Tom Bolger redpointing Era Vella, 9a, Margalef
UKC News, May 2014
© Said Belhaj
Tom Bolger, an Ex-pat Brit living in Spain has just climbed the Margalef classic Era Vella, 9a. This heralds a return to form for Tom who herniated a disc in his back in 2012.
In order to climb the route, Tom had to skip the last clip creating a 12m runout to the chains, which until that day Tom had never been able to bring himself to do. Due to perfect conditions Tom decided to go for it, but on his first attempt Tom took the ride. Tom described this attempt:
"It is a super clean and safe fall but it scared the turd out of me, I climbed higher and higher and got to the last cruxy move before the chain, I had never got this far before and the nerves and excitement swelled inside my head, I panicked at the thought of actually doing the route and just peeled off! Looking down at the loop of rope beneath my feet and the void below I let out a warbling noooooo.
The rope came tight and Lynne caught me softly I had the instant feeling off damn, "why was I so scared of the fall it's not even that bad". I had fallen from the highest possible point and that gave me loads of confidence for the next go."
Normally after just one attempt at Era Vella, Tom would be too tired for another, but with such good conditions and the fall tested Tom got back on for another attempt, this time climbing through the runout to clip the chains:
"The second go of the day I climbed with less pressure to do the route, I felt like I flowed well and wasn't concerned at all about the run out or falling. Clipping the chains I felt a great sense of achievement, returning to 9a after my injury meant that the personal quest of improving at climbing had begun again."
Tom first tried the route before injuring his back, and once he was able to climb again, Era Vella was the motivation for Tom to return to 9a fitness. Describing Era Vella, Tom said:
"The route is really a competition climber's dream, it's not really my style. I'm Santa Linya conditioned for desperate boulders broken up by rests. Era Vella on the other hand is massively continuous, bolt to bolt you think "alright this doesn't feel too bad", but then you realise that there aren't any rests and you need to skip bolts as you are too pumped to clip and you see mega climbing wads flying off the very top."