Super Samson 8c by Théo Blass (11)

Wednesday, 3 March

Théo Blass, who last year became the youngest ever to send an 8c at age 10, has done his third, Super Samson in Claret after some eight sessions. His father Vladimir Arnaoudov, also an 8c climber, gives us the story.

"Theo decided to try the route after sending his second 8c in January - Guere d'usure at the same crag (Claret). Super Samson is quite different from the two previous 8c routes he did: it has a short and very bouldery crux (about 5 moves V10 boulder about 20 meters from the ground). As there were no intermediate holds Theo had to use largely the same holds as grown-ups and had to do some big moves but his relatively small fingers and height were an advantage for some of the moves.

Theo could do the bouldery crux after 2-3 sessions and after checking out all the sections and trying all the falls (which he generally does on hard routes to avoid bad or uncontrolled falls) he got very close to sending the route, however, the send turned out to be a bit more elusive due to bad conditions. The route became a bit of a mental challenge and Theo had to take a couple of weeks break before returning to the route and sending it quite easily.

This route demonstrates one more time that grades are relative, especially for kids. Adults can come up with some sort of consensus most of the time, but the further you get from the average adult climber's morphology, the more relative grades become. Guere d'usure, which is supposed to be an easier 8c took Theo much longer to send (the crux of Guere d'usure largely consists of compression moves on good sloppy holds with bad feet).

We regularly try to tell our kids that grades are not that important and that it is all just a game, and what really matters is to try hard, enjoy climbing, and be the best of oneself, but the message is somehow inconsistent and I don't think they always believe us because most adults that kids look up to seem to take grades very seriously. Never mind, we will keep trying:)"


Article after sending Guere d'usure, where Vladimir explains the background starting climbing regularly at age 8 and 18 months later doing his first 8b. Here he explains how he belays him after he did his first 8b+ at age 9.

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