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European Youth Cup - L'Argentière  (2) Facebook

98: Yannick Floe GER - Johanna Holdfeld GER
00: Nathan Martin FRA - Urska Reposic SLO
02: Alberto Lopez ESP - Luce Douday FRA
Complete result

Interesting is that Germany, who has struggled with poor junior results for several years, did get two golds and some more good results. Laura Rogara, who was in the Lead WC final, was just fourth among the 16 year old's. Nikita Potopova, who has been totally superior in Lead this year, was just seventh.

21th 8B by Alex Puccio  Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureAlex Puccio has done her 21th 8B, The Shining in RMNP and she got it in just two hours in bad conditions. (c) Joel Zerr

"Wow, psyched! First day ever at this boulder!!! 90% of the holds were VERY damp and some were actually fully wet! Took about 2 hours of work. Would be a lot nicer to climb without a lake under the start. 2 really cool boulders!!!""

The runner up on the 8B and harder list is Ashima Shiraishi with 15, Isabelle Faus with 12 and Anna Stöhr with 8. Including two 8B+'s, Puccio has done 23. In total there are some 20-25 female who have done an 8B boulder depending on which grades you use.

8A+ by Nina Williams in Mt Evans  Facebook

Nina Williams, who previously has done 36 boulders 8A to 8B, has done No More Greener Grasses 8A+ in Mt Evans. "Pulled all the projecting tricks for this one. Tiger stripes, micro-beta, trying in various weather conditions. Turns out a little humidity is a good thing!."

First 9a by Moritz Welt (16)  Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureMoritz Welt, who did Masters of the Universe 8c (+) on his second go two weeks ago, has done his first 9a, Der heilige Gral in Frankenjura. Bouldering video with Moritz

"12 tries, 6 days - first go today... what a wonderful line with amazing moves! Maybe the best route I've ever done... Next thing is just to climb many more routes mostly in the grades 8c and 8c+ but also to do some more 9a's. The priority is just to climb routes where I like the line and the moves to have the most fun possible. I also love onsighting routes.

Dani Andrada: "It is harder to climb a 9a+ than boulder an 8C"  (15) Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureAfter a conversation with Dani a few days ago climbing together, he told us his concerns about the fast hatching of the boulderers and the late blooming for route climbers. First of all this is only an evaluation without acrimony, simply extracted from a personal conversation with him. (C) Talo Martín - Muérdago Films

"How many climbers can, in their first years of climbing, get to do the maximum grade in bouldering? I think quite a few. And now, how many people who in less than 4 years can climb a 9a+? They almost don't exist.

In bouldering I see that it is increasingly unnecessary to have a certain experience and in routes is totally the opposite. You need tenacity, psychology, baggage.. For me, it is easier to climb routes than bouldering. It may also be because of the age, but if I find a problem that suits me, that's it.

The real strength is up to about 32 years old. There are many people who have started to climb and have quickly reached to the highest level in bouldering but not in routes. For bouldering you don't have to climb very well if you have pure strength. There are some of the high-level boulderers who have problems to climb a 8a route.

Which is even more impressive is that almost the highest grade in bouldering has been climbed barefoot many times by Charles Albert during the last years, even downgrading a 8C+ proposal in Fontainebleau or the last repeat to Monkey Wedding 8C in Rocklands, and nevertheless on routes, just a few have done 8c barefoot. I have tried at least 8 times an 8c+ in Rodellar that I fell on the last bolts barefoot."

8B by Liting Xu in Rocklands  (3) Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureLiting Xu jumps two grades and does Fragile Steps 8B in Rocklands in just four sessions. She lives in Singapore which means that she just once a year can go for a climbing trip.

"I got my first 8A in Bishop back in 2014, but haven't really been pushing my grade on my other yearly trips. This year I told myself that since it was my 2nd trip to Rocklands, I wanted to find a problem I like to project on and experience what it's like to push myself. I love climbing outdoors. This really means a lot to me :)"

9b+ link done by Ondra in Flatanger  Facebook

Adam Ondra comes with great promising news for his 9c Project Hard in Flatanger on his Instagram

"Finally some progress on Project Hard. I did the "9b+ link", which is linking the whole route without the first 20m of 8b. Possibly my hardest route ever, except for the fact that is not a route at all... Yet."

