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Palindrome 8c by Jenya Kazbekova

Palindrome 8c by Jenya Kazbekova

Jenya Kazbekova, who previously has done four 8c's and harder back home in Crimea, has done Palindrome 8c in Siurana. "It took me three days to climb Palindrome. I climbed three days in a row and on the third day I was so tired, I didn't think I could climb it anymore. But Alex sent King Capella on that day, and I got very inspired. I decided to try, despite the tiredness. First, try I did to check out the moves and warm up again, then on the second try of that day, I did it." (c) Esteban Lahoz

How was that injury you had back in February this year and what is the status?
I had a bad fall in the bouldering gym, dislocated my elbow and ruptured ligaments, needed surgery to fix it. I'm not really fully recovered, my arm is still not fully straight and it is still painful to extend, but I'm able to climb again since June

How long will you stay in Spain and what about comps in 2022?
Only one more week in Siurana and a few more in Margalef. Yes, I'm planning on competing again🙏🏼.

The Ukrainian has been competing actively since 2010 when she won the Youth World Championship. Last year, she finished off by being #7 in the Combined World Champion. Her father, Serik, was also an active competition climber getting silvers in all three disciplines besides winning once in Boulder. Her mother, Natalia Perlova, has won a World Cup in Boulder and in Speed, she once made the podium.

Ziqqurat 8C by Marcello Bombardi

Ziqqurat 8C by Marcello Bombardi

Marcello Bombardi, who won the Lead World Cup in Chamonix in 2017, has done Ziqqurat (8C) in Gaby. On Insta he reports that he first tried it in 2017 but it was not until one month ago he managed to do all moves, when he saw Elias Iagnemma do it quicḱly.

"I was falling multiple times in the end, after the crux, between the 20th and 23rd move of the 24 in total (the embarrassment of falling there as a lead climber was quite high😅). Meanwhile, the climbing season in Gaby was coming to an end, as usual, I was late starting to try it, but one last day of stable weather and good physical shape was enough to send this beast!"

What are your winter plans and what about comps in 2022?
I don't have another project on the rock yet but I will find one quickly! Then in January, I will start the training for next year competition season. We still have to discuss and organize the plan with the federation but I think I will start to put some focus again on the combined.

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French Gangster 8c by Ola Przybysz

French Gangster 8c by Ola Przybysz

Ola Przybysz, who previously has done two 8c+', has done French Gangster (8c) in Yangshuo. It is the first 8c in China and it is also famous as Chis Sharma onsighted it and did opt to not use the chipped hold and the name changed from American to French gangster. Ola says she used the chipped hold but that she wants to come back and do it clean. (c) Chuang Liu

So how is being a rock climber in China?
It's a very exciting place to be a climber. It's a paradise for people who are a bit more adventurous. So much to develop. So much to climb... and with the search of rock, the culture you see 'on the way's is so unique. If you only go out of bitten track, and out of big cities...

How much has the climbing scene grown the last ten years in China?
In the last 10 years? It grew from a community of 100 climbers in the whole country and from 'lead climbing is too dangerous' to having over 100 gyms in just Shanghai, having Olympic climbers and over 50 climbers that climbed 5.14 grade. 'from zero to hero' in 10 years.

Flip Flopera 8B by Molly Thompson-Smith

Flip Flopera 8B by Molly Thompson-Smith

Molly Thompson-Smith, #11 in the Lead World Championship in September, has done Flip Flopera (8B) in Bowderstone. "First 8B in a session! Didn’t take long but the send go was very unexpected!!" (c) Sam Pratt

So how was it possibly to send it so quickly?
I went with Aidan Roberts who’s a local and he told me what beta he used so I didn’t have to figure anything out pretty much.

Wideboyzs comments their 750m MP under the motorway

Wideboyzs comments their 750m MP under the motorway

Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall, aka the "Wide boyz", report on Insta that they have established The Great Rift, which is a 750 roof crack under a motorway bridge! It took them four days and three nights, sleeping in a portaledge, to make a team ascent of the 7b+ to 8a+ with around 65 pitches. (c) Paul Diffley

Paul and Tom have made long reports on their Insta accounts and here are some follow up questions with Pete's answer first follow by Tom's - additional comments.

