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Wild West 9a/+ by Ramonet (39)

Wild West 9a/+ by Ramonet (39)

Ramon Julian Puigblanque, one of the best Lead competition climbers in the history, reports on Insta that he has done Wild West 9a/+ in Margalef. The 39-year-old has previously done 73 routes 8c+/9a and harder meaning he is #4 on that list. The 158 cm tall is well known for his hard gradings and in his scorecard he has just 51 routes 9a and harder recorded.

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New base line 8B+ by Katie Lamb

New base line 8B+ by Katie Lamb

Katie Lamb has done her second 8B+, New base line in Magic Woods. In the 8a ranking game, the 24-year-old is #2. "Changed shirts and found some try hard. Perfect finish to a week in the woods with keen and the euro trip. Scalers gon scale." (c) Keenan Takahashi

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Natalia Grossman is the Boulder World Champion

Natalia Grossman is the Boulder World Champion

Natalia Grossman, who won the qualification and the semi, is the new Boulder World Champion after having topped all boulders in seven attempts. Three of the boulders she flashed and she was actually in another league and as usually smiling her way up to the top. Runner-up was Camilla Moroni who needed 13 attempts and she was so happy so she started crying. Overall it was possibly the best female Boulder final for many years and Stasa Gejo got the bronze by doing two bronzes. Chris Danielson and his route setting team were again spot on creating spectacular boulders where we often did see different beta. (c) Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

1. Natalia Grossman USA 44 (7)
2. Camilla Moroni ITA 44 (13)
3. Stasa Gejo SRB 24
4. Elena Krasovskaia RUS 23 (2)
5. Brooke Raboutou USA 23 (3)
6. Andrea Kümin SUI 13
Complete results

It should be mention that Natalia is also #1 in the Boulder World Cup when only one event remains and her worst result is #3 in Boulder. In the Lead WC, she was runner up after having been Top-3 in the last four competitions. Add to that eleven boulders 8A to 8B and it is easy to already say who have made the biggest breakthrough in 2021. Here is a video presentation of the smiling climber.

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Grossman wins semi in Moscow

Natalia Grossman won the semifinal by topping out all four boulders in eight attempts. Camilla Moroni was runner-up needing 15 attempts. The remaining four making it to the final that starts at 16.40, Euro Time, was Elena Krasovskaia, Andrea Kümin, Brooke Raboutou and Stasa Gejo. Complete results.

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Nobody is perfect 8c by Birte Gutmayer

Birte Gutmayer has done her first 8c, Nobody is perfect in Bürs. "15 days in two years. After the first four quickdraws the hardest moves are done. The rest is 5 stars endurance climbing."

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Staša Gejo, who is one of the favourites for the Moscow World Championship, did Willenberg Dach 8A in April. The video shows the spectacular moves where she twice goes feet first.

Willenberg Dach 8A by Stasa Gejo

Staša Gejo, who is one of the favourites for the Moscow World Championship, did Willenberg Dach 8A in April. The video shows the spectacular moves where she twice goes feet first.

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Mandallaz Drive 9a by Baptiste Dherbilly

Mandallaz Drive 9a by Baptiste Dherbilly

Baptiste Dherbilly reports on Insta that he has done the first repeat of Mandallaz Drive 9a in Allonzier la Caille. It was put up by Fred Rouling in 2004, video. Baptiste, who previously has done the first repeat also of Rouhling's 9a+ Salamandre, has projected it for three years. (c) Mathieu Pisaniello

Why do you think it has not been repeated for 17 years?
I think it’s the style of the route. It’s old school with very small holds so it’s not a popular route. It’s very specific and bouldery on the first twelve movements (8B bouldering ). After you have to climb an 8c. The whole route is very technical with a strange beta! It’s incredible for me to do it after so many years and attempts. A lot of specific training and perseverance was needed.

What kind of and how much specific training was needed? Replica?
Strength finger, Heel hooking, One finger pocket and power endurance. I began to work on Mandallaz Drive three years ago. During periods of bad weather or hot conditions, I climb on the indoor wall in the same style, or on a replica. Also, Moonboarding and dead-hang really helped me.

What is next?
I want to try Empreinte to see if it’s possible for me. It’s the last one of Fred none repeated routes. But there are so many unknown lines. They are waiting to be discovered!

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Mr Hyde 8c+ by Miho Nonaka

Mr Hyde 8c+ by Miho Nonaka

Miho Nonaka, who got the silver in the Olympics, reports on Insta that she has done Mr Hyde 8c+ in Céüse. Interestingly, her previous personal best was 7c+! (c) Ben Neilson

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Fred Rouhling put up Akira as the first 9b in the world in 1995, when not even 9a+ existed. This created a a lot of controvercy which started all over when Seb Bouin and Land Lucien Martinez repeated it calling it 9a. Here are some thoughts how this could happen.

Fred Rouhling interview #2: Downgradings!

Fred Rouhling put up Akira as the first 9b in the world in 1995, when not even 9a+ existed. This created a a lot of controvercy which started all over when Seb Bouin and Land Lucien Martinez repeated it calling it 9a. Here are some thoughts how this could happen.

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Joy Division 800m 8b by Zangerl and Larcher

Joy Division 800m 8b by Zangerl and Larcher

Babsi Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher, two of the world's leading big wall climbers, have done a variation of the 800m 8b Joy Division in Val di Mello. The FA was done by Simone Pedeferri in 2004. Here is the full story from Jacopo. (c) Alpsolut Pictures

"Val di Mello is mostly known for the “Melloblocco”, the famous event which had been for many years an important meeting point for climbers from all over the world. This big “party” was a unique opportunity to meet other people with the same passion, enjoy the beautiful valley, climb on some old classics and a lot of new boulders especially brushed for the event. It was something special for many people and so was it for us, as it was the place where Babsi and I met.

