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Martina Demmel interview

Martina Demmel interview

Martina Demmel onsighted Pata pa mi 8b (a+) in 2019 after having climbed for less than three years. The next year she made it to the semifinal in her debut World Cup. In 2021, she onsighted roughly 160 routes 7c to 8b+ and became the first-ever female climber to win the 8a annual global ranking game. This year she started off in a cast, having broken her foot and in the summer she focused on the World Cup. Also this year the 21-year-old began a sport police schooling program. Her impressive resume also now includes a second 9a, which she carried out last week. (c) Felix Bub

We hear flexibility is one of your strengths?
Regarding flexibility, I'm on the lucky side which means I've always been very flexible and therefore, could do both splits without any training but since I started climbing, I enjoy doing some mobilisation/stretching for about 5mins in total each morning and evening; that's all😉... I also developed a pretty frontal static climbing style where I use a lot of high feet and 🐸 positions where the flexibility definitely helps me find a way to solve sequences with a lower level of power🧩... but that's nothing surprising I guess😜.

Do you think being flexible helps with onsighting?
Maybe, but I guess that's (onsighting) rather because of the different mindset and the fact that you have to move very intuitive what comes after more & more experience; that helps in making the right decisions quicker and more often🦎💭 While onsight climbing, I'm experiencing the purest form of flow as there's no time to think about something else what makes this so special that it feels like unpacking a present: anything can await you at any point🎁🎉😁

Can you tell us more about your police schooling program?
Since the middle of September, I'm on police school to become a Bavarian Police officer after 5 years of education👮‍♀️. It's a rather unknown program for all kinds of professional sports to allow national team members (criteria to enter the program, should be on WC level) to pursue their sports career but to also have a safe job afterward. Basically, our school time is over the double length (instead of 2,5 it's 5 years) to have enough time for training & comps. School is always from September to the end of January but we've got the luxury to be supported financially the whole time, that's why it's my job now to prepare the best possible for the comps and to move the priority away from rocks😉.

Is the Olympics one of your goals?
Paris isn't my goal as I'm only focusing on Lead the next time (bouldering only to feel more comfortable in unstable positions) & because I've actually never been attracted by the Olympics in general but maybe this changes by LA, who knows😜🙃... I'm definitely psyched to get more consistency into my WC performances and to leave the stage with a hopefully satisfying battle no matter the placement🔥😊.

How often are you able to climb outdoors?
Luckily, there's still a bit of time to head out to the crags around my home where I really need to keep up my mental well-being🦎🌞. And it seems that having school taking over a big part of my daily life now, it plays out surprisingly well in my climbing as I'm appreciating the rare time & simple things much more🦋😁 (expected to be rather stressed by forcing things in these short windows😅). Not to forget here, I'm very glad to have gotten a place at police school after trying to get in there for 2 years🙏😊 (Laser-OP for my eyes delayed everything.)

My plans for winter still have to be discussed with my coach but I'm hoping to join a few friends in Margalef in late February but the trip definitely won't be as long as the previous years😜🙈.

What does a normal week look like for you?
So normally during fall/winter, we've got police school from 7 am to 3 pm (some days start later/end earlier to get more time for training) only within this sports concept. Afterward, there's training with the German team in gyms around Munich. My routine has turned into climbing indoors on 3 afternoons during the week (no specific training yet just trying what feels out of my comfort zone💃) + a lot of stability training for my shoulder as the right one is pretty unstable🦍 and rock climbing on the weekends around home🌞... and a lot of studying in the evenings for school📚. Felt pretty strange in the beginning to have such a structure again after 3 years of mostly intuitive living but I'm enjoying it more than expected (feels amazing to be "productive" except for the lack of sleep😅).

How has the change from an onsight lifestyle to a much more structured life been?
At first, those changes felt pretty overwhelming by getting thrown into a totally new world/surroundings (for comps, police school) but I'm generally keen for new challenges that bring the necessary motivation to adapt to those situations. Most of all, I was looking forward to having something besides climbing to focus on and hopefully put off some self-made pressure on the wall (partly it's working😜💭).

Just to mention it, I still enjoy onsighting on rock probably the most but it simply isn't possible all the time/everywhere because around my home, there are mostly the really challenging routes left but that's a good reason to commit to projecting something finally🙃🦎🚀...

The Big Island 8C by Christoph Schweiger

The Big Island 8C by Christoph Schweiger

Christoph Schweiger, who was #8 in the Euro Championship, has done The Big Island (8C) in Fontainebleau. "I tried the Island the first time 3 years ago for one session and already unlocked all the moves then because of Covid and a lot of comps where my focus at the moment is, I didn’t make it back to this boulder since then. This year we had a training camp with the national for a week in Font and I spend another session there where I fell really close and ran out of power at the end of the session. Then after a rest day I came back and did it the second go after my warm-up :)"

It looks like this is your first big send this year?
I barely have had time for rock climbing this year because of a really packed competition schedule but I really enjoyed the time in Font now and already can’t wait for two weeks of Ticino for the new year.

