Alexander Megos makes world's first 9a on-sight
On 24/03/2013 Alexander Megos on-sighted Estado Critico at Siurana in Spain, becoming the first climber in the world to climb a 9a onsight.
The news spread like wildfire: according to www.desnivel.com, on Sunday German climber Alexander Megos succeeded in on-sighting the 9a Estado Critico at Siurana in Spain and, in doing so, the 19-year-old has now become the first climber in the world to send a route of this difficulty in the purest of styles.
A barrier has been broken therefore which not long ago seemed absolutely impossible. A dream, unfathomable but for a tiny, select few, caressed by Adam Ondra last year on three separate occasions. Each time Ondra, on his own accord, put his climbs into a different perspective, downgrading his ascents from 9a to 8c+. A degree of difficulty that, for the record, had been achieved for the first time in 2007 by Basque climber Patxi Usobiaga and then, in the years that followed, equalled only by Ramon Julien Puigblanque and Ondra.
Those who read Plantmountain regularly will be aware that Megos has featured rarely on these pages, unjustly so above all because the German has been setting crags and boulders on fire pretty much everywhere. A recent trip to the US resulted in an amazing array of sends including an 8B boulder flash as well as a flash of Pure Imagination at Red River Gorge, a former 9a downgraded to 8c+. Of course these ascents didn't come out of the blue: in summer 2011 Megos redpointed his first 9a, San Ku Kai at Entraygues in France, while in August that same year he flashed his first 8c, Raubritter in Germany's notoriously difficult Frankenjura.
We had witnessed Megos climb last autumn during the The North Face Kalymnos Festival: quiet and unassuming, the ease and naturalness with which he dispatched the routes impressed everyone, spectators and fellow pro-climbers alike, and it was clear that the borders of his talent were still a long way off. What was unclear however was the speed with which he'd start pushing the boundaries of sport climbing. If the grade remains confirmed - and it certainly looks as if it will - then there is only one word which describes his enormous leap forward: astounding.