19 year-old Jim Pope has onsighted the classic 8b+ Kalea Borroka in Siurana, Spain, becoming only the fourth British climber to onsight the grade after Steve McClure, Tom Bolger and Alex Barrows.
Before heading to Siurana, Jim had been climbing at Catalonia's Santa Linya for a week. He told UKC that his expectations weren't high for the trip:
Having set the bar high in the first part of his trip, Jim continued his run of form in Siurana:
'I managed a day send of Directa Cornualles, also 8c. I had been trying to onsight my first 8b but wasn't having much success. I'd always wanted to onsight Kale Borroka but didn't feel like I quite had it in me yet, so I saved it and didn't plan on trying it this trip, but on the last day I decided to give it a crack and it went!'
The line is located on the steep El Pati sector of the Siurana Valley crags and follows a crack line up to some powerful moves on overhanging terrain before leading up a more delicate headwall. According to the 8a.nu database, the line has had only a handful of onsight ascents from some top calibre climbers: Steve McClure, Adam Ondra and Domen Skofic amongst others.
Steve McClure's first 8b+ onsight came in 2002 with Indian Summer at Kilnsey, followed by an onsight of Kale Borroka in 2009 and Take Okame 8b+ in Chulilla in January 2016 (UKC News report). Steve also made an impressive flash ascent of the epic tufa route Tom et Je Ris 8b+ in the Verdon Gorge in 2013. Tom Bolger onsighted L Mens 8b+ at Montsant in 2011. Alex Barrows onsighted Ixeia 8b+ in Rodellar in October 2017.