This week's ticklist is a mixture of hard sport climbing in Europe, with a couple of desperate Japanese ascents thrown in for good measure...
9a for Anak Verhoeven
Belgian climber Anak Verhoeven has climbed Joe Cita (9a) at Oliana, Spain. The 25-year-old has previously climbed up to 9a+ with ascents of Joe Mama in November 2019 and Sweet Neuf in September 2017. On Joe Cita, Verhoeven wrote:
'Probably the 9th-grade send-attempt I've enjoyed the most so far. A route with lovely climbing from the very beginning, lots of cool moves and a super spicy slab ending.
'I'm particularly grateful for this send because my right pinky has been bothering me for the last 2 months. It suddenly hurt after pulling on some ropes during an approach hike at the end of a photoshoot trip to Greece. I've had to hold back in training and until right before leaving, I wasn't sure if I would be able to go on this rock trip at all. The pinky is still not feeling great on some kinds of holds (and mostly in everyday life when grabbing things), but it has improved a lot and in this route if felt totally okay. About the grade: it's not the hardest 9a, but I don't think it needs a downgrade.
'And a little more about that last part: it is characterized by a funky crux move – left index finger into a sidepully/under clingy one-finger pocket, I then curl my other fingers around the index, place my right foot high and deadpoint to a crimp. Super interesting climbing. Thanks for the inspiration @martinademmel who did the route earlier this year.'
Yuji Hirayama still going strong
52-year-old Japenese legend Yuji Hirayama has made the first ascent of an 8c+ at Futagoyama, Japan, naming it Hanabi. He bolted the 30m route in 2020 and it features highly technical, vertical climbing. Hirayama has been climbing at a top level since the 1980s and his career highlights include a new speed record on The Nose back in 2002, an 8b+ onsight in 1999, and the FA of Flat Mountain (9a+) in 2003.
Kazuma Ise ticks 8C+
19-year-old Japanese climber Kazuma Ise has reclimbed Dai Koyamada's Hallucination after a hold broke and has suggested Font 8C+. It took him 9 days in total and he's suggested that it's the hardest thing he has climbed.
9b FA for Stefano Ghisolfi
Stefano Ghisolfi has climbed yet another hard first ascent in Arco, Italy. The Lonely Mountain (9b) is a harder, direct version of his other route Erebor and despite this, he has suggested it the same grade:
'Ended the year just as it started, with the ascent of the very first route I bolted in my life. And this is actually the first version I bolted in June 2020, it looked impossible at first so I added a bolt on the left and climbed Erebor last January. After that, I figured out the original version was possible and started trying the middle section, which is hard and exclusive of this route, adding some spicy moves with a dynamic from a very tiny crimp. It felt very hard at the beginning, then I changed almost all the betas in every section and finally climbed it today. And it's even harder to grade it, so I can suggest a symbolic 9b, even if it is harder than Erebor.'
The 28-year-old has also released uncut footage of his ascent of Alex Megos' Bibliographie (9b+) at Ceuse: