Ixeia 8b+ by Théo Blass (10)

Sunday, 19 July

Théo Blass, who did an 8c in June, has done Ixeia 8b+ in Rodellar. The 137 cm tall and 29 kilo needed 6-7 sessions to send it and here a video from the lower part. (Three pre-clipped in order to avoid risk for ground fall.) Picture by his mother Aurelia Blass. His father Vladimir Arnaoudov gives us the story.

"Theo spotted the line last year and was dreaming about it ever since. He knew that it was possible for kids as Naile Meignan had done it when she was about his age. In the beginning progress was slow (Theo was not in great shape and the Spanish habit of going to bed very late took some getting used to) but after 6-7 sessions Theo sent it, climbing completely a muerte and skipping the last clip (which is quite unusual for him as he is still a bit scared to lead). Theo would like to thank his friend Izi Martinez (who sent the route on the next day) for the belaying and the encouragement and Dave Graham for being a great role model and staying so positive (even after suffering a knee injury and being bitten by a dog)."

How are you able to give him soft falls while belaying?
To give him a soft belay I use a Petzl grigri, give a lot of slack and hold the rope between the grigri and the climber with one hand (let's call it the shock absorbing hand) with the elbow flexed (while my other hand is holding the rope on the other side of the grigri, as recommended by Petzl) such that the slack stays between my shock absorbing hand and the grigri (there is no slack between my shock absorbing hand and the climber) - if he falls my shock absorbing hand acts like a brake/ shock absorber i.e. I try to soften the fall by extending my elbow before the grigri stops it (so the grigri acts like a fallback). As he is quite light this works quite well and as long as I pay attention the falls are very soft (even falls close to the ground). We will have to rethink the system when he gets heavier (and/or I get weaker).

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