torsdag 26. januar 2012

The Heat


Sindre left the 12-th, Therese the 13 (friday the 13-th) and Martin and Maria the 14-th. Then came the HEAT...

In winter the sun is low, covering the entire cave until one hour before dark when the shade takes over. Later in spring the sun rises and the inner part of the cave stay´s in the shade most of the day.
Normal mid winter conditions is cold and climbing in the sun is both nice and almost the only option.
This winter has so far been abnormally warm, but the last weeks of January was extreme. The sun made it feel like late spring, but without the option of hiding in the shade...

We tried to climb in the sun, but even Hannah who usually deals with heat much better then me, was struggling just working moves.
Giving up on climbing in the sun, we where left with 1-1,5 hours of light in the shade in the evening before it got pitch black.
To compensate for this lack of climbing time in the cave, I started going to the easier sector Fútbolin just up the road from the village.
This wall gets more air flow and is in general not as warm as the cave. The hardest route is a very soft 8a, but the mainly the routes are in the 6b-7b range. After a few days I have so far climbing all but two routes (a 7b and a 7c).
"Tobias on Spanglish (7a+) @ Fútbolin last spring"

Hoping to find conditions elsewhere we then went to Rodellar.
Rodellar is normally wet in the winter, but because of the warm weather and lack of rain this year, the entire valley was completely dry!
Wanting to climb at Ventanas we left Santa Linya early in the morning and after driving for 1 hour and 50 min we where there at 10.30.
The middle and right part of Ventanas get´s sun this time a year, but only in the morning. More psyched for the routes to the left, we decided to try climbing in the shade.

The shady wall felt great, so I decided to warm up by trying to onsight the 7a+ "La del Taco" all the way to the left on the wall.
At the second bolt I realized my mistake as all feeling disappeared from my hands and feet. Hoping to be able to recover on better holds higher up, I kept going.
I did get to some better holds, but upon touching the wall, feeling was again lost.
From there I ended up battling my way up horrible technical sneaky climbing with no feeling all the way to the chain, returning to the ground feeling flash pumped but still not really warm.

Not really sure what to get on next, I ended up trying the 8a/+ "La Rubia y el Empujador" as there where quickdraws in all the way.
Figuring I had nothing to lose by trying to onsight as far as possible, I tied in and went for it.
I passed the third bolt and did some big slap moves into a tufa.
Once again losing feeling in my hands and climbed into a hopeless position, I looked down.
To my horror, the gate of the third draw had failed to close, now a good meter or so below my feet, the rope was running free all the way down to the second bolt.
Now, no longer feeling my hands, I desperately tried to down climb. Having done a huge move to end up in the position I was in, I failed, and came off.
Catching massive air and seeing the ground coming at me, the rope finally caught, smashing me hard into the wall half a meter of the deck.
Felling lucky not to break anything, I limped away from the route with a bruised left heel and hand.
Hannah then tied in, going bolt to bolt trying to warm up. Failing that she came down frustrated, still cold after going through two thirds of the route.
"The dark wall of Ventanas seen from the base of Espirit Rebel"

Tired of the cold in the shade, we then went over to the Delfín roof, one of the few things still in the sun.
Hannah did el Delfín (7c+) in the spring, I fell on the last hard move on the flash and never got on it again.
I figured it was time for a rematch, but the route proved resilient. The first attempt, not remembering much and not having climbed for hours, I soon got numb hands and ended up with the wrong hand on a hold in the final roof.
I tried to pull through, but slightly missing the next hold, I came flying off. I then tested the moves a bit, before going for it again.
This time, feeling much more tired, I climbed through the roof to the last move, stalling out not seeing the pocket and unsure of where to place my feet. I ended up trying to place a heelhook, but it slipped and I came off once again...

It was getting dark so we headed up to Kalandraka to see if we could stay there for the night. The refugio is winter closed, but by calling a phone number they are supposed to come and open the dorm.
Unfortunately for us they did not answer the phone...
Not psyched to sleep in the car, and not aware of the open hotel just down the road, we then ended up driving all the way back to Santa Linya.
"Headlamp writing during a timelaps in Santa Linya"

fredag 20. januar 2012

8 Months Later.. Part 3


To those of you not knowing too much about the Norwegian climbing scene, I will try to make a comparison to some of the better know American "Rockstars".

In climbing style and approach Magnus Midtbø and Sindre Sæther can be seen as a Norwegian equivalent to Chris Sharma and Tommy Caldwell.
At a younger age the two great talents where the hopes of a climbing nation, neck in neck, pushing comps and hard sport climbing.
Then as Caldwell, Sindre´s focus shifted more to the mountains and the hard scary big wall climbing of he´s home in Romsdalen.
Here the similarities somewhat come to and end. Where Caldwell climbs on super solid "safe" granite in Yosemite, working the big walls as sport climbs, Sindre climbs in a much more unsafe wall with very short windows of conditions, forcing him to climb much more onsight on both loose and wet rock.
(I could also add that Sindre isn´t cursed with a squecky little voice, and still has all he´s fingers).

Magnus on the other hand, more like Sharma, kept pushing for international comps and hard redpoints, achieving a level far beyond that of any other Norwegian, the only one to climb past 8c+, and amazingly reaching all the way to 9b.

