Keenan Takahashi, who did his first 8C+ in July, has made the FA of Ego Death (8C) in Mt Evans.
”I was shown a photo of this prow project in early July, and thought it looked like one of the best boulders in Colorado. At the time I was close on Insomniac (V16) and so focused on finishing that first before checking it out. After finishing Insomniac, I was feeling pretty exhausted after 2 months of hiking and projecting, so much so that I actually got sick. But I really wanted to go see it, so I went out with my friends Kevin and Ethan to the zone, which I hadn’t been to before, and finally tried the prow.
Immediately upon walking up to it, I knew it was something special if it was possible. It’s the sort of thing I’ve dreamed of since I started climbing, steep compression, at my limit, decently tall but safe, and such fun movement. An amazing combo of technique and power.
I surprised myself by doing all the moves the first session, but I was feeling in for sure my best shape and the style really plays to my strengths. Once I realized it was possible, I couldn’t get it out of my head, and was really fixated.
I had to wait to recover from being sick, which took a longer time than anticipated, but I finally went back with Katie (Lamb) and we tried for a few hours. She was second day on, so only tried a bit, but I seshed for a while and made some key links, doing it in two overlapping parts. For the first time since doing A Little Life, I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about the line too much.
After a lot of rest, I went back again, this time alone as Katie was resting. I found a new mental space I’ve never had before, fully calm and really happy to be there, truly not caring if I did it. I knew I’d try until it would get done. Then, on the wall, I climbed perfectly. The sort of moment I always wish for but have only had one other time, on Kintsugi in 2018. I barely stuck the crux and then had a minor error in the easier upper bit but very fortunately didn’t punt. I deal with ego like everyone else, but the name stems from the flow on the wall, as “I” really ceased to exist, there was just awareness and breath.
All told, for sure one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, in any aspect of my life.
As for the grade: Drew Ruana tried a couple of days, as well as Griffin Whiteside the year before. Drew was trying a different sequence at the top, which sounded really nails, but we both felt it was a big step up from V14s in that style and agreed V15 seemed more than fair. I’m curious what other folks think, but more than anything I’m just so stoked to have had such a fun time trying such an incredible bloc and hope other people like it too!”
Loic Zehani has done the FA of Tsuki no kitsune (9a+) in Chanac. In total, the 21-year-old has logged 70 routes 9a to 9b out of which 38 FAs.
"Nice route, the movements are so nice. The first real route in the ninth degree of the Mende area (the neighbour that I sent 2 days ago [Passing shot (9a)] rather 8c+/9a ). Bolted by Gauthier Leprince (for the first five meters) and my father. In 12 meters there is all: little slopers, shoulders, one and two fingers pockets, compréssion etc."
by Jens Larssen, Editor-in-Chief
Jakob Schubert reports on Instagram that B.I.G. aka Project Big in Flatanger, goes at 9c. The Austrian made the FA, of the Adam Ondra bolted route, last week during his 6th live-streaming attempt. (c) Alpsolut pictures - Johannes Mair
"I felt at a point where I had found the most efficient way possible for me, the whole route was worked out perfectly and I didn’t see any room for improvement. So all that it came down to was my physical & mental shape which I think are very good right now. Given the current information that I have and considering Adam’s opinion, it feels right to propose 9c and I’m looking forward to see what time will tell."
Here are the hardest routes in the world including the FAs and the repeaters;
B.I.G. (9c) 2023, FA Jakob Schubert
DNA (9c) 2022, FA Seb Bouin
Silence (9c) 2017, FA Adam Ondra
Excalibur (9b+) 2023, FA Stefano Ghisolfi
Mejorando la samfaina (9b+) 2023, FA Jorge Diaz-Rullo
Sleeping Lion (9b+) 2023, FA Chris Sharma
Suprême Jumbo Love (9b+) 2022, FA Seb Bouin
Zvěřinec (9b+) 2022, FA Adam Ondra
Bibliographie (9b+) 2020, FA Alex Megos, Stefano Ghisolfi, Sean Bailey, Seb Bouin
Perfecto Mundo (9b+) 2018, FA Alex Megos, Stefano Ghisolfi, Jakob Schubert
Vasil Vasil (9b+) 2013, FA Adam Ondra
La Dura dura (9b+) 2013, FA Adam Ondra, Chris Sharma
Change (9b+) 2012, FA Adam Ondra, Stefano Ghisolfi, Seb Bouin
Adam Ondra is listed five times as an FA. Stefano Ghisoli and Seb Bouin are mentioned four times, out of which one respectively two times, as FAs. There are, furthermore, at least seven routes graded 9b/+ out of which Seb Bouin has done four and he is known for his hard grades.
