Drew Ruana, finishing #13 in the Combined World Championship of 2019, had ascended one 8B+ when he stopped competing in last October. That meant he skipped the Continental Olympic qualifying event. Now, 15 months later, he has done 30 boulders 8B+ and harder including four 8C+, although starting full-time University Chemical engineering studies in September. The 21-year-old was awarded the title of 8a male boulderer of 2020. (c) Alton Richardson
How can you explain the extreme progress you made in 2020?
I didn’t really make progress I think, I was always that strong. It was just the first time I had time to invest on boulders. I’m just not that good at comp climbing compared to outdoors.
How important was the Olympic comp training?
I got physically stronger in a weight room but that was about it. Pressure training on sending a comp boulder in 5 minutes doesn’t translate to working a single move on a crux Boulder for weeks on end.
How did a normal week look like in 2020, including training?
Wake up, if I feel good I go outside to whatever I feel like. Usually, I’d just pick a project that looked cool and try it till I did it. I stopped training in general actually. I just liked being outside more than in a gym.
Which was your most memorable send in 2020?
Probably Sleepwalker (8C+) because I didn’t fully believe that I could send v16. Then I did it in 7 or 8 days and It didn’t feel all too hard so I knew that I could do way harder boulders.
How were you and your climbing affected by Covid-19?
I was lucky enough to not be too affected by Covid. I kept to myself and tried to stay isolated from other groups of people. Only went to boulders that I knew nobody else would be at.
What are your plans and ambition for 2021?
I’d like to just keep doing more new fun boulders, I just like being outside.
Any advice you can give to youngsters who want to progress?
Think long term. I switched my thinking habits from monthly progress to yearly progress. Also, nobody ever does enough. You can always push just a little bit harder.
Pol Roca Lopez, who has previously done two 8C's and eight 8B+', reports on Insta that he has done the FA of Purple Panther (8C) in Taradell. (c) Chris Sharma
"It was a long process. Chris Sharma and I saw this project and he was motivated to clean it up and leave it ready to test. After a long time, we found the method, the next part of the battle began which took about 3 months! It is a very physical and explosive block but at the same time technical for the feet! The first five moves are really intense but not very hard. The second part is the crux including two moves out of which one very hard. The third part is also intense, where it is easy to make mistakes. Putting all this together is hard!
Chris is close to send it. We have previously put up ten boulders in the 8th grade. There are still a lot of projects in the same area and some even more difficult!"
Martin Stranik has the last week done two 8B+ FAs: Leda Kost Low in Moravský kras and Teorie Tygra in Vesec . The latter is seen in the picture above. Stranik, who's also silver medalist in the World Championship of 2007, comments to 8a:
"It was minus 3 degrees, but no wind, so not cold. It took me three sessions. One session figuring out the moves, second session close to send and yesterday first go from the start. It was heavy snowing but fortunately, there is easy top out. I am just breathing into my hand for some 30sec, then I climb. I have more problem with my feet and stiff shoes. Friction in these temperatures is unique."
In total, the 30-year-old Czech has now done 65 boulders 8B+ and 8C. In the 8a annual ranking game, he is #4 including having done 17 FAs 8B and harder. Last year he also did his first 8c+ and 9a, so one might wonder how he could be so productive recently. "Just keep my training and motivation;) and maybe I am a bit more relaxed with my climbing goals because of little twins, they are the most important now."
Marine Thevenet reports through a video on Instagram that she has ascended I Portici (8A+) in Osogna. She finished #7 in the World Cup of 2014, and has in total ascended 61 boulders 8A to 8B+, mainly in the last two years. (c) Clement Lechaptois
"We went to this isolated boulder when the sun came back on Ticino! After 3 days in the snow, it was so exciting to find a dry boulder! We warmed up in the boulder trying the easiest movements at the beginning, then by linking some sections. And I sent it on the first go from the ground. The psyched was high :) It was really cold, so to keep me warm I have a full of tricks! Climb a lot / no big rest / put on and put off climbing shoes really often to feel the toes / have tea and chocolate and... last but not least: bring a sleeping bag to the spot :) I used it like a plaid when I rested. It was -2* ❄️🥶"
Stefano Ghisolfi has after 20+ days of projecting done the FA of Erebor 9b/+ in Arco. In total the Italian has now done nine routes 9b and harder including two 9b+'. (c) Sara Grippo
"It took me a lot of time, but I finally did it. Erebor is no more a project and became reality last Friday, with super cold weather and numb fingers I was able to climb the very first route I bolted in my life!
It has been a crazy process, begun after the first lockdown, bolted with the help (and the drill) of @sevescassa and tried for the first time last June, I immediately realized it was nearly impossible. After summer I started trying some attempts but only in the new year, I was able to clip the chain, after falling at the last moves more than 10 times.
In my opinion, I never climbed in Italy something as hard as this route, but I still think it doesn't reach the full 9b+ comparing it to Change (9b+) or Perfecto Mundo. Therefore my grade suggestion is 9b/+ that makes it the hardest route in Italy and my proudest first ascent, and I'm looking forward to someone will come and repeat it soon!
Last but not least, this is the "easier" variant of the route, and I already bolted a much harder version. This is another story (but I already thought "The Lonely Mountain" project would be a great name for that one."
What are your current 2021 plans?
Training for competitions and projects. Just lead climbing this year. I'd like to try Bibliographie or Silence and see if one of them is possible for me and try the harder version of Erebor.
by 8a Founder and Editor-in-Chief Jens Larssen including also Analyses, Reviews, Training, Polls and Opinions etc.
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