Sindre lives in a small remote place known as Isfjorden (directly translated: The Ice Fjord), and where Magnus spends most of he´s time training indoors in the big city of Oslo, Sindre with only a tiny old bouldering room available, spends he´s time climbing outdoors and running in the mountains.
In this way, Sindre, much like a Rocky Balboa of climbing, has developed this extreme ability to endure and fight until the very end, an end far beyond where most (me included) would have fallen off or just given up.

In recent years Sindre´s sport climbing trips have been about moving from crag to crag, onsighting and trying to do routes in a day, two at the most, not knowing if he would be staying or going.
Joining us here in Santa Linya, where redpoint is the order of the day, gave him a chance to spend a bit more time and try harder routes.

Perhaps the main project he was psyched on was a route he had tried briefly with Kiffen a few years back, called Ingravid Eskerps (8c).
Ingravids is the original (and yet somewhat unlogical) start to Rollito Sharma. It starts off to the right and is about 7c+/8a before a short hard crux with a undercling mono directly into the long crux move of Rollito.

Not having done Rollito from the normal "easy" start (from the left) and not having tried the crux after the hold broke, Sindre started off trying Rollito Sharma + extension (8c), falling only once in the extension after getting past the lower boulder crux, before sending.
"Sindre entering the upper crux on Rollito Sharma Extension 8c"

Since the picture above might give you the illusion that it´s a short slightly overhanging route, I´ll give you a picture from inside the cave to show you just how steep it really is!
"Hannah on Rollito, Therese in the background on the short but sweet A Plom"

Not long after sending Rollito Sharma Extension, Sindre got back on he´s old project, Ingravids Eskerps (8c).
I was filming from the ground when Sindre, looking tired, battled he´s way through the first crux and into the crux of Rollito.
Here, almost everyone manages to get a weird kneebar and shake a bit, Sindre how ever, didn´t. So, with no rest, he just kept going and slightly missing the hold, came off.

It was getting dark, cold and the humidity was rapidly rising. I was on a route to the right just hanging around getting nowhere (as usual), when Sindre decided to have another go "just for the training".
Looking wasted, trying to warm up pulling on the jugs on the warm up traverse, I was expecting him to come flying at the second bolt.

It was therefore to my, and everyone else´s (including Sindre), surprise when he somehow managed to pull himself past the first crux and into the Rollito crux one more time.
Desperately slapping for the hold this time, he somehow managed to hit it, stay on, and get into easier (but not less steep) terrain.
Then came a Rocky style fight like nothing I have witnessed before. Sindre seemed to be falling off at every move, slipping more and more on the now humid holds, somehow just barely managing to stay on, yet not able to shake out, fighting he´s way through to the first chain, clipping the anchor almost in the dark for he´s second 8c of the trip.
"Sindre entering the Ingravids crux the attempt before he did it" (video still)

Since there still seem to be some confusion, (and for sure will be more in the future), I have drawn up some of the more relevant lines on this part of the wall, (see picture below). The wall keeps on going beyond the picture with further extensions to all the lines I have drawn up, but in the spirit of keeping it "simple" I will leave those out for now.
"Some of the routes (and link-ups) in the inner part of the cave "

A quick guide to understanding the picture.
- Black arrow estimates approximately the grade up to that point or a point of interest on the line in question (red line = Rollito, and so on).
- White arrow (only used once) is a point of interest after the joining of Ingravids and Rollito.
- The green dots following Rollito Extension is Ingravids Extension. Sindre, completely wasted at the first anchor, did not try to link into the extension for the "bonus" /+ grade.
- Pink is the "normal", or "easy" version if you like, of Open your Mind to the first anchor (just outside the picture).
- Orange is the Directa start Magnus did. The stapled line following the pink symbolises the shared part to the same anchor.

As i mentioned before in the last post, the line goes on for another 15 meters, all the way to the top of the cave, (at around 8b+ on it´s own). From the Directa start this (at least in the guidebook) gives a /+ up from "just" 9a to the first anchor.
Adam Ondra recently gave an intervju where he mentioned this route as one of those he had yet to finish.
He also said in the intervju that he had previously done the normal "easy" start all the way to the top (8c+/9a), and fell in the "easier" terrain in the top from the Directa start, that is after the first chain (9a), going for the full line.
Magnus was only really trying to do the first part (9a).
Once he got up it, he had a go at the extension. Barely having tried it and to impatient to sit and rest, he fell off just after the first anchor.

This is where people seem to be getting confused. Magnus climbed the 9a part to the first anchors, he has not downgraded the full line from 9a/+, nor has he climbed the line Ondra didn´t, seeing as Ondra also got to the first chain.
What Ondra was talking about in the intervju is the full line, that is including the extension...


On new years eve the entire Norwegian Santa Linya team gathered for a day trip to Oliana.
Having been in the cave for weeks, the change of scenery was well worth the trip.
Hannah and I had never been to Oliana before (even thought it is only about a 1.5 hour drive).

The reason for this is that the routes are mainly hard and very very long.
We have not wanted to have projects so far from home, and not feeling ready to go there for onsight/flash, we´v just kept postponing it.

Hannah was having a rest day, and upon seeing the massive wall, so was Therese.
We arrived quite early, but unfortunately, the baking hot sun was already on the wall.
A little breeze was at times present, combined with the whole location of the wall, giving it a bit fresher air then what is usually found back home in the Santa Linya cave.

