapsus (9a+) and then in the competition a goal that I would like to achieve is the victory of the youth world championship in lead. For now, these are my first goals, surely during the season, there will be others.
Marco Müller has done Fred Nicole's classical Dreamtime 8C (B+) in Cresciano using the original dyno beta. "I finally decided to try this megaclassic in Cresciano, dreaming about it for a long time ;)
On my third session I found out how to move on the dyno and I could climb the stand start. I then checked out the lower moves, which are more technical and suited me well. It took me four more sessions to do the dyno move from the ground and I finally could climb the whole line." (c) Benjamin Weber
The Swizz has previously done three 8B+ and this summer he did his seventh 9a as well as his first 9a+.
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