Three female tops and Garnbret win again  Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureJanja Garnbret cruised the final route with ease and said it was amazing to do in front of the huge crowd but also that she was not even pumped. Anak Verhoeven, who made the first top, was pleased but at the same time frustrated as she thought they deserve harder routes as they train hard.

Including the male four tops, the commentators tried to say it was a great show but in the end everyone agreed that it was a big route setting mistake again.

1. Janja Garnbret SLO
2. Jain Kim KOR
3. Anak Verhoeven BEL
3. Tina Johnson Hafsaas NOR
5. Jessica Pilz AUT
Complete results (c) Eddie Fowke

Four Tops and Bombardi won being faster  (8) Facebook

Marcello Bombardi, who was #28 in the World Cup 2016, started the season by being #7 in the European Championship and now he won in Chamonix when he entered his first WC final. In fact, four guys topped the route and based on count back, the Italian won against Keiichiro Korenaga having topped faster! Complete results

1. Marcello Bombardi ITA
2. Keiichiro Korenga JPN
3. Yuki Hada JPN
4. Romain Desgranges FRA
5. Loic Timmermans

It should also be noted that 22 guys topped both the qualifications routes and the first route was actually topped by 42 climbers. In other words, this was possibly the worst route setting since IFSC started in 1989. The live-streaming was excellent with follow up interviews and also that for the first in 2017 a clock was visible in the screen and also for the climbers.

On the other hand, as it turned out to be a route where it was about climbing the fastest, it was difficult to follow who climbed faster.

Fifth 9a by Loic Zehani (15)  Facebook

Loic Zehani has recorded his third 9a FA in Orgon, Les mollahs du mollard, which took 15 tries. Video

"The route was bolted by Olivier Bert in the most overhung part of the Le Bergerie sector, located in Orgon. The principal difficulty of the route is the stamina first 30 moves. The last part is very easy. The other difficulty is to clip all the quickdraws because of the old wall of a sheep-fold just under the route."

Time will be an issue in the male Chamonix final  Facebook

The first male qualification route in Chamonix was topped by 46 athletes and the second route got 23 tops. Overall, 22 climbers topped both routes which is a new IFSC record since the World Cup was started in 1989. During the semifinal, we did not see any tops but three + three guys had the same results, meaning time will be used to split these guys if they get to the same hold in the final. In other words, we just might see the climbers try to climb faster than normal during the final.

Complete results The female semifinal starts 11:00 tomorrow and it will be streamed-live.

9a again by Markus Jung in Frankenjura  Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureMarkus Jung has done his third 9a in Frankenjura, Black Label. "Such a good climb! Doesn't feet soft for the grade. Had to struggle with the first boulder. Harder than Essential (which I also climbed on a hot summer day).

Chamonix World Cup  (22) Facebook

The Lead World Cup in Chamonix begins today with the qualification at 10.00. Updated results
Live-Streaming from the male semifinal today 20:00-22:30 and for the female tomorrow between 11:00-13.30. Finals 20:50-22:30 tomorrow.

9b FA by Adam Ondra in Flatanger again  (1) Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureAdam Ondra is getting closer to do his Project Hard in Flatanger, speculated to be the first ever 9c, by doing the FA of Move Hard 9b. "Good training link up. From the first crux of Move move right into the crux 2 of Project Hard."

This was the third 9B FA in Flatanger which can say have the highest concentration of hard core routes in the world. Previously, Adam has also put up four 9a+'s and one 9b+ FA. (c) Petr Pavlíček

8C FA by Vadim Timonov  Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureVadim Timonov, who has been Top-20 in the last three Boulder World Cups, has done his second 8C, Triangular face in Triangular Lake. "This is my long-standing project over which I worked for two years. About 18 powerful moves on very small crimps. Until recently, I thought it was impossible to climb in one part."

The Russian's next plan is the European Championship and after that doing a trip to either Albarracin or Magic Wood.