Magnus was psyched to attempt the onsight of the 48 meter long monster tufa route Humildes pa Casa (8b+).
(A clip of Sharma climbing on it can be seen in the Reel Rock Tour 2010 video.)
There where people hanging on it and on the shared start route, so Magnus decided to have a "warm up" go on the 45 meter long Paper Mullat (8b+/8c) on the other side of the wall.
He had tried the route a few times on a previous trip, but ultimately fallen on the very last moves, and not returned.

There was an old dynamic rope hanging from the top of the wall in the bushes behind the route. I had a quick look at it and decided jumaring up it for a few pictures might be worth the risk.
A german kid was climbing on a route next to it, and when I was about half way up the wall, he had got to the anchors.
A bit worried about what the rope at the top looked like, I called up for him to check it. A few seconds later I wished i hadn`t.
"Dosn´t look very good" was he´s reply, and looking down, I thought to my self, great, I´m gonna die.
Luckily, after fishing some more details out of the kid, I (to my great relive) soon realized he knew little about ropes, he´s "not very good", was but a fluffy sheath:)

Eventually, after jumaring 50 meters, I got up and Magnus set off.
He did not disappoint, and without remembering much of the top, he sent the route.
"Magnus sending Paper Mullat 8b+/8c"

A bit later Magnus was again getting ready, this time for the main route of the day.
It was now just over mid day, the sun was on the wall, the breeze I had felt before was gone, and it was hot.
As so many times before, Magnus was to impatient to wait a few more hours for the shade (and much better conditions), and set off.

The first 15-20 meters or so is more "normal" face climbing, the last 30 meters on the other hand is pure tufa madness.
There seemed to be a crux just where Magnus entered the tufa, but after passing that, he once again made it look easy, steadily working he´s way up the wall.
At the very top of the route there is a "vertical/slab" crux. The tufa comes to an end and you have to find some small hard to see crimps and "blobs".
After about 45 meters of climbing Magnus got to this point. There was very little chalk and no tickmarks.
He moved around, struggling to fight of the pump, desperately looking for holds, finally slipping off and came flying.
"Magnus falling of the onsight on the top of Humildes pa Casa 8b+"

The slippy warm tufa had shredded Magnus´s skin, he was not able to climb more that day, nor did he manage to grow it back before leaving for Norway a few days later.

The same day, a bit further to the left on the wall, Maria onsighted her first 8a, Mishi.
Again I got no photo´s.. Partly because I can`t be everywhere at once, but also because I want to attempt the onsight of that route my self in the spring...

Not feeling up for a hard onsight, Kiffen and I tried La Marroncita (8b). It was in the middle of the sun and felt really hard. We where both done for the day after just one trip up working through the sections.
I can add that Maria later came back and did it in a day, first going quickly through the moves, then falling at the crux in the middle and linking from there to the top, then from the ground falling at the top, before somehow managing to go again and sending it.

To me, climbing up the full 35 meters 3 times and then still be physically and not least mentally capable of going up a fourth time and then sending it, is much more impressive then doing it (much more fresh) in a second go, but I guess that´s just me. Anyways, respect to Maria:)

(Back to the story of new years eve)
Shade finally hit the wall and the conditions improved drastically.
Unfortunately for Sindre, everyone was done for the day. We where all packing up, when Sindre, still tired after he´s previous attempt, tied in for a last ditch effort on the 45 meter long De Picos Pardos (8b).
I was belaying (hence yet again no pictures), and just standing there, looking up at the massive route, I was happy I was staying on the ground not having to go all the way up there.
Not recovered from he´s last attempt, Sindre almost fell on the first hard moves, but yet again he somehow digged deep and fought he´s way up in he´s characteristic, never giving up style, somehow making it all the way to the chains.

Back in Santa Linya

Magnus only had a few days left, having done almost all the routes up to 9a, he decided to try a rarely repeated one called "Mercenaris del Passat" (9a).
After a quick glance at the guidebook, he ended up trying the 9a from the wrong start (a 7c into a short broken 8b). Meeting massive resistance on the 8b, and with he´s skin still all fucked from he´s onsight attempt in the sun in Oliana a few days before, he gave up when he finally made it into the 9a part, deciding it was time for another rest day.

With only one day left and no more "easy" routes to do in a day, Magnus had a go on Chris Sharma´s unrepeated "Neaderthal" (9b), checking out the moves to see if it was something he wanted to train for and come back to.

Neanderthal starts in a short 7b+, then follows a easy traverse up a ledge system to a no-hands rest. From there it´s an intense, but not to long, 9a with almost no rests directly into a hard dyno to a sloper from a bad two finger pocket.
After that you get some jugs you can recover on before the top bit at around 8b+ to the top of the wall.
Magnus did all the hard moves, including the crux dyno in just 3 try´s. Psyched to come back and project it, he left for the cold of Norway once again.
"Magnus in the midst of the hard climbing on Neanderthal 9b"

To those looking at the wall (or in the guidebook) I can add that there is a more "logical" start (8c+) directly below the ledge where the route starts "going up" and the hard part begins.
Since you get the no-hands ledge you can sit (or more like lie down on) until you are completely fresh, Chris told me he chose the easy traverse instead because he felt the 8c+ didn´t add anything to the route or the grade.

