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Hubble 9a (8c+) by Toby Roberts (16)

Hubble 9a (8c+) by Toby Roberts (16)

Toby Roberts, who two weeks ago did the 35m long Batman 9a/+, reports on Insta that he has done Ben Moon's classic Hubble from 1990 at Raven Tor. The Ben Moon route was originally given 8c+ and it is a short 6 move 8B+ boulder problem into a steady 7c route. In 2012, UKC wrote an article speculating it to be 9a, although non of the first repeaters suggested this. Later all repeaters have given it 9a although a kneebar bar has been found and Matthew Right actually has said, "Basically, if you’re short and can get the left kneebar in, it is probably 8c+ but I can’t say for certain."

Amazing shift from endurance to power. How was that possible so quickly and what about that kneebar possibility?
I had been keeping my power topped up whilst doing the longer routes previously with some power sessions so it’s nice to see it worked. I knew the kneebar was a possibility but I wanted to do it the way it was first done by Ben Moon. It was just a personal choice not to use it. I think the grade is definitely 9a, I’ve not done it with a knee pad but people have said that it’s not much easier with one. I would need to go and try it with one to give an opinion though. A few people have done it with the kneebar, but using the right knee. I think Matthew was saying if you can fit your left knee in it would be easier than using the right kneebar but there’s not much space for the left one to go in.

Molekuly 9a+ FA by Adam Ondra

Adam Ondra has done his 43rd 9a+, Molekuly in Moravský kras. "Wow, this thing actually goes! Very short boulderproblem on nonexistent holds, epitome of local climbing. Then 8b+ topout."

Full video on his Insta and remember to turn off the sound if you are at work as there are plenty of normal Ondra screaming :) "I think I tried this thing 4 times during the last 12 years 🤔, only to find out I had no idea how to climb this thing and doubted if it could ever be climbed."

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Une Jolie Fleur... 8b MP by Katherine Choong

Une Jolie Fleur... 8b MP by Katherine Choong

Choong Katherine, who previously in 2021 has done two 8c+, has done the 300m long, Une Jolie Fleur dans une Peau de Vache 8b in Paroi du Duc, Gorges du Verdon. (c) Tara Kerzhner

Katherine has been an active competitive climber since 2006, having done 87 IFSC events until 2021. In 2009, she won the Youth World Champion and as a senior, she has reached the final once. Including two 9a's and some other hard multi-pitches, the Swizz must be considered as one of the best female multi-discipline climbers in the world, the last five years.

"Located in the impressive Paroi du Duc in the Gorges du Verdon, each pitch is absolutely incredible (6b, 8b, 7b, 8a, 5c, 8a, 6b)! Lots of tufas on a (very) overhanging wall where you can twist drop knees, kneebars, it’s not a surprise that it suits my style! Until now Jim (her partner) has always patiently accompanied me in my projects. His presence has been crucial in their success but I rarely had the opportunity to support him in a multi-pitch route. This time, we really wanted to find a common project, to try to climb each pitch together in the same day and to share the pressure and the success (the plan was that I would lead each pitch and that I would come back down to belay Jim in the three key pitches in the 8th grade).

We climbed two days to the top to find out our beta in the top pitches. The rain had then made the wall wet, especially in the 2nd pitch (8b), we spent two other days just working this pitch without going higher, the conditions not being so good to attempt a send. Finally, on the 5th day, in a battle of resistance in each pitch, but motivated by each other's successive send, we managed to climb each pitch to the top without a single fall! Once again I am incredibly grateful to have been able to live this beautiful adventure and to have shared it with my partner in life."

Lapsus 9b (a+) by Jonathan Siegrist

Lapsus 9b (a+) by Jonathan Siegrist

Jonathan Siegrist has repeated Stefano Ghisolfi's Lapsus in Andonno. In total, Jonathan has now done 60+ routes 8c+/9a and harder which puts him #6 on that list. The American tried the route in March 2020 but left in a hurry. Now they are back enjoying Italy again for a month and you can follow him at Insta

"A proper enduro test piece on a beautiful wall! I really enjoyed the style of this route. I chose not to use the kneebar because I wanted the challenge, and to climb the route as Stefano did. Like this, I think the route could be low-end 9b. At first, I thought easier, but I fell in the final boulder problem quite a few times even when arriving quite fresh, which changed my mind."

Do you think it would have been easier with knee pads?
For sure the route is easier with the knee bar - it’s just before the hardest part at the very end. I use pads when it feels super important or when it’s the established style of the route - like in Rifle, or in Ramirole for instance. I really don’t like the feeling of climbing with them though, so I prefer not to use them when I don’t have to. It’s just my personal preferred way of climbing. I think it’s fine to use a knee pad honestly! Some people love this style, it’s just not my personal favourite. If you use a pad and find a better or easier way I just think it’s important to also downgrade and be honest. Anyone should be able to climb however they like.

Double Back-Flip 8C by Martin Stranik

Double Back-Flip 8C by Martin Stranik

Martin Stranik has done his 13th 8C, Double Back-Flip in Bahratal and here is the video. It was put up in 2012 by M. Scholz as an 8C/+ and Stranik made the second ascent. "I needed just two sessions to complete boulder, great power endurance climbing on beautiful sandstone! Soft 8C in my opinion."

Stranik got the silver in the Boulder World Championship in 2007 but actually, 2021 has been his best competition year since he started to focus on Lead some years ago. In the overall World Cup, he was #6 after having been on the podium twice.