Three years ago I got to witness for the first time the valley outside the event; it was a strong yet beautiful contrast with how I knew it. I was astonished by its quietness, the kindness of the local community and, last but not least, by the incredible amount of climbing it had to offer! It doesn't matter if you want to go bouldering, cragging, trad climbing or enjoy some longer routes: Val di Mello has it all!

This June, after our trip to Norway, got cancelled due to the Covid restrictions, we started to look for a place closer to home where we could enjoy some longer granite routes. Val di Mello immediately came to our mind! We packed everything in the van and we drove there without a real plan, as we were overwhelmed by the number of routes in the guidebook! We had some ideas in mind, but we first wanted to get a piece of advice from the local legend Simone Pedeferri, who basically freed 95% of the hard (on not only) climbs there. After a good coffee and a chat with him at the Bar Monica, the meeting point for the climbers in the valley, we opted for checking out the Qualido, an impressive 800m granite wall. Simone has obviously climbed a lot of routes there and in 2004 he freed a combination of two old aid lines (“Mellodramma”, “Melat”) and “Forse si, forse no”, calling it “Joy Division” (800m - 8b max). Even if the route had just one repetition (James Pearson), we heard a lot of positive things about it and we opted for checking it out. We also had to make some filming for a documentary project about the “life on the wall”, so we thought the route and the wall would be perfect for it.

Unluckily we had just 2 days time, so we hiked up to the wall with the idea of checking the first pitches, which were also supposed to be the hardest part of the route, before having to drive back home. When we reached the wall we were both amazed by the beauty of the place and we quickly realized why a lot of friends were thrilled about it! The cherry on the cake was definitely the freshly renewed “Hotel Qualido”, a big bivy spot situated just below the wall; you really can’t wish for a better place where to stay.

The wall gets in the shade after 2pm so, as it was too hot for climbing in the sun, we had plenty of time for observing the wall from the bivy, trying to understand the line of the route and dreaming about other possible projects. We realized that just before the last steep part of the wall “Joy Division” makes a big traverse to the right to finish on “Melat”, skipping two really steep aid pitches of “Mellodramma”. We started to wonder if it could have been possible to continue straight through that section, instead of exiting right. Obviously, the only way to know it was to climb up there and get a closer look at those aid pitches.

The first pitch of “Joy Division” is probably the hardest, and definitively one of the best of the entire route. An easier start gets you to a really technical traverse on small crystals, which ends with a 20 meters perfect crack. The climbing is really insecure and hard to control, making this pitch a real head-game until the very end! The next pitches follow a crack in a big right facing dihedral and, even if they are rated only 7b/+, are really hard! I’m sure they won’t get downgraded ;-) On the 4th pitch “Joy Division” starts to follow the aid line “Mellodramma”; it’s pretty easy to tell it, as the newish bolts leave the place to some really rusty handmade ones. This pitch looked impossible at first, but once we found out the tricky betas, it felt not too bad and the moves are really cool. We checked some easier pitches, which were still hard(!) and drove back home.

One week later we were back at the base of the wall, armed also with some aid gear, as we wanted to check out if the upper pitches of “Mellodramma” would go free or not. Just before the last 7c+ pitch of “Joy Division”, we wrongly climbed too much to the right, following an obvious dihedral which led to a hard slab followed by a steep crack: an incredible pitch! We thought it was the most obvious line, but, speaking with Simone, we later realized that we ended up on the neighbour newer route “Con un piede in Paradiso”.

Unaware of the mistake we climbed up to the ledge where “Joy Division” traverses on easier terrain to the right and started to explore the possibilities for a more direct exit. From below the original steep aid pitches of “Mellodramma”, our original goal looked impossible, so we started to play on another line. Even if it was climbable, we quickly realized we didn’t have enough time for free climbing it, so we opted for finishing on the route we wrongly ended up on before, as it climbs straight to the top of Qualido. We were aware of the fact it wasn’t the original end of “Joy Division”, but for us it was the more logical way to finish the route, being also more sustained. We have to mention that the route was put up years later Simone freed JD and at the time there weren’t any other routes on that section!

After a couple of rest days and filming in San Martino, we hiked up again to the “Hotel Qualido”, ready for giving the line a real try. As usual, the plan was to both lead the hard pitches (8a or harder) and swing leads on the rest. We started in the late afternoon and, accompanied by two filmers (Hannes and Juliane), we climbed the first 5 pitches and set up our portaledge. It felt so good to hang on a wall again after all the lockdowns, and it reminded us how much we like to “live” on the wall :-)

The next day we had again a slow start and climbed up to the ledge, where we spent another night before to climb to the top on the next morning. The last pitches were amazing; after some really technical slab pitches, you get to enjoy some perfect long and steep cracks, which lead you to the top of “Il Martello” of Qualido, the iconic huge mushroom on the top of the wall. The perfect end after three days without falls.

Looking around from there you quickly realize the potential that place has to offer, as all you can see are big beautiful granite walls. That area looks so wild and beautiful from there! Even if we left with some projects behind, we had such a good time up there, getting to climb an amazing route, connecting with the local climbing community and see the valley from another perspective we were used to. It still remains a very special place to us and a place we’ll definitely visit more and more in the future. A big thanks go to Simone and Monica for the warm welcome, all the help and info! So what did we climb? We don’t know how to call it, but it was definitely a Paradise of Joy!"

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