British expat living in Catalonia, Tom Bolger, has climbed his first 9a+ with an ascent of Chris Sharma's Gancho Perfecto at Margalef's Finestra sector.
Tom has gradually worked his way back through the grades after incurring a serious back injury in 2012, with 9a+ in mind as a long-term goal. During his time on Gancho Perfecto over three seasons, he accrued injuries and struggled to find a balance between work and climbing in order to complete the route. Tom told UKC:
'Having picked up injuries along the way and had setbacks, work commitments, dips in strength and motivation, the quest to get back to the route in shape at some points seemed impossible.'
The line has only seen six repeats in over ten years. Tom explained the difficulties as follows:
'It's super steep, powerful climbing with a heartbreaker finish: there's a deadpoint from a shallow two-finger pocket to a slopey three-finger edge on the lip of the wall. I had fallen there once in the past season and twice the day before sending, so the element of a mental battle was definitely there!'
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Tom missed the spring season for Finestra and thought that it would be another year with no success, but the bonus preparation time worked to his advantage. He explained:
'The extra focused training I managed to do and then having more time off in summer to climb meant I got to the Finestra wall in September in the best shape I've probably ever been in.'
Tom set himself a training goal of a link-up of two routes on Finestra, which eventually became Perfecto Passat 9a.
Perfecto Passat R2 9a ✅ It's a link up but it's class, another gem on the finestras wall, this route climbs the first half of perfecto mundo and then swoops into víctimas del Passat all the way to the top taking in some of the best climbing to be had in Margalef!! It's been great trying hard on this route with a motivated crew, perfect days here in Finestres Margalef, psyched for more and to try hard on the main proj Gancho perfecto ! Awesome shot by @esteban.ele.eme (thanks dude 🙏) @gabiliii @betoboulder @sara.richart @esteban.ele.eme @adriapetanas @lookingforwildofficial @climbingtechnology @tenayaclimbing @beta_climbing #climbing #projects #9a
'With my confidence built up and with a super motivated group of locals including my girlfriend Gabi, I felt in the best shape to get Gancho Perfecto done. In the end the route - as so often happens - went smoothly. It's crazy to think of the numerous tries fighting through sections to finally being able to do the route smoothly; it's proof that persistence and perseverance is what really counts! I'm psyched for the rest of the season out here.'
Tom adds Gancho Perfecto to an impressive list of ninth-grade routes including Catxasita 9a/+, Ciudad de Dios 9a/+ (Santa Linya), Víctimas Pérez 9a, Perfecto Passat 9a and Era Vella 8c+/9a (Margalef).
The next logical step for Tom would be to attempt Alex Megos' neighbouring Perfecto Mundo 9b+, which shares its start with Gancho Perfetco. Iker Pou's Nit de Bruixes 9a+ is also on his ticklist.