Phantastica 9a FA by Illya Bakhmet-Smolenskyi (15)

Monday, 9 November

Illya Bakhmet-Smolenskyi, who did his first 9a at age 13, has done the FA of Phantastica in Citdibi but he is not sure if it could be the first 9a in Turkey or if it is the fourth 8c+/9a. "A really long king line with a crimpy crux on the very top and a really weird rest in between, so it's hard to grade properly. The third pitch after Phantasia 8b, a super classic and pure climb."

The way he elaborates the difficulty of FA grading is certainly at the 9a level and should make his home school teachers (the parents) pleased. For the last years, the Ukrainian IT working family have been living abroad but mainly in Turkey.

"Grade harder or grade lower? Have you ever thought of how difficult it actually is to grade a brand-new route? After buying a guidebook and going out exploring the crag it seems to be quite easy, the grade written in there jumps in your head and sticks as an initially correct statement. But what if you were given a totally new wall, that has only bolts on it. Before trying, you can't even guess how hard it might be. Instead of using the path that was already found by previous athletes, you are forced to find a new one that was created by nature a long time ago. This fun and long process contain a bunch of additional steps before starting to actually project and give send tries on the route. After some time, when you finally send the line and everything is seemingly over, a new load of responsibility and questions fall upon you.

Was that the easiest way possible? Would it be easier/harder for shorter/taller people? What if that crucial kneebar rest works only for me? And how should I give a proper grade after all those unanswered questions?

Since grades are all really subjective and differ from one person to another, there's no way to make a system which could help to solve this problem. After making this kind of statement, it seems that a FAer shouldn't worry too much and the proper grade will come on its own with time and bigger amount of ascents, but it would be quite a disaster if your grand project that you were proud of would be downgraded. Then your reputation as a bolter or grade-giver would befall. As well, I want to add that since Switzerland two years ago, I just couldn't possibly visit Europe and climb some classic routes of the magic 9 grade(last year because my visa was all used up for the comps and training camps, and this year because of covid-19). That's why I can't consider myself confident and experienced enough to properly grade a route that is harder then 8c or 8c+, especially if it's potentially the first proper 9a of the country, which the new "Phantastica" 8c+/9a surely might be."

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