Monkey Wedding 8C in 30 min by Alex Megos  (9) Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureAlex Megos report on FB, with a nice picture from Natacha Jagd, that he has done Monkey Wedding in Rocklands in just 30 minutes.

"Did try it 3 years ago for half a day but thought I was too weak. This trip it didn't feel very hard at all! Totally suites my style I guess. Super excited for more! "

Three 8A's the day after an 8A+ by Alex Puccio  Facebook

Alex Puccio is really kicking it with seven 8A to 8B during the last two weeks. Yesterday she did three 8A's in RMNP and the day before, No More Greener Grasses 8A+ in Mt Evans. "What a day! Nina convinces me to wake up at 7am to do a early session at Mt. Evans, thought she was crazy, but it worked out!"

8A+ flash by Filip Schenk (17)  Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureFilip Schenk, who has won two Euro Youth Cups this year and was #16 in the European Championship, changed arena to Magic Wood where he flashed Jack's broken hear 8A+ and did another six boulders 8A to 8B.

"In this period full of competitions we decided to go one week to Magic Wood to have also some fun on the rock and relax from the comps. I went there with a list full of projects that I could try. Now back to the comps!"

The next comp that is coming up is a Euro Youth Cup in Bouldering where he won the Championships last year. The big goal is the Youth World Championship in September where he was #3 last year. As he already can do the Speed in around nine seconds, means in practice that he will be faster than most seniors going for the Olympics.

(c) Pietro Biagini, who was #4 in the Combined and who did eight boulders 8A and harder during the same trip.

Crutches but progress to 8B+ by Thomas Blaabjerg  (3) Facebook

Click to Enlarge PictureClick to Enlarge PictureThomas Blaabjerg has done his first 8B+, The Never Ending Story in Magic Wood four years after he had a bad accident which still forces him to use crutches during the approach. When it comes to landing on the crash pad he cannot land directly on his just feet, instead he has to fall down on his back. (c) Camilla Hylleberg

- In 2013, I had an accident climbing on the auto-belay in my local gym, that resulted in an eight meter long free fall leaving me with a broken wrist, two crushed heels and, according to the doctors, some bad prospects for the future.

Today, 4 years later, I still have to do a lot of rehabilitation; I still have trouble with walking, everyday activities and many things in climbing. However, if I’m careful, it’s still possible for me to climb hard, especially on rock, where it is easier for me to compensate for the lack of movement and strength in my feet. In climbing, there are a lot of things, which is almost impossible for me now, but there are still lots of things that I can do, so I’m very happy with that!

I tried the line on and off over 4-5 days, but it was only the last 2 days where I gave it actual send burns from the bottom. In the crux (the connection of part one and two) it all comes down to a hard right heel hook, which I found very difficult. Therefore I spent the first sessions trying to connect this part. When I did that, around 3 moves before the red point crux, I knew I was able to do the full line.

Manuel W

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Texas Toast 7c+, Cumber
Eduard Vendrell

Font picant 8a, Camaras
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DNA 7a, Kalymnos
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Si vols pots 7a+, Chuli
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W krainie dreszczowców
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Crazy Wolf 7a+, Erzgebi
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Like a squirrel 7a+, Ro
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What's the secret to lo
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Dreading the Mantle, Mo
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Falesia del Vauzo, Pali
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Old-school crags are getting popular again  Facebook
Frankenjura, Arco and Finale are three crags where sport climbing were born and they are all Top-20 in the crag data base. Based on the trend rating, we can see that 11-12 % of the added ascents are from the last 12 months meaning that they have all increased in popularity the last year. The crags that have lost in popularity are in general crags from France, Kalymnos and Railay Beach.
IFSC route setters need guidelines for harder routes  (4) Facebook
Based on the route setting fiasco in Chamonix, clearly the route setters need some guidelines for how hard the routes should be. Obviously, everyone knows that one top in the final creates the ultimate show but on the other hand such goal can easily ruin the show making the route to easy with multiple tops. Here are example of guidelines that IFSC could give to their route setters. Any further suggestions?

