Spanish 8b Onsights for Alex Barrows

by Duncan Campbell - UKC May/2014
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Sheffield-based Physicist Alex Barrows has just returned from a trip to Rodellar in Northern Spain, where despite carrying an injury he managed to onsight his first two 8b's. In addition to this he also onsighted a number of other 8a and 8a+'s, as well as redpointing two 8b+'s. 

Alex Barrows onsighting the steep Eclipse Cerebral, 8b, Rodellar, 225 kb
Alex Barrows onsighting the steep Eclipse Cerebral, 8b, Rodellar
© Mark Tomlinson

Due to having a collateral ligament injury, Alex headed to the steeper venues of Rodellar and Tres Ponts in Northern Spain, though was still unsure as to how his injury would react to onsighting. His first 8b onsight of the trip came in the form of Maskoking L3, a 40m stamina route climbing through the middle of a huge cave. Alex talked about how the onsight went:

"I climbed the bottom section appallingly, nearly fell off about 3 times, and felt lucky to make it to the first set of chains (7c+/8a to there). There was no way I thought I was going to be able to press on through another 20m of roof, and part of me wanted to call it a day there and give up, but somehow the moves kept coming and I was still on the rock. Pulling round the lip of the cave I gave what’s got to be the biggest celebration scream of my life. It had been a relentless battle, a great experience, and I was really chuffed to have such a cool route as my first 8b onsight."

Buoyed by the success of his first 8b onsight, Alex soon tried another, this time choosing a shorter but still steep power endurance route called Eclipse Cerebral, featuring big moves on big holds. Alex described his onsight of his second 8b:

"Another fight ensued, with a few cutlooses and power screams (whimpers?), altogether rather more flamboyant than my usual performances, which have been accused of being tortoise-esque."

In addition to these two 8b onsights, Alex also onsighted 2 8a's, 6 8a+s and redpointed two 8b+'s, Alex commented on his favourite route of the trip:

"The most enjoyable route of the trip might actually not have been either of the 8b's, but an 8a+ I did on the last day called Kings of Metal. This is an awesome 35m line up the impressive back wall of the Ventanas sector; sustained thugging on good holds the whole way, perfect for onsighting, and a joy to climb on every move. You couldn't really ask for a better way to round off the trip. Except maybe for not having to come home!"

Alex's ticklist of 8th grade routes for the 16 day trip is as follows:

Tres Ponts & Figols:

  • El Percal, 8b+ - 2nd go
  • Saltimbanqui, 8b+ - 2nd go
  • El Batec, 8a+ - OS
  • A Por Espid, 8a/+ - OS


  • Maskoking L3, 8b - OS
  • Eclipse Cerebral, 8b - OS
  • The Kings of Metal, 8a+ - OS
  • Las dos Golindrinas de la Piscineta, 8a+ - OS
  • Familia Manson, 8a+ - OS
  • Montserrat, 8a/+ - OS
  • Paidea, 8a+ - 2nd go
  • Akelarre Extension, 8a - OS
  • Pieds nus sur la Terr Sacree, 8a - Flash

Due to his injury, Alex had had limited options as to what he could climb before his trip and so he began trying Steve McClure's Stamina Boys, Font 8B/French 8c+, a link-up of Staminaband, 8A, and Boy Band, 7C. Alex thinks it may be the hardest route length climbing he has done.

You can watch a video of Alex shuffling his way along Raven Tor below:

You can follow Alex's climbing on his blog:

Alex Barrows is sponsored by: and Scarpa

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