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Grand Illusion 8C+ by Matt Fultz

Grand Illusion 8C+ by Matt Fultz

Matt Fultz has done his third 8C+ the last year, Grand Illusion in Little Cottonwood Canyon. During several Insta posts, including videos, he has reported his progress since April 11th, "Might get obsessed with this one 😤".

Already two weeks ago he posted that he had done his 12th session and that he thought it had to wait until this autumn. Then two days ago, "95 degrees today 🥵 doesn’t cool down enough even at midnight. I know I should bail to Colorado and come back for Grand Illusion in the Fall, but I’m too darn stubborn."

His last post commenting having done it. "Grand Ill is pretty much the only problem I’ve tried since early April. It was quite a fight to gain the specific fitness required for this boulder/sport climb hybrid. Pacing, precision, and micro-beta needed to be so dialed in for me. And of course, as usual, the long fight ended in a pretty casual first try of the night burn."

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Fingertest 9a Stephan Schibli (49)

Fingertest 9a Stephan Schibli (49)

Stephan Schibli, who previously has made seven 9a and harder FAs, has repeated his first 9a, Fingertest in Muotathal. “I tried the route a few years ago. Last summer for the last time, but it was definitely too warm and nothing worked. This year in good conditions I wanted to try the route again, because after a few first ascents of this level, repeating this route had long been on my wish list. In my opinion, some holds were missing in the upper part. I then found a solution a little on the left and was able to score the route the next day in top conditions.”

It seems none of your seven 9a and 9a+ FAs has been repeated? Why is that do you think?
It's not like the routes are in some area where nobody goes. Rather, they are in the classic areas of Central Switzerland. However, the style of the routes probably does not suit many top climbers. Technically difficult climbing on extremely small holds.

It should be mentioned that the 49-year-old also has made the FA of five 8c+, the first in 2001 and the last seven weeks ago. It seems that just one of them have been repeated.

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Star Shopping 9a FA by Moritz Welt

Star Shopping 9a FA by Moritz Welt

Moritz Welt has done the FA of Star Shopping 9a in Frankenjura, which had been bolted by Werner Thon. In total, the 20-year-old has done 14 9a’s, out of which seven the last year. (c) Lars Decker

After checking the route for the first time I instantly knew that was the kind of line I was searching for. It's a 25meters high wall with a 10m roof in the middle that has just one pure sequence of holds to climb on. You basically climb some 7c to a no hands ledge, and after some easy approach it's 10 consecutive hard moves through the roof. After that you have some 8a climbing to the top. At the beginning I was struggling a lot with the single moves, but after checking out everything perfectly it went faster than expected. In total it took me 6 sessions.”

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In 2019, Jimmy Webb did the FA of Sleepwalker 8C+. Then in 2021, Daniel Woods started working on a sit start adding a seven moves 8B, creating ROTSW 9A. The 31-year-old has the best ticklist in the world and it took him 70+ days to do his first 9A, out of which the last 16 days, he was alone camping in the canyon.

Return of the Sleepwalker 9A by Daniel Woods

In 2019, Jimmy Webb did the FA of Sleepwalker 8C+. Then in 2021, Daniel Woods started working on a sit start adding a seven moves 8B, creating ROTSW 9A. The 31-year-old has the best ticklist in the world and it took him 70+ days to do his first 9A, out of which the last 16 days, he was alone camping in the canyon.

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Fly 8c (b+) MP by Vanhee and Berthe ground-up

Fly 8c (b+) MP by Vanhee and Berthe ground-up

Siebe Vanhee and Sébastien Berthe’s have repeated Fly 8c (in Lauterbrunnen, which is 550 meters divided into 20 pitches. Roger Schaeli opened it and the Alex Megos did the FA in 2014. Impressively Seb and Sébastient did it ground-up in only three days and they both gave it a personal 8b+ grade and the second hardest pitch to be 8b. (c) Julia Cassou

"Seb and I left the base at 7am in the morning, with our portaledge and haul bag fully packed for an autonomous sent. The aim of the day was to reach the ledge below pitch 17, swinging leads, climbing everything free and hauling our household with us. It seemed like an ambitious plan considering the heavy packs and the sustained grading in the high 7th grade. But the sooner we got on the ledge the sooner we could tackle the three upper cruxpitches. The first nine pitches are slabby, hard to read and were quite dirty. This didn’t hinder us to climb them almost all onsight, except for two 7c’s. We were surprisingly quick, at 2:30pm we arrived at the ledge, just in time to get roasted in the sun without losing precious skin on our fingers! That same night, Julia joined us on the ledge and installed some static lines to shoot our ascent from above the following days. An early morning start was necessary to get as much shade as possible. This west facing wall gets sun at 2pm. This time Seb started off, he immediately onsighted the 8b (pitch 17) off the ledge. Setting the bar high for the day! I was nervous but managed to quickly flash the route after my partner while Julia was dangling above us capturing every emotion. We continued the climb with a 7b+ pitch up to the start of the crux of the whole line, graded 8c. I took off first, for a long journey towards the anchor. Slowly I found the beta, brushed and marked all the holds to make it look like a climbable piece of rock. Tackling an 8c pitch on an alpine limestone multipitch can be quite intimidating. There is dirt, no chalk and an incredibly exposed atmosphere! After Seb worked the moves, I gave it a solid go but fell due to a hold that broke in the easier section. I gave it a third go. I felt tired, had no skin left and climbed nervous but dedicated to send, which I did! The sun started to hit the wall, a good reason for Seb to save his energy and skin for the next morning. We descended back to our portaledge camp and started our second sunbathing session.

