Kai Lightner FA’s Death of Villains (9a+)

Kai Lightner has kept up his recent form and fitness by doing the FA of Death of Villains (9a+) at Hurricave. Kai first made headlines when he sent Southern Smoke (8c+) at age 13, in 2012. The next year, he won the Youth World Championship and completed Era Vella (9a). Last November he made his return to 9a by climbing, Life Of Villains (9a).

On Instagram he comments on his 9a+ FA. "I can’t end this post without giving a HUGE shout out to @joekinder. You have really become a mentor for me in so many ways, and have gone out of your way to help me in my outdoor climbing journey. At the end of the day, the climbing community would not exist without people like you developing the crags we recreate in." (c) Gareth Leah

Can you tell us more about this FA?
Training for Death of Villains was honestly a shot in the dark. I had never projected a climb at that level, and didn’t know how much was enough. For this particular climb, power endurance was the name of the game, and I had to have a lot of it. So lots of laps, lots of 4x4’s and lots of cardio! Luckily when I showed up to the climb, I knew I had enough fitness to get the job done in the 2.5 weeks I had given myself. I had also already done half the climb, as the beginning section is shared with Life of Villains (which I sent last fall). After 9 sessions and fighting the rain and damp conditions, I was finally able to get it done on the last possible try of the last day of my trip! Super psyched to nail this one down .

How long did you prepare for the climb?
I’d say [only] the month before (January). After a busy month of December in Jamaica and going home for the holidays, I reserved the month of January strictly for training and preparing.

What is coming up next for you?
Spain in two weeks! I’ll be climbing around Spain for a month testing routes and seeing what goes. Only time will tell!

Gabri Moroni sends La Rambla (9a+)

Gabriele Moroni has repeated La Rambla (9a+) in Siurana. Originally it was Alexander Huber's project and in 1994 he made it to the first anchor. In 2003, Ramon Julian Puigblanque continued six meters by traversing right towards La Reina Mora. It has been logged 26 times in the database and is considered one of the most beautiful cutting-edge lines in Spain.

The 36-year-old started making headlines in 2004 when he won the bronze at the European Bouldering Championship. Prior to that break-out success, in Lead, he had already won three European Youth Cups as well as the Youth World Championship. In 2018, the Italian finished his competition career after having won a Boulder WC that same year.

Last year he made a brief WC comeback. “I am not going to do any of the WC’s this year. I will be coaching at some of the WC’s like I did the previous years. My comeback last year was not planned. I got asked from the federation if I want to try to get selected for the OQS. But my last minute training was not enough. I got some decent results in bouldering (once in top 25) but not very good in lead (first lead comps [for me] in 14years).”

Can you tell us more about the ascent?
I tried it for some days during the 2022/23 New Years trip. Then again for a few days at the start of the month and finally on my second day of the last mini trip last week. The ascent came on a very windy day. I knew I had a pretty good chance to do it since I was already very close on my previous trip. I felt really good on the morning of the send. My only concern was the glacial wind conditions but eventually, I kept it together.

Did you do any special preparation for the send?
I tried to train specifically in January doing some longer laps, indoor routes and of course some power training on the board.

What is next for you?
I can't really plan much due to the work schedule. I am the head setter at Urban Wall in Milano. For sure I'd love to spend some weekends in Arco on a couple of routes I bolted last fall.

Anak Verhoeven is historically speaking one of the best female Lead competition climbers. She made finals in the WC 36 times in a row. In total, she made the podium 19 times, but in 2019 she stopped competing due to injuries. In the second half of 2021, she fully recovered but decided to focus only …

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Tanguy Merard flashes Rêve de Poutre (8c)

Tanguy Merard, who the last year did ten routes 9a or 9a+, has flashed Rêve de poutre (8c) in Saint Léger. During the last year, the 20-year-old has flashed five 8c’s and in the All Time Flash Ranking game, the French climber is the runner-up after Adam Ondra. (c) Joris

A friend of mine gave me beta on the route and I also watched the video of Alex Megos in the Le Cadafist (9a) which has the same finish as Rêve de Poutre 8c. I chose the beta with more movement but easier one which is closer to my style of climbing. During the flash everything worked to perfection and I opted with the right beta. Now I will try Le Cadafist...”

Matteo Marobin does Supercrackinette (9a+)

Matteo Marobin reports on Instagram that he has done Supercrackinette (9a+) in Saint Léger. Last year, the 18-year-old made the FA of a 36-year-old project.

Can you tell us more about the Crackinette and your climbing background?
When I was 16 I spent a week in St. Léger. At that time I didn’t climb as hard as I do now. The hardest routes [I did] were only 8b but I remember seeing people trying Super Crackinette with my Dad. It’s located at the end of the sector, with nothing else around.

