Alexander Megos


11 January 2016


By Ignacio Sandoval Burón

Alex Megos ended the 2015 writing the following in the social media: "My first highlight of 2015 was 'Lucid Dreaming' my first ever 8C (V15). With 'Supernova' 9a+/b I did my HARDEST first ascent ever. TODAY! On my LAST GO of the year, I did my HARDEST route ever with 'FIRST ROUND FIRST MINUTE' 9b!!! Happy New Year everyone!"

The FA of this 9b in Margalef was done by Chris Sharma in April 2011 (video) and up until that moment it had only been repeated by Adam Ondra in February 2014.  

His performance didn't seem to tire him much nor was highly celebrated —neither for his send nor for the New Years Eve— since the next day he returned back to the El Laboratori sector to make short work of two more nine grade routes: first, he put together the link-up of the first few metres of 'F.R.F.M.' onto the left to join 'La Ley Innata', id est, 'First Ley' 9a+; and, not yet satisfied, he ticked-off the first ascent of 'La Ley Indignata', which has an independent start right to the left of 'F.R.F.M.' and exiting again by the second half of 'La Ley Innata', which was in the topo as 9a+? and he pointed at the grade with his fingers hiding the last two figures (the + and the ?), thus 9a. 

The day after, the German power house kept well lubricated with no fatigue symptoms, solving "my friend's project in the La Ermita sector" ('Hostia, no PUC') for which he proposed 8c+, before returning back to El Laboratori in the afternoon to belay his girlfriend on an 8a.

After talking to him in the sector for a while, that same night I sent him some questions via email and it just took him over one day to answer, even though he was most probably climbing all day long. However, due to internet connection problems while I was away from home on my climbing holidays I was unable to publish the interview amidst the frenzy of his incredible news.  

Pic© Nick Fletcher.

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- You've been travelling and climbing around the whole world. What's your top-3 climbing/bouldering spots with reference to their climbing quality, beauty and ambience?

Impossible to say! There are too many good areas. I really liked for example areas like Bishop, Rocklands, Hueco, Grampians,… for bouldering and Grampians, Red River Gorge, Margalef, Blue Mountains,… for rope climbing.

- You are best known for being the first to on-sight a 9a route with 'Estado Crítico' in Siurana. Is that the thing you're the proudest in climbing or are there any other?

There are many other things in climbing of which I am proud of! Doing Action Directe was for sure one of the highlights in my climbing career. Lucid Dreaming was the thing I worked for the longest so far. Supernova was my hardest first ascent! First Round First Minute was my hardest route till now! All of these things I am very proud of!

- You came to Margalef before Christmas and you ticked-off one 9a+ and one 9a. Then, you came back during the festivities and so far you’ve repeated ‘FRFM’ 9b,  ‘First Ley’ 9a+ and the FA’s of ‘La Ley Indignata’ 9a and ‘Hostia, no PUC’ 8c+… Not bad, especially if we have in mind that all of them were sent in three days in a row… I think you tried ‘FRFM’ during that first trip and you were already close to sending it. In the end, how many tries did it take you? And, what about the other routes?

Yes I tried 'FRFM' as well during my trip in the end of November. But I tried it on my 13th, 14th and 15th climbing day in a row and that was probably not the smartest. I just didn’t expect to have any chance. And then on my second day I gave it 3 tries and fell 2 times on the last hast move. The day after I gave it 5 tries but had to fly back the day after.
So I came back on the 30th of December and checked it out again. And on the 31st I gave it 4 tries.
'First Ley' was 1st try. But I knew the beginning already from 'FRFM'… The 9a first ascent was 2nd try.

Alex on the FA of 'La Ley Indignata', 9a in his opinion. Pic© Tim Dorlöchter.

- There are a couple of projects still to see an ascent in El Laboratori sector, ‘Toro Salvaje’ and ‘Culebras Gemelas’, have you checked them out yet? Have you got any other routes in mind for this trip?  

