First Trad Ascent of Spain's Hardest Crack By Tom Randall

Tom Randall has made the first trad ascent of Spain's hardest crack, La Fuerza de la Gravedad (8b+) in Vadiello in Northern Spain. The route was established by Carlos "Citro" Logroño last year, and immediately became one of Europe's hardest crack lines. Unlike the rest of these routes, La Fuerza leads up a limestone crack. The crag is situated close to the well-known sport climbing mecca Rodellar.

Tom Randall on the first trad ascent of La Fuerza de la Gravedad 8b+., 237 kb
Tom Randall on the first trad ascent of La Fuerza de la Gravedad 8b+.
© Talo Martin

Citro originally freed the aid line using fixed natural protection, remarking that it could be anywhere from 8a+ to 8c+ before settling on 8b+. He spent quite some time projecting the line and produced a video of his ascent.

"I actually knew about the project well before Citro had done it and had messaged him to ask if he wanted to try it together," Tom told UKC. "Understandably, he was keen to work the project himself and literally the moment after he'd done it, I was booking flights!"

8b+ roof cracks in Europe are a rare beast and Tom is obsessive about trying to tick "as many as possible."

For Tom, it was important to try and repeat the route in a pure trad style, placing the gear on lead. He commented: "Whilst I can't in any way blame Citro for how he climbed the route - especially considering he is pretty much solely a sport climber - I felt that it would be nice to show other people that crack routes, if at all possible, can be done in a more traditional style."

In January Tom travelled to Vadiello to repeat the route with Talo Martin ("Madrid slab beast") and Hannes Pumann ("IFSC Swedish competition beast").

"I probably made two key errors from the off," Tom admitted. "To go trad climbing after only having indoor climbed for a few months, and to try a project with a world-class comp climber who thinks pretty much anything is "good fun."

Hannes Puman attempting La Fuerza de la Gravedad, 8b+., 160 kb
Hannes Puman attempting La Fuerza de la Gravedad, 8b+.
© Talo Martin

The group had two proper days on the first trip and worked the sections whilst dealing with cold conditions. On the second day, the route was prepared and Tom had taught Hannes some crack climbing tricks and tips. "He hugely impressed me with his ability to learn so fast!" Tom said. With the gear in place, Hannes suggested that he might have an optimistic attempt at redpointing it. "Thirty minutes later, I belayed with my jaw on the ground as I watched Hannes tick the route (and make the second ascent) with all sorts of sketchy makeshift crack climbing – utterly amazing! I don't think anyone at the crag could quite believe it, including Hannes himself," Tom explained.

In contrast, it just wasn't Tom's day. He said: "I spent the rest of the day falling off and climbing rather woodenly. Possibly it was the pressure of knowing I only had the rest of the day before going home, maybe it was being burnt off in style by a young gun or maybe I just wasn't getting it right. One last fight at sunset had me dangling on the rope at the crux with most of my fingers lacking knuckle skin." Tom vowed to return.

Three weeks later, after a good warm up and a quick working session of the line, Tom felt more optimistic, despite forgetting to perfect the top section. He commented: "It kind of made it more fun. I wasn't entirely sure I'd be OK fudging my way through a 7b+ roof crack whilst tired… it added an element of excitement."

Summing up this striking line, Tom said: "Ticking the route for me, was a real joy (maybe unusually for a crack!) I've obsessively been trying to complete my global crack list by gnawing away at the obvious ticks, but when a real modern classic like La Fuerza de la Gravedad crops up then I really feel like I should sing its praises!"

In terms of grading, Tom thinks placing the gear on lead would equate to something like soft 8b when compared to a lot of other cracks. "The main thing though," he adds, "is that it's a truly unique and pretty tough limestone crack – a rough diamond which isn't too polished!"

Watch Citro's video below:

Tom is sponsored by: Climb On, Five Ten, Rab, Sterling Rope, Wild Country and and is Director of Lattice.

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