Quarterfinal male grades (female -2) (and #of climbers reached)
Third clip = 8a, Midways = 8b+ (26), Penultimate hold = 8c+ (3), Top = 8c+/9a (1)

For the semifinal and final, the grades could be the same as it is onsight instead of flash as in the quarterfinal. Further more, the route setters should opt for one third to be eliminated around midway and just one climber reaching the penultimate hold.

If there were more than one double top in the quarter final, the route setters should increase the difficulty with half a grade. If there are ties among the Top-5 before the final, the route setters should increase the estimated difficulty by one grade.

The above suggested grades will also help the inexperienced climber to understand if there is any idea to participate. Often it seems that the routes are too easy in the beginning, sometimes, also based on the new 6 min rule, turning Lead into a boulder battle instead of measuring who has the best endurance.
Black Diamond's Momentum very impressive  Facebook
Click to Enlarge PictureThe Momentum from Black Diamond has become my wife's favorite climbing shoe. She like that the discrete "Yoga look" instead of climbing in pink, orange or other bright colors. It is very easy to put on and off as well as it is not so sweaty due to it's great breathability. The last is flat and the midsole is very soft making it a very comfortable shoe.

What amazes me is how sticky and durable the 4.3mm NeoFriction rubber is. In other words, it performs really well for both beginners, standing on big holds or doing shorter routes, as well as for experts who do not want the down turned shoe.

Black Diamond will launch several different shoes in 2018 which are produced in Korea. Video presentation
New female Zlagboard record by Nika Potapova (14)  Facebook
Click to Enlarge PictureNika Potapova, who has been totally superior in the European Cup this year, has set a new female Zlagboard record with 02:02:94 in a Vertical-Life event during the World Cup in Chamonix. Video

Although many world class climbers had a go, only 12 climbers (10 male, 2 female) have managed to hang for more than 2 minutes. Ramón Puigblanque has the current record at 02:44.35. The organizers of the Zlagboard Contest promise 1,500€ for a new hangtime record. Nika will be able to go for the prize money when she turns 16 in 2019.
GriGri+ maybe too good for experienced climbers  (5) Facebook
Click to Enlarge PictureI have used my Grigri for at least 15 years as I think it works better lowering down than the Grigri2. Sure the new version can handle thinner and thicker ropes but as I prefer around 9.8, my old one is perfect.

The new Grigri+ is optimized for ropes in between 8.9 to 10.5 mm which is really impressive, as well as the anti-panic function. It seems almost impossible that even a beginner can drop you to the ground. There is also a top-rope or a lead belay mode but the difference is not so big and there is not a problem to lead in top-rope mode or vice versa.

From a safety perspective, Grigri+ is a big step ahead and you can understand that it will be popular for guides, instructors and indoor gyms. For an experienced climber, I would still recommend one of the first two models.

The Grigri+ has the advantage that it comes with a stainless steel wear plate but my 15 year old very well used Grigri still shows no sign of wear. The big disadvantage with Grigri+ is that the anti-panic function makes it harder lower down my kids and the same thing goes for lowering down my wife, when there is rope drag. More info
How to safely avoid wearing out anchors?  (21) Facebook
Click to Enlarge PictureIt is well known that you should not top rope directly in clip-in anchors as they wear out and thus are dangerous if they not are replaced. At the same time, it is hard to find an easy way how to put up an anchor that unexperienced or kids can remove simple and safe.

The picture shows a possible solution for cases with the rope always in the clip-in carabiner. Removing is done by grabbing the quick draw and first take out the red carabiner. Then the quick draw can be removed.

It should be pointed out that the best solution is to thread the rope in the anchor ring. As the ring rotate it takes much longer time wear out. Please suggest other possible solutions how to create a simple and safe top rope in a clip-in anchor.
Still low Speed/Olympic interest opens up for juniors  Facebook
Click to Enlarge PictureEven if it is just three years until the Olympic Games, and possibly just 24 months until the qualifications start, the interest among the best World Cup climbers are very low for Speed. In the last VC in Villars, not one high ranked female participated in Speed and only a couple males where only Jan Hojer showed good form. What's interesting is that Jan Hojer was #4 and Alexey Rubtsov #18 in Lead.