A perfect day

After Magnus, Knut and Kiffen left. We once again got one of those rare days with wind and super sticky conditions.
Hannah and I unfortunately wasted the day working moves and falling on the not to friction dependent long crux move on the lower part of Rollito Sharma..

Sindre, Martin and Maria on the other hand put the conditions to better use and went on a mad sending spree.
Sindre had since doing Ingravids been working on Fabelita (8c). Not really being he´s style he seemed to be struggling.
The day before he had been up it several times slipping on the "good" holds and barely linking sections.
Today, feeling tired, he was just supposed to work the route some more before taking a rest day.

Sindre´s normal approach when working something is to go from the ground as far as possible, then fall off (rarely take), pull back on and work what ever moves he would be unsure of or struggling with, then linking as much of the rest as possible.

On Fabelita he had (from the ground) been going to the second draw you skip in the traverse, a few (but the hardest) moves before the "rest", before grabbing it to avoid having to pull 10 meters back up and scare an already scared Therese belaying.

Tired, but with the wind and the friction on he´s side, Sindre seemed glued to the rock.
Where he would usually be slipping, he made it look easy, pulling past the traverse, managing to shake out on the good hold despite the steepness, making it all the way to the chains, never falling in the (also hard) upper part.
"Sindre pulling past the mono on the upper part of Fabelita 8c"

On the far right side of the cave there is a not so steep bouldery power endurance 8b called Código Norte.
I put draws on it when we first arrived, but as some of the holds where wet and feeling it was hard, I left it for later, got busy with other routes, and never returned.

Never (to our knowledge) having been onsighted before, I got Magnus psyched on trying it for the film. In usual Magnus style he unfortunately made it look way too easy (borderline boring), and as he was being lowered off he still didn´t know where the crux had been...

This day Martin started trying it. Going through the moves he both found the crux and a sequence through it. He then tied in for the redpoint, first falling at the very top, before sending it in he´s next attempt.
Maria had been falling, missing a stab to a pocket (the crux), on the hard power endurance 8a+ Irak Attack for several days, on her first try today, she missed it again.

Then on her next try she finally hit it and got to the ledge. From here the route (for some strange reason) traverses at least 10 meters on juggy holds along the ledge to the right. Never having tried the easy traverse at the top, Maria then somehow managed not to see any of the last 3 draws before clipping the anchors from a scary loose-ish block in a place you really don´t wanna fall off without those draws clipped.
"I didn´t find a video still of Maria on Irak Attack, so here is another of her sending the 8a Devórame Otra Vez"

With Irak Attack finally in the bag, Maria joined Martin on Código.
After a quick run through the moves she once again put her game face on, tied in for the redpoint, fought her way through the crux, sending yet another 8b in a day, and that in the end of the day after two trips up Irak Attack.

Sindre, still seeming a a bit surprised to have done Fabelita (a few hours before), then got talked into trying to flash the route.
It was still amazing conditions and with nothing to lose Sindre again tied in and set off.
After getting a bit lost in the crux section, he ended up desperately slapping for a crimp, only just sticking it, before recovering on some better holds (where Magnus is in the picture below) and finishing of the tricky vertical top part easily for he´s first ever 8b flash, making it for Sindre what can only be seen as a perfect (sport) climbing day with (at least according to him) both he´s hardest flash and he´s hardest redpoint in the same day!
"Magnus just after the crux on the onsight of Código Norte 8b (video still)"


Taking a short break from her normal bouldering to joining us here, Therese both tied into a rope, sent some routes and managed to belayed a 8c redpoint during her stay!
As a dedicated boulderer Therese has a lot of power but lacks endurance. That combined with a fear of heights made Daila Ojeda´s, 12 meter long route, A Plom (8a+) one of the logical lines to try.

With the main crux at the 3 bolt the moves are hard. Therese however easily did all the moves and found it to be very pumpy, (she did manage to get a lot of moves out of 12 meters).
She got past the hardest move almost every time, but without the best beta on the rest, she managed to fall off many times, almost always in a slightly different spot, before finally one day after adjusting her beta slightly, finished off the route, silently moving past the hard moves and desperately screaming and throwing from jug to jug at the top.
"Therese sending A Plom 8a+ (video still)"

After sending A Plom, Therese got a bit more ambitious and decided to try the 20 meter long Trío Ternura (8a).
Trío is two boulders separated by a jug up to the 4th bolt. This first and hardest part is shared with Fabelita (8c), Open your mind (8c/+) and Fabela (8c+).

Just after the 4th bolt you get a good jug and can shake out before a tricky little traverse leads into a good no-hands kneebar in a hole after the crux on Arqueologíco (7c). From this "rest" the route is shared with the 7c and follows a series of long moves between jugs to the top, not harder then 7a+ in it´s own.

Therese rapidly climbed past the first part, but fell first once just after the jug on the 4th bolt, and then looking down, got scared and gave up in the upper part after the kneebar on another attempt.
Never having climbed this high on anything harder then 6b before, she was reluctant to try out the top moves. She ended up having several goes from the ground before eventually digging deep and forcing herself to go through the moves all the way to the anchor.
Once that was done, the route went down the next attempt.
"Tc sending Trío Ternura 8a"

Just next to Trío there is another, much harder, start to the same top called El Koala (8a+/8b).
It is about 7b to the 3 bolt before a hard boulder problem to a good jug at the 5th bolt. From there it´s one long move from jug to jug over to the rest just above the 4th bolt on Trío, before the same traverse to the kneebar in the hole and either the very easy topout of the 7b+ or the slightly harder topout of the 7c.

