5 April 2024

Cody Roth (40) onsights 8b and 8b/8b+ on the same day

Cody Roth, who at age 19 made it to a WC final and last year did three routes graded 8c+/9a to 9a, has set a new onsight personal best with I Sorci Verdi 8b/8b+ at Grotti. Earlier the same day, the 40-year-old also onsighted Progetto Ciato (8b).

How has your onsight approach changed over time?
I've always enjoyed onsight climbing. I think up until the age of 30, my onsight try was probably better than my second try on climbs I didn't onsight around 80% of the time (when I'm really going for it on an onsight, I kind of blackout). Since turning 30 I've been able to improve my second-try performance a little, but in 30 years of climbing, my approach to onsight climbing hasn't changed much. I went for it on this 8b/8b+ the same way I went for it on my first 7a onsight, which was also my second lead climb ever, back when I was eleven. Twenty years ago, I onsighted my first 8b, Fuego, at Massone. That day, I'd already done a 7c+ multi-pitch with one of my best friends, Much Mayr. We'd already had a celebratory beer, and I didn't have any expectations when I set off. It was completely unexpected. However, from that point forward, for a long time, I do remember feeling extra performance anxiety and nervousness, especially at the thought of trying to do 8b+ onsight, and I backed off onsighting a little bit. Where I'm at now, at 40, I feel more like I felt at 11. I just want to step up and try, the same way a good penalty taker wants to take the ball and place it at 11m when the opportunity arises. I'm less worried about failing or looking weak, or any other silly insecurities I wasted time worrying about when I was younger and felt the fear of expectation and judgement.

Why do you think the general onsight level has not picked up as fast as the redpoint level over the last decade?
To start with, redpoint climbing is more available and trainable, and it will always have a bigger number attached to it, so by default, it maybe always feels like more of an achievement. Additionally, even though lead comps are onsight, I would dare to say that they've diverged enough from what you find often on rock, that being a good onsight climber on rock isn't a prerequisite to being a good lead competitor. I'm sure it doesn't hurt, but it seems like there's less direct correlation compared to when I was competing in the early 2000s. Onsight climbing with its one-shot nature is also more mentally and emotionally draining. It's pretty unforgiving when you think about it. You have to be pretty comfortable with failing and the way our world is trending, maybe it's harder to be patient and to feel that freedom to fail and to have comfort and trust in yourself. I think a big part of why Adam Ondra is the best onsight climber in the world, besides being highly intelligent and talented, is because he's so comfortable being in his own skin. I really give him credit for that.

1 comment
Sort by:
Most commented
Jernej Kruder sends Martin Krpan (9a) sans knee pads

Jernej Kruder, who won the Boulder World Cup in 2018, has done Martin Krpan (9a) in Mišja Peč. “I would like to expose something here: I spent many tries on t…

Welcome to Vertical-Life Web

Six years after partnering with 8a.nu, we’re excited to announce the unification of the 8a.nu website and the Vertical-Life app into a single platform: Vertical…

Will Bosi repeats Return of the Sleepwalker (9A)

William Bosi has made the second ascent of Daniel Woods’ Return of the Sleepwalker (9A) in Black Velvet Canyon, after projecting it for 12 sessions. This was th…

Katie Lamb makes history

Katie Lamb has become the first woman to climb 8C+ by completing Box Therapy (8C) in RMNP. Daniel Woods made the FA back in 2018, and only Drew Ruana and Sean B…

"It was dramatic to the very end." On the 8a finish of Project Big in Flatanger, Jakob Schubert explains that a horn broke and he was close to falling. The last three minutes of the video show just how much this climb means to him."This horn could have ended my career... This was the biggest mental …

Will Bosi repeats Return of the Sleepwalker (9A)

William Bosi has made the second ascent of Daniel Woods’ Return of the Sleepwalker (9A) in Black Velvet Canyon, after projecting it for 12 sessions. This was th…