LATEST NEWS

 ANGIE SCARTH-JOHNSON

By Ignacio Sandoval Burón & Elda Rodríguez Sela


First contact I had with Angie and her family was last year when I chatted with her mum, Claudia, when Carlos Logroño 'Citro' rung me and put me in contact with them. He knew that we wanted to speak to each other to clear up any issues regarding whether she sent her first 8c, 'Welcome to Tijuana' in Rodellar (Spain).

I expected it to be uneasy since some few days before we published in the Spanish site a piece of news saying that in reality she hadn't climbed the original line but a variation at the bottom skipping a first crux, which made the climb just an 8b+... Much to my surprise, the conversation went well, she explained to me why she did it wrongly (read the interview below for her explanations) and I, kind of feeling guilty for spoiling such a young girl´s thrill after such an awesome performance, expounded that we received several messages from locals about her mistake and just felt the necessity to do what any good journalist should do: to present the facts.

Later on, during a climbing trip in which I shared the car with a family of friends, I had to explain the situation and dilemma of whether to publish these sort of news where kids are involved to Elda, a girl more or less the same age as Angie, who in turn helped me with some questions for this interview.


Pic© The North Face Australia

- When did you start and how did you discover climbing?

I started climbing when I was 7. I climbed everything around the house and loved climbing trees but I had an accident and fell out of a tree. That’s when my mum took me to a climbing gym.


- Did it take you long since you started climbing until you got to climb outdoors? How was that first day in real rock? Did you feel scared by heights or run-outs or anything else?

I was too young to lead at a climbing gym so some of the local climbers who saw potential in me took me outdoors and taught me. This was about 6 months after I started climbing. Not long after I sent on lead my first 6c at 7 years old. This is when I really did realize that all I wanted to do was climb I was hooked. 

I wasn’t really scared of heights but I was and still am scared of run out routes.

Pic© Simon CarterThe North Face Australia

- How much do you train nowadays in a normal week?

I train about 3 days a week on my bouldering wall at home and then I go outdoors on the weekends.


- Do you count with the help of a trainer?

I don’t have a trainer, I tried for a couple of months having an online trainer but it didn’t work out, so I just went back to training myself. 

I write my own programs and have done this since I was 8. I find that this really works for me. 

The hardest thing for me is keep myself motivated. I do this by setting goals, climbing with my adult friends and traveling overseas.


- How are you doing with school with all that time you spend training, climbing outdoors and specially with your trips abroad?

At the moment, while I’m traveling, I do online schooling called Distance Education.  In Australia if you travel a lot for your career or your parents travel you have the option to do this type of schooling. They believe that learning History and different cultures enhances learning.


- Have you always been specially good at P.E.?

I have always been really good at all sports, even though I am very short (139 cm). I play basketball and I am very good at running and shot put.


- What is the subject with which you struggle the most and what's your favourite?

I hate Maths the most, I am really bad at it. P.E. and History are my favorite subjects at school.


- We've heard that some of your family comes from Spain. Is that true? If so, can you tell us that story?

My grandparents come from Cádiz, they migrated to Uruguay, where my mum was born and then they migrated to Australia. Even though I was born in Australia, I am a Spanish citizen as well. This makes coming to Spain for a long time easier. 



- Do you have any siblings? If so, do they climb? And, what about your parents?

I have 2 older sisters, Deseire (23) and Gabrielle (17). Gabrielle likes to climb indoors and works at a climbing gym in Australia. 

My parents don’t really climb. My Dad tries sometimes and has done a multi-pitch with me but he enjoys belaying the most. Even though they don’t really climb, they have learnt everything about the sport to help me.


- Last year you got confused with whether you climbed 'Welcome to Tijuana' 8c or 'Tijuanita' 8b+ basically because of the poor information in the topo you got.

I was not confused about climbing ‘Welcome to Tijuana’. There was no information at all about another route to the left. I am aware that many others have climbed the route the same way that I did and claimed it as an 8c, maybe because they just believe that they had found an easier way though not knowing any better. You just need to look at YouTube and you will see people climbing it this way. 

I started on ‘Welcome…’, went slightly left after the second draw less than a meter nowhere near the left tufa and went back in to clip the third draw. I chose to call it as an 8b+ because I didn’t want any criticism in the future from people thinking I did not do the correct line. I also thought it was better to be honest about how I did the route. This doesn’t mean that I think I did it incorrectly, I just found an easier way of doing it, just like many other climbers had.


- How did you feel when you send the route and how when you found out that you really did the softer version?

I was really upset as you can imagine after people said I didn’t do it but my parents told me it didn’t matter and that I was special and all my achievements were great no matter what.


Angie together with Carlos Logroño 'Citro'. Pic© Carlos Logroño.

- After that you tried to send the original harder line and recently did it... ¡Awesome! Could you explain us how the whole process went?

When I first arrived in Spain , I really didn’t think that I wanted to redo this route. I felt that it wouldn’t give me any psyche, so what would be the point?

But about a month ago, on our first trip to Rodellar, I decided to go and have a look at it again and saw that Carlos Logroño 'Citro' had moved the bolts as he said he would, so that no one else would be confused again. This made me want to give it a go and try to send it on the original line but felt that I wanted to do other routes before trying it again. 

I’ve now come back to Rodellar and was psyched to do it. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do both ways of this route. I saw it as a mental challenge for myself. The bottom crux / boulder problem on both 'Tijuanita' and 'Welcome to Tijuana' was not the difficult part for me. The crux for me was at the top, just before the chains. This was very reachy for someone of my height and I had to use really small crimps, the same as what it was last year. 

When I sent the route I felt satisfied that I can now say that I truly sent it both ways and am really happy that I didn’t let it beat me mentally. 


- Now you've just sent your first 8c route with 'L'espiadimonis' in Margalef. Congratulations! Can you just explain us what the whole process was?

The route 'L'espiadimonis' was recommend to me by Iker Pou and Dani Andrada, so I thought I would give it a go.

All together it took me 4 days to send. But it was really cold in Margalef and because I had to use one finger monos I had to use the colder days to rest or climb other things. I didn't want to injure my finger so I would stop climbing if I felt to cold. No moves in the route were reachy for me but I did have to use extra intimidate holds to what most adults would use. I was so happy when I sent it.

Pic© Simon CarterThe North Face Australia

- Still with some time left to climb in Spain, what's your next goal?

I am going back to Australia on the 10th of June. I will be in Spain till May and then go to the South of France. I have already achieved everything I set out to do, so I just want to climb routes that I really like and that get me psyched. If I find a climb that I like and challenges me I will attempt it. I am always wanting to improve my onsighting because this is my weakness. Mainly because of my height, it is not always easy to see intermediates in a climb on the onsight.


- It seems you always climb your hardest routes here in Spain. Is it that you train during the rest of the year to perform in your trips to Spain, you like the climbs here better, you don't climb that much at home...?

Spain is my favorite place in the world so far to climb in because I love climbing pockets and crimps. There is so much climbing here it’s awesome you don’t have to settle for climbing something you’re not psyched on because there is so much options and different styles. I look forward to coming here every year. It’s what keeps me motivated. 

Climbing in Australia is very different. It is harder for very short people because the moves are very reachy and there are very limited intermediates and little option for footers. Australia has such amazing climbing areas and there is so much I want to do there when I get a little taller.


- What's the climbing style that fits you best?

