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Happy Camper 8A+ by Andrea ”Andi” Fichtner (44)

Happy Camper 8A+ by Andrea ”Andi” Fichtner (44)

Andi Fichtner, who did her first 7C+ in 2019, has done her first 8A+, Happy Camper in Frankenjura.

What is your climbing background?
At the age of 19 I started climbing with the goal of becoming an alpinist. Rock climbing was just training for north faces, steep iceclimbing, long combined routes.

When I turned 30, I took part in a boulder fun cup - this was my start in competition climbing which I practiced the next 10 years. I climbed nationals and some speed climbing and bouldering world cups.

My next step took me outdoors again: started to do some rope climbing projects and a lot of bouldering.

How can you explain doing your hardest ever Boulder at 40+?
All in good time! Now that I started bouldering on natural rock it's exciting to see how I can keep improving over the months and years. Figuring out moves has always been my favourite thing and competitive experience helps me for quick and suitable beta. And a nice trait I carried over from my mountaineering days is the will to fight and never give up ;-)

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Two 8A's by Irina Kuzmenko

Two 8A's by Irina Kuzmenko

Irina Kuzmenko, #3 in the Euro Bouldering Championship in 2019, has done two 8A's in Rocklands; In the Middle of the Ass and The Hatchling. "Mentally hard for me because sooooo high! I’m more about low boulders. 20 times was on the top then with the screaming climbing down then jump :)))))" (c) Juliet Lenova.

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Little Fish 9a+ by Loic Zehani (19)

Little Fish 9a+ by Loic Zehani (19)

Loic Zehani has done the FA of Little Fish 9a+ in Orgon. The 19-year-old has now done 32 routes graded 9a to 9b, out of which 19 FAs. "It shares the same start as "Le Poisson Pilote" (9a+) but the exit is different (on the left). It took me one session (I was surprised it went so fast) as two years ago it took me 40 tries to make the original version."

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Moonlanding 9a by Luca Bana

Moonlanding 9a by Luca Bana

Luca Bana, who did Goldrake 9a+ in just three sessions in 2019, has done Moonlanding 9a in Passo della Presolana. It is the third ascent after Stefano Carnati and Gabri Moroni

"Moon Landing is an outstanding 30 meters line located at Passo della Presolana's crag: it's a logical linkup that follows the entire overhanging pillar from the bottom right to top left: basically a resistant 8c+ into a final heinous traverse on bad holds and poor feet around 8A FB.

Having already done all the single routes of this portion of rock, the next step was to connect them. Then, this year, from the second period of June, I came back to the crag with only one goal in mind and I re-started to try the moves and the sections. In a short time, I was able to climb again the first 8c+ part, while in the next 4/5 goes I fell off in the hard final traverse. Finally, last Saturday, despite the warm conditions, I managed to pass the heinous redpoint crux and grab the final jug. I'm really proud of this gem, bolted together with Berni Rivadossi as the other hard routes of the crag. About the difficulty I found it quite challenging for the grade, I'd say hard 9a."

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Pure Dreaming 9a by Andrea Chelleris (12)

Pure Dreaming 9a by Andrea Chelleris (12)

Andrea Chelleris, Italian Slalom Champion this spring, has done his first 9a, Pure Dreaming in Arco. The 12-year-old has been living in a van in Arco since mid-June and needed 19 tries to take it down. During the winter he is training slalom five times a week and then in April he changed to climbing but due to the Covid situation, he has mainly been training at his home wall. His father and mother are also active climbers and Andrea started climbing when he was 5-years-old and did his first 8b+ at age 9.

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Chaehyun Seo (17) - Olympic training interview

Chaehyun Seo (17) - Olympic training interview

Chaehyun Seo, who won the Lead World Cup in 2019, in a superior style, is one of the contenders for a medal in Tokyo.

How did covid-19 affect your training and preparation for Tokyo?
Because of covid-19, all the gyms of Seoul closed so I had to travel to Suncheon, which is 6 hours away from Seoul. That was a little bit tiring for me. In 2021, I just trained like before with team training. And always wearing a mask everywhere even when I trained.

What about your fathers climbing gym?
That is almost like my second home so I can train there anytime I want. It has been open since the winter.

What about specific Speed, Lead and Boulder training?
I didn’t train much time for speed! In Lead and Boulder, I trained like just the way I have done before, including Comp simulations at team training.

How much per week and how do you train?
Around 7 hours per during 4-5 days a week out of which 2-3 hours weight training on an average. Just like before😅. Stretching just for warm up

Outdoors, she has done three 8b+ and Seoknangil 8c+ this spring as part of her training.

