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Babel 8C by Naoki Shimatani

Naoki Shimatani signs up to 8a with three 8C's including Babel in Shiobara, which he did last week. It is a 30 move link-up which Dai Koyama set up in 2007 and combines, Catharsis (8B+), to Hydra (8B) via Uma (8B+). The 24-year-old won a Youth World Championship in 2013 and later he has been #7 in both a Lead as well as a Boulder World Cup.

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Pablo Hammack, who did his first 8B (+) at age 15, has stayed under the radar ever since lately posting sends on Hotfirerigs Insta. In February, he did Sleepwalker 8C+ and earlier in December he sent The Nest 8C. This video, recorded by Ethan Pringle puts him in the spotlight sending the first 8C in Yosemite.

Love will tear us apart 8C FA and Sleepwalker 8C+ by Pablo Hammack (20)

Pablo Hammack, who did his first 8B (+) at age 15, has stayed under the radar ever since lately posting sends on Hotfirerigs Insta. In February, he did Sleepwalker 8C+ and earlier in December he sent The Nest 8C. This video, recorded by Ethan Pringle puts him in the spotlight sending the first 8C in Yosemite.

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Max Factor 9a by Dinara Fakhritdinova and Dimitri Fakirianov

Max Factor 9a by Dinara Fakhritdinova and Dimitri Fakirianov

Dinara Fakhritdinova, European Champion in 2013, has done her first 9a, Max Factor in Bahchisaraj which was set up by Vladislav Shevchenko in 2019. Previously, this 151 cm tall climber has done some 8c's but she has never tried any harder routes. The Russian tried the route for the first time last fall and did all moves within three days. Then in May, she needed 4 more days on the route to send it, at her 7th attempt. Interestingly, Dinara took a one year break from climbing which finished less than 12 months ago. (c) Anton Malkolv

Why did you stop climbing and for how long did you not train?
I didn’t train for about a year, I didn’t stay in the gym, I didn’t watch the news about climbing, I didn’t communicate with climbers, I had psychological problems I was burned out and could not cope with the daily activities. I hated climbing and I left.

What made you start climbing again?
Climbing is my soul, I love it. I got confused and needed a rest. The difference is that I have a different attitude to everything. There is no secret, this is a big inner work on myself. It is not possible to describe what exactly has changed, I have changed.
Also Dmitry Fakiryanov, #3 in the last Euro Championship, has done this route, as reported on his Insta. The Russian needed only two days of projecting but says he confirms the 9a grade.

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Necros 8c (9a) by Hernan Garcia (38)

Necros 8c (9a) by Hernan Garcia (38)

Hernan Garcia, who has done two 8c+'s in Sant Llorenç del Munt this spring, has made the first repeat of Ramon Julian Puigblanque's Necros, giving it a personal 9a grade compared to 8c by the FA in 2008. Ramonet, one of the best competition climbers in history, is equally known for his hard grading, and numerous of his FAs from back then have already been upgraded one or two grades.

"About the route I think it never was an 8c as Ramón said. I did the others three hard routes in the Siberia sector; Peti, Inüit, and Snuff Movies, each one Ramón said 8c, but in my opinion, Snuff Movies seems to me an 8c the other two 8c+. Then I start to try Necros, the last hard one for me and was really hard to do the crux because it is reachy for me. But last year, I finally did the crux. Then again, close down here in Catalonia, and I had to wait until this season and finally, I sent the entire route. I think 9a could be better for this route but that is only my opinion, waiting for what other climbers will say."

In the picture, the Mexican, who has been living in Spain for several years, is working on El Bon Combat 9b. After five days, he has done all moves and some good links. "For me is a very hard project I only have one day per week to try cause of my job and my family situation. But I'm super psyched and that's important."

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Euro Trash 8A+ by Courtney Arnold

Euro Trash 8A+ by Courtney Arnold

Courtney Arnold, who has previously done six 8A's, has done her first 8A+, Euro Trash in Little Cottonwood Canyon. "I kind of went out there only intending to try the stand but that went down pretty quick so I decided to try it from a little lower. I fell on pretty much the last move in my first session, had a terrible second session, and then did it my third session."

What is your climbing background?
I started climbing around August 2016 and climbed on a team at AZ on the Rocks for a couple of years before moving to Flagstaff in 2019 where I have been trying to get outside as much as possible!

What has been most important for your fast progress in grades?
I would say just getting outside and trying hard with a bunch of psyched and motivated people. I’m also kind of competitive so I think it’s been really helpful to climb with people that are stronger than me because it helps me push a little harder.

How much and how do you train/climb?
I try and get outside at least 3 times a week and do some supplemental stuff in the gym like weighted pull-ups and volume training. I also really like training on the tension board. Usually I shoot for 2 days on 1 day off. Although I have to admit I sometimes get too excited and don’t rest enough which I’m working on.

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Aloha 9a (+) by Antoine Kauffmann

Aloha 9a (+) by Antoine Kauffmann

Antoine Kauffmann has done the second repeat of Aloha 9a (+) in Kronthal which Yann Corby, who took the picture, bolted in 2006. The FA was done one year later by Julius Westphal and Adam Ondra did the first repeat in 2009. Kauffmann, who did The Big Island giving it a personal 8B+ grade this February, says he needed 12 sessions to take Aloha down and comments on the grade on his Insta. "Considering the route feels harder than the others 9a I have done before, that it suit my style perfectly and knowing the route was unrepeated for 12 years, I think the grade might be slightly harder than 9a."

So could this be 9a+ comparing how long time projecting the other 9a and 9a+ you did before?
That’s definitely not 9a+ but it feels hard for 9a. But I may be wrong because that’s the shortest hard route I have ever done. Actually, I don’t like grade drama and I am not enough experienced to be sure about the grade. Regarding my previous ascents, I don't remember well but it was something like the same amount of days (10-15) but I was way weaker.

Interesting is that the Westphal did not use a knee pad and that his other 9a FA, Gegen den Strom from 2014, is still unrepeated. His third 9a is Action Directe. Neither Ondra used a knee pad, when he did it being 16-years-old and probably 180 cm tall, and commented that it might be 9a+ for shorter guys.

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