Alex Megos Frees 'Fly' - 20 Pitch 8c in Switzerlandby Duncan Campbell & Jack Geldard Jun/2014
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German sport climbing star - Alex Megos - has recently climbed the first free ascent of Fly, a 550m 8c on Staldefue, in Switzerland's Lauterbrunnental.
Widely known for making the world's first 9a onsight (UKC News Report), this 20 pitch 8c is Alex's first real foray into multipitch climbing.
The team spent four days on the wall to clean, practice and free all the pitches, with Alex leading all the pitches and onsighting all but 4. These were pitch 8 (7c), pitch 17 (8b), pitch 19 (8c) and pitch 20 (8b+).
Alex commented on the work he put in to climb make the route climbable:
"The 8b pitch actually took the most work because the bolts were not in the right place. So it took me a while to figure out how to rebolt this 8b in a sensible way. It took me the whole day to clean, rebolt and do the pitch. The 8c and the 8b+ pitch also took a complete day to brush, check out and do them. I checked out the moves on the 8c and 8b+ for about 1.5 hours for each pitch, until I found a climbable way. Luckily I did both of them 2nd go."
Although there is a lot of variety within the 550m route, with some pitches being run out, the difficult pitches are characterised by small holds on gently overhanging walls, which suit Alex's style.
Alex described the main difficulties of the route:
"The 8b has a bouldery section, the 8c is very sustained with a boulder at the start and and a thin finish and the 8b+ is vertical with hard and thin sections and some dynamic moves on the slab."
Fly was originally opened by Roger Schäli who bolted the route ground-up, often hanging from bad skyhook placements. Schäli then attempted to free the route but found several of the pitches too difficult.
Roger met Alex at the Cafe Kraft training facility in Germany and invited him to come out along with David Hefti and cameraman Frank Kretschmann to attempt a free ascent of the route.