First first ascent of a 9b by Ondra [update]by Björn Pohl - UKC Feb/2011
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For a long time now, we have become used to Adam Ondra repeating everything hard in every style everywhere. Lately he has began making more and more hard first ascents however, presumably because there's simply not much hard left for him to repeat.
His latest addition, La Capella in the La Capella sector at Siurana, Spain, is possibly his most difficult route to date, first ascent or not.
The 15m route was bolted by David and Carles Brasco and is, according to Adam extremely bouldery: A 7A+/B "warm up" section takes you to two back to back 8A+/B sections with no real rest between them. After these three boulder problems, which could be compared to one long 8C boulder, you get some relaxing 7c+ climbing to the top.
What is interesting is that this is exactly the kind of new school route Paul Robinson and Chris Sharma, among others, have predicted, i.e hard boulder sections stacked on top of eachother as opposed to long endurance marathons.
Everything taken into account, Adam feels this could very well warrant 9b, but adds that he is by no means certain and that time will tell whether this is correct or not. I asked the man a few questions and as the true professional he is, I didn't have to wait long for the answers:
Congrats Adam! Must be a fantastic feeling for you making the FA of such a route
after so much work! Do you think you would have done the route on that try if you would
have had more time?
Thanks! Well, I am not sure, suprisingly enough the last attempt I was in the best psychological mode of all attempts, completely focused and not thinking about potential failure.
What can you tell me about the route and its specific difficulties? Can you compare it to other routes you have done?
La Capella is a 15 year old project bolted by David and Carles Brasco and it is a completely independent line, the most prominent line of the sector in the middle of small cave. The route is roughly 15 meters long, but the crux is its first half, the second part above the lip of the cave is not more than 7c+, meaning that it is extremely bouldery climbing with two crux sections, both of them consisting of about five moves with two half-pad crimps to chalk up and clip. I am quite sure it is harder than any other short route I have ever done, it was a step harder than any other similar route in Frankenjura or back at home, but possibly I am simply out of shape...
How different do you find the process of making a first ascent compared to repeating someone else's route?
To work on a first ascent was for sure a bit different, during the first two days I didn't even know if I would be able to link since I was using an ultra-hard sequence for the lower crux. The knowledge that the climb was possible for someone else definitely helps when you repeat a route. The biggest difference is the enormous uncertainty about the grade. I suggest 9b for this climb, because of the effort I was forced to invest and also because it seems to be my style. Though I am still not sure if that is right decision and the route is not merely 9a+ since I have no idea about my shape right now and I haven't tried any other routes of similar difficulty recently to compare.
Thanks a lot Adam!
Here is a video of Adam working what was to become La Capella and Chris Sharma's Golpe de estado.
Source: 9b world climbers party