Roxane Durand has done her hardest yet, Spanish Caravane, a 50-meter test-piece in Verdon, giving it a personal 8b+ grade. Interestingly, the 36-year-old did her first 8b less than two years ago and now she has done 12 routes 8b and harder. Her grade pyramid is very wide and solid including also almost 400 onsights 7a to 7c+.
"My friends told me to go in this route cause it's a to-do route. It's soooo long, a real marathon, but it's my style, long and physical. The beginning I did quite quickly but I needed more time to find my betas in the crux in traverse. Finally, it took me only 6/7 days and 13 goes to get the route, and I didn't find any moves really hard, that's why I think it's not 8c but more 8b+. On the 12th go, I fell after all cruxes cause i didn't remember what to do! But the route is so funny and enjoyable that it wasn't a problem to make another try. Thanks a lot to Leo my belayer and support!"
How come you have done almost all your hardest routes 35+?
I never stop to progress. I moved to Nice 3 years ago and because of that, I climb much more outside than before. I had many injuries when I was climbing indoors but since I climb much outdoor it's way better.
David Firnenburg and Stefan Scarperi have done Pornographie 9a in Céüse. Alex Megos did the FA last year, commenting on Insta. "The guy who bolted it named it "Pornographie" and I'd say it felt like 9a. I only gave it 4 tries so I wouldn't be surprised if repeaters find new holds and betas and it ends up at 8c+."
Only in 2021, it has had eight repeats and most did not use a knee pad as Megos did not use it during the FA. We asked Scarperi, in the picture, why he thinks it has become so popular and what about the grade?"
I think it got so popular because it's the only short route (15 meters) of this grade in Céüse! With kneepad, it's 8c+ because it helps a lot, without it's 9a I would say!"
Firnenburg: "The way I climbed it felt like soft 9a in comparison to the other 8c and 8c+ I did here. I am close on Le Cadre 9a which feels slightly harder."
Joshua Ibbertson, who did his first 8b+ at age 12, has done his second 9a, Northern Lights at Kilnsey, after some 20 sessions. The historical route was bolted by Ben Moon some 25 years ago and then Steve McClure got the FA in 2000. Previously, it has only been repeated by Adam Ondra, Alex Megos and William Bosi.
"I first got on it in June, right after I did progress (8c+). It’s the line directly to the right so was the obvious next choice. The route is super sustained, so I saw it as a great opportunity to work on my power endurance (which was definitely one of my weaknesses). Obviously with it having so much history added to the motivation! Especially belaying Ben (Moon) and watching him get so close.
I didn’t do any specific training for the route apart from training on the route itself. Some days I would be too tired, or conditions wouldn’t be good enough to redpoint, so I’d just focus on doing links and laps on sections, for training. I fell agonisingly close a few weeks ago, after my foot got stuck round the rope! To add to the frustration the route got soaked a couple of days later. I had to leave it for a while to let it dry. Yesterday, it finally dried enough to redpoint from the ground. I was really happy with how the send go went I felt in control and relaxed meaning I could enjoy the climbing. I even surprised myself by shaking out on what was previously one of the crux moves for me!"
What is your next plan?
Go surfing for a few days. Then I need to get back to training. One of the things I really want to do next is try and find/bolt some routes of my own.
Gabriele Moroni has done Der heilige Gral 9a in Frankenjura. The Italian is a former successful competition climber who got the bronze in the Euro Boulder Championship in 2004 at age 16 and then he stopped competing in 2018 when he also won his first World Cup. Gabri is also a Frankenjura expert having previously done six 9a's and one 9a+ there.
How come you have developed into being a Frankenjura expert?
I spent a lot of time in the Frankenjura in the past that I got to know many of the crags and harder routes. This was my first trip after some years of absence and now I am very psyched to spend more time there again. It was a last-minute decision to spend the holidays in Germany. Once I got to the FJ I realized the route was pretty dry so I immediately started trying it. During our 10 day stay, we had the typical Franconian weather with several rainy days. But eventually, the route stayed more or less dry and I could finish it on probably the last 2 days window of decent weather!
You’re an olympic champion, how do you feel? (c) Lena Drapella
I'm very happy, still trying to assimilate it a bit better. We were all dreaming about the possibility of winning a gold medal when we thought about Tokyo but, honestly, I didn't see it possible at all. We came with the illusion and the objective of getting into the final. And once there, the goal was to enjoy ourselves. I don't really know how to explain the result. I think the key was that I knew how to manage the mental part well. I didn't think so much about the result or what I had to do to win, but I focused on climbing and doing my best.
How did you experience the last test of the final, the lead final?
When I finished my turn, I saw that 38+ put me first. I started to calculate to see what had to happen to win the gold, but when Jakob Schubert managed to overtake Adam Ondra, I didn't want to celebrate too much in case I had made a mistake in my calculations, I didn't want to celebrate anything too early. When I saw that it was gold, I was very happy. We are friends with Jakob, the Austrian climber, and it was very nice. It was an honour to compete against him, against Ondra and against all the climbers in the event. Just a few years ago I was watching videos and dreaming of being like them, they are legends of climbing.
Who did you think of when you saw that you won the gold?
In my family, who have always been cheering me on and supporting me, covering thousands of kilometres. And my coach, David Macià. We are a team, I couldn't do anything without him. He is 50% to blame for what we have done. I've been training with him since I was 11 years old and we understand each other very well.
Do you think this gold will help climbing to grow?
I think the fact that it is on the Olympic programme will help the community to grow a lot. It has been growing over the years and it is a very visual, very attractive sport that can get people excited. In terms of competition, what I and the rest of the guys on the Spanish national team need is a private facility so that we can work in peace and do our own training sessions and not depend on a commercial gym, where we train with clients who don't compete. It is complicated to prepare for competitions like this. Before the Games we had to go to Austria to train, for example.
Why do you like climbing?
I like climbing because it's what I've been doing since I was a little boy and, in the end, it's part of my life. Besides, I really like competing, that feeling of nerves and tension of only having one attempt and not being able to fail and the good atmosphere we have among all the climbers.
Jonathan Flor reports on Insta that he has done the FA of Zeleputza 9a+ in La hoya de la leze, which was bolted by Iker Pou. "A amazing line of pure endurance, on an incredible wall full of great projects, so this has only just begun, over the next few days I will try to work on other lines I have pending together with a great team of motivated climbers. 🙌🏼" (c) Gorka Karapeto
by 8a Founder and Editor-in-Chief Jens Larssen including also Analyses, Reviews, Training, Polls and Opinions etc.
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