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La prophétie des grenouilles 9a by Anak Verhoeven

La prophétie des grenouilles 9a by Anak Verhoeven

Anak Verhoeven, who one year ago ruptured a pulley, and later this spring announced that she will retire from the competition scene, has done La prophétie des grenouilles 9a in Fournel. Anak was one of the best female Lead competition climbers 2013 - 2018 and three times she won a WC event. When it comes to rock, she has done eleven 8c+/9a and harder which is second-most in the world after Laura Rogora.


How does it feel not doing the Chamonix and Briancon competition week?
It feels a little weird not to be at the comps after all these years of competing, but at the same time I’m very happy about my decision to focus on rock! I feel at home at the crag and enjoyed this trip to France a lot.

How many sessions did it take and how was the process?
The conditions for working the route were pretty tough, with rainy and windy days. But I was able to figure out great beta, especially for the crux in a little roof. It was nice to discuss the route with a German climber who happened to have chosen the same project and we learned a lot from each other’s methods. I wasn’t in the best shape of my life yet after a year with lots of rehabbing, but I felt that this route was within my reach. What brought uncertainty was the limited time I had in France. So it was a relief when I sent the route with one day left before having to go back home. I had worked the moves for about 4,5 sessions and then climbed it on my first redpoint attempt, so on my first attempt to link all the moves.

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Genetic Drifter 8c+ by Jonathan Hörst (18)

Genetic Drifter 8c+ by Jonathan Hörst (18)

Jonathan Hörst, who did his first 8b (+) at age ten, has done Genetic Drifter 8c+ in Wild Iris. (c) Eric Hörst "Let's GOOOOO!!! After wiring all the moves last year I finally came back with some endurance to give it some goes. Unfortunate tweak on the first mono move 10 days prior but somehow managed to send on my first redpoint go after injury (and ever) on this link. The best line I've done on this wall."

What do you mean by a tweak and what impact did it have?
I had a tweak in my forearm from pulling on a mono on this route when I wasn’t fully warmed up. So since it happened like two weeks ago I spent like 10 days before my send climbing easier climbs and ones without pockets. Then sent the 8c+ my first day back on this route after the tweak!

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La Moustache qui fâche 9a+ by Tanguy Merard (17)

La Moustache qui fâche 9a+ by Tanguy Merard (17)

Tanguy MERARD, who did his first 9a last year, has done La Moustache qui fâche 9a+. "Really nice route in the cool sector of Entraygues! Beautiful moves and first 9a+ for me. I tried it for the first time last year, I was close but a little hold broke. I gained a little bit of power and I sent it on my fourth session this year. It was a good process."

Next for the 17-year-old is Biographie 9a+, which he has been working on earlier this year but he had to take a three weeks break due to a back injury.

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Bayes Vilder has done his first 8b+, Rodeo Free Europe and we reached out to his father Matt, who back in the days made some 8a headlines including a 9a.

What is your sons climbing background?
Bayes has been climbing pretty much his whole life. In May he turned 10. He loves outdoor climbing but also competes in the youth circuit and is on the ABC climbing team in Boulder, CO. Over the past several years, he has really stepped up his outdoor game. He's had some great bouldering successes through the past few years climbing many V9s and some V10s and V11s. His success on routes has been mostly limited to the past year. His height has always been an issue on routes and prior to this last year, he wasn't climbing much on rope because it takes a lot of effort to go up a route only to find out that there's an impossible reachy move 3/4 of the way up.

At first last summer he was not very comfortable on 5.12s but eventually he succeeded on some 13a's. In the Fall we took a 2 week trip to the Red River Gorge and he climbed his first 13b (Golden Boy) and then shortly after climbed Swingline 13d in a day (4 tries I think). We bouldered a bunch this winter and he's done a few routes this Spring and Summer but didn't try much in the hard 13 or higher range. When we were out in Wild Iris over the 4th of July, Bayes succeeded on doing a short, bouldery 13d called White Buffalo and then set his sights on Rodeo Free Europe 14a.

On his first day (which was 3rd day on) he got all of the moves and a couple shorter links. He was pretty confident and so after a rest day on our last day of the trip, he got back on it fresh. He took a few goes to dial in some of the beta a bit more and then put in a handful of redpoint burns where he fell repeatedly stabbing a pocket after a double undercling move. He was ready to quit for the day, but decided to give it another go. All the pieces fell into place and he sent. Needless to say he was super psyched. I don't think he really had his sights specifically set on climbing 5.14 but this was a great route that really challenged him. I think he was proud because to him this felt like his hardest route to date (regardless of grades which are all over the place for his size).