How come you think you are in such good shape? Could it also relate to the new perspective of being a father?
For sure it is because of preparations for this year's World Cups, training went well, I felt fit and confident and have had a good season. Spending time with the twins are really great and mind-clearing. Then I am even more motivated to climb and train hard. They are 16 months now, soon my climbing partners.

How come you have switched to Lead in comps but still focus on Boulders outdoors?
I am basically a boulderer but in last years I found that nowadays power endurance lead routes on comps fit me well and I really enjoy trying hard on them. I am a power-based climber and what lead routes are about and not about parkour moves and hard slabs, what is hard to train for me.

Mr Teroldego 8c by Camilla Bendazzoli

Mr Teroldego 8c by Camilla Bendazzoli

Camilla Bendazzoli has done her third 8c, Mr Teroldego in Arco. "As regards the process the route felt good in the first part, the hardest in my opinion, since the very first tries, but there is a second crux in the upper part which is trickier, mostly because success depends on the conditions of the day. In my case, on Saturday there were excellent weather conditions and I was able to stick the move and reach the top. It was a really lovely day spent with friends :)" (c) Georgia Tesio

Black Cobra (2) 9a by Darius Rapa (15)

Black Cobra (2) 9a by Darius Rapa (15)

Darius Rapa, who won the Imst Euro Youth in Lead and got the bronze in the Euro Championship in Boulder this summer, has done Black Cobra (2) 9a in Herculane. Adam Ondra put it up in 2018 and interestingly the 15-year-old had 8b+ as his previous best and only needed five tries to take it down. (c) George Stroie

"This weekend I went to Băile Herculane and I thought it is time to try hard so I did🤌🏿. I had no expectations for a top this weekend but the conditions were perfect with an amazing grip on the wall and I knew that if I would not do it now, I would have to wait. The route was done in the 5th attempt and I’m glad to be the first Romanian to do a 9a🇷🇴 and also get the 4th ascent of Ondra's route. Maybe it is 8c+ like Adam said."

How come you have not done any 8c's or 8c+' before?
Because my coach, Robert Cohn always told me to do grades on fewer tries and I didn't quite try 8c's. He told me that I should go on a lot of 8b's and 8b+' so I gain rock experience.

How many sessions do you train per week and for how many years have you done so?
In the last couple of months, I trained 3 hrs per session 5-6 days a week. During the last month, I have climbed outdoors every weekend. This summer I have been training a lot also in Innsbruck before and after different comps.

Nexus 8C+ FA by Ryuichi Murai

Nexus 8C+ FA by Ryuichi Murai

Ryuichi Murai has done the FA of Nexus in Shiobara, which he started to project in 2016. The 27-year-old has previously done two 8C's there and Nexus is a new link-up of two 8B+'. In an Insta video, from last week, he fell after being on the roof in 1.45 min including doing a 360 move. "Nexus is composed of nearly 40 moves, and I clearly memorized all the moves, such as the feeling of stepping on a small edge and the height of the centre of gravity." (c) Momoka Oda

Have you done any specific training before sending?
I have no special training for the project. As training, I practised each part repeatedly until my body moved smoothly. In practice, I climbed UMA(V14) countless times until I felt no load. Visual mental image training was also very important for smooth movement.

Aerodromo 8c by Eva Hammelmüller

Aerodromo 8c by Eva Hammelmüller

Eva Hammelmüller, who did Underground 8c+/9a in Arco in May, has done Aerodromo 8c in Terra Promessa. "Arco is always great for a weekend climbing trip, as it is not far from where I live and there are many hard routes. Plus, it feels kind of like a holiday ;). I‘ve already tried the route ‘Aerodromo’ two years ago and it felt pretty impossible; thus, I really wanted to go to Terra Promessa and try to finish it off, and I am very happy that it worked out so well! On the next day, I also climbed ‘Projekt Tribout’ (8b) and ‘Lo Hobbit’ (8a/+). Next week I’ll be off on a rock climbing trip in Turkey with the Austrian Team! Looking very much forward to it!"

Dreamtime 8C by Michiel Nieuwenhuijsen

Dreamtime 8C by Michiel Nieuwenhuijsen

Michiel Nieuwenhuijsen has done his third 8C in 2021, Dreamtime in Cresciano. Interesting is that although doing his first 8B+ in 2013, in the last three years the 187 cm tall and 34-years-old has been on steady progress.

"This one was a bit longer in the making. Lets be honest, who doesn't dream of dreamtime? I was thinking of Dreamtime for years. But finger injuries, snow and rain kept me from really trying it. With Newyear, it got serious and I went for it. Did it in 2 parts, but was doubting my beta for the crux (the long move) a lot. Did it with the heel with the new year, but was never happy with the small/sharp edge. Now I came back and with some micro changes was comfortable with the jump. That motivated a lot. Still needed 3 sessions this trip to get it down. So good, so classic. Just Dreamtime."

How can you explain your great continuous progress over the last three years? It kinda feels like I am getting a little better every year. But it is hard to say. I think that it helps that I focussed a bit more on the hard lines this year. Taking extra rest days (one day on one day off) and trying less easy lines. What also helps, is that we have a nice little hardcore group in my home gym (Tim Reuser and Don van Laere), and we go HARD together. Always on the spray wall thinking of harder and harder problems.