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.
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.
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: