Interview and portrait with Patxi Usobiaga
Patxi Usobiaga was one of the very best lead competition climbers during the 2000's. He won three silvers and a gold in the World Championships and in the World Cup, the Spaniard won the overall in 2006 and in 2007. In 2007, he also made the first 8c+ onsight in the world, Bizi Euskaraz (8c+) and he has redpointed five 9a+'.
In 2010, he suffered a traffic accident that left him with neck injuries and stopped his climbing for some years. In 2016, he bounced back and the following year he managed to climb to #4 in the 8a ranking game. Patxi has also been working as a coach and has trained many world-class climbers like, Adam Ondra. Lately, Patxi has also dived into bolting routes around his home base in Catalonia. Following the release of this video portrait we reached out to Patxi to find out more about what he's been up to.
Can you describe a normal week?
A week of my life is always a week as I have chosen it, [it's] chaotic, very far from what it was when I was exclusively a professional climber, now although I consider that I can climb like a professional climber, because of my option to be able to climb whenever I want, I need to work to be able to eat and live. The luck that I have is that I have always done what I wanted, I have decided what I want to do and what motivates me.
So if it's a week where I'm fine and I can climb, it could have different variants: In all the possible variants there are priorities and I have to combine them as best I can to get to everything and that is why there are seasons when I get up at 4 am, and others more calmly at 7 am, but always maintaining the order of priorities:
Work, (PUCtraining, PUCSeries, PUCseries Temple Nargó, YouTube, social networks, events and sponsors) and
ME (climb, train, equip etc)
But since I really like everything I do, I manage to organize myself to be able to combine everything as much as possible. Although it is difficult considering that there are 24 hours a day, nothing works if I don't climb, train and/or equipment, and for this reason, I prefer to sleep little and get to meet all my needs and obligations to be able to continue doing what I like. And luckily and by my own decision, I live in Oliana, Lleida, in Alt Urgell, where I can materialize all my concerns by climbing, equipping and training in the climbing walls that I have built for myself. The PUCTraining LAB and the PUCseries Temple NArgó.
Ali Hulk Extension Total 9a (+) by Blasco and Moreno
Enrique Beltran Blasco and Dani Moreno have done Ali Hulk Extension Total (9a+) in Rodellar, both feeling it is a soft 9a. The two Spaniards now have their sights set on,9b (a+) Sit start. (c) Dani Moreno
Can you tell us more about your ascent?
Enrique: I wanted to try something hard in Rodellar and my friend Dani Moreno and I got motivated for Ali Baba. The truth is that the route has cost me little, just 6 days of work and what has cost me the most is the rope part since the bouldering part was going well. Now the idea is to try the sit version. Total respect for Andrada. His FA was absolute performance and much more difficult compared to using knee pads and resting no hands every other ten moves. I used four no-hand rests where I stayed for 1 - 5 min in each."
Enrique has logged Hulk extensión total (8c+) with an personal 8b+ grade. With most recent ascents in the cave utilizing knee pads, it's likely that many of the cave's climbs could be subject to downgrades when climbed in this style.
by Jens Larssen, Editor-in-Chief
Matjaz Zorko adds a fourth ascent to Malvazija (8c+)
Matjaz Zorko, who did his first three 9a’s last year, has sent Malvazija (8c+) in Dvigrad, after projecting it for ten sessions. Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla put it up in 1988 as an 8b+ and then in 2010, Cody Roth made the first repeat and suggested 8c+. It's been speculated that holds broke in the crux sometime after Manolo's ascent, plus a few holds broke on Roth during his time on the route. Last month Ale Zeni made the third ascent and confirmed the upgrade, which Zorko says he also agrees with.
Can you fill us in on your ascent?
Well, I spent a few sessions on it last season, just enough to do it with one fall. This year I managed to send it I think on one of the last days with cool temperatures. I think this style suits me quite well. In the first part, the route is vertical on small imaginative holds and footholds. In the second half, it gets slightly steeper and more physical on chipped pockets. I assume that there are 4 drilled pockets. They are quite deep but my fat fingers don’t fit in as well as I would hope. Super happy about the send😊😊 It was nice sharing one session on the route with Zeni and I’m really happy about his send too😊.
What's coming up next for you?
I still have some old projects here in Slovenia to finish😊 and a short trip to Pecka, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Three 8A's by Andi Stull in Ticino
Andi Stullhas been in Ticino for almost three weeks, sending three 8A's; Teamwork (8A), Pause cervelas (8A) and Forever More (8A), in the picture.
