Luzan Matyas on his Replica of Action Directe 9a Interview

We recently featured a video of Luzan Matyas completing an indoor replica of the Frankenjura 9a Action Directe at his local wall in Romania. The replica attracted questions regarding Luzan's motivation and the finer details of his creation, so we got in touch with the man himself to find out more...

An earlier version of the replica  © Luzan Matyas
An earlier version of the replica
© Luzan Matyas

When did you first decide that Action Directe was the route for you, and why?

I promised myself 6 years ago that one day I would try Action Directe to finally answer the question:Will I ever have the chance of climbing it or not?

In 2014 I knew that I was strong enough to UNDERSTAND its difficulty and it turned out that I was moving well on the route, and that if I invested enough energy then there would be a chance of doing it in the future for sure.

I believe everyone has a climbing style at which he/she excels. I am better on pockets than on any other styleand I also love this style.

Action Directe is a classic, an amazing looking classic, everyone knows it. This was enough to get the process started.

Luzan on his first working attempt of Action Directe 9a
© Luzan Matyas

Have you spent much time on the route itself?

I've been on the route 3 times up until now, so about 2 weeks in total.

Why did you choose to make a replica, rather than simply training specifically on pockets, for example, or trying to make more time to get on the route?

Training on a replica is the most specific training. I will say it: it's the best training.

But if the replica is set correctly then I shouldn't be able to send it fast. It demands lot of work, just as one would work the real route and you require physical training, you are training for the replica.

This training is, like you said, bouldering on pockets, specific campussing on one and two fingers with and without a weight vest on various holds, targeting strength or power-endurance depending on the workout program. I am going to release another video about these aspects sometime in the future.

What is your response to someone claiming you are taking a "shortcut" to the real thing, having "only" redpointed 8b so far?

My hardest redpoint is one single soft 8b.

It might seem like I am jumping from 8b to 9a, but in reality it's not like this at all. I could climb routes step by step, 8b+, 8c, 8c+, but instead I am progressing only on Action Directe.I train and naturally, as has happened so far, I fall nearer and nearer to the top which eventually "forces" me to climb through these grades anyway. The difference is that there are no intermediate steps. It is very simple and not revolutionary at all.

The famous Action Direct jump
© Luzan Matyas

How much time have you dedicated to building the latest replica, and what did the process involve? (did you take photos/imprints of the holds and angles etc?)

I needed three visits to build the replica.I did take photos but never took imprints. There are pockets which cannot be imprinted without the risk of damaging them.

So what I did was: the moment I came home from Action Directe I immediately went to the workshop and started cutting/shaping/forging/carving every hold from wood, finishing them off with a self-formulated clearcoat (Im a chemical engineer in this domain) to obtain an almost exact dynamic and static friction coefficient. It was imperative to do this as soon as possible, while I still could feel and imagine the holds.

I can now recreate every hand-and foothold from wood that is on Action Directe without using my datasheets and sketches. I feel them. All of them!

When will you go for an attempt of the route itself? How has progress been so far?

I will go back in the spring as soon as the sun is shining.

Until now my best effort was doing it in 2 parts, I kept falling at the pinch which is the entry-hold into the crux.

Do you expect it to feel much different to your replica?

No. The replica is something that if you work on for long enough, eventually it will be right.

Even after my second visit the replica already felt the same as the real thing. So from that point on I could make SLIGHT adjustments to ANY hold targeting certain weaknesses.

When I finally knew that I had successfully rebuilt the route in the gym it was a huge relief. I knew that from that point on I had the tools to train, I just needed to invest everything I had.

I guess it could be said that having successfully climbed the replica will give you confidence that you could do the rock route - do you think it has mental as well as physical advantages, or could it place more pressure on you to do the climb itself?

From a mental aspect it does put pressure on me, it makes me expect things from myself, which usually turns out in disappointment. That's why I try not to expect anything from myself regardless of my replica-performance.

Physically it is an excellent training tool, also engaging muscle memory and so care must be taken because if you overdo it prior to visiting the real route it will weaken the body equally specifically, so rest is crucial.

Luzan working on his single digit strength
© Luzan Matyas

What will you do once you tick Action Directe - do you have other objectives?

Wallstreet, Hubble, Demencia Senil and some projects here in Romania.

Do you think making replica climbs indoors will become more popular?

This is the question I've been waiting for!

By far the greatest advantage of the replica is that it spares the rock from deteriorations. The first time I touched the holds on the route I was quite shocked at how glassy the pockets and the footholds were. I became ambitious, motivated and realised that I had a chance to do it, but I also knew that it would take a huge amount of work and perseverance and it did make me think of the impact this would generate on the rock. I am referring to brushing, chalk, rubber etc.

The sequence of Action Directe used by Luzan to aid his replica  © Luzan Matyas
The sequence of Action Directe used by Luzan to aid his replica
© Luzan Matyas

I have had about 200 sessions in the last 16 months at the gym working the replica, hangboarding and campus boarding. Imagine that you climbed three quarters of the year on Action Directe working it then think of the possible negative impact you would generate on the holds - and all this without taking into consideration that there are many other climbers who try it almost daily or are determined to do it.

Even if I lived 20km away from the route, I would still build a replica and in the case of historical routes such as Action Directe this should be encouraged.

Tell us your top tip for keeping motivation high for training!

Have a goal. A big one. One which will take time. It needs a bit of courage but when you find the right one, the motivation will follow.

I do what I like, and I get a lot of power from this feeling.

Watch the video below:

Support UKC

As climbers we strive to make the kind of website we would love to visit, with the most up-to-date news, diverse and interesting articles, comprehensive gear reviews, breathtaking photographs and a vast and useful logbook system. As a result, an incredible community has formed around the site - we’ve provided the framework but it’s you who make the website what it is today. If you appreciate the content we offer then you can help us by becoming an official UKC Supporter. This can be a one-off single annual payment or a more substantial payment paid monthly or yearly which includes full access to Rockfax Digital and discounts on Rockfax print publications.

If you appreciate then please help us by becoming a UKC Supporter.

UKC Supporter

  • Support the website we all know and love
  • Access to a year's subscription to Rockfax Digital.
  • Plus 30% off Rockfax guidebooks
  • Plus Show your support UKC Supporter badge on your profile and forum posts
UKC/UKH/Rockfax logo

11 Jan, 2016
I like his ethics about not causing polish and wear on a route.
11 Jan, 2016
It's lucky his dream route isn't Chilam Balam...
11 Jan, 2016
I couldn't quite work it out... in the video he appeared to have sent the replica route clean. If so the real thing is kind of a formality that must be done. I wonder how he is planning on staying in form until the spring to be able to tick the real thing?
11 Jan, 2016
Potential niche market for Action Direct hold kits?
12 Jan, 2016
LOL. But in seriousness I suppose even on really long routes one could build a replica of the crux sequence and get that completely dialled before attempting the route.
More Comments
Loading Notifications...
Facebook Twitter Copy Email LinkedIn Pinterest