NEWS

EDITORIAL

Thursday, 14 January

La Rubia 8c+ by Michał Kwiatkowski

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Old-schoolers deserve more credit

EDITORIAL

Thursday, 14 January

Old-schoolers deserve more credit

There is continuous grade progress in the climbing community. Almost every year we see new records, meaning that old performances seem less impressive. However, the explanation for this progress may not only be climbers improving, but also an increasing number of hard routes to choose from, grade inflation, videos, better gear etc.

Today, there exist some 140 different 9a+ routes. This can be compared to about 15 routes of this grade twenty years ago. This means that it is much easier to find a 9a+ that fits your style. Furthermore, today you don't have to spend days finding the best beta - instead, you can just check a video. Then, there is grade inflation, which can be estimated to at least 0.5 grades, i.e. a slash grade, for the last 20 years. Another factor suggesting that climbers have not improved as much is that shoes have become better, knee pads have been introduced, etc.

A strong indicator that climbers have not developed as much as suggested by the stats is their performance on Action Directe 9a. During the last couple of years, this world's first 9a has only been repeated twice. If Wolfgang Gullich were equally strong today as when he established this route in 1991, he could probably have ascended several 9b’s in 2021. The same goes for Alex Huber. In 1994, he established Weisse Rose in Schleier Wasserfalle as an 8c+, which was based on Action Directe being 8c+. Later he said that "Today, the grade of “Weisse Rose” is definitely 9a+," making it the first in the world (see picture). In fact, three of his hardest routes have all been upgraded.

Another example of an old-school climber being at the same level as today's best climbers is Josune Bereziartu. Between 2001 and 2006, she did six routes 8c+ and 9a. At the same time, she also onsighted four routes 8b and harder.

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Two 8B+ FAs by Martin Stranik - Video

Wednesday, 13 January

Two 8B+ FAs by Martin Stranik - Video


Martin Stranik has the last week done two 8B+ FAs: Leda Kost Low in Moravský kras and Teorie Tygra in Vesec . The latter is seen in the picture above. Stranik, who's also silver medalist in the World Championship of 2007, comments to 8a:

"It was minus 3 degrees, but no wind, so not cold. It took me three sessions. One session figuring out the moves, second session close to send and yesterday first go from the start. It was heavy snowing but fortunately, there is easy top out. I am just breathing into my hand for some 30sec, then I climb. I have more problem with my feet and stiff shoes. Friction in these temperatures is unique."

In total, the 30-year-old Czech has now done 65 boulders 8B+ and 8C. In the 8a annual ranking game, he is #4 including having done 17 FAs 8B and harder. Last year he also did his first 8c+ and 9a, so one might wonder how he could be so productive recently. "Just keep my training and motivation;) and maybe I am a bit more relaxed with my climbing goals because of little twins, they are the most important now."

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We will prepare a video how climbers could land safer by using some parkour landing tricks.

EDITORIAL

Wednesday, 13 January

7-8 meters parkour landing



We will prepare a video how climbers could land safer by using some parkour landing tricks.

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I Portici 8A+ by Marine Thevenet

Tuesday, 12 January

I Portici 8A+ by Marine Thevenet

Marine Thevenet reports through a video on Instagram that she has ascended I Portici (8A+) in Osogna. She finished #7 in the World Cup of 2014, and has in total ascended 61 boulders 8A to 8B+, mainly in the last two years. (c) Clement Lechaptois

"We went to this isolated boulder when the sun came back on Ticino! After 3 days in the snow, it was so exciting to find a dry boulder! We warmed up in the boulder trying the easiest movements at the beginning, then by linking some sections. And I sent it on the first go from the ground. The psyched was high :) It was really cold, so to keep me warm I have a full of tricks! Climb a lot / no big rest / put on and put off climbing shoes really often to feel the toes / have tea and chocolate and... last but not least: bring a sleeping bag to the spot :) I used it like a plaid when I rested. It was -2* ❄️🥶"

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Alex Megos 8a Climber of 2020

EDITORIAL

Monday, 11 January

Alex Megos 8a Climber of 2020

For the last 20 years, 8a has listed the climber of the year based on their combined achievements on routes, boulders and competitions, as well as (to a lesser extent) on sporty performances on trad and big walls. We have also given credit for FAs and for being a good role model out there. As there have been so few competitions in 2020, we will not include these at all this time. Besides the Top-10 sport climbers of 2020, we will rank for routes and boulders separately. It should be stressed that such lists are, like for any sport, subjective. In particular, taking the Covid-19 restrictions into consideration, the ranking is less fair than for previous years.

The big sensation, as it stands, is that Adam Ondra is not #1 as he has been for almost ten years straight. Please forward names that are missing and climbers who should be placed higher up.