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 Nagay 8c by Camilla Bendazzoli

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Camilla Bendazzoli has done Nagay (8c) in Covolo. "Covolo is my home crag so last summer I happened to go there a couple of times. I didn't know which route to try and I had always heard about Nagay being hard. Luckily I had Davide Picco with me that knew all the moves, so I went and checked if they could someway be possible for me. Apparently, the style suited me well and last month I decided to give it some serious tries and succeeded 😁." (c) Christoph Schweiger

Seb Bouin explores Champsaur

"It looks like Yosemite, but it's sandstone ... During a climbing trip in Ceuse, we were passing in this valley of Champsaur. I immediately saw this wall. It looked far away in the mountains. But you know, curiosity can bring you far away 😁. After spending an afternoon finding a path to get to the wall, I was amazed by this place and the rock. I had to come back to bolt the first line here.

When I was back in Ceuse, trying Biographie, in summer 2020, I went up for few days to bolt the first route of our French Yosemite. It was quite an expedition to brought all the bolting gear to the top of this mountain. I did many push to brought the gear during my biographie rest days. I was walking as much as possible, trying to find the way to the top. And when I was too tired, I left the gear on the mountain. Coming back the next rest day to attempt it again. I finally reached the top of the mountain, and bolted this giga route. The rock is really cool, but needed some cleaning. As it's sandstone, I remember a lot of sand falling in my eyes 👀 I guess "Sandman" is good name for this one. I was dreaming of this route before sleeping
"

Lazarus 9a+ FA by Moritz Welt

Lazarus 9a+ FA by Moritz Welt

Moritz Welt, who previously has done 16 routes 9a and harder, has made the FA of Lazarus (9a+) in Frankenjura, after some 30 sessions. (c) Lars Decker

Can you tell us more about the FA?
So the route was my main objective since last fall. It was a long-standing project bolted by Markus Bock, and I think I first tried it about 2 and a half years ago. I think it's one of the best lines around and involves some really nice movements with a lot of drop knees etc. Tho it's quite bouldery the final crux for me was power endurance. It's approx. 15m long and on the steepest part, it's about 50°.

I think it really was a good lesson in patience for me. Before trying this I'd never been able to fully focus on one single project over a longer period without getting frustrated.

Are there still many bolted projects in Frankenjura?
I only know a few, not more than 10, and some of them might be even impossible... but I think there is still a bit of potential for bolting new stuff.

What are your winter plans?
Now I'm training for bouldering mostly, already having a Ticino trip planned for end of december/beginning of January.

New Base Line 8B+ by Siara Fabbri

New Base Line 8B+ by Siara Fabbri

Siara Fabbri, who had 8A as her personal best five months ago, has done New base line (8B+) in Magic Wood. The 29-year-old is working full-time as an antimatter researcher and has previously this autumn done four boulders 8A to 8B. (c) Simone Tentori

"Wow, what a journey! Just so happy to do this line and relieved for the send. It ended up being a solo night sess in the snow with a spicy wet top out. Many sessions into it starting this year, but the best feeling to have it so dialed that on the send it flowed and I felt strong. This block taught me a lot, and a lot of special memories here with amazing people."

Can you tell us more about the ascent?
I started trying New Base Line this year, and in the Fall, I felt close but fell a few times toward the end on the cross move after the sidepull. I came back a few weeks ago after a little break, and after dropping the last tricky move to the gaston because of some bad beta, I knew I could send it the next session. I made it back after a big snow and fortunately the boulder was dry except the top and I ended up sending at night in -4 in the snow. It was an amazing experience and such a cool boulder with so many details! Luckily there were pads up at Stairway to Heaven I could borrow so one pad up to NBL then 6 trips up to Stairway total, it was tiring but kept me warm!

How did you warm up in such freezing conditions?
I was already warm from the walk up and did a 30 minute warm-up on the boulder where I tried to rest very little. To stay warm I had two big down jackets and down boots, and I kept my hands inside on my stomach between goes. I did get numbed out on the send and for the topout couldn't feel the holds - which made the wet part extra spicy.

What is your climbing background?
I've been climbing for 8 years but during my PhD I didn't have very much time to climb outside, and started climbing more outdoors this year in Ticino, Fionnay, and Magic Wood. My focus now is bouldering outside and I'm really excited for many more lines to come!