I am mainly a sports climber, but I like short powerful climbing. This is my strength.


- Do you participate in competitions? If so, how are you doing in them?

I have been the Austrailan National Lead champion for Youth D category since I was 7 and Australian National champion Youth D for three years up to 2014. Last year, in 2015, my grandmother and grandfather passed away and I was unable to attend Nationals for bouldering. 

Pic© The North Face Australia

- Who are your climbing heroes?

I have so many climbing heroes or climbers that I admire, but I think that Ashima is a climber that has pushed the limits, especially for female climbers.


- Do you practice any other sports?

I play a lot of different sports at school; basketball, running and soccer.


- Do you practice any other climbing discipline (bouldering, trad, multi-pitch, ice...)? If so, how much you like and do them?

I really like bouldering but I don’t really get much opportunity to do it. Where I live in the Blue Mountains in Australia there is a lot of multi-pitches so I do like doing these and am very lucky to do these often. I have just started to learn how to trad climb but I find it really scary.


- What's your dream climbing trip?

Every year I have the dream climbing trip, because every year I get stronger, a little taller and everything is possible again.


- Can you tell us what are your best performances in flash, onsight and red point both in bouldering and sports climbing so far?

My best performance for onsighting is 7c. Flash is the same as my on-sighting because I usually go climbing with my parents and they can’t really help me with beta. I am so short that most people’s beta doesn’t really help me anyway. Redpoint 8c and bouldering V9 / 7C. Maybe next year I will start to concentrate a little more on bouldering.





INTERVIEWS

Sunday, 1 May

Angie Scarth-Johnson

 ANGIE SCARTH-JOHNSON

By Ignacio Sandoval Burón & Elda Rodríguez Sela


First contact I had with Angie and her family was last year when I chatted with her mum, Claudia, when Carlos Logroño 'Citro' rung me and put me in contact with them. He knew that we wanted to speak to each other to clear up any issues regarding whether she sent her first 8c, 'Welcome to Tijuana' in Rodellar (Spain).

I expected it to be uneasy since some few days before we published in the Spanish site a piece of news saying that in reality she hadn't climbed the original line but a variation at the bottom skipping a first crux, which made the climb just an 8b+... Much to my surprise, the conversation went well, she explained to me why she did it wrongly (read the interview below for her explanations) and I, kind of feeling guilty for spoiling such a young girl´s thrill after such an awesome performance, expounded that we received several messages from locals about her mistake and just felt the necessity to do what any good journalist should do: to present the facts.

Later on, during a climbing trip in which I shared the car with a family of friends, I had to explain the situation and dilemma of whether to publish these sort of news where kids are involved to Elda, a girl more or less the same age as Angie, who in turn helped me with some questions for this interview.


Pic© The North Face Australia

- When did you start and how did you discover climbing?

I started climbing when I was 7. I climbed everything around the house and loved climbing trees but I had an accident and fell out of a tree. That’s when my mum took me to a climbing gym.


- Did it take you long since you started climbing until you got to climb outdoors? How was that first day in real rock? Did you feel scared by heights or run-outs or anything else?

I was too young to lead at a climbing gym so some of the local climbers who saw potential in me took me outdoors and taught me. This was about 6 months after I started climbing. Not long after I sent on lead my first 6c at 7 years old. This is when I really did realize that all I wanted to do was climb I was hooked. 

I wasn’t really scared of heights but I was and still am scared of run out routes.

Pic© Simon CarterThe North Face Australia

- How much do you train nowadays in a normal week?

I train about 3 days a week on my bouldering wall at home and then I go outdoors on the weekends.


- Do you count with the help of a trainer?

I don’t have a trainer, I tried for a couple of months having an online trainer but it didn’t work out, so I just went back to training myself. 

I write my own programs and have done this since I was 8. I find that this really works for me. 

The hardest thing for me is keep myself motivated. I do this by setting goals, climbing with my adult friends and traveling overseas.


- How are you doing with school with all that time you spend training, climbing outdoors and specially with your trips abroad?

At the moment, while I’m traveling, I do online schooling called Distance Education.  In Australia if you travel a lot for your career or your parents travel you have the option to do this type of schooling. They believe that learning History and different cultures enhances learning.


- Have you always been specially good at P.E.?

I have always been really good at all sports, even though I am very short (139 cm). I play basketball and I am very good at running and shot put.


- What is the subject with which you struggle the most and what's your favourite?

I hate Maths the most, I am really bad at it. P.E. and History are my favorite subjects at school.


- We've heard that some of your family comes from Spain. Is that true? If so, can you tell us that story?

My grandparents come from Cádiz, they migrated to Uruguay, where my mum was born and then they migrated to Australia. Even though I was born in Australia, I am a Spanish citizen as well. This makes coming to Spain for a long time easier. 



- Do you have any siblings? If so, do they climb? And, what about your parents?

I have 2 older sisters, Deseire (23) and Gabrielle (17). Gabrielle likes to climb indoors and works at a climbing gym in Australia. 

My parents don’t really climb. My Dad tries sometimes and has done a multi-pitch with me but he enjoys belaying the most. Even though they don’t really climb, they have learnt everything about the sport to help me.


- Last year you got confused with whether you climbed 'Welcome to Tijuana' 8c or 'Tijuanita' 8b+ basically because of the poor information in the topo you got.

I was not confused about climbing ‘Welcome to Tijuana’. There was no information at all about another route to the left. I am aware that many others have climbed the route the same way that I did and claimed it as an 8c, maybe because they just believe that they had found an easier way though not knowing any better. You just need to look at YouTube and you will see people climbing it this way. 

I started on ‘Welcome…’, went slightly left after the second draw less than a meter nowhere near the left tufa and went back in to clip the third draw. I chose to call it as an 8b+ because I didn’t want any criticism in the future from people thinking I did not do the correct line. I also thought it was better to be honest about how I did the route. This doesn’t mean that I think I did it incorrectly, I just found an easier way of doing it, just like many other climbers had.


- How did you feel when you send the route and how when you found out that you really did the softer version?

I was really upset as you can imagine after people said I didn’t do it but my parents told me it didn’t matter and that I was special and all my achievements were great no matter what.


Angie together with Carlos Logroño 'Citro'. Pic© Carlos Logroño.

- After that you tried to send the original harder line and recently did it... ¡Awesome! Could you explain us how the whole process went?

When I first arrived in Spain , I really didn’t think that I wanted to redo this route. I felt that it wouldn’t give me any psyche, so what would be the point?

But about a month ago, on our first trip to Rodellar, I decided to go and have a look at it again and saw that Carlos Logroño 'Citro' had moved the bolts as he said he would, so that no one else would be confused again. This made me want to give it a go and try to send it on the original line but felt that I wanted to do other routes before trying it again. 

I’ve now come back to Rodellar and was psyched to do it. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do both ways of this route. I saw it as a mental challenge for myself. The bottom crux / boulder problem on both 'Tijuanita' and 'Welcome to Tijuana' was not the difficult part for me. The crux for me was at the top, just before the chains. This was very reachy for someone of my height and I had to use really small crimps, the same as what it was last year. 

When I sent the route I felt satisfied that I can now say that I truly sent it both ways and am really happy that I didn’t let it beat me mentally. 


- Now you've just sent your first 8c route with 'L'espiadimonis' in Margalef. Congratulations! Can you just explain us what the whole process was?