Molly Thompson-Smith, who was #10 in the Led World Cup in 2023, has done her first 8A flash, Verna in Mardale head. During the same trip she also sent Downstairs Mixup (8A) and Eagle Huntress (stand) (8A)
Can you tell us more about these ascents?
It’s been a challenging time recently so my partner Sam and I wanted to go to the Lake District for a couple days just to get away. I didn’t really intend on trying particularly hard during this trip, but friends of ours were keen to visit Mardale Head which is a small venue with a fair few hard boulders, and we ended up joining them there. I’d seen my friend Aidan flash Verna (used to be 7C+ but then a hold broke apparently making it harder) in a Wedge video recently, so the possibility of flashing it was in the back of my mind. It’s a pretty straightforward line of small crimps on a small boulder so it was an easy one to suss out from the floor, and didn’t take too much figuring out - just hard crimping! I’ve had sore fingers for a little while so flashing this, and it feeling pretty steady, was a really nice reward for all my patience and rehab lately!
We then moved up to the boulder that the group had come for, but with patchy rain and a big grey cloud coming in quick we didn’t have much time for us all to try Eagle Huntress. I’ve recently developed a new super skill of sending the boulder on the last possible attempt before the rain comes in, and that’s exactly what happened on Eagle Huntress stand! This was another small win for me as although the landing is safe, you end up climbing over a downward sloping boulder meaning you could have an awkward fall. Although I’ve made lots of progress mentally and physically with my confidence since I fractured my ankle last September, I still get spooked fairly easily when bouldering outside, so this one was a test of braveness for me and I was happy to not let my fear hold me back!
On our second day we headed to Sour Milk Ghill - a small but beautiful location near Scafell Pike. I wanted to try Downstairs Mixup - a pretty ratty 8A - as well as some easier classics. It took some figuring out and really small crimping, but I was psyched to walk away with another 8A send with some alternative beta for little people! It’s always an enjoyable challenge figuring out beta that’s better for short people so it was fun to play on this one!
Solveig Korherr has done Spanish Caravan (8c) in La Ramirole. "Revenge on this one after the heat wave. 50m tufa madness. Happy to do the kingline of the cliff. There are quite a few very big moves. It’s definitely harder for shorter people." (c) Jon Shen
Can you tell us more about the ascent?
I first went to La Ramirole at the beginning of August, when it unfortunately started to get very hot. I had quite a hard time on „Spanish Caravan“, especially in the lower part which shares the same start as „Bohemian Symphony“ which I wanted to do first. There were quite a few very big and powerful moves in between the tufas, where I most of the time felt very stretched. After one week of over 30 degrees at the crag, we decided to change destination and go higher in altitude.
At the beginning of September, we came back to La Ramirole, and luckily had much cooler conditions. The lower part of Spanish caravan started to feel better and better and a lot more flowly than before. It took me a few more tries to figure out my beta and find all the kneebars for the whole traversing upper part until I was able to send it. It was a great feeling to clip the anchor of this 50m kingline that traverses through the steepest part of the cave.
Connor Herson has made the first repeat of Ethan Pringle’s Blackbeard’s Tears (8c+), done in 2016, at the Promontory, after projecting it for seven sessions. The 40m crack was originally put up as an aid route by Matthias Holladay who had freed the first 6c section. There is also a glue-in anchor two-thirds up that goes at 8a.
"Blackbeard’s Tears is essentially a long, steep 5.13 crack to a good rest, to a hard boulder. The boulder consists of pulling a roof and really puts a lot of pressure on my right pinky. Two days before I sent it, I ripped a massive flapper there, so I had to change my beta to get that hold with my left hand instead. I didn’t really expect to send the day I did, but everything worked out and I found myself clipping the chains! Stay tuned for a short video ;)"
Carlo Traversi, who has been working on Blackbeard’s took the above picture and says, "Connor is a very talented climber, especially with cracks. You can get a no-hands rest [after the second anchor] in a few ways but Connor used a bat hang."