Can you tell us more about your work as an antimatter researcher?
Switzerland has some of the best bouldering in the world as well as the most advanced scientific research facility and only place which produces antiprotons - CERN. I work there as an experimental physicist in the ALPHA Experiment. Composed of a team of roughly 60 people, we make precision measurements on antimatter atoms which help to answer the question as to why the universe as we know it is matter-dominated. We are also aiming to discover the gravitational interaction of antimatter with matter - for example, would an anti-apple fall up or down on Earth? It is super fun working there and a lot of the time I feel like a big kid who gets to build things and see how they work.

The Journey in Colombia 9a+/b by Jorge Diaz-Rullo

The Journey in Colombia 9a+/b by Jorge Diaz-Rullo

Jorge Diaz-Rullo has repeated Alex Megos’ Chan Chan Bastards 9a+/b, aka The journey in Colombia in Margalef. It is a link-up of The Journey 9a+ and the top of Jorge's big project Cafe Colombia. (c) Ignacio Sandoval Buron

"This season I feel better than ever and the feeling in my project is getting better! 😃🔥 I have always liked these two routes a lot and the truth is that it has been good training to now continue with my main project. Also, with new beta for the final crux that is maybe the sending beta!? 🤪💥" More comments on his Insta.

Last Night 9a and Wild Publico 9a by Loic Zehani

Last Night 9a and Wild Publico 9a by Loic Zehani

Loic Zehani has done Last Night (9a) in Siurana, in just two sessions. The route was bolted by Dani Andrada and then William Bosi did the FA in 2021. "8 ultra powerful movements including one that gave me a hard time going from a small two fingers pocket to a vertical hold. The second part is less hard. Nice little route anyway."

Three days later he also did Wild Publico (9a). ”This route starts with a very steep section on pockets including a dyno on a mono then a resistant section when you reach Pal publico (8c). After a good rest, there is still a hard section with very slight slopers and a nice and easy end at the top of the cliff.”

In total, the 19-year-old has done more than 50 routes 9a to 9b out of which almost 20 FA at his home crag Orgon.

How do the grades in Spain compare with your FA grades?
I would say that it’s quite difficult to compare because even if I put four and three tries for the two 9a's in Spain, both are very explosive routes and far from easy. The only thing I can say about my FAs at Orgon is that I think they are fairly well-graded (within half a degree anyway). For the three 9b’s I proposed I think 2 are well graded « Obsession » in 2019 and « Harlem » in 2022, maybe « Chikane » would be more of a big 9a+.

How long will you stay in the area?
I am currently going back and forth to France but in January I plan to start a few months' stay in Catalonia...

Heim nach Afrika 9a by Martina Demmel

Heim nach Afrika 9a by Martina Demmel

Martina Demmel, who started climbing only in 2017, has done Heim nach Afrika (9a) in Kochel. It is a link-up that first Pirmin Bertle reported the FA, calling it 9a/+. Later it was discovered that Philipp Hrozek had done it more than ten years ago, but never reported it, thinking it was 8c+/9a. In two interesting and very much read-worthy long Insta posts the 21-year-old says that the link-up has been her priority for two years. (c) Felix Bub

"The whole period, I've surprisingly never felt unpatient with myself as it probably was one of the first routes which was in the range of "finding out if it's possible at all & not when"...🙃 totally enjoyed this luckily steady process what makes me curious for more of this soon😁❤️‍🔥!! Falling more in love with this 🧩-solving game by finding all those game-changing bodypositions, chalk-up points, releasing the tension moments and simply remembering it all (what's been more difficult than expected...🤪).

I've to admit that I was quite surprised/sad about how many people were only focused on asking me about my opinion on the grade instead of congratulating or being interested in the story/feelings behind at all...🥺 maybe it's normal but I've never noticed it in such an obvious extent🤷‍♀️."


In 2021, Martina became the first-ever female to have won the 8a annual onsight ranking game. In total, she onsighted 18 routes 8a+ and harder in 2021. If we start from 7c and harder she did a stunning 138 onsights the last year. Amazingly, she did her first 7c onsight when she had only climbed for 1.5 years.

Water world 9a OS by Adam Ondra

Water world 9a OS by Adam Ondra

Adam Ondra has onsighted Osapska pošast L2 (8c) (calling it 8b+) and Water world (9a) in Osp/Misja Pec. "Yees, very proud to onsight it. Possibly not the hardest 9a especially with kneepads, but not a very obvious one to onsight. Super happy."

In total, the 29-year-old has now logged 193 onsights 8b+ and harder but this would have been well over 200 without all of his downgrades. A possible contender for being the runner-up in this onsight list could be Piotr Schab who has onsighted eleven 8c's and 20 8b+'s. The picture is from Adam's Insta with now close to 900 000 followers.