Therese had tried the route briefly at the start of her trip, but had left it as she didn´t like our heelhook beta, then Martin did it with a drop knee, a beta that she found much easier.
After testing the moves just once she was at the 5th bolt on the redpoint.
In classic Therese style she somehow managed to get more pumped on the jug after the small holds and fell off on the next big jug to jug move...

The next day was Therese´s last day and she once again got back on the Koala.
Not having worked the moves more then just trying them once and going for the redpoint, she had no plan for the feet on the crux moves, something that lead to them cutting off completely in the worst possible position on the worst two holds on the route.
Looking strong, she still somehow managed to hang on, get them back on and pulled through, past her highpoint from the day before and past the traverse on Trío into the kneebar.
From the kneebar Therese decided to go for the 7c top again since she had been up there before. Once again she then had to face her fear of heights and fight of the steep jug pulling pump.
Looking much more tired now then the day before, Therese fought hard, and seemingly barely managed to hang on to the top jug and clip the anchor.
"Therese going for the jug at the end of the crux on El Koala 8a+/8b (video still)"

El Koala is given 8b in the guidebook but since then a hold has appeared, changing the entire crux sequence.
The route is therefore downgraded, but to what? Most say 8a+/8b, but Therese felt A Plom was harder and gives it 8a+.
Some say A Plom is 8a+/8b as well thought so who know´s. Therese has done but one 8a+ (Total Terror) before and that is a long time ago now.
Therefore I would say that this trip marks a step up for Therese from former sport climbing glories, both in route difficulty and in route length:)

søndag 15. januar 2012

8 Months later.. Part 2


About a week after the worldcup in Barcelona, Hannah´s brother Magnus (Midtbø) showed up in Santa Linya to try Fuck the System (9a) with Jackob (Schubert). They tried it in the sun for 2 days, their trip came to an end, and both left with no send.
Magnus was returning to stay with us for the holidays, and after only one week in Norway he was back December 18.

December 16 I got a message from Sindre (Sæther) who (to complicate the story) had already been down here on a brief visit just a few weeks ago. He was wondering if we had room for one more during the holidays.
I said we did and he send me a new sms saying he was gonna check tickets.

The next message i got was the morning of the 18-th. Sindre: "In Barcelona, got any good beta and how to get to Balaguer?"

Since we didn´t know Sindre was coming, we hadn´t told Magnus.
So by chance Sindre and Magnus ended up on the same flight but somehow managed not to see each other.
Magnus rented a car, drove directly to the cave, had several good goes on Fuck the System and got to see Hannah climb Fabelita.
Sindre on the other hand ended up on the slow train. First to Barcelona, then to Lleida, before finally Balaguer 2 hours after sunset.
From there on Sindre´s trip changed for the better, but I´ll get back to that later.

Fuck the System

The next day I was back up the ropes to film Magnus. He was looking much stronger after a week back home "resting" and had seemed very close on the route the day before.
So, not surprisingly, after a quick warmup he sent the route in front of the camera.

Unfortunately the sun was on and with only one anchor for me to hang in I got my shade in a lot of the footage from the upper part. The contrast was also horrible so one of the crux sections got horribly overexposed...

"Magnus passing he´s highpoint and entering the upper crux (video still)"

The news of Magnus send was out the same day, but unfortunately some of the climbing media jumped to some wrong conclusions and managed to call it second go/second day and so on.
Magnus wrote on he´s blog that he did the route on he´s second day of the (this) trip...

What people also don´t seem to understand is that most of the harder routes in the cave are in some ways link ups, variations, direct starts, extensions and so on.

Fuck the System is no different. It is a direct finish to the 8c Digital System and tops out in the same anchor as Blomu´s second extension (8c+).
It breaks away from Digital System after the crux (from that point to the top of Digital it´s about 7c+/8a) and goes into a crux section of about 10-15 meters before traversing into Blomu at the last hard moves.
There is a "rest" just where the route leaves Digital System and the main crux sequences are completely separated from the other two routes all the way up until the very last move.

"Digital System crux sequence (video still)"

Magnus had before doing Fuck the System done both Blomu and Digital System on previous trips, so even thought the hardest part of the route was new to him it seems wrong in my eyes to try to quantify the effort into days or attempts...

"To anyone wanting just a happy pappy blog and not my ranting about people trying to measure and compare climbing efforts, please skip down to the next headline:)"

The counting of days and attempts is in most cases a pointless way of trying to measure what can not be measured anyway.

The only thing that really matters here in my eyes are the Conditions! On most of the routes they make all the difference.
1 good day is worth countless bad once when you try to do hard redpoints. On a good day you could shake out on almost any big hold. In bad conditions you will be slipping on jugs.

This is the big difference to indoor climbing where the route at least in theory should feel about the same to anyone if we don´t bring the whole physical difference (weight/reach and so on) into the picture.

In Santa Linya the perfect days are the once with not to strong sun and wind.
The wind how ever is very rare and hopeless to predict in advance.