Is there a first pitch getting into the crack or how did you manage this?
There is a banking to the start of the crack and a short fence. From here you can easily reach into the crack. The start of the crack is about 4m off flat ground.
- Note the fence is an actual climbing feature. A bit weird to climb a 6a problem to start a massive roof crack :-D

How much noise and vibrations from the big trucks?
There is constant noise. Obviously, there is more noise early morning and late afternoon when people are going to and coming from work. Even though it sounds loud when you first get up to the crack, you don't notice the noise after a while, you become immune to it. The movement of the bridge varies. It is most noticeable when you are furthest from the pillars and something heavy sounding goes over the top. When you're climbing and have two hands in the crack it's not so much of an issue, it only really feels like a problem when you have to hang off one hand to place gear. It is nice when the crack squeezes your hand a lighter tighter, but that feeling suddenly wears off quickly when it loosens off after the large vehicle has passed.
- I think the variation in size whilst you're climbing is perhaps one of the weirdest/difficult things about the project. It's so unnerving to be climbing on a slightly moving/varying bit of rock. Hard to relax in a way!

So each pitch is like 12 meters long? Did you just push as long until you got tired? I mean, if you would have just continued with a 100-meter rope or so, you could have done an 8c or so?
Pitches weren't a consistent length, they varied depending on a number of factors; fatigue of the climber at that point of the day, movement in the bridge (and traffic), variations in the size of the crack. Pitch length constantly varied from 8m - 20/25m. Yes, theoretically you could have done it in 7-8 100m pitches, but it's just not feasible. To climb a 100m continuous stretch of this crack is much harder than 8c. We totally lost count of the number of pitches, but believe it could have been around the 60-70 mark.
- The interesting thing about this project is essentially the grade is a "how long Is a piece of string" concept. It's pretty flexible. In theory, if you wanted to make it 9b+ for every pitch you most definitely could... you just need a very long rope, an insane endurance, ha!

How does the line finish so you could get out of the crack with all gear?
The finish is exactly the same setup as the start; banking and fence. You climb down to the ground again.

Frontman Deluxe 9a by Dominik Bösch

Frontman Deluxe 9a by Dominik Bösch

Dominik Bösch, with a previous 8b (+) PB, has done Frontman Deluxe (9a) in Allgäu. "Love that line! In the middle of the crag and simply straight up on crimps."

So how was that dramatic jump in grades possible?
I never really climbed on a rope except for some comps a few years ago, just bouldering outside so I had no endurance for regular routes😅. I climbed two 8b‘s on the same wall really quick and tried for a few times an 8c but fell on nearly every try at the last meters… So I had to search for something really short and powerful, just like bouldering on a rope and Frontman deluxe was the perfect route although I struggled so hard with the lower boulder. The upper part really fitted my style!

Possibly, you could change discipline ;)?
Haha, that would be nice. I have only a few more boulders for projecting here in my area but really not that much. With a rope, there is much more to climb😉

So what could be next?
Now the bouldering conditions are coming so I hope I can travel more to Switzerland for some nice projects like Entlinge in Murgtal or something like that. But I have one or two boulder projects at home maybe I should finish them first :)

Off the Wagon Low 8C+ by Simon Lorenzi

Off the Wagon Low 8C+ by Simon Lorenzi

Simon Lorenzi, who previously has made the FA of "The Big Island sit" 9A (8C+), reports on Insta that he has repeated Off the Wagon Low* 8C+ in Valle Bavona. "In 2018 I got really obsessed when @shawnraboutou did the first ascent of the low start. So at the end of 2021, I decided that it would be the last year of obsession (or not) for this king line."

In total it took him some 12 sessions and in the end, he found a trick on the crux. "The trick is to take the hold with all my fingers including the thumb on the hold. I go full crimp with my thumb on the hold (not on my index finger like a normal crimp position)."

What about any specific or replica training?
Nothing very special. Just some dynamic and precise movement with my right hand in a spray wall.