In the following years, I continued to train hard, which led to some great performances and results. Last year, I sent my first two 9a's (''Flesh For Fantasy“ and ''Remise de Pène“). I also managed to get two top 5 results and a 6th place in some European Youth Cups in lead and bouldering.

For my first year in the adult category, I have decided to put my main focus on lead competitions. Since there aren’t many comps at the beginning of the year, I thought it would be a good idea to try something hard outdoors. It’s a nice way to see improvement through training. That was when Super Craquinette came to my mind. I knew I was finally ready for this route !

My journey began in December with two trips to St. Léger. At the start, I was just trying to find right beta and get familiar with the route. Still, the route already felt really good and I made some good links. This made me think that it would be possible to climb soon.

The second trip wasn‘t as good as the first one. Mainly because I was still tired from all the training I had the week before. Additionally, I broke an important hold in the first part of the route. Despite all these inconveniences, I climbed the route with only one stop in the middle.

As the first trips had already been quite successful, I returned in February. This time my goal was clear: I wanted to send the route! After two days of trying I started to make attempts from the ground. Almost every time I fell at the first crux, going into the mono, but I could send the rest of the route pretty easily. After a few days I found the perfect feeling for this move. That way I was really close to sticking the move into the mono. This was the exact moment when I knew that I was really close, which made me really excited for the following days. The next day I stuck the first crux move with ease, but unfortunately fell on the last hard move. At the end of the day I decided to make one last attempt. Despite bad weather conditions, slippery holds and a bad mindset, I still tried to give everything. I found myself at the top of the route and finally clipped the anchor of Super Crackinette.

Molly Thompson-Smith  gets an 8A+ and 8A done in North Wales

Molly Thompson-Smith, who was #10 in the Lead World Cup last year, has done two quick ascents of Lou Ferrino sans pocket (8A) and Pilgrim (8A+) in Parisella's Cave.

Can you tell us more about the ascents?
My partner Sam [Pratt] and I actually went to Parisellas for a ‘work day’ to shoot some content for a collaboration. We wanted somewhere sunny and picturesque and the weather looked great in N Wales so we went for it! I’d been once before in 2020 and fallen off the end of Pilgrim & Lou Ferrino so these were the obvious things to try and get done whilst we were there filming.

What about competitions in 2024?
Comp plans for 2024 are probably similar to most others! I’ll do the first WCs in China as prep for the OQS events in May and June. Then we’ll see… After the summer my focus is definitely switching to rock for the foreseeable.

Eugenia Lavrushkina does Amores Perros (8A+)

Eugenia Lavrushkina, who started climbing at age 26, ten years ago, has done Amores perros (8A+) in Borzeta. ”I've been avoiding this problem for a long time because I've never thought of myself as a roof climber, and the first crux of Amores Perros is a roof. As I went back from my Fontainebleau trip in October and decided to give it a try. I managed to do all the moves (along with some shorter links) during the first session and thought I would send it fast.. but then somehow I had to spend a couple of sessions linking the roof part because (even though I had no problems with it during the first session) I simply wasn't able to get through it. After some time (due to bad weather conditions) I got back to the boulder and spent 3 sessions falling on the last move (not counting the mantle as it is easy), and then finally I managed to link everything! I am sooo happy to send my project now, taking into account that I am going to Font trip this week, so the time pressure was real.

Can you tell us about your climbing background?
I've been climbing for a little bit less than 10 years, and for the last 3-4 years I've been focusing more on outdoor bouldering (Fontainebleau is my top favourite area). Amores Perros is a great boulder problem with really cool moves, athletic and technical at the same time, but my fav is still Les Beaux Quartiers (8A) in Font, which I sent in April less than a year ago. It's critical to stress that a tremendous amount of credit for all my hard sends goes to my coaches, Maciej Oczko and Nina Gmiter (Motion Lab Sports Kraków) as they are the ones who make sure I am constantly progressing as a climber. When I came to them (exactly three years ago) my max grade was 7c boulder. They are magicians :) I sent my first 7c+ in a couple of months after that so seeing the progress I became really really determined and it paid off.

How do you train?
Usually I climb 4 times a week (sometimes 5 but it is rare), there are some micro-cycles and other cycles, but I am not an expert in that so cannot really say more. I discuss with coaches my climbing goals (trips, grades, expectations etc) and they take care of those cycles :). We're using de-load weeks here and there, I know there is a trend nowadays to train without them but [de-loading], works for me. So those 4/5 training days really depend on a cycle, sometimes it's more strength oriented, sometimes power-endurance etc. In terms of intensity it also depends, usually it is 1 or 2 really intense workouts per week and the rest is like 70% of the max or even lower (esp during a de-load phase). I've been focusing on technique a lot as sometimes I tend to rely on pure strength too much.