Can you tell us more about your trip?
I think ‘Teamwork’ was my favorite of the 8As I’ve done this trip! Sharp crimps and cool movement with a toe hook! ‘Pause Cervelas’ is so beautiful too, being that is it right on the river on beautiful rock! I had to find my own beta for that one, as the normal, more dynamic beta felt like too big of a span for me, so that was a fun process! The top out of forever more is a bit silly and simultaneously spooky! It’s a true mantle, then some bad slopers and smeary feet. As a was mantling, my hand slid a little due to my skin being so dry, that was pretty scary, but luckily, I didn’t fall! It’s a bit unfortunate that there’s graffiti on the next boulder over, as it’s right by the river and such a beautiful scenery, otherwise!
This is my first time in Ticino, and I’m already planning another trip back! I didn’t want to focus too much on one specific project this trip, as I wanted to get a taste of everything! I was initially planning on being here for 6 weeks, but I, unfortunately, will be cutting my trip short and leaving at the end of this week.
What is next when you are back home?
I would love to make it out to Bishop, but the Buttermilk road is inaccessible at the moment. So, I may either do the 3-mile hike to the boulders, or get straight back into training mode and prepare for next season! I may come back to Swiss in October. If that’s the case, I will be training hard for that!
Two 8B+'s in a day by Giuliano Cameroni
Giuliano Cameroni has had a great day in Valle Bavona sending both Ninjutsu (8B+) and Fight Club (8B+).
"Fight Club was founded by @jwebxl in 2019. That same year we built the landing but didn’t get a chance to try. The next year I spent 5/6 sessions with @daisukeichimiya but we didn’t find any of the kneebars that make this thing more doable. In 2022 the line was finally freed by @shawnraboutou. This year I went back with @dave_graham_ and he showed me his impeccable kneebar beta. What a vision 🤯." Check out Cameroni's Insta video
Luisa Deubzer does La théorie des cordes (8c)
Luisa Deubzer, who last year did Speed Integral (9a), has sent La théorie des cordes (8c) in St Léger. (c) Martin Leitner
"Majeur! Felt rather solid for the grade to me, no idea what the downgrade in the new topo is about. Fell so many times on the lower crux move to the pinch that it was starting to be a bit overdue… but well worth my while to stick with it! Loved it."
Carlo Traversi does From Dirt Grows The Flowers, 8C
Carlo Traversi, who did his first, out of ten 8C, in 2011, has repeated Dave Graham's
From Dirt Grows The Flowers (8C) in Chironico.
Can you tell us more about the ascent?
Got really close to finishing From Dirt in early 2013. Right after making the first ascent of The Kingdom (8C), I fell off the mantle a few times from the bottom. I could do the mantle easily from starting mid way up the boulder but it always felt like it just didn’t work from the bottom. I’ve returned to try a few times over the years but conditions just haven’t lined up. This trip it felt good first day, but then it’s been too warm since then. Luckily with only a few days left in the trip, we got some cold, windy conditions yesterday and I was able to climb it 2nd try from the bottom. Was a really odd send for me, the boulder has always felt like a bit of a struggle, nothing feeling easy. Send go felt weightless, no struggle, the easiest climbing has felt the whole trip.
Three years since the last 8C. How did you get back into peak performance shape?
I feel like I’m always in peak performance shape. At least I try to be. That doesn’t always result in sends, but my level has mostly been the same or slightly improved each year for the last 10 years. So my “results” are rarely reflective of the work I’m putting in.
What are your 2023 plans?
Lots of plans but nothing worth mentioning yet. The goal is always to maintain top level in bouldering, sport, and traditional [climbing]. So I will likely be bouncing between those 3 disciplines through the summer. Multi-pitches is definitely a priority for 2023.
The 34-year-old did his first two 9a's in 2015 and he has later done two 9a+. Three years later he did the second ascent of the first 8c+ trad route in the world, Beth Rodden's Meldown, and last year he did another one of the hardest trad lines in the world, Magic Line (8c+). His previous send above 8C was Creature from the black lagoon (8C+), which he did three years ago. Carlo also worked on The Dawn Wall together with Kevin Jorgeson some ten odd years ago. Overall, Carlo has made a case to be considered one of the best multi-discipline climbers in the world.