A route that can feel easy on one of those rare windy winter days could take weeks in the more normal foggy, warm and/or humid conditions or simply be impossible in the heat of summer. Making this whole obsession people seem to have with time pointless, a measure of nothing.

To my knowledge Magnus spent about 4 days on the route (not counting what was spent on Digital or Blomu before). He climbed it in the sun with no wind. On the first trip it was very warm, when he came back it was a bit colder, but still neither great nor bad conditions.

Had he gotten perfect conditions he´s first trip he might have done the route then, but on the other hand, had he gotten humid foggy conditions he might have needed more time.
It was not an onsight nor was it a flash, so I ask, does it then really matter if he spent 2 days, 4 days or 2 weeks to do it?

The Bolger watch

Since I first got to know Tom Bolger in the spring he has been working on Chris Sharmas Catxasa (9a+). I was belaying Hannah just meters away when Chris did the first ascent in January 2011. At the time I did not know what I was watching, but the climbing looked spectacular.
"Sharma on the actual first ascent of Catxasa 9a+"

When Tom then started working it about a month later, I started filming he´s efforts. Tom managed to get to within a meter of the anchors before summer came and the cave got to hot, forcing him to wait until late November before it once again was possible to climb on.

Tom lives in the Santa Linya village (just up the street from us), and a long side Sharma is one of the most dedicated and inspirational red point climbers I have ever encountered.

While I was struggling with my red point motivation on the Tano in spring, Tom´s motivation seemed unwavering. He would climb up (about 8b+) and fall on a desperate stab to a mono over and over, come back down, rest and go again 3-4 times a day for days, weeks, months.

With poor training facilities during the long summer (a hangboard) he seemed a bit unfit when we returned, but two weeks later the route finally dried up and after a few weeks of training on it, he´s form returned remarkably quick. Now he´s once again making it through the lower (8A+) boulder crux and into the upper crux of Fabela (8c+). (se video still below of the decisive top crux).
"Tom Bolger facing the last hard moves on one of he´s better red point attempts"

The red point game eventually gets to any man, (even Tom it would seem) and after attempts in the hundreds and several falls at the very top, Tom would look rested and fresh, but still fall off this one move (see video still above).
Tom has yet to do the route and has been taking a break during the holidays, but now, equipped with some new beta for the top crux and a new found motivation I hope we will get to see him do it any day now:)

A different Christmas

A few days after Sindre and Magnus. Kiffen (Kristoffer Torbjørnsen) and he´s father Knut arrived.
Martin and Maria also returned, but as our house was running out of beds they decided to rent a room over at Tom and Lynne´s.
"X-mas dinner. From the left: Magnus, Kiffen, Me, Sindre, Hannah and Knut"

I will not bother to much with dates as the days all seem to blur together down here, but I can say that Tc (Therese Johansen) also joined us the 26-th.

The wind was as usual absent, but for most of the time, so was the fog.
where damp after the sub zero temps at night and most of the day the sun was scorching hot.
Good conditions could only be found for about one hour, (also know as golden hour) just before the sun went off the wall around 5-ish
. At 6 darkness would creep back in and the humidity would again rise to somewhere between annoying and unbearable.

The rock in the cave is rarely sharp. One can work the routes in the sun without shaving off all the precious skin, but redpointing is a different matter.
Magnus found himself a new project in the linkup Directa Open your Mind (9a), and impatient as he is, he would get on it an hour to early and fall of at the top dehydrated and wasted for the day.
He also had a few goes on bad days when humidity was high and slipped of the bottom crux. But eventually he got a break, managed to wait for the sun to fade, and cruised up the route.

"Magnus on the upper part of Directa Open your Mind 9a (video still)"

Magnus had previously done Open your Mind (8c/+) years ago, but could remember little of it.
The directa start is a short 8c+ into the 8c part skipping the normal 8a start to the right (the 8a start adds the /+ to the grade on the "easy" version as there is no really good rest).
I was up in the ropes filming from above while Kiffen with he´s own brand new 5D (borrowing my tripod) filmed from the ground.
Kiffens video can be found here:

As always the critics at managed to throw out some shitty comments about preclipping and a cheaterstone? (seriously...) Anyways, I will try to clarify here as I will no longer comment at the 8a site.

The route has (to my knowledge) never been done without 2 preclipped bolts. It is the normal ethics down here (at least on the hardest routes) to start with 2 bolts clipped, dangerous or not.
The first bolt is usually just there to reach the next and to keep the climber from crashing into the belayer when he(or she) falls at the 3 bolt.
The routes are long and potentially hitting the ground on a hard second clip for no other reason then to prove a point makes no sense. Sport climbing is about the physical aspect of climbing, not the danger.

The other comment about starting from a stone is even more funny. It´s a route! Not some low boulder.
I agree that building stone towers (like on many routes in Margalef) to skip hard first moves is a valid issue but also a whole different matter.
Here the small stone he starts from only serves the purpose of protecting the shoes from the sand on the ground, it has no effect on reaching holds or making it easier in any way...