Once or twice a week I do hangboarding, lately it's been one-arm hangs mostly and it seems I've [made] quite a progress with those (especially after I started taking care of my shoulders after I had a shoulder impingement). My wild guess is that rotator cuff strengthening contributed a lot to one-arm hangs on a fingerboard.

As I already mentioned I am pretty determined and it helps me immensely to get through some types of workouts I don't enjoy. Like... any type of conditioning (I do this twice a week). Or hangboarding. Or campusing. Well, anything that is not climbing to be honest. And, [I] don't do stretching at all, almost never, perhaps I should but I simply cannot make myself do that and even determination cannot help me here....

Leo Bøe ticks Era Vella (9a)

Leo Bøe has done Era Vella (9a) in Margalef. The classic 50m long line FA'd by Chris Sharma was, for many years, the most repeated 9a in the world but then it got downgraded and lost some of its appeal. However, due to more recent hold breakage, 9a is once again being claimed. “Beyond happy with this route! So fun to work and always a fight vs the pump. Who is crazy enough to bolt a line like this…?? I would like to thank all the people who came with me and got me motivated to try hard! 9 days of effort.”

Can you tell us more about Era Vella and your personal journey on it?
I did all the moves on my first round, but I realized it would be a proper fight to link all of them together. For me to send the route I had to get out of my comfort zone and enjoy getting pumped out of my mind. In my attempts I fell and went right back on until I reached the anchor. During a session I would do a run from bottom to the top 3-4 times and would need 2 full rest days to recover. Suddenly when I managed to do the route with 1 fall I knew it was about to happen. I was so close, and suddenly falling at the last quickdraw… Usually people don’t fall at that point, but for me the redpoint crux was just doing the last few easy moves.

What about the backflip? How long was the fall?
I was full of adrenaline! I just unclipped the anchor and jumped. I fell to the first quickdraw after the no hands rest so possibly a 30m fall. I have never done something like that before.

Jorge Diaz-Rullo makes the third ascent of Sleeping Lion

Jorge Diaz-Rullo has done the third ascent of Chris Sharma's Sleeping Lion in Siurana. Sharma proposed 9b+, but the second ascensionist, Alex Megos felt that 9b was the appropriate grade. Díaz-Rullo yet to comment on the difficulty. (c) Marco Zanone

Diaz-Rullo comments on Instagram; "Between some things and others, this route has taken me more attempts than I originally thought. It has been very difficult to find the day without being too tired, with good skin and with good conditions here in Siurana.

Sleeping lion has helped me to get in shape and continue very motivated with my next projects, but also, it has served me as a learning experience because at the same time I was working on it I have not been going through my best stage on a personal level. In the end, I did it!"

Martina Demmel makes second try ascents of Pati Noso (8c+) and Margalefas (8c)

Martina Demmel first made a second try send of Margafelas (8c) in Margalef. "A surprise at the end of the day. [It] Has the potential for a big classic but unfortunately, a bit crumbly since I even broke 2 edges while sending... not the style you would expect when it's named after the area... found some solid beta & probably my style;)" (c) Vera Bakker

The following day she kept her second try streak going by doing the same with Pati noso (8c+) in Siurana. "I was dreaming about this line for years! While checking the moves on the new upper part, I got a big flapper from the crux hold but somehow, the strong wind kept pushing me to the top the next (2nd) try!! Muchas gracias Marius & Olga! Riding that wave..."

Over the last three years, the German has been the best female onsight climber in the world with 38 onsights 8a+ to 8b+.

Have you tried any harder onsights or anything a little more long-term on this trip?
Not really but somehow I also haven't tried [to onsight] anything in the 8a+-8b+ range, so I don't know if it would have been possible... I've tried something harder but now the weather seems not ideal to go back to the shade [where it's located]. Mostly, I feel too mentally tired to keep pushing or "forcing" myself to use the last few days to try something what for the moment might be out of my reach... So, I'm probably gonna try some single day projects or anything I'm truly motivated for the last few days [in order] to feel recharged when I [soon] go back to training!

Marine Thevenet adds a few 8A+'s and more to her done list

Marine Thevenet, who has done over 100 boulders 8A and harder, reports on Insta video that over the last seven weeks she has sent Nobody ist der Größte (8A), Sissyfuss (8A+) and The Great Shark Hunt (8A+) in Chironico as well as Darkness (8A+) in Brione.

Which boulder was most special or meant the most to you?
Haha the most special… maybe Sissyfuss. I injured my pulley on it back in the day and it was really challenging to go back to it. The first move requires pure strength and when I tried the boulder this winter I would have been happy to complete just that one move, as a form of revenge and progress. I actually managed to do that move several times and [then I] fell at the mantle because I didn’t check the beta.

What is next?
Ticino offers a lifetime list of boulders to try - so it is not difficult to find other projects. I am motivated to enjoy the process of projecting on harder climbs for me, it is something I want to experiment these [coming] days.