The route 'L'espiadimonis' was recommend to me by Iker Pou and Dani Andrada, so I thought I would give it a go.

All together it took me 4 days to send. But it was really cold in Margalef and because I had to use one finger monos I had to use the colder days to rest or climb other things. I didn't want to injure my finger so I would stop climbing if I felt to cold. No moves in the route were reachy for me but I did have to use extra intimidate holds to what most adults would use. I was so happy when I sent it.

Pic© Simon CarterThe North Face Australia

- Still with some time left to climb in Spain, what's your next goal?

I am going back to Australia on the 10th of June. I will be in Spain till May and then go to the South of France. I have already achieved everything I set out to do, so I just want to climb routes that I really like and that get me psyched. If I find a climb that I like and challenges me I will attempt it. I am always wanting to improve my onsighting because this is my weakness. Mainly because of my height, it is not always easy to see intermediates in a climb on the onsight.


- It seems you always climb your hardest routes here in Spain. Is it that you train during the rest of the year to perform in your trips to Spain, you like the climbs here better, you don't climb that much at home...?

Spain is my favorite place in the world so far to climb in because I love climbing pockets and crimps. There is so much climbing here it’s awesome you don’t have to settle for climbing something you’re not psyched on because there is so much options and different styles. I look forward to coming here every year. It’s what keeps me motivated. 

Climbing in Australia is very different. It is harder for very short people because the moves are very reachy and there are very limited intermediates and little option for footers. Australia has such amazing climbing areas and there is so much I want to do there when I get a little taller.


- What's the climbing style that fits you best?

I am mainly a sports climber, but I like short powerful climbing. This is my strength.


- Do you participate in competitions? If so, how are you doing in them?

I have been the Austrailan National Lead champion for Youth D category since I was 7 and Australian National champion Youth D for three years up to 2014. Last year, in 2015, my grandmother and grandfather passed away and I was unable to attend Nationals for bouldering. 

Pic© The North Face Australia

- Who are your climbing heroes?

I have so many climbing heroes or climbers that I admire, but I think that Ashima is a climber that has pushed the limits, especially for female climbers.


- Do you practice any other sports?

I play a lot of different sports at school; basketball, running and soccer.


- Do you practice any other climbing discipline (bouldering, trad, multi-pitch, ice...)? If so, how much you like and do them?

I really like bouldering but I don’t really get much opportunity to do it. Where I live in the Blue Mountains in Australia there is a lot of multi-pitches so I do like doing these and am very lucky to do these often. I have just started to learn how to trad climb but I find it really scary.


- What's your dream climbing trip?

Every year I have the dream climbing trip, because every year I get stronger, a little taller and everything is possible again.


- Can you tell us what are your best performances in flash, onsight and red point both in bouldering and sports climbing so far?

My best performance for onsighting is 7c. Flash is the same as my on-sighting because I usually go climbing with my parents and they can’t really help me with beta. I am so short that most people’s beta doesn’t really help me anyway. Redpoint 8c and bouldering V9 / 7C. Maybe next year I will start to concentrate a little more on bouldering.





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REVIEW

Sunday, 28 February

Outdoor Research's DEVIATOR HOODY

Outdoor Research's Deviator Hoody

By Esteban Diez Fernández & Ignacio Sandoval Burón


Throughout this past year we’ve been using several Outdoor Research items of clothing as we have previously informed you about in several  reviews (* see links at the end of this article). Without a doubt our favourite one has to be the Deviator Hoody, for both male and female.

Esteban Diez trying the Deviator Hoody jacket climbing on a cool autumn day in Valdehuesa (León).
Pic
© Ignacio Sandoval Burón.


It's a lightweight jacket primarily intended for aerobic activities or if you're looking for a mid-layer with insulation. It's made out of two different types of fabric:


1.- The Polartec Alpha©, a kind of thin Primaloft that covers the hips and torso. This fabric provides warmth and/or isolation to the garment. The internal part made out of this fabric carries a thin mesh intended to wick moisture. The external part is of extreme thinness therefore, we need to be extra careful with it so as not to get it caught on something that could eventually rip it.

2.- The other fabric used in the hood, sleeves and back is the Polartec Power Grid©, a thin stretchy fleece made up of small squares, with less heating power but more effective when it comes to providing breathability and comfortability; hence, why it has been placed where mobility is needed (arms, hood and back). In comparison, this is a tougher fabric which has not sufffered any tears despite of the numerous snag ons we’ve had.


On a different note, it has been awarded as one of the best running garment this year, field we have not yet tried. However, in sport climbing and multi-pitch its performance has been very satisfactory.

Click here to see this garment's assorted colours in its male version.Click here to see this garment's assorted colours in its female version.

text-autospace:none">We feel it's intended for activities that are more or less constant and that take place on not too low temperatures seeing as it's quite thin and it will barely keep us warm when the wind chill factor is minus 5/10º C  an important aspect to keep in mind when we're using it while hanging around at the bottom of the cliff or hanging from an anchor waiting for your partner to climb that pitch with freezing temperatures—. For temps above these, for high physical activities, etc. Its a very interesting choice. We've climbed loads of routes in it with a t-shirt underneath and the freedom of movement and its adjustability has been fantastic.

Karisse Fa belaying in the shade in Piedrasecha (León).
Pic
© Esteban Diez Fernández.



The following are other interesting features this hoody has:

- Helmet compatible hood.

- Full center front zipper for topos, mobile, keys, etc.

- Thumb loops on the sleeves.

- Lightweight (304 gr.).

- You can compress the whole item into one of the pockets which has a key clip which you can hang off your harness if need be.

- The inside hem drawcord facilitates a perfect adjustment to stop body warmth loss.






* The other Outdoor research items of clothing we have been using this season and which we have published reviews on, are:

- Helium II Jacket.

- Astroman Shirt.


More reviews on this Seattle brand in this section


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TRAVEL & CRAGS

Tuesday, 23 February

Lisabon - A future destination

Sintra
Cascais




5 REASONS TO MAKE PORTUGAL YOUR NEXT CLIMBING TRIP


The people of Portugal, though resolutely proud of their beautiful country, humorously refer to their nation as "O nosso cantinho de Espanha" which literally means, our small corner by the seaThroughout history Portugal has been overshadowed by its giant neighbour in so many disciplines and in climbing this is no exception. Though Portugal may not posses the world famous routes of Spain, it is a unique and very charming climbing destination. Here are five irrefutable reasons why Portugal should be your next port of call.


1. Variety of rock and dramatic scenery

Within a 40km radius of stepping off the plane in Lisbon, there is a multitude of small yet charming crags set in spectacular scenery with grades ranging from 4a to 8a.


To the West of Lisbon you have the mystical Serra de Sintra, offering granite slab climbing situated just under the ancient walls of the Castelo dos Mouros, and an immense playground of granite boulders in the Sintra forest, where there is still a lot of potential to explore. Then for the seasoned pros there is the trad climbing at Europe's most Westerly point Cabo da Roca, where you’re climbing with one eye on the rock and the other on the wild waves crashing beneath you. Casal dos Pianos is another spectacular basalt crag with crack climbing in an awe-inspiring setting by the ocean.


About 20 min. from Sintra and near the tourist hotspot of Cascais is Guia. Guia with its limestone walls was the birthplace of sport climbing in Portugal. Here it is impossible to resist a dip in the sea at the end of a good days’ climbing.