No, I haven’t checked out any of these projects. I think for the rest of the trip I won’t try anything super hard anymore. Just enjoy the climbing with my friends and girlfriend.

- Spain is sometimes mentioned as soft-graded. What do you think? Do the routes you’ve lately sent withstand the comparison with what you see in other places, especially in Frankenjura?

In every area worldwide I’ve been to I have had everything from soft to hard graded. I wouldn’t say the routes here are any softer or harder then anywhere else. Of course the soft routes tend to get more repeats and are more popular which leads to the conclusion that the area is soft graded in general. But that’s just an illusion I think.

- It seems like these last routes you’ve done lately are short power-endurance test pieces. Is this the style that suits you best? Is it similar to what you’re used to in your home crag, Frankenjura? What could you call your anti-style? ‘Chilam Balam’ has seen three ascents during 2015, is it appealing to you?

First off, Chilam Balam is not very appealing to me. I just don’t like the fact that its 80m long and it takes you over 1h to climb it. Its all about having the patience to rest for a long time and find good rest positions and that’s nothingI’m motivated for at the moment. 

My anti style are definitely sloper. Actually I would say that endurance is the style that suits me best. Power-endurance as well as it looks like :-)

On the FA of 'Hostia, no PUC', for which he suggested 8c+ at the La Ermita sector in Margalef.
Pic© Daniela Ebler. 

- How long are you going to stay in Catalunya for this trip? Do you plan to move to any other surrounding crags? 

In total I’m here since 5 days now, and I’ll stay for another week. I don’t know yet if I’ll stay here the whole time or if we’ll still move to another area.

- How do you prepare for a trip like this? Do you do any special training, keeping in mind the style you’re going to find in the area you’re about to visit?

I started doing a little bit of training for the type of climbing I’m about to do. But I haven’t done any super specific training for it. It basically means when I’m about to go on a rope climbing trip I include once a week an endurance session instead of just bouldering all the time.

On 'First Round First Minute', his first 9b.
Pic© Jannovak.

- Talking to you in Kalymnos I understood that at that moment you preferred ticking rigs off quickly than stressing yourself on super long-term projects. Has that changed a bit or you keep thinking the same?

I partly still think the same, but my thinking has changed a bit I guess. I’m willing to invest more time in projects and harder routes now.

- Have you ever tried a movement you couldn’t solve? If so, how was it? Was it a matter of size or distance?

Yes I tried already many moves I couldn’t solve. Some of them are at my training wall at the Café Kraft gym. Some of them are in routes I tried but couldn’t do…

I would say its never a matter of size. Its always the power which is the problem, not the size.

- What grade do you see yourself being able to send, both in boulder and in sport climbing?

Harder than what I’ve sent till now.

- Do you keep an eye in what you eat or you just eat whatever? What do you eat when you’re climbing outdoors?

Which athlete doesn’t have an eye on what he eats. Eat healthy, drink enough and do sports. That’s the key to success.

- How come that we don't see you that much in comps?

I just don’t participate in many comps. That might be the reason.

- Any advice you could offer to those aiming to climb harder?

Don’t use for every stupid thing an excuse. There is not too short, too tall, too heavy, too warm, too wet, too humid. There is just one excuse: too weak. 

So don’t use excuses, try harder.

- Have you tried trad, multi-pitch, ice...? Are you interested in any other aspect of the mountains? 

I have tried trad and multi-pitch climbing. And I like them both. Its just nothing I’m having my focus at the moment and its nothing I’m super interested at the moment. Maybe in the future…

Ape index:  +/- 0.

Favourite colour:  yellow

Favourite food:  Steak.

A book you’d recommend:  Revelations, Jerry Moffatt Biography.

A trip you still dream to make?  Madagascar.

Alex resting and having good fun with the other participants in the 2013 TNF Kalymnos Climbing Festival. Pic© Ignacio Sandoval Burón.

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