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Creature from the black lagoon 8C+ by Dylan Barks

Creature from the black lagoon 8C+ by Dylan Barks

Dylan Barks, who previously has not done 8C, has repeated Daniel Woods' Creature from the black lagoon 8C+ in RMNP. (c) Pablo Hammack

I believe it took me 8 sessions. There were a few things, but understanding the friction on the crux grip was a big one. I had trouble finding the right balance of how wet or dry my skin should be to stick reliably to a fairly glassy hold in the always dry Colorado air. Letting my body adapt to the superphysical style was necessary too. And, trying real hard on my last day of the trip!”



How can you explain your amazing progress?
I think there were two main factors. I’ve had a lot more time on the rock this year, being fortunate enough to have the availability and support. Additionally, every trip I have taken this year has been longer, giving me more time to really dial into things. I also think I just haven’t had the confidence to try things in the v14+ range, but I was able to do boulders in that range quite quickly this trip, so it inspired me to try!

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Spanish Caravane 8b+ (c) by Roxane Durand (36)

Spanish Caravane 8b+ (c) by Roxane Durand (36)

Roxane Durand has done her hardest yet, Spanish Caravane, a 50-meter test-piece in Verdon, giving it a personal 8b+ grade. Interestingly, the 36-year-old did her first 8b less than two years ago and now she has done 12 routes 8b and harder. Her grade pyramid is very wide and solid including also almost 400 onsights 7a to 7c+.

"My friends told me to go in this route cause it's a to-do route. It's soooo long, a real marathon, but it's my style, long and physical. The beginning I did quite quickly but I needed more time to find my betas in the crux in traverse. Finally, it took me only 6/7 days and 13 goes to get the route, and I didn't find any moves really hard, that's why I think it's not 8c but more 8b+. On the 12th go, I fell after all cruxes cause i didn't remember what to do! But the route is so funny and enjoyable that it wasn't a problem to make another try. Thanks a lot to Leo my belayer and support!"

How come you have done almost all your hardest routes 35+?
I never stop to progress. I moved to Nice 3 years ago and because of that, I climb much more outside than before. I had many injuries when I was climbing indoors but since I climb much outdoor it's way better.

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Pornographie 9a by Firnenburg and Scarperi

Pornographie 9a by Firnenburg and Scarperi

David Firnenburg and Stefan Scarperi have done Pornographie 9a in Céüse. Alex Megos did the FA last year, commenting on Insta. "The guy who bolted it named it "Pornographie" and I'd say it felt like 9a. I only gave it 4 tries so I wouldn't be surprised if repeaters find new holds and betas and it ends up at 8c+."

Only in 2021, it has had eight repeats and most did not use a knee pad as Megos did not use it during the FA. We asked Scarperi, in the picture, why he thinks it has become so popular and what about the grade?"
I think it got so popular because it's the only short route (15 meters) of this grade in Céüse! With kneepad, it's 8c+ because it helps a lot, without it's 9a I would say!"

Firnenburg: "The way I climbed it felt like soft 9a in comparison to the other 8c and 8c+ I did here. I am close on Le Cadre 9a which feels slightly harder."

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Northern Lights 9a by Josh Ibbertson (17)

Northern Lights 9a by Josh Ibbertson (17)

Joshua Ibbertson, who did his first 8b+ at age 12, has done his second 9a, Northern Lights at Kilnsey, after some 20 sessions. The historical route was bolted by Ben Moon some 25 years ago and then Steve McClure got the FA in 2000. Previously, it has only been repeated by Adam Ondra, Alex Megos and William Bosi.

"I first got on it in June, right after I did progress (8c+). It’s the line directly to the right so was the obvious next choice. The route is super sustained, so I saw it as a great opportunity to work on my power endurance (which was definitely one of my weaknesses). Obviously with it having so much history added to the motivation! Especially belaying Ben (Moon) and watching him get so close.

I didn’t do any specific training for the route apart from training on the route itself. Some days I would be too tired, or conditions wouldn’t be good enough to redpoint, so I’d just focus on doing links and laps on sections, for training. I fell agonisingly close a few weeks ago, after my foot got stuck round the rope! To add to the frustration the route got soaked a couple of days later. I had to leave it for a while to let it dry. Yesterday, it finally dried enough to redpoint from the ground. I was really happy with how the send go went I felt in control and relaxed meaning I could enjoy the climbing. I even surprised myself by shaking out on what was previously one of the crux moves for me!"


What is your next plan?
Go surfing for a few days. Then I need to get back to training. One of the things I really want to do next is try and find/bolt some routes of my own.

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Der heilige Gral 9a by Gabriele Moroni

Gabriele Moroni has done Der heilige Gral 9a in Frankenjura. The Italian is a former successful competition climber who got the bronze in the Euro Boulder Championship in 2004 at age 16 and then he stopped competing in 2018 when he also won his first World Cup. Gabri is also a Frankenjura expert having previously done six 9a's and one 9a+ there.

How come you have developed into being a Frankenjura expert?
I spent a lot of time in the Frankenjura in the past that I got to know many of the crags and harder routes. This was my first trip after some years of absence and now I am very psyched to spend more time there again. It was a last-minute decision to spend the holidays in Germany. Once I got to the FJ I realized the route was pretty dry so I immediately started trying it. During our 10 day stay, we had the typical Franconian weather with several rainy days. But eventually, the route stayed more or less dry and I could finish it on probably the last 2 days window of decent weather!

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