Day three, for me there was only one pitch left. Seb was in a more stressful position this time, having to still send the cruxpitch. First thing in the morning, mentally strong as he is, he cruised the pitch up to the anchor. My turn again to work out the moves of the last, 8b+, pitch. This pitch is a 15 meter slabclimb with one powerful move of a small flat crimp. Move by move I brushed and found the beta again, it didn’t seem too bad in the end. Again, Seb took his turn and worked the moves. I gave it a try and fell after the crux move due to a microscopic edge that broke below my ring finger. I came down immediately and gave it a third go straight away. With two fingertips taped and two others completely cracked and bleeding I crimped through the section and send this last pitch! There was no option to recover skin or put on more tape. Anyway, for a last pitch of such a difficult and long multipitch I didn’t care about the skin anymore. Although I reached the anchor, it wasn’t over yet. Seb still had to send. Two more tries later he did and the joy was felt by all three of us! A third and fourth freeascent of ‘Fly’, an amazing adventure on the wall, quality images and some great vibes with a cool crew!"

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Missfonda 8c+ FA by Nicola Vonarburg (48)

Missfonda 8c+ FA by Nicola Vonarburg (48)

Nicola Vonarburg, who started climbing in 1985, has done his fourth 8c+, by the FA of Missfonda in Cevio. (c) Egon Bernasconi

I lost count of how many times I had to redo the first part of Miss! (8b) Then in a day with bad conditions the miracle! The central crossbar is spectacular! On the degree then we will see even if in the end it interests me little, the journey and the satisfaction of clipping that chain was more important than a number on 8a.nu!“

In total, the 48-year-old has during the last five years done 41 FAs, 8b and harder. His only other appearances in the 8a news was in 2012, with the headline, “... (39) at his peak”, doing his second 8c+.

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Sever The Wicked Hand 9a by Silvio Reffo

Sever The Wicked Hand 9a by Silvio Reffo

Silvio Reffo, who did his twelfth 9a in 2018, has added one more to his scorecard, Sever The Wicked Hand in Frankenjura. "I did a try some years ago, last week I checked the moves but the route was wet and this week I tried two days."

How come this was the first 9a since 2018?
I climbed some 9a but I downgraded them to 8c+ 😂😂😂... Last year due to lockdown I didn't climb and skip the good climbing season in Italy. With work and family, it's also difficult to be in a good shape every moment...

What are your summer plans?
I’d like to finish some projects near home but I must wait for fresh conditions So for the summer I’ll work, train and climb in some summer spots in Italy.

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La force tranquille 8C by Giuliano Cameroni

La force tranquille 8C by Giuliano Cameroni

Giuliano Cameroni has done the fourth ascent of Daniel Woods' La force tranquille 8C. (c) Clément Lechaptois

"Started trying it in 2016. First epic moment was in 2018 falling off the topout due to a silly foot slip. Next day it snowed a meter or so and had to wait the whole winter. Seemed like it was a matter of tries to get it done but in 2019 and 2020 it didn’t work out. This season, after focusing on improving the crimp power, the line felt doable again and on the 2nd try I found myself on top!" More comments on his Insta

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Orion 8b+ by Geila Macia (13)

Orion 8b+ by Geila Macia (13)

Geila Macia, daughter to famous Spanish climbers Berta Martin and (c) Israel Macia, has done her second 8b+, Orion in Sadernes. "It is a long steep route on crimps and some slopy holds. There is a first section with non-stop climbing till a kind of a good rest before the crux. It is very powerful on some bad edges, a hard clip, and a long move from a very slopy hold to a small vertical crimp. Then just easy climbing. The weekend before I couldn’t climb until the rest but I could link all the hard moves in a row so I felt excited because I knew that I could reach the resting holds."

So you are strongest in your family now and what are your summer plans?
My mum is trying an 8b next to this route. She could climb it with one fall... This summer we will travel around Europe if the Covid situation alow us and I’m going to participate in Tout a Bloc in July.

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Stil vor Talent 8C by Stephan Vogt

Stil vor Talent 8C by Stephan Vogt

Stephan Vogt, who did Action Direct 9a in 2017, has done the first repeat of Giani Clement's Stil vor Talent 8C in Magic Wood. "What a feeling! Thank you, Giani for having the vision. For sure the hardest boulder I have ever done. Concerning the grade, I think that 8C is more fitting than 8C/+. This boulder really suites my style but I don`t think it is hard enough for the plus. Let's see what other people think!"

Last week, Stephan did his second 9a, Unendliche Geschichte 1+2+3, which shares the same 8B+ start as Stil vor Talent and then a 7C+/8A boulder finish. "After climbing to the sloper rail of the 8B+ you traverse left to a bad rest followed by a powerful dyno. From there you have a delicate slab in front of you that leads to the top of the Bruno block. It is the obvious way to top out this huge boulder without the use of a rope."

How come you have been able to step up the game so much after not that many hard climbs after AD in 2017?
As a full-time Master cinematography student, I have less and less time for training and climbing in general. That and some health problems during the past few years made it quite difficult to get out there and climb. This year is a strange one. Although I have not been training for over a year I feel stronger than ever. I believe the reason is that I can climb with no expectations and pressure. It is very much a mental game for me!

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