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Gold and silver in the USA Nationals and Life Of Villains 9a and an 8c+ by Colin Duffy (17)

Gold and silver in the USA Nationals and Life Of Villains 9a and an 8c+ by Colin Duffy (17)

Colin Duffy, #7 in the Olympics, has done Flight Of The Conchords (8c+), on his second go, and Life Of Villains (9a) in Hurricave. "Amazing route! After not being able to finish it off on my first trip, I came back for more and got it done first redpoint burn of the trip after a quick review of the moves. Couldn't have picked a better route for my first 9a!"

How has the last week been and what is next?
It’s an amazing feeling to have accomplished both competition and outdoor goals in the span of a few days! It’s cool to see that my training throughout the year has payed off and it was the perfect way to end my competition season. I’m very psyched to have finished my first 9a!

I first tried life of villains last month on my first trip to the Hurricave. I got close on the route but my limited time plus low skin and energy stopped me from getting the send. This time around I came into the climb with a lot of psych and fresh skin and was able to take it down on my first redpoint burn of the trip. And to make the day even better I was able to snag a 2nd go send of flight of the conchords 8c+. It feels good to have finished my first 9a and I look forward to trying harder routes in the future! Up next I’m hoping to get outside more with no competitions in the near future.

Colin started the Olympics with a false start against Alberto Gines Lopez with 0.005 seconds. Without that false start, he would probably have gotten the gold and Alberto would have been #7.

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La théorie des cordes 8c and two 8b+' by Manon Hily

La théorie des cordes 8c and two 8b+' by Manon Hily

Manon Hily has done La théorie des cordes (8c) in St Léger. In the picture by (c) Theo Cartier, the 27-year-old does Le sonnet croisé (8b+) in Buoux, on her second go. In Buoux she he has also lately done Les brillants sonnaient (8b+).

"La theorie des cordes is one of the most beautiful lines of Praniania the sector in Saint Leger. It is like 30-35 metres with 2 different parts with different rocks. The first part is very powerful with tufas in an overhang on yellow rock and the second part is black vertical rock with small holds and you need a lot of resistance. I choose this line because of its beauty and because it is famous. I tried it last year in less than 10 days but I wasn’t in a good shape and my balance between power and endurance was bad. The holds are somewhat painful so you have only like one go per day. So I trained this year for the world cup.

About the two 8b+', the two lines are like 100 % my style, a big overhang with mono or two-finger pockets and powerful moves and you need a lot of endurance but there is always rest in between the different sections. Very beautiful to climb. These two lines are in diagonal of the wall and they are crossing."


Hily has been an active competition climber since 2009, having won Euro Youth Cups in both Lead and Boulder. In 2018, she was #4 in the Overall World Cup and did Era Vella 8c+/9a but then she had a pulley injury. Last year she had another one working on Biographie. Her next project is possible, La ligne claire 8c+ in Saint-Leger.

Eternit 9a+ by Ale Zeni twice

Eternit 9a+ by Ale Zeni twice

Ale Zeni has made the first repeat of Maurizio Zanolla's Eternit in Baule and suggests an upgrade to 9a+. Interesting is that he did it twice after having tried it 23 times. The reason for the upgrade is that somebody has chopped some holds making it now possibly one of the hardest slabs in the world. In 2018, he put up Energia Cosmica as a 9a+ which Ale thinks is his hardest slab ever.

"There are routes that go beyond a simple success. Eternit was a dream for me since 2010 when I tried it for the first time, challenging myself on the route known to be the hardest ever climbed by Maurizio Zanolla. A few years later, however, this beautiful line, at first almost completely natural, has been irreparably ruined by removing some holds that I considered essential until a year ago. A shattered dream that I was able to bring back by accepting those changes. Eternit was not just a difficult route, it was a deep inner search where the impossible became possible and finally achievable, a dream that became reality despite all the obstacles I encountered along the way."