About the grade... There is another extension to the route graded 9a/+. It´s basically an additional 8b+ after a good rest where the first 9a part ends. Most say it doesn´t really affect the grade, even thought mentally it of course makes some difference. The problem with the extension thought is that it never gets climbed.
When Magnus went up there to test the moves he was faced with holds covered with old birds nests and very little chalk. He only tested the extension that one time.
One the red point when he got to the first anchors, he tried to go on, but to impatient to sit in a uncomfortable ledge/hole for 30 min and rest properly he rested briefly and went for it, got a cramp in one arm (that stuck with him for days), and fell off.


Having forsaken the rope lately, Kiffen seemed a bit out of shape compared to former glory days, something he´s father, the always funny, Knut kept reminding him to everyone´s amusement. "I´v never seen you this weak Kiffen".
On top of this I managed to set the hue on the camera a bit too much in the pink-ish direction while filming him trying the power endurance 8a+ Irak Attack, and well, you get the picture:D
"Kiffen in pink on the crux of Irak Attack 8a+ (video still)"

Kiffen, like me spent a lot of he´s time playing around with the camera, and until the very last day failed both to send routes and win once in the nightly texas hold´em tournaments.
The last day however, that changed, after sending Pegue Nocturno (8a) in a desperate last ditch effort after falling of the top 2 times. He surprised everyone (none more then himself) by finally winning a poker game, leaving he´s father as the only one never to win. (In comparison Hannah won 6-7 times and still sits as reigning champion.)
"Kiffen on Pegue Nocturno 8a (video still)"

fredag 13. januar 2012

8 Months later... Part 1

Much has happen´d since my last post. Too much for my normal detailed description so in the spirit of saying as much as possible in as few words I`ll try to give you the very very short version:

I left Spain in May without sending my 8b project and to top it off had a total epic getting the car back to Norway...
I then moved to outside Ole´s house in Sogndal, worked the summer in the mountains, joined the local climbing team "Team Sogndal Vertical" with my friends Ole, Tobias and Olav.
Then spent the fall complaining about the rain, working and training indoors. I managed to sneak away one week and had some great days in Kalymnos before finally at the start of November Hannah and I returned to Spain.

Spain the Second Coming

Not forgetting my car epics the last few years we decided to fly down this time and buy a car in Spain.
We arrived in Santa Linya at the end of a 3 week long rain period, the cave was soaked and we spent the first few weeks living at Tom´n Lynne´s place trying to climb what ever was dry.
We bought their old car so they could get a new, got introduced to some locals renting out a nice oldschool house just down the street and ended up becoming Santa Linya locals for the winter.

"The cave the second week with water leaks on at least 1-2 important holds on almost every single route..."

One of the first routes to dry up was my project from the spring el Mare del Tano. After having spent 5-6 weeks on it in bad conditions it was not great returning to it in similar warm and humid conditions. It still felt hard but I was motivated to get it done and after another 8 goes over the course of 2 weeks I finally got my endurance up and battled through the top sloper crux and sent my first (probably quite soft) 8b! :)

"Me on the Tano in May"

"Hannah on the top crux of the Tano on her send in spring"

Several people came by and stayed a few days during the first month, but with bad conditions in the cave none stayed for long.

Then December came, Maria D. Sandbu arrived and the cave finally dried up. Maria started of slow trying the classic 8a Pegue Nocturno. The route has a lot of reachy moves and really favors the tall.
Maria kept falling off a stab to a pocket and ended up having several days and many attempts on this while sending Santa Linya 8a+/8b in only 2 attempts a few days later!
When Maria climbed I seemed to be constantly somewhere else and thus I do not have many pic´s. Maria also turned up in a lot of none photogenic clothing (like in the picture below) so next time Maria remember to bring the colors;)

"Maria on Pegue Nocturno 8a"

Not long after Maria´s arrival Matilda Söderlund from Sweden joined us and in just 5 days managed to send more then I probably will in 3-4 months!
Focused on comps and spending her time training indoors Mathilda was a bit of a wild card of unknown power and potential.
Combined with several days of perfect conditions and a lot of good beta she made accents I never would have thought possible.

Mathilda´s 5 days in Santa Linya

Day 1: I drove to Balaguer and picked her up a few hours before dark and brought her to a cold and foggy (normal conditions cave). After a quick warm up she gave up her first attempt on Pegue Nocturno (8a) due to the usual foggy winter cave issue of numb hands and no feeling what so ever in your fingers. A bit warmer she then cruised it on her second go.

Day 2: The weather changed for the better and the sun came back out. The girls (Hannah and Maria) believed she might be able to flash the route Santa Linya (8a+/8b) so we started the day by watching the video of Hannah climbing the route and gave as much beta as we could.
Matilda did not disappoint and seemed to flow up the route effortlessly. She then topped the day of with a flash/sight (a flash with very limited amounts of beta) of Airline 8a.

Day 3: As it had seemed like Matilda was not on her limit on the Santa Linya route it was time to test her on a proper 8b.
Hannah did la Ruta del Sol in the spring as her second 8b and spent days on it just to get the proper endurance to link it.
At 35 meters high and at least 15 meters overhanging it is a endurance test piece with several tricky crux sections between hanging on your arms rests.

I filmed Hannah´s accent of the route in the spring and once again I went over the video with Matilda before going to the cave.
The conditions where amazing with a decent temp, clouds and that very rare wind (the wind almost never enters the cave).
I was working the route next to Ruta del Sol, and against my better judgment ended up coming down for a second go after falling at the top. I should have been fixing the rope and getting ready to film Matilda, but the conditions where so good and I figured I had time. I was wrong... The second go I started before Matilda, but fell at the last possible move and ended up hanging next to her giving beta without the proper time to get in position to film...

