INTERVIEW: Chris Sharma on First Round, First Minute

19 April, Chris Sharma made the first ascent of what was quite possibly the most famous sport climbing project in history: First round, first minute a steep line of bad pinches in the Laboratory sector at Margalef. To say it was a struggle would be an understatement. Chris fell on the last difficult move more than 50 times, and even managed to fall off once after all the hard climbing was done. Though Chris hasn't given the route a grade yet, I think it's safe to say it's his 10th 9a+-or-harder FA.

I've asked Chris, who turned 30 23 April, some questions about how he feels about this ascent and what it means to him.

Chris Sharma on First round, first minute  © Pete O'Donovan
Chris Sharma on First round, first minute
© Pete O'Donovan

First of all, big respect for being able to do this route after such a long time and after coming so agonizingly close so many times!
Are you able to truly enjoy the feeling of success or is it mostly about relief?

Thanks man, I'm really happy to finally send after so much time and so many attempts. Actually sending this route was maybe my most rewarding send.
Most often these big projects are pretty anti climactic after so much anticipation. With "First round" though I had gone through so many different phases:
I was so inspired when I first bolted the line and started working it, the excitement when I started actually feeling close, then frustration and defeat after passing 1 and a half years falling at the last move.
When it finally came, I wasn't expecting it, I had moved on in a way and it was a blissful moment to have finally gotten it together and conquered the demon within.

Was this something you had to do to be able to move on to the next thing, what ever that is? Do you have any idea what the next thing will be?
For me it was definitely important in my personal progress. I've always been pretty positive and believed that whatever you set your sight on, with enough effort you can achieve.
"First Round" really tested me, and forced me to not force things. Sometimes progress means learning how to let go, move on and confront the fact that maybe I'll never do this route, and that's OK. But still it was a big thorn in my foot. It's hard to continue progressing after leaving such unfinished business.
As far as the next thing, we'll see. Of course there will always be harder and harder routes, but in the end I'm not sure that's what it's really all about. Not that I know what "it" is all about, but "First Round" really humbled me and forced me to reflect a lot.

What is the most important thing you learned from this process/experience? Would you have done anything differently if you knew then what you know now?
Just to stay positive, never give up, not try and force things. I think I've been able to stay psyched for so long, by following my intuition and staying true to my motivation. Climbing is something that needs to be enjoyable for us to be successful. It's easy to get caught up in personal and external expectations and get really sidetracked as to why we are doing this activity of scrambling up cliff faces. None of this helps us and I think it's a lesson in staying grounded and connected to the reason why we started climbing in the first place, it's the funnest thing ever and it's the best feeling to achieve something that seemed beyond our ability.

Do you think it's possible for you to really grasp how much you mean and have ment to the sport of climbing in terms of inspiration, development etc?
Climbing has been so important in my life! I feel very, very grateful for people, places, routes, and opportunities that I've come into contact with over the years. It's very rewarding to know that others get inspired by my climbing.

Do you ever get tired of being Chris Sharma?
Just when Daila is yelling at me to pick up my pile of dirty clothes :)

This 5 minute clip shows him trying the route last year. Adapted from the 2010 REEL ROCK Film Tour. Available at Big UP Productions and Sender Films websites. Filmed by Brett Lowell. Music by Swoop Swoop and Todayokay

Chris Sharma is sponsored by: prAna, Sterling Rope, Petzl, Evolv, Entre-Prises, Sanuk and probably some more

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30 Apr, 2011
I'd have thought Basher's prolonged siege for the first ascent of Mecca might rival that claim, no?
30 Apr, 2011
Well I guess its something to keep Ondra occupied.
1 May, 2011
For all of five minutes I'm sure!