Michaela Kiersch strikes in Hueco Tanks

Michaela Kiersch is on a trip in Hueco Tanks (TX), where she has sent El Techo de Los Tres B (8A), Full Monty (8A+), Power of Landjager (8A), Rumble in the Jungle (8A+), The Thrilla in Manila (8B) and flashed Focus (7C+).

Can you tell us more about your time in Hueco thus far?
I sent El techo in about an hour but I had tried it before, about 5 years ago. Landjager took about 20 mins and I had also briefly attempted it some years ago. I repeated Rumble in the Jungle the other day and Thrilla is an alternative crimpy exit. I sent it second try from the bottom once I figured out my beta. The Full Monty took me 2 sessions and I’d say it's the most powerful [of these boulder problems mentioned].

What is next on your agenda?
I’ll stay a few more days to try a couple more projects before heading back home to continue my training for Margalef :) in March. Nice to know my power is high! Now [I need] to make sure the endurance is good.

“What an opportunity to discover a place like this! PEN-HIR! La Bretagne! Climbing above the ocean with so much atmosphere is not something I'm used to. I love being able to repeat these historic routes, which by the way, are sometimes tricky, with a rock type dependent on the weather conditions. I …

Silvio Reffo opens Lullaby (9a)

Silvio Reffo, who has 18 routes 9a to 9a+ under his belt, has done the FA of Lullaby (9a) in Covolo. ”Lullaby is the easy variant of a project of mine. In the last few months I have not climbed so much, because of the birth of my second child, but despite this in the last few weeks I have managed to climb many routes. I hope the positive trend will continue in the coming months, because the project I have in mind is really hard.”

Kerry Scott sends Grinch sds (8B)

Kerry Scott, who did three 8A+ graded boulder problems last year, has sent The Grinch sds (8B) in Eldorado Canyon. "The boulder definitely suits me very well! It’s hard to comment on the grade. People have opinions that are all over the place. It took me 3 sessions and I felt like I had some luck on my side because I executed all the moves perfectly and felt like I was in flow. For me, there was no margin for error on a climb this hard and technical.”

Leo Bøe completes Estado Critico (9a)

Leo Bøe, who did three 8c+'s last month in Oliana, has sent Estado critico (9a) in Siurana. (c) Esteban Lahoz

"In 2019 I saw my friend, Lucas Marques, climb Estado Critico as his first 9a. He motivated me to try the moves, but at that time they felt hard and impossible to link. I’ve wanted to revisit the route through the years to check in on my progress and now I finally had the chance. This time, the moves felt far within reach and already on day two I was falling at the end. The final move was the redpoint crux for me and I fell there in the following sessions. The ending is super techy and you’re going from thumb press to thumb press while sitting on a heel. It was incredibly rewarding to finally latch the final pocket/jug and send the route that gave me so much trouble five years ago! Perhaps soft for the grade, but harder than all the 8c+’s I’ve done."

How long have you stayed in the area and what is next on your agenda?
Next, I will sample the moves in La Rambla. My dream for this year is to find a 9a+ project that gets me psyched to fight hard. I have been here for two months and I’ll be staying 2-3 months longer in Spain! Let’s see what comes next!

Manon Hily does L'ideal Chimerique (8c+) and flashes an 8b

Manon HILY has redpointed L'idéal chimérique (8c+) and flashed La barre à un million d'année (8b) in St Léger. In total, she has now done 15 routes 8c or 8c+, out of which four this winter.

I spent five days in the end on L'ideal. This is a long route with a lot of « not natural » holds but very cool to train because there are two parts. In the first part, all the moves are powerful and long on good holds. You have to be fast and after that, you have a good rest with a small jug. Then you have a pumpy section before the crux with eight moves and then there is a very hard shoulder move. I took a little crimp to be closer and cross instead of doing the shoulder movement. I think this is the perfect beta for small people. You can fall so many times to the top!”

The french climber has been an active IFSC competition climber since 2009, winning nine youth medals. In 2022, she earned her first senior podium with a bronze at the European Lead Championship. Last year, the 29-year-old was #3 in the Briancon World Cup and now her goal is to qualify for the Olympics and later the European Championship. After this, her focus will be back on outdoor climbing.

Alizee Dufraisse completes Second life (8A+)

Alizee Dufraisse has done Second life (8A+) in Chironico. The 36-year-old is a former competition climber who has sent three 9a's and eight boulders 8B and beyond. In the Lead World Cup, her best result was a podium in 2009. Currently, she is writing her PhD thesis in Sociology regarding changes in professional climbing. (c) Marine Thevenet

Can you tell us more about Second Life?
After Kingda Ka (8B) in October I was very motivated and tried From dirt grows the flower left (8B+) a little but I kind of tweaked my shoulder so [I] had to find a boulder that didn’t bother me. I decided then to try The Crack Line (8B) which I think is a super line as well. It is hard!!! I couldn't send but I made good tries. At the same time, I wanted to have a "side project", especially with the idea of an endurance boulder as I'm returning to routes soon. So I started trying Second Life. It was cool, as I also learned about my abilities to go climbing alone, make it safe, and find motivation and confidence.

I have always been bouldering with someone because I didn't imagine I could do it alone and that it would feel different but as good in a way. So it's weird, how I could have put myself some limits in my climbing practice.

Jenny Buckley makes quick work of Forever More Sit (8A+)

Jenny Buckley, who did her first 8A at age 13, has sent Forever More sit start (8A+) in Brione. In 2023, the 16-year-old did ten IFSC Youth Comps and her worst result was #8.

Can you tell us more about the ascent?
All of my friends that I usually go rock climbing with were busy so I took two crashpads with me hopped on a bus and went to Brione alone. I warmed up quickly and remembered Forever More was quite a short boulder and relatively safe with only two pads. So I went straight to it and sent it in about ten minutes. It suited my style and overall I have to say it's a beautiful boulder.

What is your climbing background?
I was born in Slovenia but moved to Ticino 5/6 years ago and am a big fan of rock climbing but don't go outdoors often since training is currently the main focus. I'm mostly a competition climber so this off-season I have been practically only training hard indoors. Yesterday I had a day where I could go for a day to have fun and just enjoy the rock.