He normally trains indoors with his team 3 days a week for 2 hours a day. Then we usually get outside for a day or two each week (or do another longer gym session if the weather is bad). We try to do several week long outdoor trips during the year where we are climbing as much as possible.

My 10-year-old just like playing around on 6a routes on a top rope. How come you think some kids are willing to push super hard taking long falls?
I think Bayes can push himself because he has built up this mindset from an early age. He is also pretty passionate about completing things that he tries and that motivates him quite a bit. Over the past year he has gotten pretty comfortable when taking falls, but he still is a bit hesitant to go for things onsight. When he knows the moves, he doesn't think twice about the fall even if he's pumped. He's good at executing in that way. My wife and I usually belay him and try to give him a soft catch since he's so light. I will often pull in some slack with my left arm when he falls and then catch most of the fall with that arm letting out the rope. Then the belay device catches and I'll try to jump up a little. It can be tough sometimes.

For kids climbing the mental attitude is so important and highly variable across kids. Bayes isn't particularly strong when it comes to having goals and being dedicated to them. However, he's really good at trying hard and giving 100% when he is on a climb. He also has a strong belief in himself when he climbs. He can push through the pain of sharp holds too which is hard for kids. Most of all, he just loves climbing and has fun almost every day we go out. He likes to push himself, but he also enjoys just climbing mid-range stuff that is classic.

Rodeo Free Europe 8b+ by Bayes Vilder (10)

Bayes Vilder has done his first 8b+, Rodeo Free Europe and we reached out to his father Matt, who back in the days made some 8a headlines including a 9a.

What is your sons climbing background?
Bayes has been climbing pretty much his whole life. In May he turned 10. He loves outdoor climbing but also competes in the youth circuit and is on the ABC climbing team in Boulder, CO. Over the past several years, he has really stepped up his outdoor game. He's had some great bouldering successes through the past few years climbing many V9s and some V10s and V11s. His success on routes has been mostly limited to the past year. His height has always been an issue on routes and prior to this last year, he wasn't climbing much on rope because it takes a lot of effort to go up a route only to find out that there's an impossible reachy move 3/4 of the way up.

At first last summer he was not very comfortable on 5.12s but eventually he succeeded on some 13a's. In the Fall we took a 2 week trip to the Red River Gorge and he climbed his first 13b (Golden Boy) and then shortly after climbed Swingline 13d in a day (4 tries I think). We bouldered a bunch this winter and he's done a few routes this Spring and Summer but didn't try much in the hard 13 or higher range. When we were out in Wild Iris over the 4th of July, Bayes succeeded on doing a short, bouldery 13d called White Buffalo and then set his sights on Rodeo Free Europe 14a.

On his first day (which was 3rd day on) he got all of the moves and a couple shorter links. He was pretty confident and so after a rest day on our last day of the trip, he got back on it fresh. He took a few goes to dial in some of the beta a bit more and then put in a handful of redpoint burns where he fell repeatedly stabbing a pocket after a double undercling move. He was ready to quit for the day, but decided to give it another go. All the pieces fell into place and he sent. Needless to say he was super psyched. I don't think he really had his sights specifically set on climbing 5.14 but this was a great route that really challenged him. I think he was proud because to him this felt like his hardest route to date (regardless of grades which are all over the place for his size).

He normally trains indoors with his team 3 days a week for 2 hours a day. Then we usually get outside for a day or two each week (or do another longer gym session if the weather is bad). We try to do several week long outdoor trips during the year where we are climbing as much as possible.

My 10-year-old just like playing around on 6a routes on a top rope. How come you think some kids are willing to push super hard taking long falls?
I think Bayes can push himself because he has built up this mindset from an early age. He is also pretty passionate about completing things that he tries and that motivates him quite a bit. Over the past year he has gotten pretty comfortable when taking falls, but he still is a bit hesitant to go for things onsight. When he knows the moves, he doesn't think twice about the fall even if he's pumped. He's good at executing in that way. My wife and I usually belay him and try to give him a soft catch since he's so light. I will often pull in some slack with my left arm when he falls and then catch most of the fall with that arm letting out the rope. Then the belay device catches and I'll try to jump up a little. It can be tough sometimes.

For kids climbing the mental attitude is so important and highly variable across kids. Bayes isn't particularly strong when it comes to having goals and being dedicated to them. However, he's really good at trying hard and giving 100% when he is on a climb. He also has a strong belief in himself when he climbs. He can push through the pain of sharp holds too which is hard for kids. Most of all, he just loves climbing and has fun almost every day we go out. He likes to push himself, but he also enjoys just climbing mid-range stuff that is classic.

Read more