Sport climbing
1. Alex Megos GER - (c) Ken Etzel
2. Laura Rogora ITA
3. Adam Ondra CZE AUT
4. Julia Chanourdie FRA
5. Jorge-Diaz Rullo ESP
6. Stefano Ghisolfi ITA
7. Jakob Schubert AUT
8. Barbara Zangerl AUT
9. Seb Bouin FRA
10. James Webb USA

Routes
1. Alex Megos GER - Laura Rogora ITA
2. Jorge Diaz-Rullo ESP- Julia Chanourdie
3. Stefano Ghisolfi ITA - Angy Eiter AUT
4. Adam Ondra CZE - Barbara Zangerl AUT
5. Seb Bouin FRA - Martina Demmel GER

6. Jakob Schubert AUT - Solveig Kolherr GER
7. Jonathan Siegrist USA - Eva Hammelmüller GER
8. Moritz Welt GER - Melissa Le Neve FRA
9. Jose Luis Palao ESP - Mina Markovic SLO
10. Loic Zehani FRA - Alex Totkova BUL
Boulders

1. Drew Ruana USA - Alex Puccio USA
2. Daniel Woods USA - Brooke Raboutou USA
3. Matt Fultz USA - Natalia Grossman USA
4. James Webb USA - Oriane Bertone FRA
5. Martin Stranik CZE - Isabelle Faus USA
6. Vadim Timonov RUS - Katie Lamb USA
7. Aidan Roberts GBR - Karoline Sinnhuber AUT

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EDITORIAL

Monday, 11 January

Megos and Rogora voted Climber of 2020

1. Alex Megos GER 44 % --- Laura Rogora ITA 44 %
2. Adam Ondra CZE 14% Julia Chanourdie FRA 22%
3. Sebastien Bouin FRA 11 % -Angela Eiter AUT 13 %
4. Stefano Ghisolfi ITA 8% - Babsi Zangerl AUT 10%
5. Drew Ruana USA 7% - Brooke Raboutou USA 5%
6. Jakob Schubert AUT 6 % --- Alex Puccio USA 2 %
7. Others 10 % and 6 %.
The results are based on almost 3 000 votes, Male and Female Climber of 2020?

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Erebor 9b/+ FA by Stefano Ghisolfi

Monday, 11 January

Erebor 9b/+ FA by Stefano Ghisolfi

Stefano Ghisolfi has after 20+ days of projecting done the FA of Erebor 9b/+ in Arco. In total the Italian has now done nine routes 9b and harder including two 9b+'. (c) Sara Grippo

"It took me a lot of time, but I finally did it. Erebor is no more a project and became reality last Friday, with super cold weather and numb fingers I was able to climb the very first route I bolted in my life!

It has been a crazy process, begun after the first lockdown, bolted with the help (and the drill) of @sevescassa and tried for the first time last June, I immediately realized it was nearly impossible. After summer I started trying some attempts but only in the new year, I was able to clip the chain, after falling at the last moves more than 10 times.

In my opinion, I never climbed in Italy something as hard as this route, but I still think it doesn't reach the full 9b+ comparing it to Change (9b+) or Perfecto Mundo. Therefore my grade suggestion is 9b/+ that makes it the hardest route in Italy and my proudest first ascent, and I'm looking forward to someone will come and repeat it soon!

Last but not least, this is the "easier" variant of the route, and I already bolted a much harder version. This is another story (but I already thought "The Lonely Mountain" project would be a great name for that one."


What are your current 2021 plans?
Training for competitions and projects. Just lead climbing this year. I'd like to try Bibliographie or Silence and see if one of them is possible for me and try the harder version of Erebor.

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Guère d’usure 8c by Théo Blass (11)

Sunday, 10 January

Guère d’usure 8c by Théo Blass (11)

Théo Blass, who last became the youngest ever to have reached 8c, has done one more, Guère d'usure in Claret. His father Vladimir comments, "Claret is a beautiful and rather old school crag in the South of France famous for its hard grading and big but relatively safe (if you have a good belayer) runouts. Most route names are well thought through, funny and original and involve a degree of double meaning or play on words. "Guere d'usure" phonetically means "war of attrition" but the grammatical meaning is something like "hardly any wear".
(c) Laurent Dormont

Here are some further thoughts from Vladimir from last year when Théo had done his first 8c.

"Theo started climbing more regularly when he was 8 (he was climbing before, but quite irregularly). His progression was quite interesting: it took him a few months of projecting to send his first 6b+ (on top rope) and then he progressed from 6b+ to 8b in less than a year and a half. His training is a bit chaotic and highly dependent on motivation, time of the year and availability of other more fun activities (such as mountain biking, skiing or building a shack in the garden). At the beginning of the lockdown he trained a lot at our small home bouldering wall but then he lost motivation and did not train for a month.

From the dad's perspective, there are two key takeaways from the experience of belaying, watching, encouraging, counselling, supporting and occasionally arguing with Theo about beta: (1) adult grades are a bit of a nonsense when it comes to kids - two of the hardest moves on the route for Theo are among the easiest for adults - so not worth getting too excited about grades (especially when you are under 1m40); (2) even if fear, frustration and failure are part of the game, climbing kids of the world, enjoy every moment of climbing, projecting, trying hard, sending and try to have fun, and confidence - the future belongs to you."

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Estado Critico 9a by Giorgio Tomatis (17)

Saturday, 9 January

Estado Critico 9a by Giorgio Tomatis (17)

Giorgio Tomatis has done his fourth 9a, Estado Critico in Siurana after some 15 days projecting over two trips. In regards, Covid-19 Tomatis says he had to do tests before and after returning back home to Italy. Also during his stay, they made precautions.

"I had started trying this route on Christmas holidays last year with my friend Marcello Bombardi who had already done it a few years ago. This year thankfully the climatic conditions were a little better and I managed to close it after about 15 attempts. I think it's the most beautiful route I've ever done.

I think the helmet is a very important thing because a bad fall could lead to serious damage if you hit your head somewhere something that with the helmet would not involve any risk, I will certainly always continue to use it because safety is first and a good helmet does not compromise the performance. "

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