It has been a memorable month for the British climbing scene; one in which two seriously strong climbers with an international reputation came to visit and sampled our rock - incidentally, both going by the name 'Alex.' First came US soloist Alex Honnold, then came 22 year-old German sport-climbing hero Alex Megos. We've heard what Honnold had to say - now it's Megos' turn to dish the dirt on the UK and tell us what he thinks of our rock and climbing culture.
'I do a little bit of trad and I enjoy it, but climbing solo with a rope is not my thing.'
Alex's Ticklist (Jun '16)
- Hubble (9a) 9a - 12th attempt
- Kaabah (8c+) 8c+ - 4th attempt
- Evolution (8c+) 8c+ - 3rd attempt
- Northern Lights (9a) 9a - 3rd ascent, fell 12 times from the crux before ticking the route
- Progress (8c+) 8c+ - 2nd attempt
- True North (8c) 8c - 2nd attempt
- Pool of Bethesda (f8A+) 8A+
- Malc's Start 8B
- Halfway House (V11) 8A/+
- Director's Cut (V13) 8B
- East Coker (f8B+) 8B
- Louis Armstrong (V13) 8B
- Louis Cut 8B+ - 'probably soft 8B+ or since it's got about 20 moves it's more like an 8c+ route.'
When was your first trip to the UK, and what did you do/climb there? (and on any other trips before this month's?)
My first trip to the UK was in 2013 for a DMM meeting in Wales. That was when I made the first ascent of “Pumpenhausen Testpiece”. My second trip to the UK was for the CWIF in 2014, where we also went out with Sam and Lu Whittaker to climb at Raven Tor, Malham and on grit after the comp. I did a few classics such as Mecca, Bat Route, Unjustified, Raindogs, Deliverance and Brad Pitt.
Did you have much knowledge about British climbing history and culture before you came?
Well, I knew that Jerry Moffatt and Ben Moon were from the UK and that Sheffield was/is the centre of climbing in the UK (if not the world ;-). I also knew about Hubble and a few of the hard routes Steve McClure put up at Malham and Kilnsey.
What were your first impressions of the UK? (be honest!) Did it live up to what you expected?
To be honest it was beyond all my expectations! I didn’t really think that the climbing in the UK would impress me that much, but I got totally hooked!
Rainy weather here in Wales at the @dmm_wales trad festival enabled us another day at the #parisellascave where I came up with the idea of linking "Louis Armstrong" 8B (soft) into "Halfway House" 8A/+ making it "Louis Cut" which is probably soft 8B+ or since it's got about 20 moves it's more like 8c+ route. @redbulladventure @redbullgermany @patagonia_climb @tenayaclimbing @sterlingrope #climbnowworklater Pic @ray_wood
You come from the Frankenjura, a sort of climbing 'mirocosm' which has a rich history of its own. Do you think coming from such an area might help you appreciate what the UK is like - a small country but big on tradition and history?
I would say we’ve got quiet a big area there, but yes there is also a big tradition and history in the Frankenjura and I think that opened my eyes towards all the history in climbing in general.
You are renowned for training hard at Cafe Kraft. Have you experienced much of the training scene in Sheffield? What did you think of it?
Yes by now I have experienced a fair bit of the training scene in Sheffield and I must say there is nothing anywhere else on earth I’ve seen which is comparable to the Sheffield scene! There are more strong and motivated climbers than anywhere else I’ve been to!
Moving forward to this most recent trip - what was the motivation for coming back?
My motivation to come back was mainly having a good time and to climb/train with some friends. I always felt welcome at the Whittaker's and I haven’t seen them for a while (since I didn’t come to the CWIF this year) so I took the opportunity. And I still had a few classics left to climb.
After 3 years I'm back in Wales again for another @dmm_wales athlete meeting and climbing festival. Still had a few things I left from last time so this afternoon I could tick off "Pool of Bethesda" 8A+, "Malc's Start" 8B, "Halfway House" 8A/+, "Directors Cut" 8B, "East Coker" 8B and "Louis Armstrong" 8B. So it's been a good day out!!! @redbulladventure @patagonia_climb @tenayaclimbing @sterlingrope @aeetechnologyde #climbnowworklater #llanberis #wales Pic @ray_wood
You seemed to be very lucky with the weather - surely you don't believe that it rains here all the time now?!