Further afield and to the South of Lisbon, we have Portinho da Arrabida located in the beautiful Arrabida national park. This large limestone crag not only has many fun routes, but it overlooks the type of exquisite turquoise bay that you imagine only existed in Greece. Many of these coastal crags are Westerly facing which makes for unforgettable sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean.



2.Surfing
Unless you've been hiding your head under a rock, you’ll know that Portugal is the place to be for surfing. From Garret McNamara's death defying feats at giant Nazaré, the World’s Surfing Leagues’ annual visit to Supertubos, to Ericiera becoming the World's first surfing reserve, Portugal is certainly a Mecca for surfing. Portugal is super consistent boasting 280+ surfable days and has a huge variety of spots for every level from the first time beginner to the seasoned pro, so what better way to spend your lay days from climbing by getting some waves.


3. Friendly vibe

The Portuguese are not only hugely proud of their “cantinho de Espanha” but are eager to show the world what a unique and wonderful place it is, and so everyone will happily show you around and help you immerse into the bohemian lifestyle that Portugal is so famed for.


4. Where is everyone?

Since so many travelling climbers opt for Spain over Portugal it means that while people are queuing up for routes in Spain, the routes here are empty. Portugal is well worth a visit, even if it’s to enjoy climbing in quiet, yet spectacular settings.


5. Climate

The sun shines approximately 239 days a year in Lisbon, making it the sunniest capital in Europe. The weather is perfect in spring, summer and still awesome in autumn and winter. From March to November you can expect reliably dry, sunny weather with temperatures around 20 - 25°C, rising to 25-35°C during the summer months. Even in winter, it rarely drops below 15°C. If on the other hand it gets too hot in the summer, you can always find a shady spot for climbing and a cool splash in the ocean. 

Want to visit?

If Portugal has by this point made it onto your hit list, come discover this secret paradise with SaltyWay.We will take you to the best climbing spots in the most amazing scenery, you can combine your climbing with surfing and yoga while enjoying the bohemian lifestyle and fun in the sun with likeminded people. www.saltywaytravel.com

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INTERVIEWS

Monday, 11 January

Alexander Megos

 ALEXANDER MEGOS

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.


style="font-family: 'Courier New'; font-size: large;">

- 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.





Read more

Boreal KINTARO II

By Ignacio Sandoval Burón & Esteban Diez Fernández

text-autospace:none"> Developed from the first version of the Kintaro, which we had previously written about a few years ago, this latest version has a few novelties we’d like to point out after having tried them for a period of six months.    text-autospace:none">



text-autospace:none">LAST

In general terms we can say that this is a climbing shoe with quite an accentuated foot arch, this enables us to wear them really tight on this part of our anatomy. It's a quite asymmetric shoe, besides we also find that the big toe part is slightly downturned which helps improve the performance on big overhangs and small holds.

As was the case with the old ones and all of the climbing shoes from this brand from Spain that have gone through our hands in the last years, we’ve observed a loose-fitting forefoot last which leaves ample space for the toes. Reference the heel, we have the feeling that the space has been slightly reduced. 

It comes with a midsole which, like everything else in this shoe, is of a medium hardness.

text-autospace:none">

Lastly, they continue to have the V2 Rand™, a 2-part rand in the form of a “Y” that tenses the heel by pulling from two points.

text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">
Dani Andrada showing the grip of the female version rubber. Pic: climbing.deYuji Hirayama did basically the same with the old version of the Lynx model which also comes with the same rubber.


text-autospace:none">SOLE

They continue to assemble the Zenith™ rubber, which in the last years has been the company’s personal bet, fortunately leaving to one side the numerous problems they had with the old Fusion.

You probably still remember when this new rubber appeared, the videos and photos that flooded the internet where you could see the soles of both climbing shoes literally stick together as if it was a magic trick (look at the image of Dani Andrada or watch Yuji Hirayama’s video above)…

text-autospace:none">

The thickness has been reduced. Before, when you wore them for the first time you found that they had a gross of 5 mm, which barely permitted the sufficient sensibility to notice where we were putting our feet. Now, with the 4-4.5 mm thickness this issue has been improved, although when they best feel is when we’ve worn them out a little.

text-autospace:none">



text-autospace:none">HEEL

The heel has been raised a few centimetres both in the inner part (to accommodate those with high heel spurs) as well as the external rubber, which now goes up a bit further as opposed to the previous ones which went up half-way up the heel.

text-autospace:none">

Besides, in the past, this rubber spur was smooth and now it’s ribbed, offering a better performance on heel hooks.

text-autospace:none">
Esteban Diez climbing with the new Boreal 'Kintaro' in Pedrosa (León). Pic© Ignacio Sandoval Burón.

text-autospace:none">CLOSING SYSTEM text-autospace:none">

Here we’ve found a big difference regarding the first version, the typical cushioned Lycra sock tongue has been replaced with a more innovative foam neoprene fabric. Additionally, they have reduced its length and width, achieving a more aesthetic look (it doesn’t stick out as much as it used to) and also so skipping the part where you had to carefully place the left-over tongue to avoid the uncomfortable crease over the foot.  

text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">



text-autospace:none">FEMALE VERSION text-autospace:none">

We’ve also had the chance to test the women’s version with very girly colours (purple and pink). We feel it’s important to stress that they have been designed for narrower feet with a low and slim heel.

text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">
Ignacio Sandoval testing the same climbing shoes on the rock of Piedrasecha (León).
Pic© Esteban Diez Fernandez.

text-autospace:none">CONCLUSION

text-autospace:none">

All in all, it’s a good climbing shoe that performs medium to well in all terrains. We therefore classify them as versatile, highlighting the excellent adherence of their Zenith™ rubber and the great comfort of a spacious last that provides major comfort than other climbing shoes for those with wide feet or those who have to wear them for long periods of time (multi-pitch climbers or those who train for long hours at the climbing gym).

text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">
A different shot with Esteban Diez. Pic© Ignacio Sandoval Burón.


text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">

REVIEW

Monday, 2 November

NEW Boreal Kintaro

Boreal KINTARO II

By Ignacio Sandoval Burón & Esteban Diez Fernández

text-autospace:none"> Developed from the first version of the Kintaro, which we had previously written about a few years ago, this latest version has a few novelties we’d like to point out after having tried them for a period of six months.    text-autospace:none">



text-autospace:none">LAST

In general terms we can say that this is a climbing shoe with quite an accentuated foot arch, this enables us to wear them really tight on this part of our anatomy. It's a quite asymmetric shoe, besides we also find that the big toe part is slightly downturned which helps improve the performance on big overhangs and small holds.

As was the case with the old ones and all of the climbing shoes from this brand from Spain that have gone through our hands in the last years, we’ve observed a loose-fitting forefoot last which leaves ample space for the toes. Reference the heel, we have the feeling that the space has been slightly reduced. 

It comes with a midsole which, like everything else in this shoe, is of a medium hardness.

text-autospace:none">

Lastly, they continue to have the V2 Rand™, a 2-part rand in the form of a “Y” that tenses the heel by pulling from two points.

text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">
Dani Andrada showing the grip of the female version rubber. Pic: climbing.deYuji Hirayama did basically the same with the old version of the Lynx model which also comes with the same rubber.


text-autospace:none">SOLE

They continue to assemble the Zenith™ rubber, which in the last years has been the company’s personal bet, fortunately leaving to one side the numerous problems they had with the old Fusion.