Eight 8a+ to 8b+ onsights by Adam Ondra
Adam Ondra reports on Insta that he has been on a ”family vacation” trip to Malta. "Spending a lot of time with family and getting rest for the hard training ahead of me! It was nice getting to know the small climbing community in Malta 💪" In the end, he onsighted eight routes 8a+ and harder, meaning the 30-year-old is approaching 500 such graded onsights. (c) Stephen Farrugia
The hardest onsights on the island were actually (probably) two FAs in Melieha Cave;
Winds of Change (8b+): "Start to the right to Aint Sane in the Membrane, finish like the Down in a Hole. Hard start, then a total nohands and a tricky boulder. Definitely being tall helps. Giving a grade on my onsight try and being 8th 8th-grade route of the day doesn't help. Thanks Simon and Stevo for an amazing day!"
Fight Club (8b): "Start like November Rain, but go direct in the end. probably first ascent? Roof climbing on tufa at its best."
Adam also probably made the FA of a previously chipped route, Tunnel Vision (8b+) in Mgarr Ix-xini. "Short burly route just above the little "tunnel" when you approach the gorge. If you use the chipped pocket in between the 3rd and 4th bolt, it is probably 8a. Without, I think it is pretty hard 8A boulder."
Two 8A+'s and an 8A by Siara Fabbri
Siara Fabbri, who did her first 8B+ in November, has done Les Feux Dazeroth 8A
in Branson, Creatures of Comfort (8A+) in Vernayaz and Taijutsu (8A+) in Val Bavona. (c) Simone Tentori
Can you tell us more about those ascents?
Good weekend here in Val Bavona 😁. Psyched to send Taijutsu 8A+ today, it's a new block that got put up a month ago.
I had a session last fall on Creatures on my first trip to Vernayaz. I felt close to sending but fell off the last move four times, it's a deep lock off and I kept failing to get this crimp good. In the end, I found some better beta and came back recently, I refreshed myself on the moves, then sent :).
We went after to check out the boulder with Les Feux, but it was really cold so we just climbed a little. We returned the next weekend and I sent Les Feux fairly quickly, but onsighting the mossy top out in the night was spicy. I was psyched to find the right beta for these blocks and send them relatively quickly as I want to improve in optimizing the projecting 😊💪.
Jorge Diaz-Rullo sends The full journey (9b)
Jorge Diaz-Rullo has done The full journey (9b) in Margalef. "First repetition after Alex Megos. 4 days of work but I already did the first part one year ago and the second part one week ago." (c) Adri Martinez
The route is a original line linking The journey (9a+) which he did last year and Carlota's journey (9a+) which he did last week. In the 8a ranking game, the 23-year-old is #2 after Adam Ondra.
by Jens Larssen, Editor-in-Chief
Water World 9a onsight by Adam Ondra
Adam Ondra onsighted Water world (9a) in Osp/Misja Pec, last November."Yees, very proud to onsight it. Possibly not the hardest 9a especially with kneepads, but not a very obvious one to onsight. Super happy."
Will Bosi streaming 3rd session on Burden of Dreams 9A
William Bosi has made very good progress on Nalle Hukkataival's Burden of Dreams 9A, in his first two sessions. Let's see if he continues trying the new beta he found. Here is the live-streaming link.
Jana Švecová does all moves on Terranova (8C+) in just two sessions
William Bosi just recently said that he felt that Adam Ondra's Terranova (8C+) was as hard as Burden of Dreams 9A. Now, Jana Švecová (Vincourková) has dropped a video where she does all moves on Terranova in just two sessions, by coming up with new beta.
Schubert tries Bouin's DNA (9c)
Jakob, you recently took a short trip to what is likely to be the world’s second-ever 9c route. How much could you take away from DNA, the route freed by Seb Bouin in the Verdon Gorge in the south of France? Last November I went for a very short trip to Verdon. I took the 10 hour drive just because…
Bosi is live-streaming BoD 9A again
William Bosi is up in Finland live-streaming his second session on Burden of Dreams 9A. The temperature is -3, icicles are visible, and there is a clear blue sky and he is making good progress. Will says that the first individual move might be 8B but skipping that, doing kind of a stand start, it co…
Matt Segall sends Kryptonite, 9a
Matt Segal, world-class trad and big wall climber, has done Kryptonite (9a) at The Fortress. He first tried it in 2003 and then started working on it last year. Matt took a little time to answer a few questions we had. So basically, you came back 19 years later and started to project Kryptonite as …
Good progress for Will Bosi on Burden of Dreams 9A
William Bosi has been doing an Insta livestreaming this morning trying Nalle Hukkataival's Burden of Dreams 9A in Finland. When he did his flash attempt he had some 50 viewers but in the end, there were 1 500 watching his first working session. As a great surprise for him, he did the first crux move…