I think people in general complain too much about bad conditions. There is nothing you can do about it anyway so make the best of it. But no, I don’t believe that it rains that often in the UK ;-) That’s a myth...
Where did you climb on this trip, and what were your impressions of each crag?
We basically just climbed at Raven Tor, Kilnsey and in Parisella’s Cave. And I liked all three of them! I would say there are some world class routes at Kilnsey! Great movement and climbing! Raven Tor is a super cool local crag. Short drive from Sheffield and lots of hard routes! Parisella’s is basically like an outdoor gym. A good place to get tired and train with lots of hard and cool climbing.
Tension is all you need 👍 Second day at Kilnsey is over. Did progress in "Progress" 8c+ and climbed it in my second go after I totally messed up the flash. It was as close as the two walls are apart from each other in the flash go. So not very close... Same happened with "True North" 8c. I really have to say, those routes here at Kilnsey are world class routes. There are not many places I've been to with such amazing routes!!! @redbulladventure @dmm_wales @tenayaclimbing @patagonia_climb @sterlingrope @entreprisesclimbing @climbingworks Pic @danielaebler
If you could pick a favourite UK route or problem, and favourite UK crag, what would they be and why?
I just go to all crags and try to climb everything, then I don’t have to pick ;-)
You clearly have climbed a lot on limestone, but is our limestone (i.e Kilnsey, Malham) unique in any way?
I would say it is unique yes. The style of climbing is something I’ve never seen anywhere else with all the underclings and sidepulls. I think is a very interesting style. It's not just - left right left right - like some other places!
I suspect you had a day or two out on the grit - what did you think of "God's own rock" and its climbing?
Yes I did have a few days on the grit. It’s a lot of fun and for sure something I can improve at. The climbing style of the grit doesn’t suite me very well so I’ve got a hard time with it. But I like it!
8c+, 9a+ or 8b+. Who cares?! It's the name that counts! And the name is HUBBLE! It's a piece of history! Thanks Ben Moon for putting up that thing and for having a vision! A vision for what is possible, the next step! @redbulladventure @redbullgermany @dmm_wales @patagonia_climb @tenayaclimbing @sterlingrope @entreprisesclimbing @aeetechnologyde #hubble #raventor #oldschool Pic @dave_heaton
Have you done much trad climbing? What do you think of our British obsession with nuts, cams and loose rock?
Yeah that’s probably the only thing I’m not super psyched on here in the UK, the trad climbing ;-) I do a little bit of trad and I enjoy it, but climbing solo with a rope is not my thing.
You seemed to be mainly sport climbing with some bouldering in Wales, did you get out bouldering in the Peak at all?
Not this trip. But on previous trips I’ve been bouldering in the Peak.
Did you meet any of the famous figures in the UK climbing scene - Dawes, Moon, Moffat etc?
Yes I met Ben and Jerry on previous trips as well as on this trip. This trip I even climbed with both of them! I met Dawes at the Climbing Works Party in 2014.
Sometimes you got to be patient and wait for the 8th try of the day to send your project! Sent "Northern Lights" 9a today at Kilnsey after falling off 7 times at my crux move about 2 thirds up the route. Thanks @danielaebler , Sam and Lu for the patent belays, the filming and the support. Thanks as well to Ben Moon for the beta last Tuesday! @redbulladventure @patagonia_climb @dmm_wales @tenayaclimbing @climbingworks @aeetechnologyde Pic @danielaebler
Are there any routes you would like to come back for?
Yes there are still a few routes I want to come back for...
Finally, the most important question: You have been staying with Sam and Lu Whittaker (UKC Interview). Who has the bigger biceps: you or Sam, and who would win in an arm wrestle?
I would say we are pretty even I terms of biceps size and strength. Haven't arm wrestled with Sam yet but it would be an epic battle!
Read Björn Pohl's post-climb interviews and news reports with Alex: