First 9a's by Finns [UPDATED]

Andy Gullsten in the Darkness cave, Magic Wood, Switzerland, 39 kb
Andy Gullsten in the Darkness cave, Magic Wood, Switzerland
© Gullsten coll.

Recently Anthony Gullsten and Tomi Nytorp have repeated one 9a each, thereby becoming the first Finns to do this.

According to the Finnish climbing website Slouppi, and also 27 crags, in just two days, two Finns have joined the elite 9a club.

First, on 16 July, Andy Gullsten climbed Sylvain Millet's 40m Le Cadre Nouvelle Version in the Biographie sector at Céüse, after three days of work, and then, the following day, Tomi Nytorp climbed La Cabane au Canada at Rawyl, Switzerland.

The two climbers are in some ways representative of different aspects of Finland's still small but vibrant and burgeoning climbing scene; Tomi has been arguably Finland's leading route climber for a decade with many hard new routes both sport and trad to his name around the country, while Andy is a young climber who until really rather recently was focused mainly on bouldering, where he obviously developed some mutant strength and has repeated loads of hard problems including half a dozen 8B+'s.

Finnish climbing is leaping ahead currently. New bouldering and lead climbing walls have in the last few years brought lots of new people into the sport. This summer has seen a steady stream of youngsters (and a few vets too!) breaking the 8a barrier, along with new, hard sport routes being sent. Trad climbing has also not been forgotten with some repeats of older test pieces and some new hard and scary looking offerings.

Perhaps most exciting of all is as climbing's popularity spreads, ever more crags and particularly boulders are being found. Gullsten and Nytorp's ascents abroad can only add to the general sense of enthusiasm.

Congrats Andy! Was this a long time goal for you?
Well it hasn't been a long time goal but it has been on my mind for a while now. Probably since I climbed my first 8c and 8c+ I've been thinking if a 9a could be possible for me. This summer I decided to go back to Ceuse and try something harder, Le Cadre. The moves themselves didn't feel too bad, but linking them did. Fortunately after a few weeks of climbing in ceuse, my endurance got better, and I was able to try and link some of the sections together.

You mentioned before you wanted to try 3 degrees of separation... Any progress there?
Yea, 3 degrees... does interest me, but I haven't got on it yet. But I'll be here for another week or so after the WC in Briancon so I'll try the moves then!

Is route climbing something you want to focus more on in the future?
I do want to focus more on route climbing but also on bouldering too. I think it's good to do both! In Finland it's maybe easier to train boulder though...

Thanks Andy, and good luck at Briancon!

Anthony Gullsten is sponsored by: La Sportiva, Monkee clothing, Beal, Petzl and Cave

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