You probably still remember when this new rubber appeared, the videos and photos that flooded the internet where you could see the soles of both climbing shoes literally stick together as if it was a magic trick (look at the image of Dani Andrada or watch Yuji Hirayama’s video above)…

text-autospace:none">

The thickness has been reduced. Before, when you wore them for the first time you found that they had a gross of 5 mm, which barely permitted the sufficient sensibility to notice where we were putting our feet. Now, with the 4-4.5 mm thickness this issue has been improved, although when they best feel is when we’ve worn them out a little.

text-autospace:none">



text-autospace:none">HEEL

The heel has been raised a few centimetres both in the inner part (to accommodate those with high heel spurs) as well as the external rubber, which now goes up a bit further as opposed to the previous ones which went up half-way up the heel.

text-autospace:none">

Besides, in the past, this rubber spur was smooth and now it’s ribbed, offering a better performance on heel hooks.

text-autospace:none">
Esteban Diez climbing with the new Boreal 'Kintaro' in Pedrosa (León). Pic© Ignacio Sandoval Burón.

text-autospace:none">CLOSING SYSTEM text-autospace:none">

Here we’ve found a big difference regarding the first version, the typical cushioned Lycra sock tongue has been replaced with a more innovative foam neoprene fabric. Additionally, they have reduced its length and width, achieving a more aesthetic look (it doesn’t stick out as much as it used to) and also so skipping the part where you had to carefully place the left-over tongue to avoid the uncomfortable crease over the foot.  

text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">



text-autospace:none">FEMALE VERSION text-autospace:none">

We’ve also had the chance to test the women’s version with very girly colours (purple and pink). We feel it’s important to stress that they have been designed for narrower feet with a low and slim heel.

text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">
Ignacio Sandoval testing the same climbing shoes on the rock of Piedrasecha (León).
Pic© Esteban Diez Fernandez.

text-autospace:none">CONCLUSION

text-autospace:none">

All in all, it’s a good climbing shoe that performs medium to well in all terrains. We therefore classify them as versatile, highlighting the excellent adherence of their Zenith™ rubber and the great comfort of a spacious last that provides major comfort than other climbing shoes for those with wide feet or those who have to wear them for long periods of time (multi-pitch climbers or those who train for long hours at the climbing gym).

text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">
A different shot with Esteban Diez. Pic© Ignacio Sandoval Burón.


text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">

Read more

TRAVEL & CRAGS

Friday, 23 October

Il Capitano - by Alex Huber








IL CAPITANO 8b+ trad by Alexander Huber (47)

Il Selvaggio Blu - the wild 50 kilometer stretch between Cala Gonone and Santa Maria Navarrese - is one of the best coastlines Italy has to offer and is quite simply unique. Here in eastern Sardinia the island often soars vertically out of the sea. Large sea cliffs, small walls, broken by small coves and their famous, sandy beaches.

One of the outcrops located in the Selvaggio Blu is world famous, namely theAguglia di Goloritzé. The climbing up the simplest route on this freestanding needle is no easier than 6b. Two years ago Michi Althammer and I set off to climb Aguglia di Goloritzé and so we hired a boat. During the trip towards Goloritzé we took the opportunity to scutinise the impressive sea cliffs through the eyes of climber and in doing so I was struck by Capo Monte Santo. The cliff is breathtakingly steep, rises out of the water for a good 40 meters and is so compact that we simply couldn’t tell whether it was climbable.

This spring I returned for closer inspection. And what I discovered was better than all other similar things I've seen so far. Right through the middle of the cliff, at its most exposed point, a line of tufas that then stop at 20 meters height. Six meters higher there is a huge hole, the first four meters seemed to have holds while on the remaining two: nothing. A huge, brilliant dyno on a par to its famous counterpartTwo Smoking Barrelsat Mallorca.

Another feature of Capo Monte Santo is that you have to climb directly from the boat, you have to be belayed from the boat and as such you need an extremely experienced captain who can maintain the boat in position while the waters continue to swirl around Capo Monte Santo. I realised that having the right captain represented the key to success. Vincenzo runs Bar Centro at Baunei and when we asked him for a place to stay in Baunei, he became not only our host, but also our "capitano".

On 23 May the three of us - Il Capitano, Michei and I - set off in Il Capitano’s boat for the cape. This time I think I stand a good chance of climbing my dream of stone. It’s not just a question of physical form though, it’s also a psychological challenge: due to its location, right above the sea, I’d decided against using bolts. And four days earlier I’d climbed the first line up the face using trad gear:Solemar represents the path of least resistance that avoids the huge dyno with a 15-meter variation to the left. This had given me the confidence that the direct line with the jump could go. The dyno is no less than 8 meters above the last Friend, placed behind the tufa, after which there are two Skyhooks and then the name of the game is: blast upwards.



Il Capitano is calm, directing the boat to the start, Michei has already got me on belay and the dinghy slowly glides towards the overhanging wall. I need to time the waves perfectly, grab the starting holds at just the right moment, place my feet on the footholds immediately as the route starts in earnest with two ferocious moves. Then upwards, 20 steep meters, the last tufa, place the last Friend, have a short rest before pushin on towards the featureless section. Two Skyhooks, another two meters and the last holds. High above lies the enormous hole, the ultimate goal.

I crimp the holds tightly and pull myself in close to the wall, sag down completely to give my body the maximum distance to accelerate. And then up I go, like a wave my body swells upwards, first my left hand unlatches, then my right, my left foot detaches as does my right before the fingers on my left hand curl onto the big hold. The jug is a dream, the entire project is a dream and my friends down below, Il Capitano and Michei, rejoice as much as I do!

There are few routes I’ve established where the name seems as logical and clear as this one at Capo Monte Santo:Il Capitano


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OR's ASTROMAN shirt

 




The Astroman shirt from the Seattle brand Outdoor Research is a concept created by the famous north american climber, Hans Florine who is used to suffering long sunny days in the numerous pitches of Yosemite walls. 


If you’re looking for a more casual look you’ll appreciate this cool item of clothing, whether its for climbing or everyday wear. They’ve used the ever classic but modern checked design in three different colours to meet a wide range of tastes such as blue, green and orange. They are available in long and short sleeves. 


As already mentioned, the idea behind this garment is to use it when you go climbing. In fact we’ve used it and we can assure that it permits total freedom of movement without having to get it a size bigger than your regular size. It's made out of 85% nylon and 15% 'Spandex' which gives it that extra stretchiness. Its composition enables maximum breathability and produces a sense of coolness when you wear it. Besides, its longevity has been proven wash after wash without losing any of its quick dry, no need to iron properties (its amazing to see there are no creases insight when you take it out of the washing machine or backpack).

Its weight is also worth noting, a mere 154 grams in size L. 


It has a few other technical details which makes it even more attractive. Those who do multi-pitch routes and are constantly exposed to many hours of sun will appreciate this shirt's UPF 50+ sun protection plus the Sun Snap Collar™ which folds up and snaps in place to protect your neck from the sun's rays and/or your throat from the unexpected brisk wind. 


