When is an 8c an 8c? Hardest Solo?by Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com Apr/2008
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The line between a highball boulder problem and a route is blurred. Maybe the hardest solo of a sport route happened in 2003! On April 11 this year, the American climber Kevin Jorgeson, known for hard solos, made the second solo or bouldered ascent of The Fly at the Waimea cliff at Rumney, New Hampshire, a route that was originally given a sport grade of 9a by a youthful David Graham in 2000. Jorgeson's is the second solo of this route/boulder problem which gets a bouldering grade of V14 (font 8b+) as well as a sport grade of 9a. The first solo of this route/boulder problem was Jason Kehl's ascent in 2003. The Fly starts of a ledge, with a short but nasty drop below and finishes at the E-Ticket Ledge a mere 20ft+ from pulling off the starting holds.
Enough of me spraying, here's a video.
Short isn't it? Way shorter than Darwin Dixit that Dave MacLeod soloed ... video here. But is Darwin Dixit 8c? The Spanish climber Dani Andrada doesn't think so. Dani has just repeated Darwin Dixit barefooted, although last year he failed to redpoint it, which was the same day that Chris Sharma onsighted Darwin Dixit and thought it 8b!
This is what Dani said on his blog, link, in blogspeak (translation courtesy of 'mrjonathanr').
"Santa Catalina. Really good (one) on the right wall which david G and I think could be 8c on-sight, afterwards we went to the laboratory where I did 'Darwin Dixit' 8c, perhaps more like 8b+, I had tried it the day that Chris did it and it seemed really easy to him, but it's really physical, this route was done not long ago by Dave .M. announced as first 8c solo, but rather it's a highball problem, today I did it barefoot, seems interesting to try solo since you can jump down to the ground because it's not too far."
But there again, if Sharma thinks 8b, Andrada thinks 8b+, why have Ramón Julian Puigblanqu and Konrad Saladra got it on their 8a.nu scorecards as 8c?
Quantifying something as the hardest solo is very difficult; it seems getting the grade right is even trickier. Was the UK's first E10 actually climbed by Antoine Le Menestral (ascensionist of the world's first 8b+) when he soloed, after practice, Revelations, an 8a+ sport route at Raven Tor in the UK's Peak District? How do big long solos like Alex Honnold's recent solo of Zion's Moonlight Buttress (V 5.12d; 1,200 feet) fit into this? Or even Chris Sharma and his deep water solo of Es Pontas, thought to be 9a+, but with a wet landing?
But there again, everyone knows that Spanish grades are soft!