Last year you did Cryptography 9b. Is that not your hardest slab?
I chose 9b for Cryptography because I was influenced by the grade of the other two routes (Bain de sang and Bimba luna) already repeated from other strong climbers so in this case, I did the grade comparison to these routes. It's always difficult to give the correct grade on this style because there aren't many difficult slab routes around the world 😉. The only way is that some strong climbers try all of these routes and say a what think about the grade 🤔. For the attempts Energia cosmic for me was the hardest 🤷‍♂️.

From Dirt Grows The Flowers 8C by Elias Iagnemma

From Dirt Grows The Flowers 8C by Elias Iagnemma

Elias Iagnemma has done From Dirt Grows The Flowers (8C) in Chironico. The Dave Graham classical was put up in 2005 and everyone who has star rated it has given it five stars. "Incredible historical line, I only needed 3 sessions (the first two last winter under terrible conditions) to climb this difficulty." (c) Simone Antuzzi

In 2018, the Italian won the national Cup and tried some WCs. The same year he did his first 8B+ and started to focus more on outdoors. In total, he has now done eight boulders 8C and harder.

What are your winter plans and what about comps?
My winter plan is to go to Ticino and Fontainebleau to climb all the projects I have in mind and to resume competitions at the beginning of February.

Pure Imagination 8c+ by Solveig Korherr

Pure Imagination 8c+ by Solveig Korherr

Solveig Korherr, who did her first 9a this summer, has done Pure Imagination (8c+) in Red River Gorge (KY). "A dream line in of the best the climbing spots! The one that got away last trip. Seems like I levelled up in two years. Three days this trip. So thrilled!!!"(c) Jon Shen

Could you please say something about your trip to Red River Gorge?
I came to the Red River Gorge with one goal in my mind which was to send „Pure Imagination“. I tried the route two years ago on my previous trip but I didn’t quite have the ability to send it back then. Ever since then I have dreamed to come back for it.

One week ago when I arrived here, I immediately hopped on it. I was really excited to be back in the Red and I could definitely tell that I levelled up. I felt much stronger on the holds especially in the sustained upper part but I was still struggling a bit with the lower crux with the famous crimp that cuts your finger and that is as thin as the sharp edge of a knife.

With some crisp conditions on my third day on it, I finally made it through the lower part on my third try but I was a little bit too tired and excited at the top crux and fell at the second last bolt. Knowing that it was now possible, I gave it a fourth try and it ended up being the final sending go!

Intermezzo XY gelöst 9a by Christof Rauch

Intermezzo XY gelöst 9a by Christof Rauch

Christof Rauch, who just three days ago did a 9a, has done Intermezzo XY gelöst (9a) in Plombergstein. "Amazing bouldery route. First ascent by the legend Klem Loskot. Maybe not the most impressive line but some of the best moves out there. Psyched to do it in my second session after falling 2 times on the last hard move. Teamascent with my boy Flo. Thanks for pushing me after your ascent and special thanks to my girl for the belay yesterday in terrible cold and humid conditions."

Three days ago you said that due to an elbow injury, "maybe I have to take some rest soon"?
Haha 😅 I couldn‘t resist 😅 Not sure, maybe I should take some rest but most people say it doesn‘t really help to do a complete rest for this kind of injury.

Grand Illusion 8Cc+ by Zach Galla

Grand Illusion 8Cc+ by Zach Galla

Zach Galla, who previously has done two 8C's, has done Grand Illusion (8C+) in Little Cottonwood Canyon (UT). The 25 moves roof climbing was put up by Nathaniel Coleman and also 9a+/b has been suggested for it, as it takes two minutes to climb. (c) Sean Faulker

How many sessions did it take and what made the trick in the end?
I stopped counting the sessions early on to not increase the pressure on myself. I think it was around 13 though? maybe more. It was a tough battle with conditions as the snow is starting to come through that area of Little Cottonwood. Not really sure how yesterday was the day. Conditions weren’t great, the bottom holds were a little damp, and it was warmer than I usually prefer. I competed at the US national lead semifinals earlier that day and didn’t make the final. I felt nicely warmed up and decided to head over there to give one go. I think the fact that a send that day seemed so unlikely to me allowed me to climb with no pressure and I found myself on top!