Lastly, we've been quite surprised with the effect that its snap down buttons has had, which very rightly so enables you to dispose of it super quick and with the simple gesture of pulling it open with both hands which has very funnily so led to many racy comments and whistles ;-) 

Esteban Diez Fernández climbing with the Astroman shirt on 'Pati Glamour', 7c in Valdegovía (Basque Country - Spain).
Pic© Ignacio Sandoval Burón.


REVIEW

Monday, 10 August

Outdoor Research's ASTROMAN shirt

OR's ASTROMAN shirt

 




The Astroman shirt from the Seattle brand Outdoor Research is a concept created by the famous north american climber, Hans Florine who is used to suffering long sunny days in the numerous pitches of Yosemite walls. 


If you’re looking for a more casual look you’ll appreciate this cool item of clothing, whether its for climbing or everyday wear. They’ve used the ever classic but modern checked design in three different colours to meet a wide range of tastes such as blue, green and orange. They are available in long and short sleeves. 


As already mentioned, the idea behind this garment is to use it when you go climbing. In fact we’ve used it and we can assure that it permits total freedom of movement without having to get it a size bigger than your regular size. It's made out of 85% nylon and 15% 'Spandex' which gives it that extra stretchiness. Its composition enables maximum breathability and produces a sense of coolness when you wear it. Besides, its longevity has been proven wash after wash without losing any of its quick dry, no need to iron properties (its amazing to see there are no creases insight when you take it out of the washing machine or backpack).

Its weight is also worth noting, a mere 154 grams in size L. 


It has a few other technical details which makes it even more attractive. Those who do multi-pitch routes and are constantly exposed to many hours of sun will appreciate this shirt's UPF 50+ sun protection plus the Sun Snap Collar™ which folds up and snaps in place to protect your neck from the sun's rays and/or your throat from the unexpected brisk wind. 


Lastly, we've been quite surprised with the effect that its snap down buttons has had, which very rightly so enables you to dispose of it super quick and with the simple gesture of pulling it open with both hands which has very funnily so led to many racy comments and whistles ;-) 

Esteban Diez Fernández climbing with the Astroman shirt on 'Pati Glamour', 7c in Valdegovía (Basque Country - Spain).
Pic© Ignacio Sandoval Burón.


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BARBARA ZANGERL after sending 3 of her hardest routes

By Ignacio Sandoval Burón


The last month for Barbara Zangerl has basically been about hard sport climbing, being able to send 3 of her hardest routes to date. First to conquer was 'Schwarzer Schwan', 8c in Ötztal; then, at the beginning of June, she ticked her hardest sport climb ever with 'Helel Ben Schachar', 8c/+ in Vorarlberg; and, last week, her last trophy was 'Nobody is perfect', 8c in Bürs.

We've catched up with her to know about these routes and her upcoming plans.

Barbara climbing in Zillertal. Pic© Jacopo Larcher.


- Could you tell us a bit about these routes you’ve sent during the last month which happen to be 3 of your hardest?

One of this routes is my hardest one so far, ‘Helel Ben Schachar’. It is a route in Vorarlberg. The other two routes felt much easier.

‘Helel Ben Schachar’ is a 30 metres power endurance pumpy route with a hard boulder crux at the end. At the beginning, it felt impossible to me and took me two sessions just to solve the boulder at the end. There are no really good rests and the hard boulder at the end felt hard for me. Really long moves on slopy holds with bad footholds. I couldn't do the route like the others did since I wasn’t able to reach the crux hold from the low foothold… but I found a good solution for me... It took me 3 days last year and 4-5 more days this year.

The route in Ötztal which I did one month ago, ‘Schwarzer Schwan’, is a short one, more bouldery... you climb on a small cool looking crack at the beginning and then, after a rest, it continues with 5 hard moves. The hardest one is an undercling move to a good sloper... I tried this one one day two years ago and 3 days this year. It’s 15m long and on perfect solid rock... a really good-looking route with amazing moves and it felt not so hard for the grade.

And, the last one I did two days ago is in Bürs. It’s a pure endurance route... super steep on conglomerate... 40m long and super pumpy. I tried this one 3 days last year and 3 days this year.


- Do you plan to try any multi-pitch/trad route during this summer?

I am motivated to go back to the Dolomites for ‘Bellavista’. Maybe in August. Last year, Jacopo and myself spent a lot of time there and it was raining cats and dogs for weeks… So, hopefully this summer we will have more luck with the weather...

Jacopo will go on a Siberia expedition, so I will wait for him until August. He is motivated for ‘Panaroma’. But, in general, it would be cool to climb more alpine classics like ‘The Fish’ or some easier routes on the Wendenstöcke.

In Autumn we plan to go to Yosemite to improve our crack climbing skills.

 

Barbara started her sending spree around one month ago with the route in the picture, 'Schwarzer Schwan', 8c in Ötztal.  Pic© Martina Harnisch

- Have you been specially focused on sport climbing this year?

I always do more sport climbing in spring.... no special focus on sport climbing this year... I am psyched to climb something longer but, for sure, I have to combine everything. I just like climbing...

I can't do multipitches (sport or alpine) all the time, but in summer it is always too warm in the lower crags, so I like to go to the mountains to try something longer. That offers me a bigger adventure and mentally it is also more challenging. That makes it really exciting for me and I like the silent places high up in the mountains, being in the nature far away from all the crowd... So I definitely need it for a change after some time doing the same...


- Considering that you've just sent 3 of your hardest routes, is it that you trained harder or more structured for this year?

I trained a lot in winter. The same that I also did last year, but this year I was more motivated for sport climbing and I got super motivated to finish ‘Helel...’. Last year I went to Spain and after it I focused on ‘Prinzip Hoffnung’. So, for me it is more like “I go with the flow” and I get inspired from something and then I can get really focused on a special route or multipitch.


A little video profile of her early trip to Spain this year.

INTERVIEWS

Sunday, 21 June

Barbara Zangerl after sending 3 of her hardest routes

BARBARA ZANGERL after sending 3 of her hardest routes

By Ignacio Sandoval Burón


The last month for Barbara Zangerl has basically been about hard sport climbing, being able to send 3 of her hardest routes to date. First to conquer was 'Schwarzer Schwan', 8c in Ötztal; then, at the beginning of June, she ticked her hardest sport climb ever with 'Helel Ben Schachar', 8c/+ in Vorarlberg; and, last week, her last trophy was 'Nobody is perfect', 8c in Bürs.

We've catched up with her to know about these routes and her upcoming plans.

Barbara climbing in Zillertal. Pic© Jacopo Larcher.


- Could you tell us a bit about these routes you’ve sent during the last month which happen to be 3 of your hardest?

One of this routes is my hardest one so far, ‘Helel Ben Schachar’. It is a route in Vorarlberg. The other two routes felt much easier.

‘Helel Ben Schachar’ is a 30 metres power endurance pumpy route with a hard boulder crux at the end. At the beginning, it felt impossible to me and took me two sessions just to solve the boulder at the end. There are no really good rests and the hard boulder at the end felt hard for me. Really long moves on slopy holds with bad footholds. I couldn't do the route like the others did since I wasn’t able to reach the crux hold from the low foothold… but I found a good solution for me... It took me 3 days last year and 4-5 more days this year.

The route in Ötztal which I did one month ago, ‘Schwarzer Schwan’, is a short one, more bouldery... you climb on a small cool looking crack at the beginning and then, after a rest, it continues with 5 hard moves. The hardest one is an undercling move to a good sloper... I tried this one one day two years ago and 3 days this year. It’s 15m long and on perfect solid rock... a really good-looking route with amazing moves and it felt not so hard for the grade.