The Belgian has been an active competition climber since 2011 and in 2016 he won the Youth World Championship in Lead. In the World Cup, he struggled to have mostly hard times getting into the semi. In 2021, he focused on Boulder and directly he got two results in the Top-7.

*It should be mentioned that the boulders have been referred to as a Sit start but that is actually not the case if you are not super tall. The FA was done with a "crouch" start which is popular in the USA.

Oriane Bertone, #3 in the Boulder World Cup in 2016, has made the FA of Arrow (8A+) in Ravine des Avirons. "Great roof with a perfect two fingers hole and a hard feet work. Four sessions two years ago and two sessions this week. Very happy to do this FA. May be 8A+. Please come and try this incredible line!"

Arrow 8A+ FA by Oriane Bertone (16)

Oriane Bertone, #3 in the Boulder World Cup in 2016, has made the FA of Arrow (8A+) in Ravine des Avirons. "Great roof with a perfect two fingers hole and a hard feet work. Four sessions two years ago and two sessions this week. Very happy to do this FA. May be 8A+. Please come and try this incredible line!"

Robbie Phillips reports on Insta that he has done the FA of What we can do in the Shadows 8c (E10 7a). "It is hard but safe. If the fall at the top had been dangerous I’d have considered E11, but in the end, it felt like a runout sport climb :) I found the line in summer 2020 and did an easier version of it, then tried the hard line into autumn 2020 then again in autumn 2021 and sent it in October. Comparing with other hard trad lines it seems to stack up, but there are always anomalies where the climbing might not be very hard, but perhaps is very insecure (like Once upon a time)."

Later the same day, Dave MacLeod repeated. In practice, 8c means that it is one of the very hardest trad routes in the world.

What we do in the shadow 8c (E10 7a) by Robbie Phillips and Dave MacLeod (43)

Robbie Phillips reports on Insta that he has done the FA of What we can do in the Shadows 8c (E10 7a). "It is hard but safe. If the fall at the top had been dangerous I’d have considered E11, but in the end, it felt like a runout sport climb :) I found the line in summer 2020 and did an easier version of it, then tried the hard line into autumn 2020 then again in autumn 2021 and sent it in October. Comparing with other hard trad lines it seems to stack up, but there are always anomalies where the climbing might not be very hard, but perhaps is very insecure (like Once upon a time)."

Later the same day, Dave MacLeod repeated. In practice, 8c means that it is one of the very hardest trad routes in the world.

Enigma 8B by Tristan Chouvy (11)

Enigma 8B by Tristan Chouvy (11)

Tristan Chouvy, who just did Lacrima 8B, reports with an Insta video that he has done the second repeat of Philippe Le Denmat's Enigma 8B in Fontainebleau. It was put up in 1992 meaning it was possibly the first 8B in the world. Later, one of the crux holds were broken and although many of the locals have tried it the first repeat was not done until 2019 by Christophe Bichet, without commenting on the grade. (c) Pierre-Arnaud

The 144 cm tall comments: "It is a beautiful climb with very intense moves on tiny sharp crimps and small footholds that require finger strength, extreme precision and balance. Each one of the first 4 to 5 moves required a lot of work and at some point, I thought that I could never reach."

His 191 cm tall father with 7C as PB comments that after the send his son started to playing with a potential sit-start of Enigma. "We thought it would be hard to reach and hold the first two crimps but it wasn't (at least for Tristan)."

How much does he climb weekly and where?
He climbs up to three times a week, only outside.

What kind of shoes is he using and size?
He uses La Sportiva Skwama 36.5 that are generously offered by La Sportiva Italia. He's tried different La Sportiva models and has stuck with the Skwama for the time being.

How was the process taking it down?
He started working on Enigma in May for a few short sessions until he had all the moves settled except the slightly dynamic move to the left. Then he stopped trying as it was too hard and seemed impossible to even reach the hold. After Lacrima we went back straight to Enigma (last Saturday) and that impossible move went at the second go. But he had to stop to preserve his skin and yesterday was the day as it was dry and cold and he had enough skin to try again. That one move and the one before still proved difficult as there was no room whatsoever for error or lack of precision. The second half of the climb was reachy but he had worked it so that the risk of falling there was minimal.