Victimas Perez 9a by Tom Bolger

British ex-pat Tom Bolger has ticked his 10th 9a with Víctimas Pérez at Finestra sector, Margalef, Spain. Tom has been resident in Spain for a number of years and has gradually worked his way back through the grades after incurring a serious back injury in 2013. 

Tom Bolger returns to form on Victimas Perez 9a, 225 kb
Tom Bolger returns to form on Victimas Perez 9a
© Henning Wang/MadSkillz Media

Prior to injuring his back, Tom had redpointed an impressive list of hard routes, most notably Catxasita, 9a/+ (UKC News Report), the first ascent of Gypsy Blood, 8c+ (UKC News Report), alongside a number of other 9as and 8c+s. In 2014, he repeated Era Vella 9a, also at Margalef, marking his return to form post injury. Since then, Tom has focused his energy on climbing a harder project: Victimas Perez.

Victimas Perez is a leftwards traversing route on the insanely steep and difficult Finestra sector, where the easiest route to the top goes at 'hard' 8c+. Tom described the route as follows:

'Victimas Perez is a power endurance test piece, with no rests and consistent climbing on one and two finger pockets. It has a sting in the tail with a 7C boulder at the very end of the roof, which leads perfectly into the most awesome 6b groove feature ever...a true prize for climbing the 9a!'

Tom tried this route over a couple of seasons and admitted that it felt 'super hard'. The line has seen just a few ascents from strong climbers - including Iker Pou, Daniel Woods and Enzo Oddo  - and is on first ascensionist Ramon Julian Puigblanque's favourite wall, who Tom noted is 'notorious for sandbagging'. This winter season, Tom managed to mop up the 8c+s of Pal Norte and Oal Oeste in Espadelles, Margalef.

Tom Bolger: 'This is by far the hardest thing I've climbed since injuring my back'.
© Henning Wang/MadSkillz Media

Feeling in shape, Tom set about trying the project again and made quick progress, but kept falling on the last move. He told UKC:

'I fell there 7 times and it was starting to become a real mental battle. I would get there feeling solid, but not stick the lurchy low percentage dead point move at the end.'

On the day of the successful ascent, a shoulder twinge looked set to hinder Tom's chances, as he explained:

'The day I did the route I fell off on the same move first go and I pulled my shoulder from the long crossover move. I figured I was going to have to rest the next day anyhow and gave it one final whirl, and somehow I bloody did it!'

Summing up his feelings on climbing the line, Tom told UKC:

'So psyched, this is by far the hardest thing I've climbed since injuring my back in 2013 and that's what made this climb feel so special, as I had tried it before I injured myself and got spanked! Progress and the personal challenge and overcoming injury is a great and rewarding process! Psyched for the next challenge. Amuerte!'

Watch a video of Tom's ascent made by MadSkillz Media's Henning Wang below:

Tom is sponsored by: Beta Climbing Designs and Tenaya

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