And, the last one I did two days ago is in Bürs. It’s a pure endurance route... super steep on conglomerate... 40m long and super pumpy. I tried this one 3 days last year and 3 days this year.


- Do you plan to try any multi-pitch/trad route during this summer?

I am motivated to go back to the Dolomites for ‘Bellavista’. Maybe in August. Last year, Jacopo and myself spent a lot of time there and it was raining cats and dogs for weeks… So, hopefully this summer we will have more luck with the weather...

Jacopo will go on a Siberia expedition, so I will wait for him until August. He is motivated for ‘Panaroma’. But, in general, it would be cool to climb more alpine classics like ‘The Fish’ or some easier routes on the Wendenstöcke.

In Autumn we plan to go to Yosemite to improve our crack climbing skills.

 

Barbara started her sending spree around one month ago with the route in the picture, 'Schwarzer Schwan', 8c in Ötztal.  Pic© Martina Harnisch

- Have you been specially focused on sport climbing this year?

I always do more sport climbing in spring.... no special focus on sport climbing this year... I am psyched to climb something longer but, for sure, I have to combine everything. I just like climbing...

I can't do multipitches (sport or alpine) all the time, but in summer it is always too warm in the lower crags, so I like to go to the mountains to try something longer. That offers me a bigger adventure and mentally it is also more challenging. That makes it really exciting for me and I like the silent places high up in the mountains, being in the nature far away from all the crowd... So I definitely need it for a change after some time doing the same...


- Considering that you've just sent 3 of your hardest routes, is it that you trained harder or more structured for this year?

I trained a lot in winter. The same that I also did last year, but this year I was more motivated for sport climbing and I got super motivated to finish ‘Helel...’. Last year I went to Spain and after it I focused on ‘Prinzip Hoffnung’. So, for me it is more like “I go with the flow” and I get inspired from something and then I can get really focused on a special route or multipitch.


A little video profile of her early trip to Spain this year.

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INTERVIEWS

Tuesday, 26 May

Joe Kinder roadtripping Norway

style="font-family: helvetica, arial, 'lucida grande', sans-serif;">Joe Kinder roadtripping with photographer Henning Wang in Norway ending in Flatanger

My first experience was last Flatanger in September 2014 and I quickly fell in love. The climbing is to die for and the ambiance and quality of life here was another thing I noticed. That trip was successful for me as I sent everything I wanted to. The style suits me really well. It's steep, wild and is the best stone on the planet. That trip to me was so satisfying in all aspects but my lack of exposure to the Norwgian culture was the one thing I missed out on. I had no car and stayed in the same zone the whole time. I really enjoy the cultural part of traveling and put just as much emphasis on its importance as I do getting to the cliff.

This trip however was an invitation to the Ballensteinfestevalen in Bø. The Ballsack Festival was the craziest event I've ever been to. My buddy Hangdogg (Henning) WangBang suggested we take a road trip after the event and cypher around to the best crags in Norway. This sounded like the best plan ever and would also make up for my lack of cultural experiences from September.

We hit up 6 insane spots and have ended up in Flatanger. The cliffs we climbed at were some of the best I've seen. Perfect granite/gniess/schist of all types. The climbing at each spot was totally different and all so high grade. Our plans were to keep the game simple and send a couple of routes at each spot up to around 8b. When you have minimal time it really puts you to the test. Either try to onsight/flash or second try. In the past three weeks we've had (as of now) 3 rest days. Needless to say I am pretty worked and actually sick. So much traveling and being in the cold has caught up to me, but it was ALL worth it.

We dealt with perfect temperatures from 2º-10ºC and had a bit of rain, but that is to be expected anywhere in the Spring time. We surely froze our asses off at times and had some pretty sleepless nights out there. The driving distance to each area we traveled 2-4 hours. The drives were super pretty and on the West coast there were many ferries (which aren't cheap). The idea of traveling in Norway is tricky as the Kroner is pretty strong compared to my US Dollar and the cost of doing your normal deeds can break your bank. Renting a car is almost an anomaly, the idea of going to a hotel is almost out of the question. Gas is loco pricey and there are NO bars that make the nightlife fun. I actually stop drinking completely while I'm here because the beer is weak and way over priced. Maybe that's a good thing though huh? Living super cheap was the motive and I actually enjoyed the challenge. We slept on floors, at the cliff and ate simply as well which has its good sides but going to a decent restaurant here and is kind of a ludicrous endeavor. It's just very expensive.

But, it's the climbing that I've traveled for and it's worth traveling for alone. To me it's the best stone on the planet and there's tons of it. There's Flatanger, which would keep anyone busy, but there are many other spots with routes for all levels of the highest quality. The country of Norway is so unique in the fact that there are very few people which gives you the feeling of being small like a tiny speck of life. The nature is so profound and clean and the mountains are massive. This place has become a special feeling for me and will be a spot I'll to as much as possible.

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INTERVIEWS

Thursday, 14 May

Preparation for your next climbing trip

Best preperation for your next climbing trip,  by Bonita Norris - RocUp.UK

Kalymnos (c) N Smallios
Sierra Blair-Coyle (c) Jackie Sterna
Magnus Midtbö (c) Henning Wang
Alexander Megor (c) Ken Etzl, Red Bull
Ben West (c) Si Rawlingson



From the glossy pages of magazines, to sun-drenched YouTube videos, climbing is a sport intrinsically linked with exotic destinations abroad. The lure of remote wonder means that many of us take at least one climbing holiday each year. Those precious few days are most importantly about enjoying yourself to the max, but could also be an opportunity to tick your hardest ever climb, and this means being in the best physical and mental shape possible.
 
A holiday is an exciting fixed goal to work towards, so take some time to plan a climbing schedule around these 6 factors, to put you in the best position to have a great trip:
1. top physical fitness
2. Injury free
3. Conditioned skin
4. Great route reading skills for onsighting 
5. A head for heights
6. Psyche!

With these 6 factors in mind, what's the best way to prepare for a sport climbing holiday? Well, most of us climbers are aware of basic training methods and what we should be doing to prepare ourselves, so this article is not going to re-invent the wheel, but often with so much information out there, what is needed is a little focus. 
So, here are RocUp Holidays top tips on the best things you can do to prepare for your next sport climbing holiday:

1. Be in top physical fitness:
For sport climbing the focus is on power endurance over explosive power. Factor these 4 training sessions into your climbing routine to make sure when the going gets tough on holiday, you're still holding on.

ARC Training: Aerobic endurance
Aerobic training is highly important when factoring in onsights, recovery, and long routes in general- it's the foundation of your fitness. Aerobic Restoration and Capillarisation (ARC) training can be tedious, but the results are well worth it. Start by climbing for 10 minutes without touching the ground on low intensity grades (x3 sets with 5 minutes rest). Aim for a low level pump that you can endure without the worry of falling off. Shake out throughout. When these sets become too easy, start building up both time and grade difficulty. Climb quickly and this will also help build your overall fitness.This type of training builds a network of new capillaries in your arms, helping flush out any toxins and increases the Oxygen supply to your muscles.
 