From my perspective 4 meters to the side I got "the best seats in the house" so to speak and what I saw was beyond impressive.
She had already gotten up to the "rest" under the crux section and seemed a bit confused on where to go next.
I pointed her in the right direction through the section but when she arrived at the actual crux move see just pulled through the hard way ignoring my beta and skipping both a heelhook and a undercling that for both me and Hannah seemed essential.
I followed her all the way to the top, and at no point did she ever seem tired or close to falling off.

"Matilda flashing la Ruta del Sol 8b"

Day 4: We awoke to perfect conditions with sun, wind and amazing friction. I was super psyched to climb but having missed out on documenting Matilda´s rampage so far I packed away the climbing shoes in favor of the camera.
It was time to step it up once again, and today it was Rollito day.

Rollito Sharma is one of the steepest lines in the cave and is very different from the other routes we had sent Matilda on up to this point.
The route basically comes down to one very big move. The climbing up to the move is about 7c+ and the climbing after the move is about the same.
The route became famous when Daila climbed it in Dosage, but since then the first part of the crux tufa has broken off and the move has become much harder. Before the hold broke the route was downgraded to 8b/+ but after the hold brake the route is once again back to 8b+, all be it still in the lower end of the spectrum.

On Matilda´s flash attempt she went for the wrong holds coming in to the crux and fell off. She then tested the crux move with Hannah´s heel hook beta with out success before trying the more powerful pull through.
She hit the hold on her second try using this beta and climbed to the anchors without stopping to working any of the other moves.
After a long break she tied in again, this time going all the way becoming the first ever Scandinavian woman to climb 8b+, a feat that would have been impressive in it´s own right, but that she managed to do it her first day on the route in her second attempt on her 4 day on, that is truly impressive!

"Matilda pulling through the crux on Rollito Sharma 8b+"

With one day still to go and the limit not reached we pushed her up the fixed photo line to try the 8c extension.
Watching and belaying from the ground it seemed to me that she struggled more with the concept of jugging up a fixed line then actually climbing the extension moves once she got up there. After cruising through the hardest part of the extension twice she lowered back down and the stage was set for the true test the next day.

Day 5: Extension day.
Yet again we awoke to the perfect conditions of the previous days and once again I struggled to leave my climbing shoes behind in favor of the camera.
Matilda seemed to rise above any challenge we presented her with. I was starting to believe that she might just manage to pull 8c out of the bag on her last day. No matter what happened I would be up there to document it.
The extension to Rollito Sharma is the logical line. The first chain seems to be placed at some random good hold in the middle of the route. From here it´s about 10 meters around 8a+ on it´s own to a ledge where you can sit and rest. This ledge is the obvious stopping point if your not topping out the whole cave.

"Rollito Extension in red, Fabelita in blue"

After warming up Matilda set off. Once again she pulled through the long move and once again she was at the first anchors and the start of the extension. Here she was faced with a 4-5 meter long section of fairly straight forward easier climbing that she had not tested before. Still looking fresh she got through and got into the upper crux.
The upper crux lasts all the way to the ledge, but the hardest move is matching a crimpy edge and pressing over into a two finger pocket.
Matilda got through the pocked, clipped the last bolt and a mere 3 moves shy of the top jugs she finally gave in.
After five days on she could not recover enough for a second attempt and the route still awaits her return.

A bit in the shadow of Matilda, Maria also kept making impressive hard sends during her first stay with both el Mare del Tano 8b and Asaltinbankis Extention (hard) 8a+ in just 2 attempts! before leaving to celebrate x-mas at home.

Fabelita 8c

I have already gone in detail on Hannah´s accent of Fabelita (in Norwegian) on
So I will keep it short here:)

While Matilda and Maria was crushing Hannah was falling of the upper part of her project.
The route had never before seen a female accent and is known to be hard for the grade.
While Rollito has a one move boulder and easier climbing before a sustained upper section Fabelita is sustained all the way with only one proper "resting" hold.
(this hold is shared with several other harder routes, picture below is of Tom Bolger resting in the same hold after the lower crux on Catxasa 9a+)


The lower part up to the "rest" is about 8b+ and the part after is around 8b.
Hannah worked the route while it was still partly wet on and off for a few weeks, then struggling with bad conditions she kept falling in the last few moves before the rest on the redpoint.

"Entering the first crux section"

"The crux on the lower section"

She finally got past this point for the first time just after Maria´s arrival but slightly missing the mono she fell of the next big undercling move.

"The mono"

Then when Mathilda arrived with the wind a few days later she once again made it past the "rest", but this time fell of few moves higher looking very solid but missing a bad pinch...

"The pinch"

A few days after Mathilda´s departure Hannah once again got past the lower section. The light was fading and once she got to the "rest" she was the only one on the wall.
A massive crowd gathered to watch including her brother Magnus (Midtbø), Maria, Martin (Mobråten), Tom, Lynne, Chris (Sharma), Daila and about 20 Spanish guys as she sent the route as the first ever female and the first Scandinavian woman ever to do 8c!

"Just before the mono"

"After the pinch"