Previous Youth World Championships have shown that the youngsters are more interested and also that they in general are better Speed climbers. It just might be that half of the 20 + 20 males and females competing in Tokyo will be relatively unknown teenagers of today.

New not established top climbers to look out for might be; Sasha Lehmann, Filip Schenk, Pietro Biagini, Claire Buhrfeind, Elena Krasovskaia, Laura Stöckler, Eva Maria Hammelmuller, Andrea Kumin, Nathan Martin and Sam Avezou (16) on the picture (c) FFME) who was #18 in the European Championship last month. Last year he did 7.47 in Speed and is by that superior to all Lead and Boulderers in the third Combined discipline. Three more years and it could be he and Ashima Shiraishi taking the golds in Tokyo.

Among the girls Elena Krasovskaia (18) is fastest with 9.49 and in the World Championship in Paris last year she was #29 in Lead, #6 in Bouldering and #20 in Lead. As it stands, she should also be a contender for standing on top of the podium.
Motivation and Progress through Climbing instead of Grades  Facebook
Click to Enlarge Picture- That 6c+ does also look amazing! Do you want to top rope it?

Having climbed together with many of the best climbers in the world during the last 20 years. Steve McClure stands out, climbing and enjoying easier routes the most. During five very intensive days on the Swedish west coast, he focused purely on quality doing possible 30 routes in between 3a to 8a in eleven crags, with 7b as average.

Together with Steve was two of his old climbing friends 60 and 69 years old (Kieth Sharples and Rab Carrington) and Steve was actually basically enjoying putting up quick draws and top ropes to his good friends, including me at 52.

Having trad climbed for 20 years, Steve started sport climbing when he was 24. Although he was the first to do an 8b+ DWS, having done 8c trad and having onsighted or flashed at least 10 routes of 8b+ etc, we have yet seen his full potential around Sheffield. In total he has redpointed ten routes 9a and harder including his 9b FA this summer.

The reason for this might be that during travelling he has mainly focused on quality climbing instead of taking down big challenges and grades. Going abroad means normally having his family in the car doing wild camping and climbing easier. At the same time, around Sheffield where he lives, he has concentrated on doing some extreme redpointing where he keeps the beta in small diaries and always refines it. It just might be that this recipe of focusing on climbing is the best way to for a continuous motivation, avoiding all the anxiety that you normally increase after trying your project for the 100th day in a row without success.

(c) Keith Sharples captures when Steve does a 5c+ at Trellebystrands Camping. Within 15 min walk, there are 150 routes from 3a to 8b just by the fjord. Within 15 min in the car you are in the epicenter of trad mecca Bohuslän and in the picture Steve does the classic Electric Avenue 8a.

- - The Swedish westcoast has some of the most diverse climbing styles that I have ever experienced and in such a compact area. I have on the same day climbed some excellent sport, trad and DWS routes. What I find particularly impressive is that fantastic quality sport and trad routes can exist in perfect harmony side by side. And there is also so much potential for new routes in all styles.

My plan was to go for the onsight of Electric Avenue but thank God I did not try. I could see immediately that it would be far too hard and challenging to protect, which was confirmed on top rope. I checked all the placements on top rope, which were fairly spaced, then went for the lead. Pretty spicy!

Originally the line was bolted which would have made for a fantastic onsight challenge, but in its current state it is a very different, though equally amazing route.
Verhoeven and Saurwein in Yosemite  (1) Facebook
8b+ trad on bolts by Jernej Kruder  Facebook
Click to Enlarge PictureJernej Kruder, one of the most multi discipline climbers in the world, has done a trad ascent of the bolted route Umazana igra 8b+ in Kotecnik.

"I don't want to chop the bolts. It's just some people that say it is more ethical to removes bolts at such routes. At around ten meters you have two good cams and then you have to climb 15 moves (quite hard) and then you place one cam below that is hard to place...but still you need to do the last crux move above that."

This year, the Slovenian was #7 in the Boulder World Cup. He has done two 8C's, DWS 9b and several hard multi-pitches. At the same time, the 26 year old has started to do Lead and Speed comps so it might be that the big plan is also to go for the Olympics. Today he was #11 on the the first qualification route in Villars but did not make it to the semi.

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