Boulder Link ups: Anaerobic Endurance 
Knowing you've got the staying power to hold on through hard crux moves and afterwards is invaluable. Anaerobic endurance climbing comprises of hard, powerful, at the limit moves, one after another, that build up a serious pump in the forearms.Link between 3 and 5 problems together for a sustained, hard set. Down climb easy problems for active recovery training and don't touch the ground. For example, I climb up a V6-8, down a V2, up a V5, down a V2 and up a V6/7. Rest for 5 minutes. You should choose between 3 and 6 different link ups varying in length and difficulty. Repeat for 3 sets. Over time you can build up intensity and duration- play around with the difficulty until you are falling off the final problem towards the top.

Bouldering 8x6's: anaerobic Endurance
A gruelling training session! Choose 8 problems that are near your limit. You should know these problems and be confident in climbing them clean when fresh. Choose problems that are different to each other and vary in style and angle. Complete the set by climbing all 8 problems back to back- the only rest is getting from one problem to the other. You can shorten this by running between them(!) Rest for 3-5 minutes and complete 6 sets. Initially you may fall on a lot of problems in your latter sets. As you continue to practice this session and improve, you should keep increasing the difficulty.
 
Lead climbing 4x4s: lower intensity anaerobic endurance
This session can vary in intensity depending on your level of fitness, but will always be less intense than lapping your hardest boulders. Choose 4 vertical/overhanging routes that you are familiar with and climb them from easy to hard. I.e. 6a, 6b, 6c, 7a. Climb each route 4 times with no rest. Get your belayer to lower you quickly whilst you clench your fists. The easier routes should start off being aerobic endurance and then become anaerobic as you get onto harder grades. You'll know the difficulty and intensity of the session is right if you are falling off the last set towards the top.

2. Injury Free
After perhaps a few months of training for your holiday, your body will be stronger but also possibly now more prone to injury. Keep in mind these 5 tips to help you stay injury free:

Structure your training. Having a set plan and some discipline makes you focus on training smart and avoid aimless/ careless sessions.

Rest is just as important as training. It is tempting to cram lots of climbing in just before a trip, but remind yourself that taking rest days allows your body to build strength without the risk of developing an injury that you won't have time to recover from.

Work your antagonist muscles. Not only will this improve your performance, but reduce the chance of injury. Press ups, shoulder presses, dips- any kind of exercise where you are pushing your weight.

Taper. A taper period can be around one-two weeks long and the focus should be on more rest and only maintaining levels of climbing, decreasing in sessions until you have a few days rest before going on your holiday. You might feel frustrated or like you are losing fitness, don't worry- you'll see the benefit of tapering once you hit the crag injury free and peak just in time!

Listen to your body and be disciplined. If you notice an injury coming on, stop climbing immediately, even if you've driven 2 hours to the crag and are on your warm up climb! Your focus from this point onwards is to limit the damage, so rest, ice, do rehab exercises, and even seek professional advice.

3. Conditioned skin
One of the biggest things that holds climbers back on holiday is trashed skin from climbing consecutive days on unfamiliar rock. It's hard to avoid but at least in your training you can build some mental resilience to the pain, and encourage your skin to repair faster.  The best way to condition your skin is to:

Climb consecutive days in training. Especially if you're tired and your skin hurts from the day before. Climb for longer sessions (like you will on holiday) which will toughen your skin up and mentally get you used to climbing on painful skin.
Look after your skin. File down potential flappers, and use Climbskin moisturiser to help you recover.
If you're an indoor climber, make an extra effort to climb outdoors as rock is often more unforgiving on skin than plastic.

4. Route reading skills and onsighting
Route reading is a basic skill in a climbers arsenal, but many don't use it enough to their advantage. If you have strongly developed route reading skills, you will also be able to develop strategy and this will give you a great advantage on holiday when you may be faced with unfamiliar styles of climbing and routes that are much longer than usual. Here are our tips on developing your route reading and onsighting skills:

Make route reading a habit. Factor in a route read into your pre-climb routine, no matter how easy the climb- sometimes a route read can take longer than the climb itself! Don't step off the ground until you are familiar with where the holds are (look for chalk or obvious placements), know as many of the moves as possible, where your potential rests are, where the crux is, and how you will position yourself to clip. Analyse whether your prediction was correct after the climb, and get into the habit of doing this for every route you step onto to.

Eliminate adjustments. Video yourself climbing a route or boulder problem and count how many times you adjust your hands and feet after you place them. You might be surprised to see how much you 'bump' your hands and feet. This wastes an incredible amount of energy. With your partner, watch each other climb and shout every time they make an adjustment- this helps because whilst you're climbing you won't even notice how many adjustments you make. Now, focus on your first-time placements, and for both hands and feet try to make no adjustments- even if you don't catch a hold quite right. If you watch Adam Ondra climb you'll notice how few adjustments he makes- especially when onsighting. 

Climb hopefully. A great tip for when your mind starts to get shut down on an onsight that's not going to plan. Often climbers start to think that the route is only going to get harder and the holds are only going to get worse, this negativity gives you an excuse to let go before you need to. Instead, tell yourself that the next hold will be better than the one you're currently hanging onto, and if it's not, then tell yourself the next one will be! Eventually you'll be right. This positive attitude encourages you to climb quickly through hard sections, and rest on easy sections- which is exactly how you should aim to climb, not the other way round! 
Learn from your mistakes. If an onsight doesn't go to plan, figure out why. You'll often start to see a pattern emerging and find that the same thing might be happening every time- target those weaknesses so that they don't hold you back on holiday.

5. A head for heights
Now this point seems a bit silly. We are all climbers, why should we worry about this?Well, for some that could be true, but often, going to different countries, the crags and rock are completely foreign to us. We are out of our comfort zone and as a result may feel more stressed on routes. You may be used to climbing 20m routes, but not 40 or 50m ones. This can freak you out a bit.
 
Our advice is to attack the fear of falling early on. Firstly, go on your holiday having done much more fall practice than usual in the last few weeks of training.
 
When you arrive on holiday, take lots of falls on your first day- some big ones too. Get your head in the game so that you trust your environment and are familiar with the type of falls you'll be expecting to take. If you make an effort to do this on your first day, it will really make a difference for the rest of your holiday.

6. Psyche
Inspire yourself. The more inspired you are, the better and more diligently you will train for your holiday. Buy the guide books, check out YouTube videos and 8a.nu. Build up a knowledge of what will suit you and make the most of your trip, and do all of this with the friends you are going on holiday with. Try and take some time every week to indulge yourself  in guidebooks and trip reports, this will help keep you psyched when your holiday is still months away.

Get focussed. By inspiring yourself you're also getting focussed- on particular goals, grades, routes and styles of climbing- with focus you're more clear about what you're working towards. This will keep your training purposeful and as a result, more effective.
 
Make a training plan. Look at your schedule and be realistic. Don't beat yourself up if you miss the odd session. Set mid term goals in your training plan too, so that you know you are on track. Even if you throw the piece of paper away afterwards, you'll have a clearer mindset when it comes to making decisions about how much and what kind of climbing you should be doing each week.

The most important aspect of all of this is enjoyment. Enjoy your training, enjoy your climbing and enjoy your holiday!
Join RocUp Holidays this September in Kalymnos, where superstar climbers Alex Megos, Magnus Midtbø and Sierra Blair-Coyle will be running coaching clinics alongside professional coaches Robin O'leary, Leah Crane and Ben West. For more info visit www.rocup.uk

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