Connor Herson made his first 8a headline in 2018 when he did an 8c+, 2nd go at age 14. In the same year, he repeated The Nose 8b+ MP; and was #11 in the Youth World Championship. Last year he did the bolted route Empath 9a (+) on trad gear and later he was #12 in the YWC after being #2 in the qualification round. In August, we reported that he had done two 8c trad routes and a 9a in Squamish.
Last weekend, he was busy putting up the 13-pitch Hairline (8b) which summits Mt. Whitney (4 421 meters) together with Fan Yang. Connor has the full report on Instagram. Interview from last year: ”Multi discipline excellence”.
Jennifer Wood, who was #11 in her only Euro Cup in 2023, has done the FA of Paklinski Waves (8c) in Hvar. The 27-year-old did her first 8c this summer after previously only having one 8b+ in her bag.
“I’d never heard of Hvar until I saw they had a climbing festival there a couple of months ago! I did some research and it looked so good! Big caves full of mouthwatering tufas! I saw there were quite a few projects too so found out a little, checked they were open projects etc. and got stuck into one 2 minutes from our back door! It’s a really cool line, a pumpy tufa intro into a compression boulder followed by some crimpy squirming. I’d been told the route was thought to be around about the 8c range by people who had tried it previously and for me it definitely felt like the hardest route I have done by a little way so I think 8c seemed fair.”
What is your climbing background?
Largely a comp climber on the GB national team. But I love my annual trips to Kalymnos. I’ve done a few less comps this year though so got psyched to get stuck into harder stuff outdoors and branch out from Kalymnos. Funny that the climbing in Hvar was actually pretty similar!
Martin Tekles has repeated Jorge Diaz-Rullo’s Patanics (9a+) in Rodellar. Recently, a hold in the crux has been partly broken on the 50m endurance route. ”Such a long beast! I would go for 9a+/b in my opinion. On to the next.”
Can you tell us more about the ascent?
I started working on Patanics in May. After sending No pain no gain (9a+) in October last year it was kind of logical to try this route, as they both have the same middle part and crux. But the lower part (Pata Negra) and the upper part (Botanics) are different. In May I focused on the lower and upper part. I worked my way up by sending Pata negra (8c) and Pata-tral (8c+) two other variations. But conditions weren't good many wet holds or too hot. So I came back now and after some days with good tries, I could do it today. A huge mental battle to fight through this 60-meter-long beast. Conditions were amazing today so pretty happy that it turned out like this! You can use the picture, it's by me 😅
How did you manage to get the picture by yourself?
The photo was from last year. I climbed up and tied the GoPro with a piece of rope onto a quickdraw, looked for right position and then climbed down a few quickdraws. After a short rest, climbed the sequence and that how a got the photo 😅
What is next?
I have to search for new stuff, probably in Santa Linya or Margalef. Checking some routes for winter. Routes like Stoking the Fire (9b) or First Round First Minute (9b) look amazing 🤩
Yannick Flohé, who won the Brixen WC in 2022, has repeated Daniel Woods’ classic La force tranquille (8C) in Magic Wood.
”I tried La Force on the first day of the trip after I sent New Base Line and did all the moves quickly. I couldn’t really try though due to classic Magic Wood rainy weather. From then on I tried it two more session but it got worse every day. I feel like Magic Wood in September is either way too warm or wet.
On the 4th session I managed to dry all the holds with a fan after a heavy rain and basically sent the boulder. Unfortunately the slab at the end which is about 6a was still super wet and I had no chance to top out so I came back on the next day and climbed it all the way to the top. I fell only once after the heel hook move and about 30 times at the beginning when my heel slipped after doing the big move to the slot. Anyway nice boulder I’ll come back one day for the direct finish from Jakob.”
Ainhize Belar Barrutia, who did her first 8c at age 14, has done her ninth, Tsunami (8c) in Araotz/Oñate. Earlier this year the 17-year-old also sent her first 8c+ as well as Begi puntuan (9a) and in the female redpoint 8a.nu ranking , she is #1. "It’s a route that I’ve always wanted to try and I looked it every time I went to the Korea sector. It took me 5 attempts in total."
by Jens Larssen, Editor-in-Chief
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