Chris Sharma interviewby Björn Pohl - UKC Apr/2010
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Photos: Laurent Triay
It?s called First ley, and is around 9a+. In reality it's the left variation of my project FRFM (First round, first minute). There is a very hard section at the end of FRFM, you know. I've fallen ~30 times at the last move. I'm tired of (and pissed off) it and I wanted to try something else. That's why I turned left after the middle of the route. It's quite hard and it gives me pleasure to complete something difficult. Frfm still remains to be done, but doing First ley was a good thing for my motivation.
For You, what is lacking for you to do FRFM and this last move?
I've fallen a lot of times at this last move. It's not very hard, around 7B+ boulder, but it comes after 25/30 moves of pure resistance. It's a bouldery route, with a lot of hard moves you must link. But the problem is more resistance for me. Really extreme, but a perfect project that I dream to realize.
Your problem with the route is more mental?
Yes, it's a mental problem. After 30 falls on the same and last move, it's a real head fuck... It's not like falling in the middle. When you fall, you have made all the effort of doing the other moves of the entire route. It's very frustrating! I need to go away a little from the route, to climb at Oliana with Daila, to bolt new lines. To mix all the things, to regain my spirit. It's not good to try the same route over and over, for too long... I have spent several months on FRFM. Now, I need to take a break because I'm starting to feel a mental block. It was good for me to climb the left variation, for releasing some of the pressure. I've finished a part, it remains to finish the whole route.
Normally, it's easy to get motivation here because there are a lot of nice projects. But for me, FRFM is the perfect line so I'm very psyched. Sometimes it's not easy because you are tired but it's good to change, to bolt, for keeping the motivation. Or climbing in other places: Santa Linya, Oliana, Margalef... mix the styles...and sometimes rest.
When you leave for a one or two month trip, it's hard to be motivated all the time. But in Catalunya, it's easier. But to know when to stop and not to feel forced is important. And then come back with a fresh spirit later. Today, I ndon't need another day of work in the route, but a day with good conditions and good shape. A climbing day with good feelings. A good day, a good try... Having fun, it's the better solution. When you feel the challenge is too important, you feel a lot of pressure, you stress, and it's complicated.
I live here now and it's cool because with the different styles I can have different project in different areas depending on the seasons. I need to be patient. In FRFM, it's not a climbing problem, it?s a psychological war.
FRFM is very short compared to your other 9b's? How come you're trying such a short route?
Well, it's interesting to work all the climbing styles. Neanderthal is 50 meters tall, Jumbo love 70 meters. But, like I said, it's interesting to work some different stuff, here a very bouldery and aggressive project. In FRFM you need to find the right keys to make it possible to execute every single move, one by one. For example, the start is around 8B+ boulder, it's high level, but for me it's still resistance. Every hold of the project is perfect. When you leave the ground, every move is very difficult. It's not as a stamina route with more or less easy sections and rests.
Here in Catlunya, you only do sport climbing and no bouldering, why?
Right, I don't do any bouldering now, but working FRFM it's a little bit the same. I don't like boulders with few moves, I prefer longer boulders. That's why I like Margalef so much, because it's like bouldering but with rope. It's easier for working the moves, and not getting injured.
It's hard to compare the styles, but which of the routes you have done was hardest for you?
Es Pontas, Jumbo love and Golpe de estado, that's the top 3.
You can't make a choice?
Es Pontas is very particular, with this dyno, the two others... it's hard to compare, but they're quite similar in terms of difficulty. Golpe de estado is a little bit more bouldery, Jumbo love requires more endurance.
In Vancouver, Climbing it was decided climbing could become an Olympic sport in 2020. What do you think about this?
For sure it's a good thing. Competition climbing doesn't really excite me, so it dosen't change anything for me. I take more interest in opening new routes. For climbing in general, it's good. Olympic recognition will be more logical than for other sports which are olympic already... More recognition for sport climbing and for the athletes will be welcome. More people will see it, and more people will climb.
Your projects for this year?
Climb here, go to the US, make some competitions like Arco, manage this project in Margalef, and other stuff at Oliana, make some work in my new house. It's nice to have a project here, it's simple. I'm tired of having different projects in far away places. Maybe making some hard MP in Gorges du Verdon too...
We are at Santa linya, just in front of Neanderthal, can you describe this route? Do you have other projects here?
You have a 7b+ to a reach, then a 9a resistance route followed by a very big dyno to a sloper. After, there are some hard sections with rests and a final part in a roof. It's the hardest route here and I don't have any other projects in this area at the moment.